I don’t know where I saw this idea recently, but it’s been comforting me, maybe because I have a terrible memory.

We don’t always consciously remember much of the books we read, but in the moment of reading them, they affect us; they lay pathways in our brains, traces that linger and shape who we are from that point forward. As someone who reads a lot, and forgets a lot, I feel better thinking that all that reading is still in there, somewhere. That it’s changed me. It’s making me want to choose what I read a little more carefully.

And as I finish this semester and think about my students, who will soon forget most of what I’ve said, most of what they’ve read in my classes, I hope that whatever traces were laid down end up shaping their thoughts and lives in useful and interesting ways, going forward.

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