Do you ever “outgrow” a writer or book and feel like you’ve lost something?
By - danellender
I think your first instinct is right. You've absorbed what you can from an author and are ready to move on. The ideas don't seem profound because you've internalized and normalized them (or perhaps weakened them, put them in a larger perspective, or even discounted them.)
This does sometimes feel like a loss, but it's just a loss of wonderment.
I think what you've said also applies to how we sometimes don't like better books because we've encountered the same idea/message in a book that was probably less impressive/ground breaking. But since it was our first encounter with that idea/message, it seemed like a masterpiece.
Yes, I have the experience of reading some stuff that was really derivative of something else, but was original to me, and then when I read the thing they were inspired by it feels derivative, even though I know it was the original in its time. Sometimes of course the stuff taking off on something earlier has improved upon it or does not have the flaws of the original exciting concept that was not executed as well it could have been.
Sci-fi is something that has this we**a**kness as a genre. Thankfully, the good authors make it more about the characters involved, and the rest of the concepts are used to create and then solve interesting problems.
Comparing, say, Arthur C. Clarke and Alastair Reynolds is a good example of how the genre has evolved over time in this way.
Editted 4 speling
So well said. Margaret Atwood for me. Would still recommend! Just doesn’t have the same effect and I think how you described it is why.
I read God Emperor of Dune by Herbert after some Atwood and I liked the experience so much more. Some books are just so easy, they ironically never try to force their own momentum. Others I feel like I have to substitute my own motivation to read w what the author wants and that’s a little of how I felt reading Atwood
That’s an interesting way to look at it- like a partnership with certain authors in some cases, where there’s an expectation or style to apply your own experiences or perspectives. I can definitely see that with Atwood, where, as another commenter said, my beliefs and perspectives in my 20s, when she really resonated, were so much different than how I think today.
I loved her when I was in my 20s, now…almost 30 years later, I don’t find much in the writing.
I think sometimes as we age and grow as people, we have different life experiences that cause us to experience things differently. For example, I was commuting to work a few years ago, and while I was day-dreaming I had sort of an epiphany about The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. I sort of understood it at a surface level when I read it for high school, but all of a sudden the premise just clicked.
To answer your initial question though, I felt that way slightly while rereading The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I still enjoyed it, but I think I saw a few things this time around that took me out of the story a little bit.
The Metamorphosis might be one of the most relatable books I've ever read. Which is shocking because it was published 105 years ago, I guess some things never change.
When I read it for high school English, I enjoyed it, but didn’t necessarily understand it on a deeper level. However, after I started working at a corporate job and felt increasingly like a drone, that was when the story hit home for me.
That's the beauty of Kafka. It's always some dark interesting story, but underneath you have the real darkness, there are layers and layers of significance, like a dream or a nightmare. Sometimes it seems to critic society, but then it seems it is dealing just with the dread of existence.
I read The Grapes of Wrath as a teen and just, thought it was an interesting book.
Then I re-read it later during the Occupy Wall Street years when I'd started to learn a little bit about politics and it seemed profound and important.
That was a fair few years ago now. I wonder what I'd see if I read it again.
*“A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.”*
Susannah's character takes me out every time. Extremely dated and uninformed idea of Disassociative Identity Disorder combined with him being really bad at writing black people. Drawing of the Three used to be my favorite book of the series but now I don't think I could get through it.
That’s almost exactly how I felt. The first time I read it, I really liked her, but I had a harder time with it the second time. Not only is her character a dated depiction (they refer to her DID as “schizophrenia” for example), but I felt like the DID itself enabled King to incorporate several different stereotypes into one character. On top of that, it felt like she got fridged for the majority of Song of Susannah.
I still enjoyed the series, and I think highly of it, but I had a lot harder time reading Susannah this time around.
I was 20ish when Piers Anthony started cranking out the Xanth novels. Loved them and devoured each one as it came out (at least the first 15ish) along with some of his other series and stand-alone books. I re-read book 1 last year and it was a cringe fest. WTF was I thinking 35 years ago?
Loved Xanth when I was 14, now, not so much. The thing about the Xanth novels is that the first novel is okay, but each subsequent novel is approximately half as good as the previous one was.
There are currently 44 Xanth novels. If you believe in homeopathy, that means that that latest book can cure cancer.
That's about when I read it too. Loved it at the time. Not so much now.
I wondered how long I'd need to scroll before I saw Piers Anthony mentioned. He's kiiiiinda fucking disgusting.
I read Killobyte when I was 13 and all I saw was the action and the plot that drove it. Same with the (then) three books of the Mode series. A few years ago I found the Mode titles again and briefly considered giving them to my oldest daughter to read.
I decided to thumb through them a little before parting with them - that's when I saw this awful repeating pattern of teenage girls being whimsically swept off their feet by men more than twice their age, under either magical or technological pretense that would "excuse" the age difference. I didn't catch it in my youth, or if I did, I just kind of accepted what was happening because "the writing says this is okay, so I guess it is". But yeah no, 14 year old girls being in relationships with 30-somethings isn't A Good Thing, I don't care what parallel universe the dude is from or which VR game you're playing together.
When I was a kid, I loved the mode series, too. It was only later I realized how creepy it actually was, and how creepy all Anthony's writings were.
Yeah, I used to love his books too, but those didn't age well.
In high school I started the Incarnations of Immortality. Loved On a Pale Horse and thought Bearing an Hourglass was fun and creative. Made it to Being a Green Mother. 20 years later I picked up Welding a Red Sword and powered through to And Eternity.
Idk if Anthony's storytelling and cringe just went through the roof in the latter books, or if 37 year old me is just different than 17 year old me and I would hate On a Pale Horse if I re-read it today but that series aged like milk.
Just wanted to say, thanks for the really interesting topic. It's been really cool seeing people's reactions. :)
I've enjoyed it too.
I once thought I was too old for "Are you my mother?" And then I had a kid, and now that book breaks me.
People grow and change. That's normal and totally okay.
