Does anyone else find it harder and harder to find new books that you really love? It can’t be just me who reads a lot, likes quite a bit of what she finds, but very seldom stumbles on a book that she ends up absolutely adoring nowadays. And I mean “adoring.” I want to find new books that leave me as delighted as I am every time I pick up Pride and Prejudice or Anne of Green Gables. Or that satisfy the lonely tucked-away part of me as much as The Bell Jar or Tender Is the Night or Mrs. Dalloway. Basically, I want new favorite books and I don’t know how to find them.
I read a lot. I pick up new books and either enjoy them or dislike them or—worst yet—am completely unaffected by them all the time. But I very rarely fall in love with a book anymore, and I’m wondering if that’s because it’s harder to fall for books the older you get. Twenty-five going on twenty-six isn’t particularly old though, and I never want to be one of those people who thinks they’re all wise for their years. I’m definitely not. I’m basically only wise enough to know how little I understand the world.
It can’t be that you can only fall in love with places like Ingary or people like Anne Shirley when you’re a kid. After all, I met the The Little Prince at twenty and I read Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane at twenty-three. Fortunately, youth doesn’t seem to be a requirement for falling in love with new literature. So what is?
I read both David Copperfield and The Count of Monte Cristo earlier this year. They were both wonderful reading experiences, and it only took me a few days to get through either book because the characters were so interesting and I was having such a good time discovering what happened next. Despite all that, I wouldn’t say I loved either of them. They’re not books I’m going to return to again and again. I’d recommend them to anybody—I find that most books that have been around a few hundred years and are still well known have a lot going for them—but I don’t love them. And I kind of wish I did.
There’s something very satisfying about falling in love with a paper world. With committing to characters and places that don’t really change because they’re ephemeral in the first place—as nonsensical as that might be. It adds dimension to my days. Yes, to my real-life, non-paper, flesh-and-blood days.
I don’t know if this is me looking for book recommendations or just wanting to find out that I’m not the only person who’s run into this particular problem. But from where I’m sitting, thumbing through novels and essay collections and volumes of poetry every day, it does feel like a real problem.