Think about your favorite books. Now think about your favorite books from five years ago. Ten years ago. I’m sure some of these are the same, but are there any that you loved ten years ago but don’t anymore? Any that you’re embarrassed to have loved?
The Awl asks that very question of some writers/editors/book enthusiasts. Several people call out Ayn Rand (not surprising), a few mention On the Road (including John Green) and Raymond Carver, and some talk about their Stephen King phase. One of my favorite responses comes from Sadie Stein:
“Wow, that’s tricky: I tend to kind of revel in the bad stuff I read, and I never had, like, an Ayn Rand phase! But! I did go through a period where I would covertly—but slavishly—read every book I could lay my hands on on how to be sexy/chic/mysterious/alluring like a French woman. This in turn led to the purchase of several very unflattering striped shirts and one of those stove-top espresso makers.
Oh, and I once came across a “Felicity” novelization in a thrift store, and devoured it. I wish there had been a hundred: it totally went into the summer she leaves Noel for Ben after season 1! Oddly, it also contained recipes.”
Sadie, you could totally write a Friday Fifteen.
My other favorite comes from Maureen Corrigan:
“I’ve been wracking my brain, but honestly it’s hard to suggest any without feeling disloyal. In fact, at the risk of sounding sentimental—oh, what the hell, I’ll be sentimental—to dis those embarrassing young adult faves now feels like snickering at the friends I had in high school and college whom I’ve “outgrown.” I loved them and needed them at the time and, for that, I’ll always be grateful to them.”
Amen to that. Books help make you who you are. If you read nothing but Sweet Valley High as a kid or if you thought you were the first person to understand Ayn Rand, that’s okay. These books touched you and are part of your life as a reader. They helped you get to where you are now in your reading life. And that rocks.