I've been teaching a lot of books lately and some of them hit me hard because I'm no longer the main character. One of my classes is going over Because of Winn Dixie. I can relate now more to her dad and the choices he makes than I can the main character. The Graveyard Book has me almost in tears at the end because he >!leaves his adopted parents and will one day forget them. I think there's a bit of fear in parents that they will be left and forgotten.!<
Chuck Palahniuk is probably best suited for your Angry Young Man phase if you happen to experience one.
I get angry just trying to remember how to spell his name.
I think his writings has just dropped in quality, his early stuff was great... I think I read Haunted in one day, I couldn't put it down. When Snuff came out I just felt like his spark was gone.
At some point he just started making things hard to read (Pygmy, Tell All). After that, I didn't really bother with his stuff.
Adjustment Day was actually pretty good except for his own meta references. After the third nod to Fight Club I was just like, "Why, Chuck, Why???" I haven't read his newest one yet but my sister said it was alright.
He really did hit a slump there for a bit though. "Tell All" was a slog and I couldn't get through "Beautiful You." Like I know what he was attempting with those two books but they really fell flat.
This was going to be my answer, but I remembered the small cabal of writers from The Velvet that have hit their stride in the last decade or so and how interesting it is to see authors outgrow an influence too
I'm over Haruki Murakami. It's all the same and the plots never really go anywhere. I loved them for a while but it's more about the atmosphere, and that always ends up being the same. Always the same motives, themes
I think that's a symptom of reading a lot of his books, rather than necessarily a change in perspective on his style. I think a person could easily read Kafka on the Shore and The Wind Up Bird Chronicles or 1Q84 and then stop, having had a fantastic experience. It's trying to relive that experience by reading more of his books that produces diminishing returns.
I reckon that I'd recommend people who've read the best Murakamis to read some Douglas Coupland to scratch that itch, rather than always searching for the next hit of Murakami.
You may be right. He's been accused of being a bit of a
.. . Two-trick pony. It's not all one-dimensional, but it does get repetitive. Thanks for the recommendation!
I've only read Girlfriend in a Coma and Microserfs by Coupland but I got that same sense of magical-realism and wistful nostalgia that you get from Murakami, so I figure Murakami fans might also enjoy them.
I couldnt agree more. I read those three first (Kafka, Wind-up, and 1Q84), then proceeded to read 5 more Murakami novels that just felt like meh imitations of those. Love him, but it’s true that it’s diminishing returns after those three.
You just described why I stopped reading Theodor Fontane. Great author, but after the third book the endless descriptions and countless details of romantic realism just bore you to tears.
I mean it's easy to read him, but after finishing book you don't feel like you've done something
I got very sick of the descriptions of teenage girls' breasts, so after reading three of his books I decided that was enough.
The vivid descriptions of teenage breasts really threw me for a loop. It was the pubic hair imagery that really caught me off guard in some of his novels (sputnik, etc.)
Yeah I get that. I actually think it would add if it acknowledged its own explicitness and the older male characters kind of called themselves out on what they’d just done.
But nah, usually they just make spaghetti after “filling her nubile limber figure up like a charged battery” and listen to Mozart. So now it’s cool to turn young women into a “aesthetic” if you have good taste in other things, I guess.
I think his books just need more of a sense of guilt and retrospection, like, “wow, hell, I *really* shouldn’t have done that.” Maybe there was, I just can’t remember. The kind of eternal present moment thing we get instead is cool but you can be in a dream-fugue state and still decide not to go for a young woman and then right after go for her mom (who probably has a ‘young body just like hers’ or something).
I read Norwegian Wood and really enjoyed it. Then I read 1Q84 and liked it too. I was ok with the length since I enjoy the atmosphere and worlds and vibe. I did wish 1Q84 had a bit more of an explanation at the end.
Then I read Kafka on the Shore... and ehh, ended up finishing it but felt dirty about it. I think I've had my fill of Murakami. I'm kind of surprised a serious author would put that sort of stuff in a book.
It has magical realism elements and the mother son stuff is a nod to classical literature / Sophocles. It's strange for sure, but in the context of Oedipus and Freud, not as random.
>I'm kind of surprised a serious author would put that sort of stuff in a book.
I would venture to guess that this was said about a lot of historical great authors in their time. Obviously taste in novels is a totally subjective thing, but fiction doesn't have to be nice/clean/easy/fun to be good.
I came here to reply exactly this! When I was younger I loved the isolation and loneliness he depicted, and his form of magical realism was so enjoyable for me. But now 15 years later I feel like most of his characters are the same, women in his books are mostly flat characters, too many sexy teenage girls just chilling with a lonely middle aged man... I feel kind of over it. Kafka on the Shore and The Wind Up Bird Chronicle are still two of my favorite books, but his writing doesn't get me the way it used to.
100% agree. I got into his writing during college and the end of high school as I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. For a while it was nice, his writing was whimsical enough to cut through the mundanity of being a poor young adult. As I aged, I realized that my tastes in lit changed. The characters are always the same with minimal physical differences. One go-around was enough, and I am forever grateful that I read him exactly when I did.
I think I can handle authors with cool things (always liked his atmosphere) and faults (very male gazey) at the start, but over time I feel like I get more and more annoyed by the faults and get more and more used to the cool things so they're less distinctive. I've heard similar things from people regardless of what order they read his books in, so that's my best current theory.
Ah, yes. The Old Man and the Sea. Classic novel by John Steinbeck. 😉
That said, I've experienced this. Heinlein falls in this category for me.
Fascinating to read as a teen, very hard to stomach as an adult.
I first read Heinlein as an adult. The overall concepts held up, but a lot of detail seemed dated and cheesy.
The funny part is that Heinlein's works classified as his "juveniles" are generally the ones that hold up, because they are the space opera adventure stories. Later in his career, he decided that he was going to be the sexual potentate of science fiction, and started putting out these incredibly misogynistic door stoppers that are mostly just him telling women how they need to act.
"Friday" was the one that made me put down Heinlein for over a decade. So much interstellar witty banter, but utterly lacking in substance. Like Seinfeld in space but without the humor or geniality. I agree that the "juvenile" stuff like 'Rocket Ship Galileo' and 'Space Cadet' holds up much better.
Yeah.. I used to enjoy Heinlein, until I realized he's just another product of his time and not necessarily any more insightful than the next knob.
