Friday, December 21, 2012

Favorites, and the test of time

Now that I use Goodreads to keep track of and rate what I read, I've noticed how my views on books change over time. Recently the director of my library asked us all to provide 1-3 of our favorite books from 2012 for a newspaper article, and when I started looking through my Goodreads list I was quite surprised. Earlier this year I gave 5-star reviews to a few books that I barely remember the details of now, and others only received 4 stars yet I still think about them and recommend them. I left the 5-star reviews as is, because although my love may have been fleeting it was strong at the time and that means something. Perhaps if I read them again I'd fall in love with them this time too. As for those  4-star reviews that seem more deserving in retrospect, I bumped them up to 5 without hesitation.

It's a little thing, but now I can't stop thinking about why certain books blow me away initially but don't stay with me, while others only grow more present in my mind over time.

When I read Age of Miracles, I was totally blown away. I devoured that book like it was cake. When I was done, I closed the book and stared off into space, shaking my head in wonderment. I can remember that, but can't quite grasp the details of what spurred my reaction. Maybe I've just forgotten too much after this much time, and would feel the same if I read it again now. The same with A Land More Kind Than Home. Fantastic book, and it really stood out but again, it's hard to recapture exactly why.

On the other hand, The Dog Stars has stayed with me in a way I didn't expect. I knew it was a very good book, but it didn't pack the punch of the two I just mentioned. However, it had an atmospheric quality that is somehow very easy to recapture.

Similarly, Wild has grown in my estimation since I first read it. I loved it right away anyhow but didn't think it was a favorite. Now though, I keep thinking about how amazing it was for a slightly unprepared and emotionally fragile person to have the determination to do what she did alone. It's really inspiring.

I always wonder how much my book reading experiences would have been different had I read the book at some other time of my life or if I was in a different mood, but that maybe entirely overthinking it.

So as not to leave you hanging, the 3 titles I submitted for work were Gone Girl, Where'd You Go Bernadette?, and Born Wicked (the sequel to which has been pushed back to June. June!)

This week at work I posted a more complete list of my favorite books of the year (restricted to those published in 2012), with links to reviews back here on my own blog. Because I'm lazy like that.

Do you feel like your views on certain books change over time? Are you ever surprised to realize you can barely remember a book you were effusing about a few months ago? Or read a book that you thought was good but not outstanding, only to not be able to get it out of your head later?


Icy Daylight said...

"I can't stop thinking about why certain books blow me away initially but don't stay with me, while others only grow more present in my mind over time."

Yes! I completely agree. Sometimes those 5-star books fade, and the 4-star ones stay in your mind. Here are my three choices for 2012.

3goodrats said...

The Light Between Oceans has been on my To Read list for too long - I need to make it a priority!

Anonymous said...

Yes, this happens to me all the time. I have discovered the same thing with my Yelp reviews of places. I am inclined to change my ratings, once I realize that something I rated really highly doesn't stick with me in any way. But maybe that's not fair, since obviously I really enjoyed the experience. As for favorite books of 2012, Most of the books I read in a year are not actually written in that year. But this year I did manage to read some 2012 books. My favorites as of now: Please Look after Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin, Why Be Happy when you could be normal by Jeannette Winterson, Arcadia by Lauren Goff and Alif the Unseen, by G. Willow Wilson.