Let me describe the situation where I want to use this word or phrase:
I was reading a particularly interesting book that I happened upon somewhere deep inside my university library. The book had a memorable epigraph. Unfortunately, I didn't have the presence of mind to take a photograph of the epigraph or write it down. I no longer remember the name of the book, and I have to find contentment in knowing I may never see it again.
Is "presence of mind" the right phrase? Perhaps I didn't have my "wits about me"? I wasn't quick thinking enough? Or something else?
I really want to capture the idea that I was engrossed in reading the book and wasn't really thinking about preserving the memory.