Is there a RIGHT time to read a book? | Discussion

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Have you ever started reading a book you’re really excited about, only to find after a few pages that it’s just not really… clicking with you?

I think that the time in your life when you read a book can definitely impact your opinion of the work. For example, I primarily read Young Adult books all throughout high school. I loved the feeling of being able to directly relate to what the characters were experiencing. From awkward first relationships and hallway drama to prom nights and eventually graduation, I felt as though I understood where they were coming from. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that my love for these stories would wane a bit if I reread them today. With age comes perspective, something that can change the way you view your world. Issues that seemed grandiose and life-altering back in high school– the latest gossip, who was dating who, etc.– now seem quite petty in retrospect.

My AntoniaSimilarly, there are many books I’ve read recently that I love that I don’t believe I would have enjoyed had I read them when I was younger. One example that I talk about all the time on this blog is My Ántonia by Willa Cather. Published in 1918, this classic tells the story of Jim Burden’s experience with immigrant life on the rural plains of Nebraska. My Ántonia is definitely not something I would have picked up and read on my own before college, but after discussing it in class and learning more about Cather it is now one of my favorite books. I’ve noticed that over the years I’ve gained a greater appreciation for novels and stories that are driven by characters rather than plot. When I was younger, fast-paced and exciting plots were the most important aspects of books for me, whereas now I would much prefer to read about a well-developed character.

Apart from ways in which greater perspective can influence your opinions at different times, I think it’s safe to say that personal experiences can also have a significant impact on your perception of a book. For example, a few months ago I finally got around to reading Stacy London’s The Truth About Style. I read this at the perfect time because I could really relate to some of the issues she discusses. Another example I always think about is when I read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern a few years ago around Christmastime. This ethereal, mysterious, almost fantastical story fit the mood of the holiday season flawlessly. It was just enough magic and mystery for those cold winter nights!

In my experience, I’ve definitely noticed that timing is an important factor in forming my opinion of a book. What do you think? Do you think there’s a RIGHT time to read a book? Have you had any specific experiences like this? Are there any books that you wish you had read at a different time in your life? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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46 thoughts on “Is there a RIGHT time to read a book? | Discussion

  1. Great post! I think this is an interesting topic. I do read a lot of books now that I wouldn’t have enjoyed a few years ago. I am also definitely a mood reader! So many times I have picked up a book and had to put it down. Not because the book wasn’t for me, but because the book wasn’t for me at that time.

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    1. Thank you!! It’s nice to know that I’m not the only mood reader around. It can be frustrating sometimes to not be in the mood for a book, but finding that perfect book to read at a perfect time is so satisfying! πŸ™‚

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  2. This is quite an interesting topic! I think there’s no RIGHT time to read a book but there’s a definitely a point in your life where you’ll enjoy the book most. I wish I could do it all over again. Read certain books at this age (e.g Harry potter LATER so I would’ve enjoyed it more. His Dark Materials LATER so I could’ve actually understood etc…) But I guess that’s the whole bookish experience, being introduced to more books and slowly adapting your mind to them.

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    1. That’s a really good point! That’s probably why I like rereading books so much– it’s sort of me trying to read a specific book at a better time in my life when I’ll hopefully get more out of it or connect with it in a more meaningful or different way.

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  3. I love My Antonia, too. I think reading the right book at the right time can change your life. I read The Handmaid’s Tale in my late teens, and it ended up influencing the research I did in grad school in my late 20s. That was definitely a case of β€œright book, right time.”

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    1. OMG that’s so great! The Handmaid’s Tale is amazing, and that’s awesome that it had such a great impact on you. I read it when I was a senior in high school and it gave me a greater appreciation for dystopian stories like that that have excellent and effective critiques of society.

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  4. I 100% think that when I read a book can influence how much I enjoy it. I’m a mood reader so for example, at the moment I’m on a real contemporary kick and I know that if I tried to read a fantasy I just wouldn’t enjoy it, even though next week I might be in the mood for fantasy and pick it up and love it. It all just depends what I’m in the mood for in that moment really.

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    1. Ahhhh it’s so nice to hear from other mood readers! I feel the exact same way, especially with certain genres at certain times. For instance, I generally like to read more fantasy and historical fiction in the winter and more contemporary and classics (I know, a weird mix) in the summertime. Who knows what I’ll be in the mood for next! πŸ™‚

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  5. Completely agree with you – there’s definitely a right time for a specific book. I especially relate to the thing you mentioned about YA books. I used to read so much YA and I have a feeling I would never love them the way I did back then if I reread them. I recently reread an old favorite, and I find it (I hate to say this) boring. They are just not the right books for me anymore, even though I loved them so much back then.

