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Author Topic: Timing of reading and opinion on books  (Read 2513 times)

Online ScarletBea

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Timing of reading and opinion on books
« on: April 15, 2015, 01:01:18 PM »
Do you think there's such a thing as reading the right book at the wrong time?

Some comments on another thread got me thinking: what if I didn't like, or wasn't able to finish, a book, just because I was reading it at the 'wrong time' of my life?
Either from age/personal experience, or from other events happening at the same time, that got in the way of me enjoying the book.

Should I give them another try, and confirm or deny my hypothesis?

(I know many low-rated books were due to awful plot and/or bad writing, but I wonder about all the others)
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Offline Hedin

Re: Timing of reading and opinion on books
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2015, 01:38:43 PM »
For myself, I don't think age or personal experience has really had an effect on what I like or not like.  I have had times in my life where I went to read something and just didn't have time to finish the book and so there are some of those I should maybe re-read sometime (although even with how busy I was at those times, if the book didn't interest me enough to finish it in 3 weeks...). 

That said, I do think when you read certain books in relation to others definitely matter.  As a personal example, I read A Wizard of Earthsea last summer for the first time.  I thought it was ok but nothing special and I think a large part of that was I had read a lot of things that had been influenced by it to some degree and it didn't seem that new or fresh to me.  If I had read it 15 years ago I can see myself having fond memories of reading it and would probably have a much higher opinion of the book.

Offline Idlewilder

Re: Timing of reading and opinion on books
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2015, 01:41:33 PM »
Yeah, no doubt about it. There's books I know I attempted years ago that I've since read and loved. It also works the other way though. There are books I know I would have loved in my teens had they been there that I just can't get through now (I found Brent Weeks to be like this - I know I'd have personally loved them 10-15 years ago, but not to my tastes now.)
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Offline Rostum

Re: Timing of reading and opinion on books
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2015, 02:31:46 PM »
Yup. I have just done this. I read Prince of Fools last year and liked it very much. I read Prince of Thorns last month and while I enjoyed it I was so compelled to keep reading by it. I am currently reading King of Thorns and cannot put it down. I think Mark's talent has grown with his books and had I have read them in the correct order my expectations as a reader would have been different. I will make my way through all he writes and probably re-read them several times over as I do with my all favourite stories.

Offline Shimrod

Re: Timing of reading and opinion on books
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2015, 02:35:42 PM »
The problem is that the books I like now would not have been written then.....


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Re: Timing of reading and opinion on books
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2015, 02:49:40 PM »
That said, I do think when you read certain books in relation to others definitely matter.  As a personal example, I read A Wizard of Earthsea last summer for the first time.  I thought it was ok but nothing special and I think a large part of that was I had read a lot of things that had been influenced by it to some degree and it didn't seem that new or fresh to me.  If I had read it 15 years ago I can see myself having fond memories of reading it and would probably have a much higher opinion of the book.
Funny, this exact same thing happened to me with this book. The other 3 stories were much mroe interesting for me, because I suppose other writers haven't expanded and used the base plot for their books, so they sounded much 'newer'.


The problem is that the books I like now would not have been written then.....
So you only read recent releases? I've actually been reading old books too.
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Offline Shimrod

Re: Timing of reading and opinion on books
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2015, 03:32:43 PM »
I've actually replied upon Idlewilder's post.... I admit, can be confusing.

However I believe that current writers would not have written the books in my teenage time as they probably would have been influenced by a different "Zeitgeist" and thus wrote different books.

I do read older books only not so much old fantasy books as I read those when they were "newer" (apart from The Iliad obviously)

Incidentally I named my first dog when I was a kid Argos..........

Offline Nora

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Re: Timing of reading and opinion on books
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2015, 04:44:52 PM »
Do you think there's such a thing as reading the right book at the wrong time?

Some comments on another thread got me thinking: what if I didn't like, or wasn't able to finish, a book, just because I was reading it at the 'wrong time' of my life?
Either from age/personal experience, or from other events happening at the same time, that got in the way of me enjoying the book.

Should I give them another try, and confirm or deny my hypothesis?

(I know many low-rated books were due to awful plot and/or bad writing, but I wonder about all the others)

Haha!! Is it my comment on Strange/Norell ?
I do believe you can read some books at a key time.
There are simple exemples and illustrations of that :

My taste evolves with time and reading and what I read with pleasure 10 years ago I would not pick up today, so I am grateful that I read them then.
Some books shatter my mindset. Like "The collector" by Fowles. Freaking godawful. It put me in such a bad mental state that I picked up half a dozen ebook a and dropped them halfway through te first chapters because I was too disturbed to appreciate them. This went on for 4 days until I picked Mistborn, that worked very well then.
There are times when I "dig" subjects and of course research books accordingly. I suppose that makes it a good moment to discover some books. Puts them in a highlight.

And then there are books like Norel/strange that I know I read at the good time because even though I enjoyed it and never put it down more than a week, I've never re read it and can't see myself doing it.
Some books just hit a good moment, things happen in my life that make the story feel closer and more understandable and that link cannot always return, and doesn't happen all the time.
The fact that we even grovel through books we can still enjoy also seems to hint at this idea that time is a factor of enjoyment.

Also life experiences must be a factor of understanding. If you've gone through some things. Like grief, parenthood, betrayal and deep love, ect, I'm sure you can connect and understand some works better than before those events in your life. So the same book about betrayal and trust might leave 14 yo you mildly moved and rock 34 yo you to tears.
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Re: Timing of reading and opinion on books
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2015, 07:24:59 PM »
Haha!! Is it my comment on Strange/Norell ?
hehe that gave me the incentive to post, because funnily enough, I said I hated that book, but I do wonder if I read it now/at some other time, I would have liked it.
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Offline Ryan Mueller

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Re: Timing of reading and opinion on books
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2015, 08:35:01 PM »
I've experienced this, especially with series. There have been quite a few series in which I've struggled to get through the first book. Later, when I tried another book, I seemed to be in a much better head space for the book. Examples that come to mind are The Black Company and Prince of Thorns.

Offline Elfy

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Re: Timing of reading and opinion on books
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2015, 01:19:48 AM »
Absobloodylutely! Jo Walton talks about something called the 'suck fairy' in What Makes This Book So Great? We all have these. There's a book that you read when you were say 12 years old, and to your 12 year old self this book was the greatest thing ever. Then when you're 22 or so and looking for something comforting to read, you pull out this book that the best book you ever read when you were 12, but wait it's all changed. You've got 10 years of reading, learning and life experience on that book now, and what you thought was brilliant at 12, is at 22, not so great, the 'suck fairy' has struck! Of course there's also emotional state of mind. Depending on what that is a particular book may really speak to you when you first read it, or maybe you didn't like it, but then when you read it later feeling different, you might now dislike it or if you didn't like it before, now you do appreciate it. I think physical environment can also affect it. I first read All The Green Year by Don Charlwood at my grandmother's house while on holiday. It is a pretty good book, but what I think really hit home for me while reading it was that my grandmother lived in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Seaford. The book was set in Seaford, okay they called it Kananook (it's original name), and it was set in the 1920's, but I could see the places and the landscape that the book spoke about around me every single day, so that made it have more of an impact on me. I have read it since, and while I do enjoy it, it hasn't recaptured that same feeling I got then, reading it where it was written about.