Not long ago I was part of a discussion about how younger girls are often drawn to tragically romantic stories — Wuthering Heights, Titanic, Gone With the Wind to name a few. When I was a teen, Love Story was all the rage. With the exception of Gone With The Wind, most of the tragedies I can think of have either the hero or heroine actually dying, not just the relationship. There must be something appealing to the melodramatic psyche of the teenage girl in such stories, and I was no exception.
Recalling that discussion made me wonder how my tastes have changed through the years. So I thought I’d make a list of books I’d recommend to others at various stages in life. I’ll start by going way, way back . . .
Toddler: The Story of Ferdinand (the gentle bull story) and Snow White and Rose Red, a fairy tale. My mother often made up stories of her own, but these were two she read from real books. The latter was from Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which I think she read with the feeble hope that my sister and I would be inspired to be as good as the two sisters in this story. Their joy in life seemed to come from offtering kindness to others—even to grumpy little elves who always popped up needing their help, until his true evil is revealed then conquered by the handsome prince who’d been turned into a bear by the little stinker.
Young Adult: Any Nancy Drew story available. Some favorites, at least by the vague memories that I have: The Secret at Shadow Ranch, The Sign of the Twisted Candles, The Password to Larkspur Lane.
Young Teen: Around this young teen age I started reading the original Harlequin Romances, which were sweet stories back then, usually involving a handsome Australian outbacker and a young and beautiful girl, sometimes from America. Honestly, I always had my nose in one of these books, because they were short and plentiful, and I could buy or borrow a lot of them.
High School: Believe it or not, my high school education came with few requirements for reading. In fact, other than The Yearling (which I actually read in 8th grade), and The Chosen by Chaim Potok, there were few other books officially highlighting my high school years. It was a good thing I enjoyed reading on my own, although it was during this time I began reading steamier romances. I won’t mention any of those titles . . . As I said, tastes do change!
Twenties: I was still reading the steamy romances, but looking back on that age now I can see where almost any Christian romance would have answered my reading taste if only Christian romances had existed back then. Nowadays there are so many great Christian authors to provide entertainment, starting with the authors on this blog!
Thirties: I went through a definite non-fiction phase, enjoying memoirs, Christian self-help book, Christian philosophers and thinkers like Francis Schaffer and C. S. Lewis.
Forties: Back to fiction! Only this time around my tastes went a bit more classical. Thomas Hardy remains a favorite. I also branched out to more literary-leaning novels, which I continue to enjoy to this day.
Fifties: I’m happy to report that my book club is stretching my reading tastes. Even books I don’t like all that well can teach me something, so I rarely regret at least trying to read every choice our group makes. This month’s choice was my suggestion: Chaim Potok’s My Name is Asher Lev. Loving it!
So what about you? Can you chart your taste in books through the ages? Have your tastes changed?