Have you ever re-read a book that you haven’t read in many, many years? Do you find that the way you perceive that book is now different, colored by your experience of those intervening decades? Or does it still hold the same sense of wonder, or the same shortcomings as it held for you back then? Do they ever get better across the years or do they mostly seem to become tarnished by the ravages of time?
For myself, some books stand the test of years while others seem less impressive to me, their wonders more suited to an impressionable teen than to a been-there-done-that adult. But when I ask myself what exactly the reason is for this, I find it’s not easy to put my finger on. Just what does make a book truly good–an immersive experience that will stand the test of time?
Some books make it hard on themselves by containing dated pop-culture references or postulating about near-future real-life events that have long since came and went without being what they were cracked up to be (Y2K anyone?), while others seem to stack the deck in their favor in that regard by being more character driven with less detail given to the setting, essentially stories that could take place anywhere, anytime.
Likewise, certain genres may predispose themselves to age better than others. That fad driven vampire saga might not seem so…biting…ten years from now. Or will it? What do you think? Can only literary novels stand up to repeated readings? Are there particular genres in which you don’t like to revisit the same book more than once? Perhaps the very act of having already read the story and therefore knowing what will happen renders all subsequent readings not as fresh, the unearthing of additional nuances notwithstanding?
Would like to hear your thoughts!