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On deja vu or why I keep a list of what I read: 04/08/15

cover art

I am reading The Power to Go (1956) by Canadian playwright Merrill Denison. From the very first chapter, the book felt familiar, like revisiting an old friend. As things progressed, that familiar feeling turned to a nagging deja vu. By Chapter 7: Power Goes Democratic I hit that "ah hah!" moment where I knew I had read it before because it contains one of my favorite quotes about the early days of the automobile:

As for gasoline, it was still a nuisance by-product, a disposal problem for refiners. What they wanted from crude oil were kerosene, naphtha, lubricants, and paraffin wax.

Page 109

Along with the quote is a memory of my childhood room with the drafting board next to my bed. It's late at night. I should be a sleep but I'm not. I'm bored and I'm reading. Since it's a book about the earliest days of the American car industry, it has to be one of my dad's.

That memory jives with other things. Before the start of eighth grade, I realized I could no longer remember the titles of books I had enjoyed but maybe not loved to the point of fandom (like The Hobbit, for instance). I could remember scenes but not titles nor authors and as this was before the internet as we know it today, I couldn't just search online to help jog my memory. So, I began a list of books I had finished.

Originally I toyed with keeping a list of books started too but that got to be too cumbersome, so decided to stick only with ones I had read start to finish. I began the list in its experimental form in June of 1987 but I didn't really settle on logistics until that July.

Since I wasn't really much of a reader until seventh grade, I can safely guess that I first read the book in in late 1986 or early 1987. Basically, I must have read it in that grace period when I had suddenly realized I liked reading but hadn't realized I didn't like forgetting what I'd read!

It's not that I don't like re-reading things. I just prefer to do it as an informed reader. I'd rather see that I've read something (even if I don't remember anything else about the book) and decide to re-read it, than be faced with a niggling deja vu that might be legitimate or it might just be my own nagging imagination!

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