I used to be nostalgic for my childhood reading, when every new discovery was so fresh and exciting and the worlds on the page seemed vividly real. I still look back with fondness to that particular magic, but lately I’ve grown to also appreciate being a more mature reader. I understand more, I have more connections to make with both literature and life, and the excitement of learning still never grows old.
This question came to mind as I’ve been reading The Lord of the Rings to my son. It was never really meant as a children’s book, though I think lots of us do come to it in the middle grade years. And though as a fantasy lover I dutifully read it a few times, I have to admit I was somewhat baffled. Now, I can see better what Tolkien was doing, his strengths and weaknesses, perceiving the echo of ancient sagas and also his innovations. I’m less thrown by his sometimes confusing or archaic writing style, and I certainly enjoy the story more thereby.
Reading as I grow older doesn’t lose any of its savor, but just seems to get richer and deeper — especially when taking on such complex, many-layered works. It’s satisfying to contemplate how reading has enriched my mental life, and to know that there is still much more room to grow.
If you are a reader of a certain age, how has your reading experience changed? Do you also think it’s gotten better?