Ian Banks revived the love for sci-fi that Heinlein kind of killed in me.
"Sexual Potentate of Science Fiction."
Stop. You're killing me.
I have the same reaction to Michael Moorcock's *Elric*/*Eternal Champion* novels. Loved them in High School, practically intolerable 35 years later...
Yes steinbeck was known for his manly masculine characters and bull fights lol
I read Stranger in a Strange Land and really enjoyed it in my early teens. I just didn't take note of the faults. Just a few years later I read Glory Road and despite having a wonderful adventure plot the harem/male superiority fantasies really crash landed all over the middle of the story. So much so even as a teenage boy I thought it was out of place. Tried to get through Time Enough for Love but realized I couldn't get past how heavy handed Heinlein was with the stuff. Never read him again.
I made the mistake of starting with Time Enough for Love (I was 11) and it put me off of Heinlein until later high school. But even when I read his less heavy handed stuff, I can always see the sex cult at the basis of it.
I had a similar issue with Piers Anthony. When I was 12 everyone sexually obsessing about the 13 year olds in the book felt if not comfortable at least not unfamiliar. The older I got and the more of the stories I heard about the author and now I can't read his work either.
Heinlein was my first thought. Some of his hold up well. A few...
Old man and the sea is Hemingway btw
You’re so right! My mistake!
I don’t know how I ever thought Wuthering Heights was romantic when I was 17, but I reread it when I was 36 and realized it was a pile of batsh*t crazy all up in there.
Yes, Heathcliff is depicted as some kind of dashing romantic lover when he actually comes off as more of a psychotic stalker and abuser. And Cathy Earnshaw had her issues too. If the story-line of *Wuthering Heights* somehow played out in real life nowadays, it would be a great potential episode of Dateline or 48 Hours, not to mention a True Crime bestseller. The same could be said of Mr. Rochester in *Jane Eyre* though he's a little less toxic than Heathcliff. For an alternate take on Rochester's 'mad' wife, check out the novel *Wide Sargasso Sea* and the movie version of it. There was a limited series version of WH made about 20 years ago where Ralph Fiennes played Heathcliff and I preferred his villainous take on Heathcliff to the more romantic one by Laurence Olivier in the 1939 film.
**Wuthering Heights Spoilers**
I disagree. Heathcliff is not depicted as dashing or
romantic at all. In fact, every character in the book talks repeatedly about what a tyrant he is (in his later years). I think readers seeing Heathcliff as romantic is on us and our conditioning about romance stories. WH broke the mold in many ways, with incredibly flawed main characters. Heathcliff is 100% an antihero. It's a book about the dark side of human nature, and the main characters are all incredibly flawed and end up incredibly unhappy and mostly dead.
I first read WH as a teen and definitely had a "how brooding!" reaction. Now in my 30s I read it and love it as much but for very different reasons. Some people need to like the characters in a story, but some just need to find them interesting. WH is the latter.
I’ve read it for the first time earlier this year and it’s clear that Heathcliff is an antihero, every character in that damn novel is hateful. Wuthering heights is a brilliant novel that broke the mold
Yes, *Wuthering Heights* is a misanthropic masterpiece that consists entirely of bitter, angry or stupid characters and makes it clear that Emily Bronte had nothing but contempt for the English morals and manners of the time. It being turned into romantic shorthand is just a complete inability of our society to understand what the novel is going for.
Hold up, people read Wurthering Heights and think it is a romance?? I never had a class where we covered it, and only read it as an adult with no background knowledge of it. I very much read it as a bleak, psychological horror. I legitimately can't imagine trying to work it into a romance.
A lot of early Hollywood adaptations turned it into a romance, I think by only adapting the first half of the novel, before Heathcliff really becomes a villain. They sort of did the same thing with *The Count of Monte Cristo*. Popular culture’s understanding of these stories seems very limited
Two questions. It's been awhile since I read Monte Cristo, but how could they turn that into a romance? Also are you saying that Edmond is a villain? I don't remember him punishing anyone who hadn't earned it.
Edit: Not disagreeing per se, just legitimately curious.
It’s not that Edmond is a villain, it’s that the story is in general a lot darker than usually portrayed. Hollywood turns it into a sort of swashbuckling story where you just think “yeah get em man”. In the novel, while you are basically on Edmond’s side, you’re also held at arm’s distance and you’re a little disturbed by his change in personality and coldness. Plus in the end of the novel, his revenge results in a much more complicated emotional reaction than in the Hollywood films, where Edmond is a lot more straightforward. I actually think in the old films it’s just about getting Mercedes back from Fernand and that’s literally how it ends.
It’s actually something that bugs me in the movie *V For Vendetta*. They have V be obsessed with *The Count of Monte Cristo* since he sees himself as an Edmond Dantés type. But V only watches the classic Hollywood film which does not come to the same conclusions as the novel. At the same time, V is portrayed as this well-read artsy type, and it seems to me that he would have read the novel and it probably wouldn’t have worked as inspiration for his vengeance.
Yeah. The point of Wuthering Heights is lost on teenagers, because it’s not meant to be romantic. It’s a deeply twisted story about a toxic obsession and inter generational trauma. As such, it’s a good novel, but it is indeed a pile of batshit crazy; a train wreck you can’t draw your eyes away from.
Teenagers misinterpret Romeo and Juliet similarly. Wuthering Heights is a favorite of mine. Everyone in it is just so terrible.
I went into Wuthering Heights expecting something like Pride and Prejudice, but it turned out to be more like Hateful Eight.
I read this in high school and was so confused by the appeal. Healthcliffe and Catherine were terrible people but they felt like the same person just male/female to me so their “love” for each other felt more like an extension of self love to me.
Yes, but more with authors I read as a teen. David Eddings comes to mind, but there are certainly others that just aren't as good as I remember.
Holy crap I was about to reply saying David Eddings too! I loved the Belgariad and Mallorean as a teenager. I was re-reading the stand alone Redemption of Althalus a few years ago and had to put it down. Now I’m scared to re-read any David Eddings because I don’t want to tarnish my memories of the series I loved.
