I’ve come to believe that certain books are probably best read after you’ve lived awhile so that you can better appreciate what they have to offer you. I’m not saying that there isn’t value and pleasure to be had from reading a particular book more than once throughout one’s life. (I know that I’ve greatly enjoyed reading Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird several times at different points along the way.) No, what I mean to say is that I think there are certain books that you may have known about in your younger days that later in life you actually “discover” and finally read, deriving a kind of enjoyment that probably would have gone right past you in your youth. I’m sure I’m not unique in observing that as I’ve grown older, I’m able to bring something to what I read that I couldn’t bring before, which makes it possible for me to walk away with something I wouldn’t have previously.
In my mid-teens I started and then stopped reading the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as well as the Jeeves stories by P.G. Wodehouse. It’s not that I didn’t find these works interesting when I was young; I simply got distracted and put them on hold. I’m glad I did so, because I’ve read these works in recent years, and I’m persuaded that they resonate with me now in a way they wouldn’t have when I was in high school. When I was in my teens I always meant to get around to reading Mark Twain’s travel books, but I never did. It wasn’t until the last couple of years that I finally read such books as The Innocents Abroad and Roughing It; and I believe my being well into my middle years made Twain’s humor-laced observations of people and places a far more meaningful and nuanced experience than it would have been in my youth. Frankly, reading Roughing It was like eating candy.