When You Outgrow Books You Loved

One year in high school, my best friend and I decided to take “Independent Reading Seminar.” I thought this would be a good way to catch up on reading outside of class. What we didn’t realize is that it was an English classed aimed at students who didn’t read. The goal of the class was to teach high schoolers that reading is fun! Essentially, we got credit to read Teen Vogue, comic books, newspapers, or anything with printed words.

510VwbbHZkL._SX303_BO1,204,203,200_I decided to use my time to tackle The Fountainhead for an essay contest I was entering. The 700-page novel was longer than anything any of the other students had read and it earned me the title of “smartest kid in the class.” Without that dedicated time, I’m not sure I would have finished that heavy tome.

I’m not sure if I was the target age for The Fountainhead or not. In many ways, reading it at seventeen made the book much more impactful than if I had read it at twenty-seven. The themes of individuality and idealism made my teenage heart sing. As a questioner and overthinker, I didn’t fit into many groups in high school. I certainly wasn’t an outlier, but I wasn’t popular or nerdy or athletic or any of the things that truly gave you a group. So, the idea of fighting the system, of living true to your values, no matter what, gave me hope for the future.

Since then, I’ve read several more of Ayn Rand’s work. The older I’ve gotten, the less I connect with her particular brand of individualism and ideals. I’d say my favorite of the books I’ve read by her is We the Livingwhich is an autobiographical novel. That one helped me understand more of Rand’s need to push violently against and hints at too much community or communist overtones. I get that she experienced the harshest and most distorted expression of communism.

So, even though the values expressed in novels like The Fountainhead aren’t the values I’m living out today, this novel will always hold a special place in my journey toward creating my own idealism and way of thinking.

What book impacted you at a young age that doesn’t necessarily reflect your values today?

A (1)This post is Day 10 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. You can find the entire series over at my A Literary Life page. Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 

6 thoughts on “When You Outgrow Books You Loved

  1. I always thought Ayn Rand was a pompous…donkey.

    When I was in my teens I thought I had outgrown ‘The Chronicles Of Narnia.” Ten years later I realized I was not nearly mature enough to understand Lewis’message.

    Same thing Happened with Richard Bach’s ‘Illusion’. Loved it when it came out, thought I had outgrown it a few years later…and as the pride has been battered off me, I can now hear what Mr. Bach was trying to say.

    1. I read Narnia when I was a teen, too and just didn’t love them. I reread them in my late-twenties (I think?) and the story captured me. Such a reminder of certain books at certain times of life…

    1. Even though I included this as “life-changing,” I’m not sure I’d recommend her now… But I do believe she would find you if you’re meant to read her. 😉

  2. That’s such a good question to ask. When I was in school I read what was required and little else. Not much of it has stayed with me. But I have an opposite experience with the work of EE Cummings. In high school I thought his poetry was obtuse at best and not good at worst. Today, I can appreciate it.

    1. e e cummings will always have a special place in my heart. I started reading his poetry when I first encountered nonrepresentational painting. Both totally shifted my thinking!

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