Is a Good Book a Good Book No Matter How Old You Are?
Julia Pistell, Rider Strong, and Tod Goldberg Discuss Books for the Ages
In June, The Washington Post published an article entitled “Books for the Ages,” a list of book recommendations based on how old you are, going from year one to 100. This week, each host has read the book recommended for their year. We talk about our selections, and the concept of age in general when it comes to reading. Should you read the right book at the right time, or is a good book a good book no matter how old you are?
Julia, 36: Shirley Jackson’s Life Among the Savages
Rider, 39: Liane Moriarty’s What Alice Forgot
Tod, 48: Tina Fey’s Bossypants
From the conversation:
Tod: Isn’t it an unusual thing that we expect someone like Stephen King, who writes horror and mystery but who also writes essays and book reviews and has a Twitter presence that is contrary to all the things that he writes about … to only do one thing? Of course, Shirley Jackson could do anything. She could write anything that she chose to write, and she chose to write what she wrote. To have that entrance into her life at that point is what we sort of get on a day-to-day basis now because of social media with most of our writers. … But then the flip side is do you want to know that about the author of The Haunting of Hill House, that she was just a normal human being?
Rider: This whole concept of reading things at a certain age, or old enough to appreciate them, which I feel is the underlying message here, is so funny to me because since I was such a precocious reader by the age of ten I decided that I would only read grown-up books. What that meant to me were things that were scary or violent or about adult conflicts, but not about raising kids or being a mom. By the time I appreciated that is just recently … and [reading my book] I found myself relating to all these things about [raising kids and being a mom] that five years ago I would never have related to. The notion of age-appropriateness has completely shifted in my brain based on this experience. There are certain books that … are better when you’re older and you know what they’re talking about.