Do You Forget Character Names?

January 6, 2015 Fun Questions 27

Fun Questions LogoJoin me every Tuesday as I ask a Fun Question that’s been on my mind. I’ll give you my take, but I really hope you’ll jump in with your answers too, since I’m really curious to know what my fellow readers and bloggers think! So today’s question is…

Do You Forget Character Names?

I’ve only very recently gotten good about writing reviews as soon as I finish books. For quite a while, I wrote reviews days later – and in a few very rough reviews, weeks later. And one of the most frustrating things was how I would forget character names and have to look them up. I thought for sure that this was because of the delay in writing the review.

Here’s the thing though – I’ve been writing reviews AS SOON as I finish a book religiously for the past two-three months. And I STILL forget character names. I will have just put the book down just 30 minutes before and already I’m struggling to remember the names. And I have to wonder if that’s just me and why it happens.

Part of me thinks it’s because the book isn’t that good – I mean, can’t I recall names of characters from beloved series when I haven’t touched the book in months? But that hardly seems fair, because I can think of books that I’ve loved – REALLY LOVED – and the character names evade me.

So then I think, well maybe that’s because I’ve been reading those beloved series so long, the characters are like family. But there’s some series that I remember the character names after just one book and others I’ve read four or five books and still, I forget character names.

Is it because some books have been talked about so much – and so widely read that I get to talk about them – that the names are deeply embedded, whereas others I haven’t found a soul to talk about them with, so I forget?

The reality is, I don’t know why it happens, but it happens to me all the time. I do think there’s some merit to all those ideas and perhaps it’s a combination of them that leads me to remember some character names and forget others.

What do you think? Does this happen to you? Or am I the only one?

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About Berls
Berls has been a book lover her whole life. She reads pretty much every genre and is currently working hard at making her childhood dream of becoming an author come true. She loves sharing her thoughts about books, blogging, and just random fun stuff. She's a challenge and read-a-thon junkie, so it's no wonder that she loves co-hosting the COYER reading challenge. Leave a comment, Berls is always happy to chat!

27 Responses to “Do You Forget Character Names?”

  1. Bookworm Brandee

    It happens to me too, Berls. I don’t know if there’s a rhyme or reason for why I seem to forget…but I’ll be talking about a book or writing the review…and totally draw a blank. It doesn’t seem to matter whether or not I liked/disliked the book. Sometimes it comes to me quickly and sometimes I have to look it up. Ugh! It’s very frustrating but I’m so happy to see that we are not alone in this problem. LOL I kinda thought it was just me. :)
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…**When Life’s Kicking Your Butt, How About a Theme Song?**My Profile

  2. Lexxie

    Forgetting character names happen to me, too, but not particularly often. However, I’m so afraid I’ll write the wrong name, or the wrong spelling for the name in my review I always look up names, even when I remember them :O
    Lexxie recently posted…Review: Dane – Liliana HartMy Profile

  3. Terri M., the Director

    It’s Brian Regan, I think, that does a bit about book titles at the top of each page and wondering why they do that. He figured it’s because you might forget the title of the book while reading the page and you can just glance up. I can’t seem to find a clip online, but the image of him reading like 3 words, forgetting the name of the book and looking has me giggling. :)
    Terri M., the Director recently posted…Book Review 60: First Sun by Tara TollyMy Profile

    • Berls

      I know, I thought it was just me too – so I’m feeling much better seeing that I’m not alone.

  4. Angie F.

    I forget their names all the time! I’ll sit down to write the review, and I’ve just finished, and I’m like “what was their name again?!” And I’ll either reread the blurb, or open the book again. LoL

    This tends to happen more with books I read in one sitting or nearly one sitting. I don’t know why. Maybe the names just hadn’t had time to sink in yet.
    Angie F. recently posted…Most Read Authors of 2014My Profile

  5. Lola

    Just like you I have trouble with names! I remember a huge name blunder from a long time ago when I wrote a review and used the wrogn name for the male character multiple times, apparently I didn’t remember his name and used the first name that popped into my head which was the name of an authors whoms book I read before that. I felt so stupid when I e-mailed the author my link to my review only to have her point out I used the wrong name for the male character.

    I am only slightly better in remembering common names, but with difficult or weird or uncommon names I often forget them. Or I only remember the general feel of the name, like in the example above I confused the two names as both were pretty simple short names. Or I know it’s a long name and it starts with a K and it ends there.

    I also have series were I still forget the names, although usually when I read the book I know who’s who, but when writing my review or talking about the book I just draw a blank. I sometimes use terms to describe the character instead of their name when I can’t remember a name and don’t want to look it up, like the main characters sister or the love interest.