... maybe I shouldn't say this, but definitely dont read anything **about** David Eddings if you dont want to tarnish the memories. I did and discovered that some events from his past came up after his death and now, I dont think I'll ever be able to read him again. Might just be my situation though.
I can reread the Belgariad, but not the Mallorean. I didn't super enjoy that one on my first read through though, so that's probably why.
Dan Brown was my favorite author as a teen and early 20s. I can still read his books but it just isn't the same
His Robert Langdon books were written so well in terms of leaving you wanting more. Short chapters but you just *have* to know what happens next. Unfortunately, after two books of his stuff, it's just too predictable and the magic has worn off. Reading The Da Vinci Code was one of the best reading experiences I've ever had but it was a one-time-experience thing. I got almost the same experience with Angels and Demons but after that the hype was gone.
Dan brown is atrocious. And yeah I loved the Davinci code when I read it, but now? Woof. Don't think I could based on all his other books, especially with his bullshit he puts in about the science etc being real. The Lost Symbol is the last one I read and it was Just. SO. BAD.
I tried to read Brown when I was in my late teens because my mom was hoovering up anything he wrote at the time... it was comically awful, particularly because of the pseudoscience, but it felt like everything was incredibly stilted and contrived. I'm all in for suspension of disbelief, but I couldn't take it nearly as far as his writing required.
Truly one of the absolute worst mainstream writers. Contrived, and villains right out of the school of Snidely Whiplash. And once you have read one of his books it's sooo obvious who the villain is going to be. I've seen more suspenseful and surprising reveals on Scooby-Doo.
I think he suffers mostly from faux intelligence. Arguments and logic (obviously it's fiction) that are just so bad it's hard to follow. The same reason why horror movies appeal more to younger crowds than old and you eventually grow out of the nonsense within most of them.
Same for me with Eddings. "Back then", when I had read barely any fantasy, his world was vast and the characters larger than life. Coming back years later, after seeing so many other worlds and great characters, I hold the memories and impressions dear and close to my heart. But I know that, if I would encounter the Belgariad for the first time today, I would find it predictable and many characters cringe worthy stereotypical.
Sidenote: I had nice reunion with his works though, through the awesome audiobook narration of Cameron Beierle. The voices he gives the characters is worth revisiting the book by themselves.
If it makes you feel better, Eddings stated in a book about his writing (Riven Codex, I think) that he was actively trying to stuff as many cliches as possible into the Belgariad and still tell a good story. Sort of as a writing exercise.
I tend to forgive it more in that light.
That helps, actually.
Regina's Song was pretty painful to revisit though. I actually put it down.
Eddings was one of my very first experiences with fantasy. As such, all the cliches were new and exciting. I enjoyed his books so much and I'm very happy that they were my introduction to fantasy, since I don't think I would appreciate them nearly as much If I read them today for the first time.
Ahh yes. RL Stine. Though he did help me develop my love for reading.
I joke somewhat. But out of nostalgia I read a few chapters of Goosebumps books. Hahaha. Oh mama it was corny.
It would be delightful to go back and read some of those again. Or I was also super into Babysitter’s Club.
I’ve seen the BSC being sold now at Costco! I’m keeping them for when my kids are old enough to read them.
I'm kind of curious what I would think about his Fear Street books now. Middle school me loved them.
I recently downloaded the entire goosebumps ebooks catalog. I haven’t started any yet but I’m sure they won’t hit like they did when I was a kid.
Oh man. I came across some sweet valley twins books in a little library, and I was sooo excited to re-read them. I was shocked at how bad they were.
The... predictably kind of kills it after about age 12.
I used to love Terry Brooks as a teenager went back for nostalgia and realized it total Dreck
Terry Brooks falls in here for sure, but for me it's RA Salvatore. I fucking LOVED his stuff, but it's actually unreadable now. I could get through a bunch of Brooks's stuff, but I literally cannot get through anything by Salvatore anymore, and it makes me kind of sad.
Edit: To those of you reading this who are looking for something to fill the Salvatore void, I've really enjoyed the Egil and Nix books by Paul Kemp. They've got that literary-rpg feel. They're not fine literature, but they scratch that itch and don't make me keenly aware that I'm reading bad writing. Joe Abercrombie's stuff is pretty solid fantasy fun, too, if you don't mind some "edge." I'll leave the "really good but completely unreliable when it comes to finishing series or putting out more books" authors out of this, though.
I tried reading Salvatore because some of my friends wouldn't shut up about Drizzt. I read three books and kept wondering when I'd hit the "amazing" parts, and it just never happened. I think I either aged out of the target audience or I was spoiled by reading things that were actually good.
I've been trying for the past 3 years to finish the first book in his latest Drizzt trilogy. I still recommend the books to young readers though.
Me too. Loved Shanarah as a teen. Read it as an adult and went...wow that was like dumb. Really really dumb.
I have described Brooks as going to see a play that sounds intriguing, only to find out after you've sat down that it's a middle school production.
The dialogue is stilted, the landscape is so obviously cardboard that it's distracting, and the pacing sucks. Obviously you'd give a kids' play a pass as they're kids - just enjoy it for what it is. But Terry Brooks is unreadable.
OMG Terry Brooks is horrible as a reread. But what really put me off him was listening to an audio book. I had no idea how bad the writing was—I think I kind of skipped over it. However when you listen and there’s no escape from the poor writing and poor dialog it’s beyond awful. I never read another of his books after listening g to just part of one
I read Holy Blood Holy Grail years before The DaVinci Code came out and couldn't believe he just lifted the whole thing.
Yep. The DaVinci Code is just a contrivance for the ideas in Holy Blood Holy Grail. I was “that guy” shouting at the screen the whole way through the movie (fortunately, I was at home, and not in a cinema).
I suspect, though, that if I were now to re-read Holy Blood Holy Grail, I’d be very critical of its cascading assumptions and leaps of logic. I mean, just because something -may- result in something else doesn’t always mean that something -does- result in something else (Sherlock Holmes suffers from this, too).
Orson Scott Card, and not because of his political baggage. Read so much of his sci-fi in my teens and twenties. Years later, people were raving about his shadow series. Tried the first but had no appeal anymore.