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    1. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who feels this way about YA! I’m sort of afraid to go back and read my old favorites (like books by John Green, Michael Grant, John Corey Whaley, etc.) because I’m afraid that my fond memories will be tainted. One of the reasons I love blogging is that I can go back and read my old reviews of books I read years ago and be taken right back to the moment I loved them. ❀

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  6. I really love this post, Holly – and I agree with you so much, there is a right time to read a book, and I know if I’d read a particular book at a different time in my life, it may not have echoed so much with me and I wouldn’t have given it 5 stars. This happened to me recently, and when I come to think about it, maybe it was worth a 4 and not a 5 stars, but at the time it made me so emotional, I found it perfect and definitely a book I needed. Lovely discussion! πŸ™‚

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    1. Thank you so much! ❀ It's so interesting how our ratings of books can change depending on how long it has been since we read the book. I've experienced what you describe so many times and sometimes I think about changing the rating, but I rarely end up going through with it. What I felt in the moment is how the book resonated with me, so I generally leave the rating the way it is until I read the book for a second time.

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  7. I totally agree; I think a good portion of how we like our books is related to who we are at the time, which changes every year, every month, every day. I think a series I wish I had read at a different time is the Miss Peregrine’s trilogy. I read the first book last year and liked it well enough, but I think my younger self would have appreciated it a bit more. I think most of the reason I don’t set strict TBR’s for myself is for this reason; I’m very much a mood reader, I look for the type of book that fits what I’m currently craving, and forcing myself to read a book because it’s on a list makes me like the book less. (not to say those who set TBR’s and reading goals have a problem or anything. Everyone’s reading habits are unique) I read the Night Circus at the perfect time too! It’s right up my alley in terms of my usual preferences, but I read it at the right time too: just after Christmas. It was magical.

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    1. I read The Night Circus around Christmastime as well, and it was PERFECT. It had just the right amount of magic and mystery and warm, fuzzy feelings. I always hate the feeling of knowing I would have enjoyed a book more had I read it when I was younger because I feel like I wasted an opportunity to really enjoy a great book. But I suppose those kinds of things just can’t be helped!

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  8. I totally think certain books are better during certain times in your life. I’m a mood reader so I’m always picking something up only to put it down. I tried reading My Antonia when I was younger but I don’t remember if I finished it. I can say that it’s getting harder and harder for me to read YA contemporary. I mean I still do occasionally. But where as it used to be my go to. Now I have to be in the mood. Which is rare. Great post Holly!

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    1. Thank you!! I definitely experienced that with Pride and Prejudice. I tried reading it for the first time in eighth grade and ended up putting it down halfway through. When I picked it up again my senior year of high school I found that I could finally understand it better, which made me love it! πŸ™‚

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  9. I agree with you completely. Great post. I’ve tried to reread a few books that I once loved and couldn’t do it. I couldn’t understand why I ever thought they were meaningful. Times have changed and what was new and revolutionary is not taken for granted and mundane. I never go back to old books. I just keep reading new ones.

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    1. Thank you!! I love rereading books, but there is a risk factor involved– there’s always the chance that I won’t love it as much the first time around. But to me it’s worth the risk because the feeling of falling in love again and again with a book is just too amazing to pass up! ❀

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  10. Great post! I agree, even when it comes to reading timing is everything. I’ve had several fantastic books not immediately click with me, only to pick them up again months later and be instantly drawn in. I also often wish I could have the opportunity to read all my favourite books again for the first time, but somehow I don’t think they would have the same impact they did on a younger me.

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    1. I feel like that’s why I reread books so often: I’m constantly trying to recapture that feeling of falling in love with a book for the first time. Luckily I’ve found a few books that can stand the test of time, but sometimes they tend to fall flat. If only we could go back in time!

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  11. Great topic. I think you’re totally right, timing does matter. For me, even moods matter. I may pick up a book and just not be feeling the genre at the moment. I try to only read what I’m in the mood for so I don’t unfairly dislike a book.
    And there are definitely times when age and perspective matter.

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    1. Thank you!! I completely agree, timing and moods definitely influence my thoughts on what I read. Sometimes it can be so frustrating to not be in the mood for a certain book!

