The lasting effect of literature

With each passing year comes a certain degree of increased life experience and maturity—we all gradually become a little less impressionable, a little more jaded.  I think that, in many ways, the same can be said for the reading experience.  When read by a grade school or high school student, the influence that a novel’s themes or imagery can have are understandably deeper and farther-reaching than when absorbed by an older, more well-read adult.  Unfortunate? Maybe. I can remember a few certain novels that I first read years ago that, upon rereading, felt somewhat less emotionally impactful than I remember.

Despite this, what I felt always remained, thankfully, was the same sense of enchantment that certain stories evoked, regardless of age.  Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia, and yes, even the Harry Potter books still manage to provide for me the same thrill that they did years ago. And this article from the Wall Street Journal poses the same concept from a slightly different viewpoint.

Do you agree/disagree? Are there certain books from your youth that still manage to draw you in and give you the same sense of admiration that they did as a child?

4 Responses to The lasting effect of literature

  1. Lisa Marie says:

    “Sarah Crewe” was and will always be my favorite children’s book. It is, in fact, the only book I kept from childhood. The lessons it teaches young women — to remain honorable, generous and courageous in the face of extreme adversity — are still relevant today.

  2. Kurt Hartwig says:

    A few years ago I re-read (and introduced my wife to) Tove Jansson’s Moomintroll books. I still find them magical and mysterious – although the book that I thought was the most boring as a child – Moominfamily Midwinter – is now the one that I like the most for being quiet and lyrical.

    The Chronicles of Prydain didn’t hold up for me at all, I’m sorry to say.

  3. Bridge to Terabithia is a good one – I reread it a few years ago and it still affected me, but for different reasons than when I was a kid. Back then I was their age, now I’m old enough to be their parents. Lost friend vs lost child…

  4. Cathy Spencer says:

    Perhaps I don’t have the same emotional reaction to books I read as a teenager – I remember everything as being so black and white and important then – but I still find the same enjoyment and appreciation for a few favourites. Jane Austen’s books, for example. Also, there are books that I read 20 years ago when I was at a different stage of my life that I love every bit as much now. I’m rereading Terry Pratchett’s Maskerade, for example, and it’s just as wonderful.

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