As readers get older...

22:25, Dec 19 2013

The older that I get, the harder it becomes for a book to really affect me. I'm not sure why.

I've talked before about reading the One Last Wish series as a teen, and really getting into teenage death porn. I used to relish stories that made you cry. I remember being suffused with rage when reading The Grapes of Wrath and To Kill A Mockingbird. I was practically apoplectic with the injustice of it all!

I also had many belly laugh moments when reading books. I don't particularly seek out comedic plotlines, but there were definitely scenes that made me giggle long after the last page had been turned.

Yet having gone back to some of those books, I find it difficult to muster up the same depth of feeling. Who has the energy when you're working full-time and have so many commitments outside of work?? 

What sparked this entry originally was my attempt to read Mitch Albom's latest book, The First Phone Call From Heaven. First of all, I want to make it clear that there's nothing actually wrong with the book. It's as well crafted as any of his other stories. But whereas Tuesdays With Morrie made me sniffle and The Five People You Meet in Heaven made me sob, I was irritated with this particular tale.

I flicked through the pages like a demon, willing for the story to end. Again, I'm not entirely sure why. It's classic Albom. All the ingredients for drama and a feel-good weepie were there. But after much pondering, I have come to the conclusion that perhaps as one gets older and more jaded, it just becomes that much harder to feel strong emotions when reading.


I'm not saying it's impossible. There are still books that blow me away, but they have become fewer in number. I fear that I am becoming that dreaded creature - the persnickety old reader, who forever laments the golden era of reading and looks scathingly upon the current crop of emerging writers.

Has anyone else experienced the same thing? Does age affect your ability to connect or empathise with fictional characters?

I'd also like to take the opportunity this post to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I'm taking a couple of weeks off to read, rest, eat chocolate and drink wine with my dearest ones. I hope you are all planning to do the same.

May the coming New Year bring you much joy, a heck of a lot of good books, and some fabulous company for heated literary discussions!

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