Monday, July 9, 2012

The Perks of Amnesia

The other day I was catching up on some old episodes of Castle and watched one where the key witness in a murder case has amnesia. While searching through his apartment and reviewing his bookshelves, the man states, “I guess I’m going to have to start over now.” To which Castle replies, “It’s not such a bad thing. What I wouldn’t give to read The Cask of Amontillado for the first time. Or any Stephen King.”

Upon hearing this, a little light bulb went off in my head. While I certainly would never want to suffer through amnesia or not remember my life, there would be certain literary and cinematic perks to forgetting everything from your past. I mean, what if you could enjoy all your favorite books and movies from scratch. Imagine being able to read the Harry Potter series for the millionth time and experiencing it like it was the first. Or watching Star Wars again without knowing what happens to the Empire. I have to admit, there’s some appeal in that. I guess there’s one – and only one – perk to losing your memory.

If you had to make a list for your amnesiac self, what books and movies would make the top? Here’s a look at my list:

The Harry Potter Series – J. K. Rowling
A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’engle
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
The Sparrow – Mary Doria Russell
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
Alas, Babylon – Pat Frank
The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
1984 – George Orwell
Persuasion – Jane Austen
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Atlas Shrugged – Aye Rand
Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
The Nancy Drew Series – Carolyn Keene
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep – Philip K. Dick
The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
Macbeth – William Shakespeare
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead – Tom Stoppard
The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde
The Fall of the House of Usher – Edgar Allan Poe
Welcome to the Monkey House – Kurt Vonnegut
The Lathe of Heaven – Ursula K. Le Guin

The Princess Bride
The Fifth Element
Star Wars IV-VI
The Terminator
Terminator II: Judgment Day
The Dark Knight
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Indiana Jones Trilogy (minus the fourth)
Stranger Than Fiction
The Shining
Die Hard
Despicable Me
Empire Records
Little Miss Sunshine
The Incredible Hulk
The Jane Austen Book Club
Blade Runner
Disney Princess Movies (they’re considered un-PC these days, but I still love them)
Casino Royale
American Beauty


  1. Harry Potter would definitely top my list for books, and The Lord of the Rings would top my list for movies.

    That said, what a scary thought, losing all your memories. As a writer, my greatest fear would be forgetting all those unwritten stories bubbling insides my head. But I guess that's what journals and notes are for. I better go double check mine just in case. :D

  2. I'd enjoy seeing those movies again for the first time. Raiders for the sheer joy of adventure and Jaws for the fear factor. Number one movie on my list - Memento.

  3. I was just thinking about this the other day. AMC was running "The Walking Dead" marathon and I caught bits and pieces of it - it was so different to watch the earlier episodes, knowing who would live and die later. Also, one of the last scenes in the last episode of Season 2 freaked me out so much the first time I saw it but this time, it was still good but not the same.

    On the positive side, since I already knew what was going to happen in general, I found myself noticing other things, paying more attention to other scenes, etc. than I did previously.

  4. That's a hard question. Mostly because I don't know if my favorite movies would still be my favorite without my memories.

    I'd like to think that Star Trek would still be an awesome movie, but I don't know if I'd like them as much without having watched Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine or Star Trek: Voyager. If I didn't have a sense of who James Tiberius Kirk was, would I care as much about his story?

    If I hadn't watched The Muppet Show as a kid, would I care if Kermit and Piggy broke up? Would I find Fozzie's jokes as funny as I do? Sure the Muppets Movie would be the same, but I don't know if it would affect me the same way.

    One other thought: If I really was suffering from amnesia, would I be able to relate to any of the characters? If I couldn't remember pain, or sorrow or happiness, how would I be able to relate to characters that are feeling these things?

  5. I just decided to make an amnesiac list and I'm copying your list. It's perfect.

  6. This is an awesome list and a great question! I need to think about this list. I know Tolkien and Rowling are on it. Gosh, there are way too many.

  7. Hmm... you should make a blogfest out of this. I'm not certain I'd participate, though; I don't know if I can make this list. I suppose I already have the main things listed on my significance page. I'll have to think about it.

  8. What a positive twist on amnesia! And great book list, by the way!
    I think Andy's comment is interesting, too. How much of our favorite things are a result of our collective memories? And how would that change if our memory was erased?

  9. Harry Potter would definitely make the top of my reading list. :)

  10. What a fun idea! I'm sure my list would go on forever, but I'd definitely want to read Pern, Harry Potter and The Far Pavilions again. And watch just about any Disney movie. :)

  11. God, I wouldn't know where to begin! Actually, your list would be pretty good starting point. Some of my favourites, there. Also some I haven't read/seen, which I must go and rectify immediately...

  12. Hahahaha! Love this!! Perks to amnesia.... who woulda thought?!

    I would have to add: Water for Elephants, The Help, The Gargoyle, The Body Finder, and The Hunger Games to your book list, though ( :

    (I mean, really?? You forgot to mention the Hunger Games, Lauren?! Haha!)

    Oh, and: Pirates of the Carribean (1 & 4), The Patriot, and Gladiator to your movie list!

  13. I need to make a list for myself. Just in case. For the books, I'd have to add "The Sleeping Dragon" (and the rest of the Guardians of the Flame series) by Joel Rosenberg, as well as "Les Miserables" unabridged.

  14. I would have nowhere near as many 'classic' literature as you do on your list. And I love that buried in that list of movies you've got 'The Incredible Hulk.' Awesome. I'm a sucker for anything with his name on it.

  15. Ooh this is a fun question. There are books and movies that I love, but that I've watched or read way too many times now. Harry Potter, Firefly, and Doctor Who come to mind. I don't think I'd want to start fresh with others, like Star Wars, because there's too much history and too many inside jokes that I would miss if I forgot it all.

    Allison (Geek Banter)

  16. Great post, The post title would make a great book title. :) mmmh, I have to make a list as well fro books, That's a great question. For movies, it would be The patriot, Moulin Rouge, Braveheart, Pirates of the Carribean...
    Happy Friday!

  17. That would be kinda fun, in a way! Definitely Harry Potter, Ender's Game, The Hunger Games, Catcher in the Rye, The Count of Monte Cristo, Age of Innocence, Jane Eyre, and My Antonia. To name a few. Then there are books like Huck Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird that, while I appreciated them on the first read, I only began to love them on the second and third reads. But that might also be due to the fact that I was a teenager when I read them the first time, and as an adult I'm smarter (or something like that ... ). Anyhow, what an interesting idea!

  18. what about the harry potter movies??

  19. what about the harry potter movies??