Back in my early twenties I read The Unbearable Lightness of Being and other books by Milan Kundera and loved them. But a few years later, when I read more of his books, I struggled – I found them dull, monotonous, samey.
The same happened with other authors I’d loved during and just after my degree course: Chuck Palahniuk and Orhan Pamuk spring to mind. (Okay, no-one could call Palahniuk dull but I haven’t really enjoyed any of his books since Diary.) I had decided that I loved these authors only to change my mind shortly afterward. Did I just read all the good ones first and save the crud for later or did I grow out of these particular authors?
This has happened before of course. The first series I can remember falling in love with was Colin Dann’s Animals of Farthing Wood, shortly followed by Brian Jacques’ Redwall. I continued to buy those books as they came out well into my teens but the last few were left unread, as my interest had petered out. In my teens I loved the works of Victoria Holt/Phillippa Carr and anything in the Point Horror series but (thankfully) I grew out of those as well.
And I expected that. To grow out of those books was part of growing up. But I never expected to grow out of adult books, for there to be authors who only appealed to me for a few years of my adult life. It seems bizarre.
But then maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s more that my taste in books is in flux and I have to wait a few years for the vibe of my early 20s to hit again. Maybe when I hit 40 or 50 I’ll pick up a Kundera or Pamuk and love it. In fact, maybe when I hit middle age I can stop buying new books altogether and re-read all the ones that I have kept because I enjoyed them the first time around. As I’m something of a book hoarder, I hope so.