As I’ve been reading through my bookshelf I’ve read some of my older books. They’re stories I really enjoyed in middle school or high school. There’s one series I own a good portion of, and had wanted to eventually have the whole thing, that’s called Mysteries in Our National Parks. It was put out by National Geographic and I know it continues past book 9 (which is as far as I read) but I don’t know if it’s still going today.
I remembered a lot of what had gone on in these middle school level books and it was really nostalgic to just sit down with one after so long. I remember loving these books. They were interesting and intense and I enjoyed them a lot. But going back to them was really weird.
You probably don’t think too hard about how advanced you’ve become as a reader until you read something from your past that you loved but now can’t stand. I ended up only reading one of the books (I have 9 of them) before deciding to give up the whole set. The first book is about a poacher who is shooting wolves in one of our lovely National Parks. Obviously, the three kids eventually solve the mystery of who it is and immediately bring them to justice. Good story, simple, there’s some family drama thrown in there to round it out. It’s a solid story and written well enough. But it’s so far below my reading level now that I had a hard time getting through just one book.
It makes me worry about recommending a book that I haven’t read since high school or middle school. Maybe it was actually terrible and I just didn’t realize it? Maybe that book I hated is something I would actually like now? What if the character I loved is really poorly written and I didn’t know enough to see that? Movies are even worse. What if the animation was actually garbage? What if my 8 year old self completely misinterpreted that scene?
I’ve started prefacing recommendations with, “I really liked it but I haven’t read/watched it in a while.” Then I’m at least covered if it’s actually terrible.
I get so nervous to rewatch movies sometimes or when I want to reread a book (which is rare but with my resolutions this year I’m doing it) because what if I hate it? What if I get through the whole thing and my tastes have changed so much that it doesn’t mean anything to me anymore? What if that thing I loved so much as a child is now something I’m going to despise? That character I thought was so funny is now really annoying. The parent I found to be completely unreasonable is now the only one making sense. I see now the bad guy’s plan is ridiculous and convoluted. etc. etc. etc.
I have a book series on my shelf right now that I LOVED reading in early high school. I am terrified to read it now because I’m worried I won’t like it anymore. I’ve been stalling, avoiding it in favor of other books I’m not as attached to, just in case I hate it.
It’s such a weird feeling to come back to something. It’s like catching a glimpse of your past self but from the perspective of someone not emotionally involved. I remember these stories but it’s hazy enough that I don’t feel as attached to the book but more so to the memory. You become way more objective as you grow up and suddenly being confronted by a thing that feels a million years ago is disconcerting at least. My expectations are easily subverted when it comes to rereading books because it’s not something I even did a lot. I’d want a copy of a book for myself just to have it or so then I could lend it out for others to enjoy.
But now I’m being confronted by all these past stories that meant so much to me but when I read them now they’re just… not as powerful. It feels like I’m wasting the stories on myself because I’m just not in the same place I was when I first read them.
I know someone out there is going to feel the same way as me about this. Nostalgic but also a bit judgmental of your past self because at some point all I can think is, “How could I possibly have enjoyed this?” But then there’s always the possibility I’ll love it even more reading it now and that I missed out on things because I lacked perspective. I’ll keep reading through my shelf but I may be scrambling at the end of the year when I have only my absolute favorites left and I’m still paranoid I’ll hate them!