I love Card's short stories and standalones but have burned out on every one of his series. They all start out strong but along the way they all became less enjoyable until I can't stomach picking up the book again.
For me it's mostly because of his political baggage. I've met him twice at book signings, the first time he was wonderful to talk to and impressed me, at the second he was a total ass. I've never seen an author change that much between signings. It was so weird. It was shortly after that second signing he seemed to go off the deep end with his political views.
Kerouac. I’m 35 now.
I’ll go back and read his stuff every now and then but my obsession with him isn’t what it was when I was a teenager.
The one writer I used to be obsessed with who I just don’t really dig anymore is ee cummings.
I used to love his works so much. I have his complete books of poems, like the hardcover $70 version, and some other books like a script and his narrative of being kept prisoner during WWI (The Enormous Room). And I miss how I loved his works but it just doesn’t hit me the way it used to.
I was 100% aesthetics as a teenager and now I’m an old man with an English degree.... I can’t... Like.... Love ee cummings anymore and that’s weird.
Still your young devotion to him is admirable. Sometimes I miss the simple quick judgments of youth.
MIght be because John Steinbeck is depressing as fuck. I read 6 of his books in a row and wanted to die. Variety is the spice of life.
When I was young, about 12 to 15, I read almost every Louis L’Amour novel that he’d written. My grandfather enjoyed them as well and it helped us connect.
I drifted away from Mr. L’Amour’s works upon the gradual realization that all of his characters were the same people with different names. All of them followed strong moral codes and had some sort of unique childhood or unexpected education that set them apart from their Western counterparts. The plots were formulaic for the most part; the good guy solved the problem and got the girl, although occasionally the good guy died heroically in the end.
I moved on to more complex Western authors- Larry McMurtry, for one, and Elmer Kelton, among others. Eventually I left the Western genre behind and went on to many more fantastic books.
Mr. L’Amour’s books helped me build a relationship with my grandfather that outlasted my love of L’Amour novels. His books also helped solidify my reading habit.
There’s still a well worn copy of High Lonesome in my bedside table that I haven’t touched in many years.
>Mr. L’Amour’s books helped me build a relationship with my grandfather that outlasted my love of L’Amour novels. His books also helped solidify my reading habit.
This is really beautiful. Thank you for sharing. It made me think of Marie Kondo's ritual of thanking objects that you're getting rid of, a sense of honoring what that object meant at the time without causing shame in the present. Your sentence really captures that.
The catcher in the rye by Salinger is a book that a lot of people mention on these kind of question. It is one of my favorite books but I haven't read it in 4 years. Im afraid that if I read it again that I will noticed that I have outgrown it too. I dont want that to happen.
I will always love this book. People who hate it seem to think it’s an exaggeration of a young man’s psyche. As someone who teaches 7th grade, the book actually undersells how whiny they are lol.
I re-read it recently. I noticed him being a jerk to women a lot more than I did when I read it as a kid, but I still loved it. The narration style is fresh and real, the story's interesting. Holden feels like a real person in a way that no other book I can think of comes close to matching.
Four years doesn't seem that long to me, but I think it'll hold up if you do re-read it.
I read a biography of Salinger several years ago and I think that he would have been 'Me-Tooed' had he lived longer. Weird ,weird guy! The writer Joyce Maynard got 'crucified' by critics (mostly male I'd wager) when she wrote a memoir about her relationship with Salinger when he was pushing 50 and she was only about 18. Had she published it in 2017 or thereafter instead of 1998, I imagine the reaction would have been far more sympathetic.
Jack London used to be one of my favorite writers but it just doesn’t hit the same way it used to. Same with Edgar Allan Poe but I was only somewhat into Poe to begin with
I confess it's been a long time since I've read Jack London, but part of me wonders if his books are just written for a world that doesn't exist anymore.
Terry goodkind. Read the first one a couple years ago was like "nope not anymore"
The Neverending Story on the other hand, I read it once a year.
> Terry goodkind
Absolutely this. Started the first Sword of Truth book a bunch of years ago, and loved it despite the rather "deus ex machina-ish" ending. I kept reading them thorugh the highs and the lows, but the sole reason I managed to push through second half of the saga was that my Aunt kept gifting me the books for me Birthday/Christmas/whatever. They simply are not well written.
Between Richard the Gary Stu protagonist, the massives inconsistences in the plot, the dubious ideology Goodkind in force-feeding you, and the weak endings of most of the books, I ended up giving the books away.
For me it's the constantly weak plot of Richard and Kahalan being split up for some reason. Like every book, Goodkind has some sort of weird fascination with that relationship tension.
I'm personally convinced that Goodkind actually hates both of them. I've never read any other book that just hurts the protagonists more for no reason.
> Terry goodkind.
Oh god this 1000x over. I LOVED the Sword of Truth Series when I first read it. I went up through Emperer Jagang wars and then I got tired of the general direction so I stopped.
I tried reading it again which was maybe ~9 years after reading it the first time. These books are not very well written but were a perfect start to my love of fantasy novels.
Very poorly written books. Even worse in audio where you can’t skim over the writing.
This was my thought too. I started reading them when I was about 11, and I just adored them. I still remember crying my eyes out during certain deaths. Now 25 years later, I have very little patience for his brand of objectivism and hero worship for the “can do no wrong” Richard and the most perfect woman in the world Kahlan. It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve finally committed to giving away my copies.
Yeah I remember reading somewhere that the Sword or Truth series is basically just Atlas Shrugged with magic and rape scenes and I couldn't really look at them the same way.
I'm honestly a little embarrassed that I never picked up on it. The entire first section of the first book involves inept local government trying to ban fire because of an accident and the protagonist is all "This is so stupid, fire doesn't kill people, people do! Fire is just a tool! We have a right to bear fire!"
It's uh... not subtle.
I mean, the obvious ones for me are Ayn Rand and Robert Jordan.
Ayn Rand I outgrew because...you know...I turned 22 and realized the entire world doesn't revolve around me. That I wasn't some ultra-special superwoman who was going to revolutionize architecure or train bridges or some dumb shit. It takes a huge amount of narcicissm to be an objectivist, and real life just showed I wasn't that special.
