5 Novels about Memory Loss

memory loss

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I was surprised to discover how many of my favourite books are about memory loss, and how several have those have been made into good movies.

1. Still Alice

Still Alice is about a 50-year old woman living with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Author Lisa Genova’s background as a neuroscientist allowed her to clearly portray Alice’s confusion, frustration, fear, and sadness as she went through the various stages of her disease. It is so well written that it seemed like I was actually reading someone’s diary. (I later read Genova’s Still Anthony, and didn’t find it nearly as compelling).

Although the book was better, the folks behind the movie version did a pretty decent job of capturing the essence of the novel. Julianna Moore definitely deserved the Academy Award for Best Actress!

Read the book; watch the movie – I promise you won’t be disappointed!

2. The Notebook

The Notebook is also about a woman with Alzheimer’s disease, but in this case it is an older woman living in a home. Her husband faithfully visits her every day and reads her a story about a young couple. It’s very heart-wrenching so if you enjoy sappy love stories and you haven’t read The Notebook, add it to your “to read” list.

It was Nicholas Sparks’ first published novel, and in my opinion, one of his best. I enjoyed the movie too.

3. Before I Go To Sleep

It’s not like me to buy a new release, especially if I don’t already know and love the author, but I was drawn to S.J. Watson’s debut novel. The story of a woman who wakes up every day with all of her memories erased intrigued me, and it was even better than I expected. As she strives to uncover the truth about the events that caused her amnesia, it was always interesting, usually suspenseful, and sometimes terrifying.

The movie was good, but nowhere near as exciting as the book. The need to cut out parts of the story to make it fit into a 92 minute movie meant that things happened much more quickly. As a result, even though I didn’t remember how the story ended, I didn’t experience anywhere near the same degree of suspense or terror.

4. What Alice Forgot

Not all stories about memory loss are sad or frightening – What Alice Forgot is a romantic comedy about a woman who has no recollection of the previous ten years. I found it highly entertaining, yet thought-provoking. It was the inspiration behind my posts, When do you feel grown up? and Ten Years, and I think this would be a fun one for a book group.

I was excited to learn that a movie is in development, but I haven’t seen any details yet, so I’m not holding my breath.

5. Forget About It

Forget About It is a romantic comedy as well. When Jordan Landau’s life becomes unbearable, she fakes amnesia to reinvent herself. It sounds silly, and it is, but it’s so much fun!

I picked it up at the public library when their display of books with lime green covers caught my eye. Crazy, right? It turned out to be a good choice.

I’d never read anything quite like it before, but I loved it so much that I by 2012 I’d read all of Caprice Crane’s novels. I enjoyed Stupid and Contagious and With a Little Luck as much as Forget About It, but didn’t find Family Affair quite as appealing. I eagerly awaited the publication of Confessions of a Hater in 2013, but some of the reviews I read on Goodreads have made me reluctant to dish out any money (or gift cards) for it. Writing this has re-sparked my interest, so I’ve just put it on hold at the library. (Update: I didn’t love it.)

There were rumours at one time that a movie was in the works starring Scarlett Johannson as Jordan, but I don’t think anything ever came of it. Too bad – I would love to see that. On the other hand, Crane wrote the screen play for Love, Wedding, Marriage, and it was just a bit too fluffy for my taste.

Can you think of any other novels about memory loss?

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Janet Barclay

I eliminate stress for my clients by hosting, monitoring, and maintaining their WordPress sites so they don’t have to worry about security, downtime or performance issues. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, cooking, watching movies, drinking tea, and spending time with my family.

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  1. Hazel Thornton on February 16, 2024 at 10:48 am

    Thanks for sharing this with me, Janet, after reading my new blog post “Don’t Forget to Remember.” Another good movie is “Away From Her” starring Julie Christie. Wikipedia says it’s based on a short story by Alice Munro called “The Bear Came Over the Mountain”.

  2. Janet Barclay on February 16, 2024 at 10:48 am

    I saw “Away From Her” many years ago and liked it. I’m not familiar with the story, but I’ve just borrowed a copy of “Family Furnishings” which contains it and look forward to reading it. Thanks for the recommendations!

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