I was thinking of books I wish to reread, Suzanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell topping that list, and I wondered if I would gain or lose something by rereading certain books. Specifically, would I gain or lose something by rereading books from my youth? Not just any books, but those that were important to me at the time. Very important, because everything in the world is especially important when you are a teenager. Here are eight:
- Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks
- Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
- Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
- Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins
- Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
- In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
- Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
Portions of that list make me sound like I was a damn hippie, and that might not be inaccurate. An important aspect of reading as a teenager, at least for me, was being able to discuss books with friends. The Vonnegut, Robbins, Hesse, Nabokov, and Quinn books definitely got passed around from friend to friend, additional copies joining the group when someone had a birthday or garnered some extra cash. I remember skipping an AP English exam to drive to Athens to hear Vonnegut speak at UGA.
I tried rereading Tom Robbins as an “adult,” and I got bored; it wasn’t the same, at all. I am really not intending to compare Tom Robbins and Ayn Rand here, but I give someone a “pass” if they are a Rand fan under the age of twenty—I assume they will grow out of it. I hate to think I’ve “outgrown” Robbins, but that may be the case. For the record, no one needs a “pass” for being a Robbins fan. Being a Robbins fan makes you awesome.
Do certain books (more than others) appeal to an adolescent perspective or need?
What were you reading as a teenager?