Since I finished Clockwork Orange I’ve been mulling a bit about age and books. Several people commented that they were blown away by Clockwork Orange when they read it as a teen. Then today in the comments at Necromancy Never Pays Jeanne commented that perhaps because she was older she liked the book under review better than two others who didn’t care for it as much. Does age matter when reading?

Not always, but sometimes it does. I think I would have felt differently about Clockwork Orange if I had read it as a teen. I didn’t read The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe until I was an adult and while I could see the charm for a kid, as an adult, I didn’t think it was all that. Same thing happened to me with Catcher in the Rye.

Conversely, when I was younger and read Moby Dick in high school English class I liked it but found it mostly really boring. Rereading it as an adult, the book turned out to be amazing. The first two times I read Jane Austen’s Emma I was in my twenties and I found her insufferable. When I read it last year I suddenly liked Emma and the book so much better.

Age matters but I don’t think it is age as a specific number, I think it is more age as experience — both reading experience and life experience. Does that make sense? I would like to think that age doesn’t matter when it comes to reading (and most of the time it doesn’t), the thought that there are some books out there that I haven’t read yet but might have missed the boat on makes me a bit sad. But then I can buoy myself up with the thought there are probably books I have not read yet that will be much more amazing when I do because of my age. Two sides of the same coin? Has your age ever made a difference when reading?

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