At the last book club get together, one of our members mentioned that, although she didn’t enjoy reading The Time Travelers Wife this time, she remembered thoroughly enjoying it years ago when it first came out. It made me think about how much writing has changed over the years and how different our expectations are when we’re reading books. The world itself has changed. People want more for less, and want things to be easier to purchase and to have it in their hands as soon as possible. Could this be what has changed books and how we enjoy them?
There was a time when, to read a book you would either have to search through hundreds of titles at the library to find the one that stood out to you, or find your favourite genre in a book shop. Then the internet made it easier by offering online shopping. You could sit at your computer and read through the blurbs of every book and look at every cover until you chose your favourite one, then you could pay with the click of a button and it would be delivered to your door. Released in 2007, the Amazon Kindle changed reading again. You no longer had to wait for your book to be delivered in 3-7 days. With the click of a button it would arrive miraculously on your kindle device and you could begin reading immediately.
I can’t help but think that the changes in how we purchase and read books also altered what we like to read. There was a time when books were full of beautiful prose, describing every element of every scene. And although there are many books still written this way, many of the best sellers and most popular novels are written with less descriptive text, more dialogue and shorter chapters. Making it easier, and less time consuming to read a book.
Perhaps, despite the changes in how you can purchase books, my friend simply outgrew The Time Traveler’s Wife. Our preferences change as we mature and experience different things in life. Some books appear to span across ages (one of my favourite series is still Harry Potter by J K Rowling), and you can love them for years, where as others you outgrow and move on.
Another reason could be because books are so cheap now on kindle, people are less invested. When you pay $20 or more for a book, maybe you force yourself to sit, read and enjoy it much more than if it was $0.99 on Amazon?
Do you find your tastes for reading have changed over the years? Where you use to love contemporary young adult stories, you’re now drawn to more fantastical adventures? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.