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Old 02-21-2013, 11:28 AM   #1
BenG
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Is There a Right Age to Read a Book?

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/01/is-...to-read-a-book

and also:
http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/02/whats-reading-for


I liked Moby Dick well enough when I read it at 23, but loved it at 50.
What's you're experience?
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:44 AM   #2
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Yes.

LOL. There's no harm in reading a book too early, IMO; even if it's over your head, it may feed your imagination and help cultivate your literary appreciation. But only so long as you get around to it again at the proper age! One example I've got is Tender is the Night, which I read as an adolescent when I was doing Fitzgerald. While I loved the other novels, it got a meh from me. However, when I read it again a year ago for the book club here, I was staggered. I thought it jaw-droppingly fantastic and it turned out to be my best book of the year.

On the other hand, a book read too late is just that. No turning back the clock. No way of avoiding it, though.

ETA: History may repeat itself this year. I read Lolita when I was far too young for it and didn't have much of a reaction other than "EW!", but I'm blown away this time around for the Lit Club here.

Last edited by issybird; 02-21-2013 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 02-21-2013, 12:42 PM   #3
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If you enjoy reading a book, you're not to young for it, but you might not get as much out of the book as you might if you were older. The first time I read Animal Farm, there were things I didn't understand, like why the chickens made false confessions, when they were killed after confessing. I thought it was more logical to refuse to confess, but at the time, I didn't realize that you can get people to confess to anything. On the other hand, there are some books that I might have liked had I read them when I was younger but I just couldn't get into now.

I'll re-read some books, but I found the author calling not re-reading a disease annoying. Every book I re-read is one less new book I can read.
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Old 02-21-2013, 12:54 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by issybird View Post
Yes.

LOL. There's no harm in reading a book too early, IMO;
I disagree. It can wind up leaving a bad taste in your mouth, and skew your impression of reading which can lead to an unwillingness to try similar books (or, God forbid, any books) later on.

But it's akin to the risk of sunburn...still better to risk going outside then to stay under a rock your whole life.

And the best "sunscreen" for the book concern is friends and family (and maybe even forums) who can recommend books that they think you'll enjoy and understand.

ApK
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Old 02-21-2013, 12:59 PM   #5
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I disagree. It can wind up leaving a bad taste in your mouth, and skew your impression of reading which can lead to an unwillingness to try similar books (or, God forbid, any books) later on.

But it's akin to the risk of sunburn...still better to risk going outside then to stay under a rock your whole life.

And the best "sunscreen" for the book concern is friends and family (and maybe even forums) who can recommend books that they think you'll enjoy and understand.

ApK
I think that applies to books you're forced to read. If you're reading by choice, if you don't like it, you'll just put it down and move onto something else.
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:17 PM   #6
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Yes. Hated "Bleak House" at 18, and loved it at 45.
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Old 02-21-2013, 05:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BenG View Post
http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/01/is-...to-read-a-book

and also:
http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/02/whats-reading-for


I liked Moby Dick well enough when I read it at 23, but loved it at 50.
What's you're experience?
I believe there is a right age for many books.

I think I was too young to like Moby Dick at 30, but too old to enjoy Crash at 42.

I don't tend to reread.
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Old 02-21-2013, 05:12 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by QuantumIguana View Post
I think that applies to books you're forced to read. If you're reading by choice, if you don't like it, you'll just put it down and move onto something else.
That certainly, but I'm also thinking of young kids. If the first book they pick up on their own is too far above them, they might decide they 'don't like reading', and the something else they move on to may be a video game instead. I figure we want the earliest associations with reading-as-voluntary-activity to be a positive as possible.
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Old 02-21-2013, 06:04 PM   #9
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I'm all for children's versions of classics. I used to read the Wishbone books and when I got older it got me interested in reading the originals. If I read the originals first I probably would've been turned off such a "boring" book.
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:46 PM   #10
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I've always meant to try to re-read Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles. I read it in Jr. High and what I remember thinking at the time was the girl just needed to "get over herself". As an adult and with a better understanding of how attitudes change, I always wondered if I'd be more sympathetic.
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Old 03-01-2013, 12:43 AM   #11
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Being young enough not to know better? That's the ideal age to enjoy a book. I was impressed by Dune as young man. Re-reading it when ereaders first came out, my impression of the book diminished. I read Moby Dick when I was 14. Reading it again decades later ... still amazed by the quality of the writing and depth of the story. A book that holds up over time is a true testament to the greatness of the author. Kids may laugh at Homer's Iliad and the Odyssey, but I bet these two works will still be cherished after Twilight and Harry Potter are buried deep in a landfill.
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Old 03-01-2013, 12:45 AM   #12
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Steve Allen wrote an article about this topic as I remember. He thought there were certain ages at which people were ready for a given book. He'd had to read Moby Dick for school (if I remember right) and had hated it, then yrs later when he was grown he took another stab at it and found he enjoyed it.
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Old 03-01-2013, 08:27 AM   #13
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There's no harm in reading a book too early, IMO;
I can't agree with that. If you read a book too early and you're thus put off a great classic for life, that's very definitely "harm". I was force-fed Dickens in school, and loathed his books. I "rediscovered" him some 30-odd years later, at which point I had the life-experience to understand the social satire of his writing, and was able to appreciate why it is that he's considered one of the greatest of English novelists.
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Old 03-01-2013, 08:42 AM   #14
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I can't agree with that. If you read a book too early and you're thus put off a great classic for life, that's very definitely "harm". I was force-fed Dickens in school, and loathed his books. I "rediscovered" him some 30-odd years later, at which point I had the life-experience to understand the social satire of his writing, and was able to appreciate why it is that he's considered one of the greatest of English novelists.
I have to agree with Harry on this one. I, too, was forced to read many 'great works' in middle school, and it put me off Dickens, Bronte, Hardy, and several others for many, many years. Reading them again as an adult was a wonderful experience, especially as I was sure I'd be bored to tears yet again. On the other hand, there were many books that I loved as a young teen that I simply can't get past the first 30 pages of today. So yes, I think there really is an age related to each book, but it might not be chronological. Different people will react differently at different ages.


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Old 03-01-2013, 04:06 PM   #15
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Interesting topic for discussion. My own experience has gone both ways: Loved Robinson Crusoe and a kid, as an adult I didn't care for it. Loathed Great Expectations as a teenager, very much enjoyed it in my early 30's.

Loved the Magus at 21 and in my mid-thirties, but the sense of awe the first time around was largely absent 15 years later - due to greater maturity, cynicism, or maybe just because I knew what to expect the second time around, I'm not sure. I still thought it was a damn good read though.

Some of the science fiction I loved as a gawky teen I now find silly - but I still love Ender's Game, of course.
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