There are some books that are better the second time we read them. Sometimes this is because we were forced to read them so were determined to hate them, and sometimes it’s just because we grew up a little. Here are some books that were better for me the second time I read them.
Uh Oh, Fellatio
The first time I tried to read this book, I think I was a freshman in high school. Not exactly the optimal time to be reading any Tom Robbins, much less this one. Ironically, it was my mother who suggested this book to me (yes, my own mother), and I distinctly remember the moment I realized I was not ready for this book. I came across the word fellatio, and being a curious and naive freshman, I asked my mother what it meant. She did not shy from telling me. It was that moment that I put the book down with the realization that I was not ready for this. I took it up again my senior year of high school, after I matured a little, and absolutely loved it.
Lesson I Learned: Do not take reading recommendations from my mother until you are at least 18 years of age.
Beauty in Subtlety
I love Jane Austen. She is one of my favorite authors, if not my number one favorite. I admire how she is able to tell the reader the most important things in the most subtle of language. It’s beautiful and breathe-taking, and I could talk for hours about how much I admire her work. However, this was not always the case. I hade enjoyed Pride and Prejudice before this, so I figured why not try another one. I didn’t exactly hate it, but I definitely didn’t like it. While Pride and Prejudice is a little more plot based, Sense and Sensibility is a prime example of Jane Austen’s subtlety in both character development and social commentary. I was too young to appreciate this the first time I read it. I finally read it again when I took a Jane Austen class my senior year of college. It was then that I realized how amazing this book is since I was more able to pin point these beautiful moments in her writing after a couple years of training myself to notice those kinds of things. This is one of the reasons why I feel that teaching any Jane Austen work other than Pride and Prejudice to high school students is a bad idea.
Lesson I Learned: Sometimes subtlety is more effective than being obvious.
Forgive the title. It popped into my head and I just had to. Anyway, I thought this book was creepy the first time read it, then I read it from my senior thesis in college, and it was even creepier. I think this mostly stems from the fact that technology is becoming more and more Big Brotheresque, and for this reason, this book will just continue to get scarier with every read. When I read this again, those Samsung Smart TVs that could basically allow the company to spy on you in your living room were just coming out, which obviously reminded me of the telescreens in the book. Every year there seems to be some new piece of technology that came straight out of this book. This novel is a warning against that kind of thing, not a list of great ideas for tech companies to get inspiration from. If you catch yourself reading this book and think to yourself, “Oo, I should invent that,” don’t. Please don’t.
Lesson I Learned: Some books actually get scarier as time goes by.
While not technically a book, I still think this one belongs on the list. Unlike most people, I actually read Macbeth in high school instead of Hamlet. The main challenge with reading Shakespeare in high school is mostly just trying to understand what is being said. Because of this, much of the human turmoil aspect of Shakespeare’s work gets a little lost. While I enjoyed this one in high school (much more than Romeo and Juliet) it wasn’t until my Shakespeare class sophomore year of college that I really learned how to properly appreciate Shakespeare. Not only do you need to figure out what is happening, but you also have to read it as an examination of human nature. It’s not just a bloody plot; it’s a story of a man desperate for power, who is then tortured by guilt, and eventually falls into insanity that ultimately destroys him. And his wife helps! I never really realized just how much of player Lady Macbeth was until my second read through. That lady was crazy! But also fascinating, and one of my favorite female characters in all of Shakespeare.
Lesson I Learned: Shakespeare is so much more than swords, blood, and death.
So there’s my short list of books that were better the second time I read them. This is one reason why it’s a good idea to read certain books more than once. Especially those you read in high school. We all change as we get older, and sometimes this means that our tastes in literature also change. Or we just see them in a different perspective than we did before.
What are some books that were better for you once you got a little older? And what are some books that you plan on reading again just see if your opinion changes?