After reading some of your comments on last week’s Negative Book Triggers discussion post, it got me thinking about how your age impacts your reading. A lot of you can probably relate to my experience with Twilight, reading and enjoying it when it first came out. I think back to Edward’s possessive and stalker behaviour and Bella’s whining now, and wonder how I possibly enjoyed it.
Like our thoughts and attitudes towards life and particular issues, such as feminism, diversity and empowerment, our tolerance towards these themes in books will change. I read Twilight about 6 years ago, which is the difference between a younger, naive and impressionable self as opposed to a confident, ambitious woman I aim to be today. Like our own life experience, reading books will help us form an opinion, whether it’s apathetic, passionate or on the fence, and I’ve read enough books with the whiny ‘woe is me’ heroine and the possessive stalker guy to know that it disturbs me.
YA is amazing with how it appeals to both teenagers and adults. Although they feature teenage characters, the situations, thoughts, attitudes and ideas they present are relatable to a wide range of audiences. A universally good book has the ability to connect to everyone, not just people in a certain age or demographic, and many YA and even middle grade books have this inherent ability to move us.
As an adult YA reader, books that are too ‘young’ for me in their themes and attitudes no longer appeal to me. Books that heavily feature cliches at school, selfish and immature attitudes (without character growth or a coming of age) and bitchy name calling and gossiping are ones that I simply can’t relate to. I feel like the time for this in my life has passed, and they tend to be more fluff for pure entertainment rather than a story that is going to better my life experience.
At this point in my adult life, I look for books that are going to impact me in a certain way. Are they going to immerse me in a new world (like This Shattered World and The Bone Season)? Highlight and attempt to change important societal attitudes (like All the Bright Places and This Song Will Save Your Life)? Make me think about life in a different way and appreciate it further (like The Fault in Our Stars)? Or hook me into some powerful, strong characters with healthy relationships that I want to emulate (like the Weather Warden series and Addicted To You)?
Books that set out to make an impact, whether it’s with a breathtaking romance, excellent characters, a deep new world or a brilliant romance are books that resonate with me. While I was younger, I looked for books that provided entertainment, but these days I want them to mean something.
How has age impacted your reading experiences?