Robert Jordan was something I look back on fondly, but when I try and read it now all I can do is get annoyed at crawling pace the "men are from mars, women are from venus" gender relations throughout the whole thing. Like, goodness, so many problems could be solved by just having an honest conversation in that series.
\* braid tugging intensifies \*
There came a point, eight books deep, where I blurted out, "What am I doing".
I put the book down and picked up something with far less emphasis on the minutae of someone's clothing, or hamfisted gender politics.
John Green. I read all the books I could find by him back in 2014 or so and realized they all have the same plot. I respect his abilities to write for a teenage audience, but I have no ambition to read anything else by him, even if it’s targeted for adults. Also starting to feel that way towards Stephen King, mainly because of how strong the Male gaze is in his books.
Just as your body and mind grow and change, so do your tastes. It's not a reflection on the author/work you've "outgrown," but a reflection on your own development.
I read Stephen King voraciously growing up, and revisiting his books feels stale to me now. I never outgrew horror, just that unbelievable trope-filled horror King made his mint on. I find more horror in human tragedy these days. (Think Cormack McCarthy's *The Road*, *Silence of the Lambs* by Thomas Harris, "Guts" from Chuck Palahniuk's *Haunted*, "A Walk in the Dark" by Arthur C. Clarke...) But I would never see someone else's current love of King's magical horror as "less evolved" than my love of realism and tragedy, rather, their tastes are different from mine because we're different people, just as I'm a different person from when I had my big King phase.
I had the opposite evolution on Steinbeck. His writing seemed so dusty and folksy when I had to read *The Pearl* and *Travels With Charlie* in high school, but having finished *The Grapes of Wrath* and *Of Mice and Men* during my quarantine reading list I'm eager to pick him back up and revisit the books I was so bored with fifteen years ago in school.
Some authors/books though, I don't think I'll ever grow out of. I've never gotten bored of the Tolkiens, both J.R.R. and Christopher, or Dostoevsky: I'm revisiting *The Brothers Karamazov* right now.
And with some authors, maybe I'll never have the right mixture of tastes to appreciate them. I've failed to finish Vol. I of Proust God knows how many times.
You're just growing and changing, and that's fine. You'll find something that fits your taste, or if not you'll write it yourself and break ground on a new subgenre.
I’m late to the game getting into Swann‘s way, but for some reason I’m enjoying the introspective nature of it.
Its funny because King is my absolute comfort author, the book doesn't even has to be that good, just his writing style goes down like a good drink to me.
But he has a very specific way to write so I get if it just doesn't click your boxes anymore :)
The drink analogy is a good one. I can relate. I have authors whose work I describe as a warm blanket.
I can still read some Stephen King but I can no longer read Dean Koontz. I started reading Koontz around the age of 13 and fell in love. Now I consider them pulp.
I still like *Misery*.
I think it's his best and the book where his long windedness really works since you don't expect a lot to happen per se.
King is a great writer, weaving some amazing concepts into great stories, but I found that his endings were terrible. After a while I just couldn’t read anymore knowing that I’d hate the ending.
Piers Anthony was hilarious as a teenager and is just pure fucking cringe now. I also used to think the Incarnations of Immortality was his more mature series but as I got older I realized from those books that he is a just a gross pervert. Hard pass on reading him again... ever.
It sucks because I do remember reading On a Pale Horse and loving the concept and idea of things like Time, Life, Death and Fate all having living figures that perform these grand, overarching roles for humanity - but as I reread the books I just became more keenly aware of how weirdly sexualized everything was. A shame, too, since I also liked his worldbuilding in the Adept series.
Yeah, there are a few others who have mentioned him, and liking his writing as a teen. I think it’s because we read it and subconsciously think of the author as writing from a teen point of view, and then grow up and go whoa this was indeed written by an adult.
The thing that made me realise Piers Anthony was just a weird pervert and all the sex was totally unnecessary to his books was the bit in *Being A Green Mother* where a character magically becomes incorporeal for the purposes of kind of astral travel and enlarges herself, growing from a point around her "geographic centre", which he makes a point of clarifying means her vagina. Why is it necessary to draw attention to that?
Then, of course, I read all the stuff about the pedophile apologia he wrote and started thinking back to all the books I read as a kid not yet inducted into the adult conspiracy, with entire books revolving around upskirting teenagers and stuff. Ick.
I loved Piers Anthony when I was in fifth grade and for a good while afterwards. I'm rereading the Xanth books now out of morbid curiosity and self punishment. They are so, so, so bad. They are racist, sexist, homophobic, weirdly obsessed with children having sex. So bad.
I wonder to what extent it's the present experience compared to the initial experience. You've grown, your tastes have matured, your expectations for good writing may have elevated. So you go back in hoping to relive the experience that you had reading it as a teen, but it just doesn't hit as hard and comes off as extra disappointing compared to that initial experience.
In other words, I wonder if you had never read Steinbeck and were just now checking him out, whether you'd be more impressed.
On a side note Tortilla Flat is a blast, if you want something a little more on the Cannery Row side of his writing: really cool, fun and funny wine-guzzling bums getting into all kinds of shenanigans, with a healthy dose of philosophy.
It is The Alchemist to me. I would love the book if I were 12.
Reading it at 30 doesn't feel insightful or deep at all. It is as deep as an online Instagram quotes at my ages.
No offense to anyone who loves the book, it is solely my own personal experience.
I found that happened with many of my favorite fantasy writers. Piers Anthony specifically. Stuff I found interesting/exciting was now simply annoying.
But I loved that stuff as a teen.
Piers Anthony was definitely the first name that came to mind when I saw this question. I loved those early Xanth novels. So many of my early D&D characters were named after characters in those books. Looking back now is like finding a notebook of poetry you wrote when you were thirteen. So cringe.
Into the Wild. I read this one in 8th or 9th grade and I thought “Alexander Supertramp” was the coolest dude on earth. Read it again when I was about 23 and just wanted to smack him in the mouth half the time.
