Long-term memory seems to be intact, and I derive a certain satisfaction in that. I just re-read The Hobbit, wondering how much I would remember. It was the first actual "novel" I ever read, perhaps at the age of 7 or 8. The local library had a copy on hand the other day so I took it home, anxious to dip into the wine-soaked pages and pay a visit to the very comfortable Hobbit hole in Bag End.
First big surprise: the pages aren't wine-soaked. Not even with elven wine. The obviously written-for-children prose was something I didn't remember at all. Now I realize that, while I read and re-read the Lord of the Rings trilogy numerous times as a youth, I might never have re-read The Hobbit until just now. I'll have to look at the later books to see if they have this same sort of fairy-tale-ish narration. I'm guessing they don't, or if they do, that it's not so pronounced.
Other impressions: I did remember most of the characters. Bilbo and Gandalf, of course (though Gandalf was less stern and menacing than the Gandalf I remembered -- probably because in The Hobbit he is still Gandalf the Gray, not Gandalf the White who emerged from the pits of Moria. Again, I will have to read the trilogy to get things straight. I had also been expecting good old Tom Bombadil to come bounding down the pages, but of course now I realize that he doesn't come into this story. Thorin Oakenshield was as I remembered him, as well as fat Bombur. I hadn't remembered the names of the other dwarves, and they're not that fleshed-out as characters, but Beorn (who was always a favorite of mine) was there, and the grim archer Bard. I had thought the Trolls were under a bridge, and that Bilbo had battled them alone, but other than that the story was pretty much as I had remembered it. Surprisingly, the songs and poems in the book were less annoying than I had remembered. I also was less interested in figuring out the riddles Bilbo and Gollum posed to eachother than I had been as a child, and was content to just read ahead to learn the solutions.
Overall what I realize is that I am a massive geek.