View Full Version : Anyone else have this fear?

02-20-2011, 08:53 AM
About a year ago I went on one of my periodic reading binges and I started to feel like some books would have been a lot more enjoyable if I hadn't read books that I liked better first. I think it's a pretty reasonable belief. After that, I read Crime and Punishment and began to fear that if I kept reading literature that more experienced people recommend to me, there may come a point where I'm an old man and in desperate need of a book that measures up. I've only read a handful of novels since then, and I've committed to not reading anything else by Dostoyevsky until I'm in my thirties. Anyone else have similar apprehensions?

02-20-2011, 01:11 PM
Not a fear of it as such, more an embracing of the entire change of life and attitude, a thing you can't really do anything about so it may as well be accepted

There are so many good authors (without mentioning even more not so good!) that you can't actually run out of them

To read a great book is to make a lifelong friend - and every few years to re-read and discover and re-discover new elements in it you hadn't realised were there or how good they were, subtexts, aspects and observations of life and growth, the whole gamut of unexpected wonders of the human mind, spirit and experience

The more authors you read and absorb the more of the world you learn to understand, and the more you'll find to laugh about - there's far too much not to laugh at that the honing and tuning of that particular synapse deserves all the exercise it can get

But this is the fear I do have - you

If you make a commitment not to do something until ten years in the future that's great - and after you've been hit by a bus you can clap and say 'At least I'll never be an old man!'

What is this tosh? You're making decisions on not enjoying yourself now so that at some inspecific time in the future you'll pick up where you left off - do you think you're going to stay the same your entire life? That you've reached some pinnacle of perfection wherein nothing will ever be as good because all you've got to look forward to are the memories of an old man?

You're already an old man!

My advice is go to the library and get The Idiot, Demons, The Brothers Karamazov and Notes from the Underground AND Crime and Punishment (to re-read between the other three) and worry about being old when you get there

When I find an author who's company I enjoy I don't think about what'll happen when the spell wears off - spells always wear off temporarily, but they're there for when you feel like them - like calling a friend when you want to talk, or not calling when you don't

02-20-2011, 01:47 PM
There are so many good authors (without mentioning even more not so good!) that you can't actually run out of them

Absolutely! A single human lifetime is nowhere near enough to read all the masterpieces of world literature. You will never, ever run out.

02-20-2011, 02:04 PM
You can always reread the books you liked when you were younger.

I wouldn't delay my satisfaction in finding something new to like (or dislike). By the time you're over 30 you'll have different motivations and reasons to do things anyway.

Like you, I go on reading binges, often based on something that someone says. I'm reading John Gardner's October Light at the moment based on a recommendation by Jozanny in a thread about "post-modernism" (whatever that is). And I went through an entire elementary DVD course on astronomy because of a video OrphanPip linked to in one of those theist-atheist-yadda-yadda threads.

I could always procrastinate and say that I'll wait till I'm over 30 to do all that, but since I'm already over 30, it won't help much.

02-20-2011, 05:11 PM
What I plan on doing with the Dostoevsky I've read is reading it again when I'm at least thirty or forty, then again when I'm sixty or so, and seeing how differently I interpret it with all of my own life experiences thrown in. I am a mere fifteen years of age now, and I haven't been through too much, so I want to see how my perspectives are changed when I'm twice my age (then four times my age... etc.) Same with other philosophical writers I enjoy. I would suggest the same to you, too.

02-20-2011, 05:26 PM
What is wonderful about aging is that all the pieces of a puzzle come together. I find that I am able appreciate many things now that I'm older that I couldn't when I was younger. In fact, I'm reading many books I read as a young person over again. Some that I didn't like, I feel differently about now. Others that were my favorites, I don't like as much.

For instance, I was a big fan of E.M. Forrester in my youth. While I still like his stories, I felt differently about some of the characters. Leonard Bast, for example, in Howards End. When I was younger, I thought Leonard Bast was noble and tragic. Now, I think Leonard Bast is a leach...and I understand the Wilcoxes point of view more.

Now, if you are a limited person, then yes--you may be justified in your fears. However, the world is a HUGE place. There are a lot of authors. I have discovered many wonderful new authors. And remember, there are other countries! I have enjoyed many authors that come from Nigeria and Pakistan. There are also different time periods. When I read the Egyptian Book of the Dead, I found it interesting to see similar myths and practices found in later Christianity.

While sometimes it is good to put some things off until you are older, do realize that the one big risk is that you may never do them--either because you will stop caring at that point, or you might die before then (god forbid).

02-21-2011, 12:20 AM
I've read everything, and once you've done that, you're stuck in a marriage to Gilbert Osmond, who puts out the lights one by one.