Does Age Affect Your Reading Experience?

You’re never too old for cupcakes!

Last week Flavorwire had an interesting article about the “15 Books You Should Definitely Not Read in Your 20s.” Some of the books included themes about falling out of love, taking romantic road-trips, or the horrors afflicted upon or by children.

Others, like Gossip Girl and Fifty Shades of Grey, were not so much presented as a slight against all young adult fiction or erotica, just that these series are not worthy enough representatives of their genres.

However, as an avid reader, I must say that this list was pretty disappointing. Blowing off Plutarch because, “The Romans aren’t going anywhere?” Seriously? Most of the reasons for avoiding these books were superficial and weren’t even limited to people in their 20s.

By all means, read Terry Pratchett even though Discworld has 39 installments (not to be morbid, but wouldn’t reading the series while you’re young mean that you still have plenty of time to finish it?).

The only legitimate type of stories on the list that might be affected by age are the ones that deal with life’s transitions. You can certainly enjoy Eat, Pray, Love in your 20s, but I can see how reading about the struggles after divorce would better impact people who are old enough to experience the same challenges.

And even then, that’s only assuming that everyone lives on the same timeline. Some people will never marry, divorce, have children or pets, go to college, move across country or abroad, or even live to see old age. That doesn’t mean that their lives are less rich or fulfilling.

Of course, lying about your age is like keeping your life on repeat!

So yes, I felt that I was too young to appreciate a troubled marriage tale like Wife 22. In school, there’s also many classics that we fail to recognize their significance because we’re too wrapped up in teenage self-absorption.

But after taking another look at my “Books I’ve Read” list, most of the stories are enjoyable at any age. Granted, it helps that one of the biggest reasons that I read is to escape from the daily grind. I’ve never dated a vampire, been on trial, lived in Paris, time-traveled, or possessed magical powers, so it really doesn’t matter how old I am when reading about people who have.

So are there any books that you feel you should have read sooner or later in life? Why or why not? Let’s get a lively debate going!

PS: And for books you definitely should read in your 20s, check out a few from my non-fiction week: Life After College20 Something, 20 Everything and Generation Me.

UPDATE 10:40AM PST: Thanks to Grace over at the wonderful blog, A Confederacy of Spinsters, I stumbled upon Buzzfeed’s “65 Books You Need to Read in Your 20s.” My opinion? Another superficial list of mostly modern American novels that should by no means be limited to only 20-somethings. Lots of disappointed commenters. Skim with a grain of salt!

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2 thoughts on “Does Age Affect Your Reading Experience?

  1. Interesting topic! While I do not discourage my Teens from reading any book, I will recommend books that I think they will get more out of. There is an interesting aspect of empathy that comes from reading a book that may not be in your range of timeline. I read Wifey at the shocking age of 14. While I could not relate to it, It did educate me and helped me develop a sense of empathy for some adults I knew. I am completely against book lists based on age, although I do understand that reading a book in a certain time frame of your life may not be as impactful as readinging later on, but that is what great about books! You can always go back and reread 🙂

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