"stuck" in Berlin, thanks to an unpronounceable Icelandic volcano, I was reading Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind. Now, whenever my eye catches that book where it sits on my shelf, thoughts of that trip immediately come to mind.
But it's not just travel for which this "book/memory association" works. For instance, whenever I happen to glance at Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything Is Illuminated, I'm reminded of Marquette's surprise run to the Final Four in 2003. The memory of reading that fantastic book and that fantastic few weeks of basketball are permanently intertwined.
Indeed, what I realized is that my bookshelf has become a virtual travelogue / diary / database of memories. Of course, memory is associative, so it makes sense that this would be the case. I just never really consciously considered it before.* It certainly doesn't work for every book (I'm not some sort of literary Rain Man. Sadly. 'cause that'd be awesome!), but when I look at many of the hundreds of books on my shelves, I know what I was doing, where I was reading, what was happening in my life at that time. It's kind of awesome. Actually, it's really awesome!
So I'm sure this "book memory phenomenon" isn't unique to me. How does it work for you? Do you ever spend an afternoon just staring at your shelf and reminiscing?
*The funny thing is, this whole idea — or at least the reason it crystallized into enough of a coherent idea to write a post about it — came as I was watching the movie Limitless this weekend. If I could have one Super Power, it'd be to remember and connect any memory anytime I wanted. C'mon, that would be cool, right?