Thursday, January 13, 2005

Too young to comprehend, too proud to complain

I read someplace a long time back that one should not read important books at too young an age, as the impact of the book is not what it would be. (that is, IF you could really comprehend what the author meant)

Being a somewhat prodigious reader as a kid meant that I was reading books way before they were supposedly 'appropriate' for me. By the time I was in college, classics like "The Catcher in the Rye" and "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" had already been devoured and swallowed whole by this voracious reader.

Swallowed whole is more appropriate I guess, because these books did not affect me the way they 'should' have, considering the impact they have had on readers worldwide. I simply didn't 'get' them. I did 'get' and love most of Ayn Rand's work, including 'The Fountainhead' and 'Anthem'. (I do think 'Atlas Shrugged' is about a thousand pages longer than it should be though.) And I loved, and still love Richard Bach and pretty much anything he puts to print, including his Ferrets series.

I also have my reservations about the whole "critically acclaimed" thing, with me not agreeing often with what the critics say. Heck, I am a software engineer who reads, so my opinion on what good writing is or should be hardly matters to anyone but me. But 'acclaimed' books like 'The Interpreter of Maladies' and 'Life of Pi' by Yann Martel left me disappointed. I liked only the first story in "The Interpreter of Maladies" about the couple in a fight in the middle of powercuts in the US (yes, they do occur, VERY rarely where I live though). 'Life of Pi' began interestingly enough, but towards the end, the drama of the tiger and Pi in a boat loses steam, and I was really looking forward to the book ending.

Maybe its just me.

Now that I am on the right side of 25 and supposedly 'mature' enough( by what standards
I ask?), should I go back and revisit some of these, if only to see how growing older affects your insights and if there are more 'a-ha' moments, richer of experience that I am now?

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