I think that most people would say that their reading tastes have changed over time. I am no different. When I think about this subject, it turns out that I appreciate a lot of books now that I did not appreciate when younger.
Some aspects of my tastes have stayed consistent. I still tend to like the types of books that I liked when I was younger. I read a lot of history, science fiction, and I enjoyed much of the Classic Literature that I was assigned at school. I think that these early, high school and college reading assignments whetted tastes that would develop over time.
Here I wrote about my science fiction reading when I was young. Here I wrote about my lifelong reading of history books. Here I wrote specifically about reading books centering on The American Revolution.
What has changed the most for me is that many books that I like or love now, are books that I would not have enjoyed when I was younger.
One category of books that I have come to love are works that deeply delve into human relationships and personality. When it comes to Classic novels of this type I was exposed to authors like Charles Dickens and Fyodor Dostoyevsky in school. I liked these books more than most of my peers liked them. With all that, I did not move on to reading this type of book on my own until I was older. However, there are other books in this general category that I would just not have liked when younger. Jane Austen novels are a good example of this
I was never assigned Austen in school and did not try her books until I was in my 40s. Since then she has become one of my favorite writers. However, I would have felt differently when younger. I would have found her works too feminine and too romantic in my youth. Her stories center around establishing of romantic relationships. There was a time when this would not have been for me. Though I prided myself on bucking trends and expectations when I was younger, I would not have read or enjoyed these books. I also would not have appreciated Austen’s keen insights on life. Perhaps one can say that I was a little shallow. Like many people, as I have gotten older I came to appreciate different kinds of stories about different kinds of people. Compared to what I exposed myself to when I was younger, Austen’s books are very different. I would not have accepted them. Austen is just one example of how I came to appreciate this kind of story over time. Other examples of this would be Anthony Trollope, E.M Foster, George Elliot, The Bronte sisters and others.
In a similar vein, there were books that I thought had potentially great plots, but that developed them in ways that I did not appreciate. A good example of this is Heart of Darknessby Joseph Conrad. I had heard the plot description from many sources. Many things about this book sounded appealing: A journey down an African River to remote places; A man at a isolated outpost who is behaving out of control, but who had developed a dangerous, cult – like following; this all sounded like something that I would love. However, when I first tried to read this story as a teen, I was put off by Conrad’s very dense descriptions and what seemed like the slow pace of the plot. I had not developed an appreciation of innovative and artistic prose or character development. I was also an impatient reader. I have since come to love Conrad’s style. Writers like James Joyce and Victor Hugo also fit into this category.
Other books seem to be naturally written for older people. Philip Roth’s Zuckerman series centers upon a man over the course of his life. Those that take place in his middle age would have flown over my head if I read them when younger.
I think that many people develop an appreciation of different and varied books as they get older. I do not want to claim this as universal as some folks seem to show very mature reading tastes when young. However, as per above, I am one of those who experienced an expansion in my tastes as time went by. In the end I am happy that I have come to appreciate so many more types of books. The only downside is that now, there are even more books that I do not have time to get to.