    Great post Berls and you’re certainly not the only one who has trouble remembering names!
    Lola recently posted…Review: Forbidden by Kelley ArmstrongMy Profile

  6. Haley

    I’m so terrible at remembering character names. I always have to look them up again. It’s strange too because I can remember everything else in a book really well. Once my sister and I were talking about a book we had each read a long time ago. Since it had been so long, she could hardly remember it anymore, so I was giving her a pretty detailed summary. She commented that it was really weird that I could remember the book so well considering I had only read it once about two years before this. So it’s not that my memory is just bad in general. For some reason I’m just terrible with names.

    It’s even worse with movies. In books I usually remember names at least a little bit, but I usually walk about of movies having absolutely no idea what any of the characters were called. And it’s actually a problem when I study for school too because I’ll get everything else down but be unable to remember the names of anything, whether it be important people or book titles or the names or theories.
    Haley recently posted…End of Year Book Survey 2014My Profile

  7. Traci

    Yes!!! I’ve forgotten names immediately after finishing a book and a few weeks later. It seems like whenever I go to write the review I’m always having to go back and look up someone’s name…and I always feel bad when it’s a main character.
    Traci recently posted…Tempt Me Tuesday, 1/6/15My Profile

  8. Amanda @ On a Book Bender

    UM, YES! I usually forget characters’ names by the time I go to write the review, even when I adored the book or even when it’s less than 24 hours after I’ve read it.

    I’m not sure whether it’s because I’ve just read so many books that everything blurs together or because once I’m finished, my brain decides it’s truly finished. Or maybe it’s just because you read mostly “she”s and “he”s, not names in the books?
    Amanda recently posted…Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas {Amanda’s Review}My Profile

  9. Rachelle

    This happens to me all the time. I’ve gotten in the habit of writing down the character names, with a brief sentence or two about who they are, in my book journal. Doing that keeps me from frantically scanning the synopsis on Goodreads, or flipping through book pages, looking for the names or the correct spelling of the names when I’m trying to put my thoughts about the book into writing.
    Rachelle recently posted…Bout of Books 12: Update 1My Profile

  10. Laura

    I’m so happy I’m not the only one that does this!!! I can go straight from the book to my laptop to write a review and have to think about what the characters were called! It really frustrates me actually! But like you say, there are some characters that stick with you after one book, and some you forget after 7! It’s really strange, I’d love to know why it happens!
    Laura recently posted…Blog Tour: Blind Passion by Bonnie DeeMy Profile

  11. Melanie Simmons

    Depends, if it is a long series, I usually don’t because I’ve been with the book so long the characters are like family. Now, a new-to-me series or a new character in a on-going series, yes, I have to look them up. Since the majority of my reviews are for audio, I have to look up for spelling even if I remember the name. So many authors like to make the spelling unique.
    Melanie Simmons recently posted…Best Audiobook Narrations of 2014 (My Choices)My Profile

  12. anna (herding cats & burning soup)

    Oh I do that all the time. Usually the heroine’s name. But they can be books/romances I loved. I think some of it is just reading too many books and overtime the actual names becoming less important. Most of the names I know just instantly were before I started blogging and are ones talked about more often. Now usually I’m reading books months before they come out and have no one to talk to them about. Definitely think that makes a difference like you said.
    anna (herding cats & burning soup) recently posted…Montana Actually (Medicine River #1) by Fiona Lowe (@BerkleyRomance)My Profile

  13. Ramona

    Only names? Pah! If that’s all you forget, don’t worry about it, seriously… I forget books completely. In fact if a book isn’t good enough to push some buttons and leave some sort of mark inside me, 3 months later I won’t be able to tell you much about it. Two years down the line? Forget about it, it’s all gone. I don’t worry about it, though. I think our brains are smart enough to sort through what’s worth remembering and … the rest, conveniently choosing to leave what-we-won’t-be-missing-later-anyway behind. And that’s okay with me :) Just means there’s more room for the important stuff, you know? xx
    Ramona recently posted…Zen Monday: Holiday AftermathMy Profile

  14. booklife4life

    Pretty sure i don’t remember a single name from any of the 140 books i read last year. I think i just focus on the story and forget the names. it stinks when i write reviews and i have to go back and look for main characters names! oh well, maybe in another life i’ll remember better :]
    booklife4life recently posted…Out Today: Jan. 6thMy Profile

  15. Diyah

    Yeah, I forget names too. Especially for books I only read once. But actually forgetting names not even an hour after reading it, I don’t think that’s ever happened to me. I usually forget their names after a week or a month. And I think that’s because the story was always better to remember than names. Like you remember what kind of story it was or how complex it was or how the rules played in that story but no names coming in your mind. And I really don’t think that’s a bad thing. Besides, it’s just names. Why does it matter anyway?
    Diyah recently posted…[Wrap Up] Goodreads Reading ChallengeMy Profile

  16. Lynn Smith

    I forget names all the time.Even when I just finished a book and am writing a review. I often wondered why. Even after falling in love with some of the characters their names escape me. It really drives me crazy when someone asks which person was my favorite and I can’t recall a single name. But I can tell you all about the book.

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