I think book is framed more appropriately than the movie was. Condensing Into the Wild into a 90 min (ish) movie required the romantic wanderlust to kinda be the only strong theme. The book delves a little more into the risk, irresponsibility, and the tole this move took on people who cared about him. A section is the book describes Alex’s sister’s reaction upon the news of his death and needless to say it’s heartbreaking. It was more of “what drives us to want this?” than, “damn isn’t this an inspiring way to live?!”
Oh man I got introduced to that story in my very late 20s and my sole reaction was "you're an idiot and you're going to die."
I mean, I feel bad for the kid and whatever he was going through, but I just wasn't into the romantic adventurer framing of the movie (haven't read the book.)
The thing that blows my mind is that this dunce didn’t even bother to prepare for living in the wild, not even a survival course! When it comes the Alaskan wilderness, you can’t just wing it and hope things turn out okay.
I love the book, and love the movie, but have come to realize the dude was just a lost kid who had a lot of ambition and luck on his side.
I personally feel he had a lot of depression and anger (maybe anger isn't right word) that came from his parents and other deep seeded issues. Though, the accounts in the book try to push away from that line of thought. It's just a sad story. It is intriguing, but wouldn't say it's inspiring (which I used to think it was).
There are other adventurers to aspire to, especially in Alaska, such as Richard Proenneke.
Piers Anthony’s Xanth. Couldn’t read it after high school. I miss Bink.
Michael Crichton. I loved nearly all of his books as a teen, but revisiting most of them recently... eh. I now see hidden political agendas, outdated cultural norms, very dry and boring descriptions... and in some cases I want to throttle the characters quite badly.
Jurassic Park is still amazing, though, along with The Andromeda Strain.
I loved The Andromeda Strain. The fractal drawings in Jurassic Park fascinated me.
I think it was *Sphere* that crystallized for me that he was great at writing a build up of tension, but he had **no** idea how to end a book. See, e.g. *Congo*, *Andromeda Strain*.
Then *Prey* made me realize how hard he was BS'ing the science creds with his citations at the end, and *State of Fear* made me realize he was also a dangerous political crank.
Can definitely relate, which is why I've been shifting to non-fiction more and more. Seems these days it's harder to buy in to an author if their worldview or what they care about doesn't resonate. Could just be a symptom of having more life experience. It's not all bad, because conversely you do appreciate a writer much more when you find one whose work you're able to connect with.
I'm curious why you outgrew steinbeck as the more time passes the more I love his work
Dean Koontz. I devoured his books as a teen, but when I tried to revisit them as an adult they kinda fell flat. It made me sad, he was my favourite author for a while.
26 year old adult. I used to adore A Wrinkle in Time, but I reread most of it recently and it didn't really grab me like it did when I was in middle school. It didn't have that same magic. I just thought it was alright but didn't wind up finishing it.
* (Edited to fix spelling mistake. Called it A Wrinkle *Of* Time, instead of A Wrinkle in Time)
Anne Rice. I loved her when I was a teenager. I tried reading Lestat a few years ago and couldn't being myself to finish it.
She lost me with the Jesus book, I forget the name. It was so dull. Couldn't finish.
So sometime later I figured I'd revisit Memnoch the Devil, a book that engrossed me as a kid. It still held up. So I think I'll just focus on her older books that I missed in the future.
Yep. Midway through going through a tear through her books, I figured out I enjoyed the world she created, spooky New Orleans and family ties to things best left alone, stuff like that. But when she played in that world, I just wanted to go off and do my own thing. Same with a bunch of authors I read as a teenager. They might have been my first encounter with that genre and I loved them for it, but on revisiting them I just couldn't go through with their plot any more.
It’s not exactly accurate to say I “outgrew” John LeCarre, so much as his style changed enough later in his career that I lost interest in continuing with him. *Tinker Tailor* and *Smiley’s People* are among my favorite novels, and he had several other greats besides. But as time went on he became more polemic, featuring obvious author insert characters lecturing on the issues he found himself passionate about at any given time. And even when I agree with his stance, I just don’t have a lot of patience for fiction repeating ideas back at me without much else behind it.
Stephen King. I tried reading The Stand in my 30s. I couldn't get past the poor editing job.
I’m a long time King fan that also didn’t get to The Stand until I was 30. It’s fine. Didn’t really do a lot for me. The scope seemed so incredibly small for a story that takes place across the continental US. Also the cover has people sword fighting on it, which I was disappointed to see doesn’t actually happen in the book.
What wonderful comments! I now see just what has been going on in my head about some used-to-be favorite books and/or authors.
I will no longer dismiss a book forever when it doesn't live up to my expectations, but will re-shelve it, knowing my thinking has probably changed. And maybe try it again, years down the line.
I outgrew Stephen King. It has been depressing. My whole collection just collecting dust...
Chuck Palahniuk for me. I read Fight Club when I was a freshman in college, and afterwards would devour everything he released the first day.
As time went on I started liking his work less and less. I began reading his most recent work but just can't get into it. As I've grown older my tastes, especially in literature and humor, have simply changed.
I still think some of his early work involved discussing serious issues in a lighter mood that attracted readers who may not have typically wanted to read about, say, serious sex addiction. And I'm still grateful for the many hours of reading enjoyment he did provide me as a younger man.
Paul Auster. Used to be obcessed now I can't read him at all.
i think sometimes the reason you outgrow one writer is because you've grown into appreciating another right? or else, you yourself have grown past them and so although it can feel strange to outgrow something, i think there are ways to carry the influence it had on you forwards in new ways either in your own writing or reading, and to appreciate whatever new influences have outshone those old ones. none of it ever goes away, we just see things in a new light i guess. i feel like most writers have certain things to teach us, and once we've learned their lessons it's good to move on. maybe upon returning to an old book we used to love we'll find we have something to teach *them* now that we have gone and grown. i tend to feel that, the more you read, the more potential you have for writing yourself, eventually you'll find you have something to say to your influences
For me it is John Grisham , I loved his stories, now it seems hes changed genres.
I went through the apparently common/normal horror phase as a teen and young adult. After experiencing some actual horrific events I cannot reread any of it for entertainment, and can no longer get in touch with the "me" that found it fascinating. I just can't even figure out why I thought any of it was enjoyable. I probably got rid of 8 linear feet of books (not a lot overall but a lot for one genre in a personal bookshelf).
