Never Let Me Go Never Let Me Go question

Developing Tastes
Daphne Delacroix Daphne Mar 27, 2018 05:56AM
So here's the thing: I'm 18 years old and I want to grow. I want to improve as a person and widen my horizons. I want to learn more and I want to attain a more mature world view, as well as the kind of knowledge that can make my conversation more stimulating.
However, I seem to be facing one major obstacle: more mature books tend to bore me, or at least they don't hook me in the way my usual array of books do. This doesn't just mean non-fiction, though I definitely want to graduate to non-fiction ASAP. It also includes books like, say, Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, orThe Handmaid's Tale, both of which I have read and found interesting...but just not my cup of tea. They've been heavier reads than my usual and require thought and insight which I just don't seem to have enough of to truly appreciate.
I always figured that one day when I'm old enough, my tastes will just develop and mature themselves, but I'm tired of my little niche and I want to be able to enjoy different books now. Will continuing to read these kind of books eventually make a difference and begin to settle with me? Or is there some other secret formula to developing maturer taste? Some advice would be appreciated.
An Insipid Teen.

Dear Daphne,

I wouldn't worry too much about forcing your taste development. I'm 30, and what I've found is that these tastes and mature perspectives come with experience and time. So, even though you can definitely expand your horizons by reading lots of varied books, you may also have to be a little patient and allow life's journey to unfold a bit more before "achieving" a more refined palette. It's cliche, but I think that with books, sometimes it is an "acquired taste" to an extent.

Having said that, I agree with Pbegin's response above, that you shouldn't be so hard on yourself if you don't like certain types of literature. There's nothing wrong with not liking a classic or another popular book. You kinda just like what you like. My only concern, personally, before judging whether I like a book, is to make sure I've fully understood and absorbed it's contents. Sometimes I spend quite a bit of time reading forums and analyses on a book AFTER I'm done reading, and that's what really helps a book "sink in" for me and become even more enjoyable than it was before. So, perhaps you could also try that.

I definitely know how you feel though. Keep applying yourself in the meantime. Really engage and live with the book you're reading. Think about it, discuss it, write about it....these are the things I've noticed that all the best goodreads reviewers do with books and they always seem to get the most out of reading.

I am learning this stuff right along with you...

Reading is a skill. It takes practice, and I have to challenge myself in order to advance. Say I start playing piano as a kid, but never attempt anything more challenging than "Hot Cross Buns"; it may bring me joy to play my repertoire of simple, one-handed pieces, but it remains an undeveloped skill and may hold limited appeal as I mature. A whole world of beautiful, complex, interesting, fun, intense music will remain beyond my reach as a player. To develop my skill I must try something a little different that stretches my ability, practice until it no longer feels like a stretch, then build on that and challenge myself again.

Reading generally is worthwhile; it helps you develop empathy (using your imagination to put yourself in another's shoes) and focus (assuming you're not stopping every 40 seconds to check a notification on your phone).

Reading broadly is even better. The more you know about history especially, the more you will understand and appreciate themes and events in novels. (Even fantasy novels often reflect or are inspired by real-world cultural and historical events. Writers are influenced by world events, and fiction is often how they work through or communicate their own understanding of the world they live in.) When you read a book about a specific time and place, reading a Wikipedia page or two before you start can provide context for the novel's events. If you don't want to be reminded of the real world while reading fantasy, that's OK, but following up after to learn a little about the author's life and times may bring greater depth to your reflections on the work.

Taking a lit class from a good teacher can help you develop your reading ability, and while I didn't particularly enjoy the process in my youth, there are skills to be gained from learning to dissect a work and examine it minutely—or just learning to read more slowly. As @mike_sell tweeted, "The single biggest failure of my life as an English Professor is being unable to shake my students' belief that what we're doing is finding 'hidden meanings' in a text rather than improving the quality of attention we're giving it." Reading well is first and foremost about focus, not excavation. (And for those works that really do require excavation, there are annotated editions to help!)

All of that said, there's a lot of junk in modern literary fiction, as in most genres. And the good stuff isn't going to be escapist, not on the first reading, at least. I've found the best authors don't always produce my "favorite" books, but they produce books that I continue to think about long after I've closed the cover.

Dear Insipid Teen,
I am 45 and a school librarian. Many many "mature" books do not hold my interest, so I move on and find a new one. Don't guilt yourself, with reading you like what you like and that is just fine

I used to feel the same way about the first act of the novel, even some anger for the overrated comments. But after have finished it i just could felt the conection with the message about the story. And you know what, it was a crushing true tha struck me hard. I have never been son devastated by a novel like i was with "never let me go".

deleted member May 01, 2018 04:59AM   0 votes
There are two types of book in the world. Those you like and those you don't. Read the ones you like, and don't let anyone else tell you you're reading the wrong type of book!


back to top