“I totally believe that you are a different person for having read that book,” Wolf replied. “I say that as a neuroscientist and an old literature major.”
She went on to describe how reading creates pathways in the brain, strengthening different mental processes. Then she talked about content.
“There is a difference,” she said, “between immediate recall of facts and an ability to recall a gestalt of knowledge. We can’t retrieve the specifics, but to adapt a phrase of William James’s, there is a wraith of memory. The information you get from a book is stored in networks. We have an extraordinary capacity for storage, and much more is there than you realize. It is in some way working on you even though you aren’t thinking about it.”
“It’s there,” Wolf said. “You are the sum of it all.”