Disappointing re-reads

We were talking today about books we had loved when we originally read them and then were disappointed on reading them again.

Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger was a book I first read when I was about fourteen or fifteen, and although it was never a favourite, I did like it and put it on my ‘good book’ list. I read it again recently and was shocked and disappointed, shocked because I thought it just hadn’t stood the test of time; it seemed incredibly dated – yes, I know it was written sixty years ago but some books are timeless. I loved Salinger’s other books more, ‘Raise High the Roof-beam, Carpenter,’ ‘For Esmé—with Love and Squalor’, ‘Franny and Zooey’ – dare I reread them? Might I be disappointed with them too? Maybe ‘Catcher’  is a young person’s book, maybe if a fourteen year old read it now they would enjoy it as I did.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller was my all-time favourite book for many years… I reread it a short while ago and really struggled to engage with it… again, maybe it is a book for the young! I still remember so many scenes from it and quote from it, and I still think it is a great book but I have changed as a reader. For some light reading I have been catching up with Agatha Christie recently; and I had mixed feelings. I think she is underrated as an author by some people, she was able to capture a character in a few lines, she did not shy away from risky subjects, child murderers, incest, sexual grooming of young people, adultery, and murder of course.  I enjoyed the books I read again, but as I read them I wondered how much they would appeal to new readers, although the plots and characters are revisited again and again by TV and film makers.

I wonder if the reverse could also happen; I wonder if I read books I disliked on the first reading, whether I would appreciate them more? It didn’t happen with Thomas Hardy’s books, or Jane Austen, but I wonder if I might actually manage to finish ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ by Louis de Bernières and enjoy it?

2 Comments

  1. A Little Blog of Books and Other Stuff

    I don’t think I have re-read anything for at least three years but at some point I will probably revisit some of the classics that I first read when I was about 13 like Rebecca and 1984. Hopefully they won’t be disappointing! I can definitely see how The Catcher in the Rye is the sort of book where your enjoyment of it probably depends on your age.

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    1. Lois

      Oh thanks for mentioning Rebecca, yes that’s due for a reread from me. We visited Fowey the other day which is near where Daphne du Maurier lived. I did read 1984 a little while ago and I still enjoyed it (if that’s the right word) – what a great writer Orwell was.

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