Here’s a post at Book Riot: WHY YOU’RE ALLOWED TO GROW OUT OF BOOKS AND AUTHORS
And although I suppose I am mildly interested in what the author of this post (Jeffrey Davies)has to say, this is largely because I’m curious why he thinks anybody in the world needs a post like this.
Personally, my first reaction is, You seriously think I feel like I need your personal approval to feel okay about my changing my tastes in reading? Who do you think you are?
My second reaction is, Since every reader in the entire world has grown out of a lot of books and authors, rather than sticking to picture books and See Spot Run into high school, why would ANYONE think this is a worthwhile topic? Even if for some reason he feels his expression of personal approval is important to random strangers?
I am having trouble imagining anybody feeling like statements of validation from random strangers on the internet are helpful, or even appropriate. I dislike everything like this on sight, whether in the title of an article or in a twitter post or whatever. But maybe I’m an outlier on this particular curve, so how about it? Do any of you have similar reactions to mine, or do you feel these types of “You have my permission” or “I hereby give you my approval” statements are actually helpful?
I will add, I don’t go around snarling under my breath for an hour just because of titles like this. I have the who-do-you-think-you-are reaction and then I go on with my life without thinking about it again. But that reaction does occur and I don’t think it’s wearing off at all over time, either.
Now, let’s see what Jeffrey says . . . oh, he’s in his twenties. First thing he says. Possibly if he were in his fifties, his tastes in books, and the tastes of his friends, would have changed often enough and dramatically enough that he would no longer find it startling.
Skimming lightly through the article, I don’t find a lot to mention. It’s just a self-reflective post about the author’s own changing tastes in books.
Fine, all right. Aside from outgrowing picture books and then more substantial children’s books, let me see.
There are a bunch of authors I used to read with enthusiasm but now no longer care for. Robert Heinlein, Jack Chalker, and Andre Norton spring to mind. Oh, and Terry Brooks! And for that matter David Eddings.
There are also whole genres of fiction I read now that I didn’t read at all fifteen years ago, including historical romance, contemporary romance, and contemporary YA. In fact, I no longer care for Nancy Springer’s fantasy novels, but I like her contemporary YA stories.
There are also children’s books that I will never stop loving, including, say, A Little Princess by Burnett. I maintain that Black Beauty is a very good story that many adults would enjoy. I don’t expect to grow out of loving those stories and I don’t imagine many readers do.
“Grow out of” is therefore the wrong phrase for changing tastes in books. This is not necessarily a process by which one grows to prefer better or different sorts of stories. Changing tastes can reflect that, sure, as someone gains experience and realizes that The Sword of Shannara is actually a pretty terrible book. But changing tastes can also reflect nothing but new exposure, over time, to genres a reader thought were not to her taste, but actually sometimes are.
Take-home message, such as it is: let’s just assume that everybody should read what they want, that nobody’s taste is static, and that nobody ever needs permission from strangers to validate their reading tastes.