In this day and age, we’re always surrounded by calendars and clocks. Whether they’re tacked to our walls, stored in our smartphones, or wrapped around our wrists, we almost always have access to the current date and time. But even with these constant beeps, buzzes, and alarms, we still forget. Anniversaries pass us by. Birthdays go uncelebrated. Holidays sneak up on us before we can make the salad we promised to bring to family dinner. That’s why, on July 2nd, we celebrate I Forgot Day! During this single day, we can celebrate the holidays we were too busy to partake in—or forgot to partake in—throughout the year.
The founders of I Forgot Day aren’t the only people who have taken advantage of human forgetfulness. Humankind’s fragile memory creates an infinite amount of stories, from factual to fictional, from classic to new. Because of this, popular culture has seen a significant rise in books and movies that play on the fragility of memory. For I Forgot Day, here are five fiction books with characters who suffer from amnesia!
Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson
Do you enjoy psychological thrillers? If so, Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson is the right book for you!
Imagine that every time you go to sleep, you wake up with no memories. Your name, your age, your identity, and your loved ones are all forgotten. That’s Christine’s life. Every morning, Christine wakes up in a strange bed next to a strange man named Ben. And every morning, Ben must patiently explain that he is her husband, her name is Christine, and she was in a terrible accident that damaged her ability to remember. All Christine has left for herself is a journal. In it, she meticulously records daily events—her sessions with Dr. Ed Nash, a neurologist who is treating her without Ben’s knowledge; information Ben has told her; and brief flashes of her previous life.
But the more Christine writes, the more she remembers. The more she remembers, the more she realizes that Ben may be telling her half-truths. In a thrilling story that you won’t be able to put down, Christine must answer essential life questions, including the question, Are some things better left unremembered?
In 2014, Before I Go to Sleep became a major motion picture starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth. If you’d like to watch the trailer, click here!
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
If you’re looking for more of a heartfelt chick-lit, then What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty is the right book for you!
Alice is madly in love with her husband, pregnant with her first child, and excited to head into her thirties with her perfect family. So imagine her surprise when she wakes up in the gym with a bump on her head, only to find out that she’s divorced, has three children, and is 39 years old. The paramedics rush Alice to the hospital, where she reconnects with her sister, Elisabeth, who has fallen into a deep depression after trying (and failing) to get pregnant.
On top of trying to regain ten years of lost memories, Alice desperately struggles to reconnect with her estranged family. But everything is out of place. There are designer clothes in her closet, her mother is remarried, and nobody will answer her questions about the woman named Gina who keeps reappearing in distant memories. Can Alice return to her previous, perfect life? Or is starting over the better option?
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Are you a fan of young adult fiction? Then head to the bookstore and grab We Were Liars by E. Lockhart off the shelf!
On a private island off the coast of Massachusetts, the Sinclair family lives their perfect lives—or so it seems. Cadence, the narrator of the story, spends much of her summers exploring the beaches and relaxing at her family’s Victorian-style houses. Between hanging out with her cousins, romancing her friend, Gat, and spending time with her mom, aunts, and granddad, Cadence rarely has time to herself. But after a terrible accident leaves Cadence with crippling migraines and a reliance on painkillers, she grows estranged from her family and friends. And, upon returning to the island, she discovers her accident may have done more damage than she originally thought.
Behind their beauty and their wealth, the Sinclairs hide a dirty secret. And it’s up to Cadence to find out what this secret is. But all truths come at a cost. Is Cadence ready to uncover what really happened last summer? And will her family ever be the same?
The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian
Do you enjoy it when your heart races and your hair raises while reading books about crime? If so, you should read The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian!
Cassie loves all the perks of working as a flight attendant. She can enjoy luxury hotel rooms and parties, and she can anonymously flirt with any man she wants. This all changes, however, when Cassie wakes up in a Dubai hotel room next to a murdered man. She’s horribly hungover and has no recollection of the night before… including whether or not she killed him. Panicking, Cassie hides the truth from everyone. When she flies home to the United States, Cassie finds herself the FBI’s main suspect.
Cassie is scared and confused, but little does she know that she may be in danger herself. A Russian intelligence agency has a target on her back for knowing more than she should. Will Cassie regain her memories before she’s prosecuted or killed? Or will she have to remain in hiding forever?
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
Okay, okay, I know. In Five Years by Rebecca Serle isn’t technically about amnesia. But it is an honest reflection of the delicacy of memory, and it’s too good of a book to not include on this list. In Five Years is a testimony to the idea that memories out of sequence may be more life-altering than forgetting memories altogether.
Dannie Kohan has it all figured out. She just nailed her job interview to become a corporate lawyer, and she got engaged to her boyfriend of two years. Her five-year plan is working out perfectly. But when Dannie goes to sleep that night, she wakes up five years in the future in an entirely different apartment, next to an entirely different man than her fiancé. In the morning, Dannie tries to write it off as a vivid dream—a dream she enjoyed far too much. However, four and a half years later, Dannie runs into the man in her dream, and the life she thought she wanted comes crashing down.
Happy I Forgot Day! After you’re done celebrating those pesky holidays you never remember, try reading one of these five unforgettable books about amnesia.
Are you looking for more oddly specific book recommendations? Click here.