For me it was Stephen King. I read everything he wrote up until the late 2000's and then I started The Dark Tower series and made it to book three and then stopped. I really enjoyed his writing but completely lost interest in his books and I have never picked up another one.
Rick Riordian a while ago. Read all of those Percy Jackson and Egypt or whatever books and usually within 5 hours of it releasing.. got to a point years ago where I felt like I was reading writing prompts lol
I'm just sitting down for a break from a big book purge I'm doing today. Almost everything by ... Ayn Rand, Robert Heinlein, and P. J. O'Rourke, has been boxed up for the thrift store. I'm glad I read those books and had some big thoughts, but I'm also glad that I'm an adult in 2021, rather than a teenager in the 1980s.
Keeping Pahlahniuk, Bukowski, and McCarthy, though!
David Foster Wallace meant a lot to me when I was in college. I read all his novels and short stories and essays, was upset when he died, I preordered The Pale King and read it in a few sittings as soon as it arrived.
While I think he had a lot of good ideas, and Infinite Jest still holds up as a good & interesting novel, a lot of his radically honest & introspective writing comes across as emotional immaturity. And even though he writes specifically and at length about the struggle between being genuine and projecting a false “genuine self” it really does feel like there is some emotional manipulation to how he portrays himself, especially in light of his behavior towards women.
I think part of it is growing up and realizing that “tortured genius” isn’t an aspiration or a good role model, as much as his work did help me come to grips with my own mental illness.
I used to look forward to Jim Butcher's "Dresden Files" novels being released, but about 3 years ago, my tastes changed. ( more historical fiction stuff these days, like Robert Grave's "I, Claudius"...)
My love of cheeseball SF and Fantasy has mostly evaporated in recent years...( I still really like Terry Pratchett 's *Discworld* novels, they're well-written and occasionally profound cheeseball Fantasy novels...)
It happens often. Terry Goodkind is one that I remember loving but now read his work and feel like its a child writing about a world they don’t understand.
As a twist though, an author that gets better the older i get is Shel Silverstein.
I loved John Grisham but over time his writing became predictable.
Neil Gaeman is this for me. The more I listened to his audiobooks and narration, the more I fell out of love towards him. An excellent and prolific storyteller that is waning in my interests to read more by him.
Yes, and it sucks. To have that go to world become too small for you. But it's also great cause that's one of the only ways to prompt you to venture to new ones and find new writers.
I am a Gen Xer. Read all of his early books. Microserfs was one of my all-time favourite books. Miss Wyoming was brilliant.
Then there was a break. I didn't read his stuff for a while. Didn't read much of anything, truthfully.
Then, around 2006, Coupland was doing a readjng at the Stratford Festival, and I dragged a friend along for the reading. I was so excited.
Maybe it's a case of "never meet your heroes." The only photos I had ever seen of him were from his books. It was clearly an old photo. A middle-ged man stood on stage. On its own, no big deal.
The reading was dismal. Not engaging at all. I felt as though my love of his work was draining on the spot.
He read from what I now understand to be The Gum Thief. It was a while before it was published. It was underwhelming. It was more of the same.
I lined up, got my photo taken with him. Looking at the photo now, I can see my awkward disappointment standing next to him.
Years later, I have put Coupland in the same category as Kevin Smith: writers who, for me, very much of their time, when I was in that time, but they stayed there creatively and I moved on. I cherish Coupland's early books and how they made me feel at the time, but likr Clerks and Degrassi (yeah, the originals, not the new abominations), they are better in my mind than they would be if I revisited them.
Brian Jacques. Of course, it’s YA so that’s understandable I guess. Terry Brooks, also. Tad Williams on the other hand, still re read.
Brett Easton Ellis lost his pull with me. I'm married with a son about a month away. I'm excited for things and no longer feel the draw to the blase, empty world he depicts in his writing. It struck a chord with me in my early twenties when I lacked the direction and family I have now. I almost fear reading him again because it might pull a piece of me back into that dark place I used to be in.
Something wonderful I'm seeing in this thread. While some content ages poorly or is easy to literally age out of, most content just changes with people. I see people in the comments moving in and out of Steinbeck, just discovering the Beats or finding them cringe. Learning to get really into science fiction, or finally feeling a bit over it. I love how we all grow as people.
Yes. Chuck Palahniuk is a prime example. I want to like his writing, but it's the literary equivalent of Marilyn Manson; it hasnt aged well and the new shit is an exaggerated and boring version of the old shit. Stand up and commit.
Though I don't feel like I've lost much.
I read Battlefield Earth by L Ron Hubbard when I was a pot-smoking 20-something. Loved it. Five stars. (This was about thirty years ago.) Never got around to reading it again until recently when Amazon offered it up for free on Prime Reading. Oh. My. God. What trash. One star. How did I ever like that crap? Must have been some good weed!
Yes, so many.
I don’t think I will ever outgrow Vonnegut though. It doesn’t matter if I’m 13 or 40, he’s still wiser than I’ll ever be.
I'm done with GRRM.
I feel like I can't even type his full name anymore.
(Edit for spelling)
Oh so many of them! There was a time when I hung on every word of Ayn Rand’s as an impressionable teen. Didn’t take me long to outgrow that one!
I similarly was smitten by J.K. Rowling - and while I still think she created a gorgeous universe, and is a wonderful writer of character and dialogue, I think her plot points and narrative are meh now. Adding in her current socio-political stances and I’m disappointed in more ways than one.
I’ve also outgrown other less controversial ones- Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, for example.
You grow and change, your perspectives change and so do the books you enjoy and resonate with. And you get to discover new ones- isn’t that the beauty of it all?
To be fair with JK Rowling she did write them for kids. It’s like Disney movies, there may still be some exceptional ones and some that you feel nostalgia for but they aren’t written for adults so as an adult your going to feel different about them.
Completely fair point!
Paulo Coelho books for me too. I haven't felt like re-reading the Fountainhead yet, I liked it so much when I was younger, I don't want to ruin it!