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  12. I love this post, Holly! And I completely agree. I’m actually a firm believer in there being a right time for certain books. Take Twilight, for example, I used to be a huge fan throughout middle school and high school but when I recently tried a reread for the nostalgia all I did was find myself rolling my eyes. I had to stop and put it away because while I don’t hate it, it’s also not something I could read now. And then in a reverse of that books like The Bone Season would have been a bore for me when I was younger but now they’re something I adore. It’s interesting how that works out and how our reading tastes do change as we grow older. Great discussion! 😁

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    1. Thank you!! I can completely relate to your Twilight example– I was obsessed with those books in middle school!! πŸ™‚ I feel like I would definitely dislike them now, which is a shame. Then again, I guess that means I’ve grown up a bit haha πŸ™‚

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  13. hi Holly, for me there is no time to read a fiction book. But Non-fiction books are very important to be read at the right time. Because it gives you the insight of what lies ahead at a troubled time in your life or when you want to read to learn.

    But fiction is like your best friend. who you can call and chill with at any time. I love all the books I have read and I do re-read some again which connect to me very deeply.

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    1. I love how you called fiction your best friend! That’s such an awesome way to think about it, and it definitely makes sense. I agree that nonfiction may be more time sensitive in a way because they can have a profound impact on certain aspects of your life.

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  14. Timing definitely affects my reading experience! I read The Night Circus around Christmas too, even when I reread it, and I KNOW that’s partly the reason why I adore it so much. When everything is uplifted and magical feeling, it was the perfect time for that book. There’s been books I used to love when I was younger, but really disliked them when I reread them last year. But my main example would be the illustrated edition of A Monster Calls. Just from the cover, you can tell it’s a darker/heavier topic for a book. It’s full of monsters and follows a sad story. But I read it on a gloriously sunny day, sat outside basking in the warmth. And I know for a fact that’s why I didn’t enjoy it as much as everyone else seems to. Because my surroundings were so different to the atmosphere of the book, I wasn’t as engrossed. I even said in my review “had I read this on a miserable day, I feel like I’d have loved it” or something along those lines!

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    1. Your example of reading A Monster Calls is exactly the kind of mood reading thing that happens to me! I couldn’t have put it into words better myself. I feel like the reason I don’t read sad books very often is because in order to enjoy it I would have to be in a more somber mood, and who wants to voluntarily feel sad? (Not me! πŸ™‚ )

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  15. At some times yes, I do think that there is a right time to read a book. And I say this because if you were sad, maybe you’d want a book to be there to read to cheer you up. But at other times, I’m sure that there wouldn’t be a right time for people to read books. You could get up from a nap and read a book, you could listen to a book on a run, and so much more available Times for people to read. At some points during life, you’ll be reading a book and just not feeling it. And then you may pick up the book again another time and at that new time, you’re enjoying the book.

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  16. I think timing is really important in reading a book. I’ve noticed that it can’t completely alter my opinions on a book (unless I’m trying to read in the middle of a reading slump, at which point I’ll hate everything), but it can definitely give a book that extra edge one way or another. I noticed it the most with Where She Went by Gayle Forman – I read the book twice in high school, and it was one of my absolute favorites because it connected to my situation so perfectly. (Not directly, but that’s a long story.) I haven’t read it since getting to college, and I’m kind of scared that if I read it again I won’t like it as much.

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    1. I feel hesitant to reread many of the YA books that I loved when I was in high school for that very reason– they don’t directly connect with my life experiences anymore, so what if that means I’ve lost my love for them? I’m still trying to work out if I should reread certain ones, because there are a few that I’m really intrigued to reread. Fingers crossed that I still like them! πŸ™‚

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  17. I definitely agree that you can connect with and experience books in different ways at different points in your life. I’ve reread books years later and experienced them in completely different ways, picking up references I didn’t notice before, and sometimes even relating to characters in entirely new ways. Now that I’m getting a bit older, I find that I sometimes relate more to the grownup characters or the parents in books, when I used to see myself as the plucky protagonist! I think that’s the sign of truly great writing, though, when you can read it again and again and still find new things to appreciate and enjoy.

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    1. I completely agree! Great writing has a sense of timelessness to it, a feeling that no matter your age you’ll still be able to connect with the text and walk away with a new perspective or idea in your back pocket. πŸ™‚

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  18. I’d never really thought about this before I came across your post, totally on a whim, but I think I completely agree with you. When I was younger, I used to love Jacqueline Wilson, but when I reached the age of 12/13 they lost their thrill for me, because, like you said, perspective changes. Similiarly, I started reading a really fact-heavy psychology book and haven’t gotten around to finishing it because I haven’t had to analyse books before, or take in lots of information at one time.

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    1. That happened to me when I first started college, but now I’m so used to reading heavier books that I don’t even bat an eye (SO. MUCH. READING.). It’s to know that I’m not the only one who has noticed their reading tastes changing over time πŸ™‚

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