Childhood Reads and nostalgia

I have two series from when I was a kid that is firmly stuck in my memories–and probably will continue to do so for the rest of my life. There’s something about those childhood series that make you wary of reading them as an adult in case they don’t stack up, and in the process you lose some of that special magic.

So it was with some trepidation that I re-read Harry Potter. I received my first Harry Potter book when I was a child, and I grew up anticipating each release. It was pure magic waiting for release day. I would get so excited, and I’ve never come across a book or series since then with that same excitement and anticipation. I won’t lie; if J.K Rowling decided to write another Harry Potter book, or a book set in the same world, that magic feeling would rush back like freaking woah and I would probably squee out loud which would be extremely embarrassing.

So at the beginning of this year I went on over to Pottermore and bought the entire series. Again, I was so wary of re-reading the books because I might see and dislike interpret the story and writing so differently. Thankfully that never happened. In fact, I enjoyed re-reading the Harry Potter series and would definitely do so again. So that childlike magic feeling wasn’t there, but I admire J.K Rowling so much more. The sheer size and magnification of HP is awe-inspiring.

The only thing I disliked about re-reading the HP series was the book version of Ron. Holy moly was he a total arsehole. A completely different version to film Ron. He was only the character that I saw differently, though book Harry Potter definitely has more of a spiky attitude compared to film Harry Potter.

The other series that made a huge impact on me was His Dark Materials. I adored that series but I can’t make myself re-read it as an adult because I knew that the ending would absolutely knock me out and depress me. You would think as an adult I would be better prepared for bittersweet endings but nope. As a kid I managed to handle that ending like a damn pro without sobbing like a baby.

I was talking with Has and E_bookpusher a few years back when we did a post about Tamara Pierce. I told them I would have loved to have read that series as a teenager because I might have adored it even more so as an adult. There are only a few adult series that I can re-read time and time again and not ever get bored. The nostalgic feeling is not there…yet. But in ten years time, who knows?

So my question is, am I talking a lot of bull or do you feel that the memories of the books you read as a child/teenager are impossible to capture or recreate as adults? Are there any other readers out there who are wary of reading much loved books from your past?

5 thoughts on “Childhood Reads and nostalgia”

  1. I completely agree with you, though we are talking of entirely different books or series (first and most obviously because of the time frame–I bought the HP books for my own children–but also culturally–born and raised in Mexico)

    There are some books I read and re-read obsessively as a kid and then as a teen, to the point where I could quote entire pages of dialogue and action (my sister and I could re-enact Henri de Lagardère for my mother at the drop of a hat), that I’m afraid to read 30 years later. I know the writing style I prefer now is very different, less ornate, more action-oriented, but beyond that, I know I’ll find some of the underlying societal mores and tropes disappointing.

  2. I loved the Trixie Belden series of books when I was a child, but I don’t think I could read them now. I read them in the early ’70s, although I think they were mostly written in the ’50s. There were things I found anachronistic then, so I am sure now I would find some of it a bit hard to take. I loved Trixie because she was a tomboy, but most of her friends were definitely girly-girls, and I think if I read them now I would find it all a bit sexist. I did love them at the time, and re-read all of the ones we owned many, many times.

  3. I read a ton of Louis L’Amour books – everything I could get – when I was in my teens. I was reading romances too, but the complete western code of L’Amour – the Sackett series! – wowed me.

    I still have at least a half dozen, and looked at them last week while clearing out shelves. Kept them, but I’m really afraid to reread them. I probably read them each 5 or 6 times as a teen, but I don’t know if I should touch them now.

    The childhood books I loved – Lloyd Alexander, Narnia, Dark is Rising, Choose Your Own Adventure – have not disappointed me when I read them with my own children. But I’m scared my teen self had pretty bad taste.

  4. Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden and while even younger Beverly Cleary – Ramona series.

    If I were young NOW, I def. would read them.

  5. @azteclady:

    I don’t think I could recite passages (I wish I could because that’s pretty awesome :D) but memories and images of certain stories from childhood stories are vivid in my head–especially His Dark Materials, which had some pretty heavy themes of religion that went completely over my head at the time. But

    Coming forward to today, I’m beginning to wondering if it’s got to the point where I read too much as an adult. I know it sounds silly because how can someone read too much? But I don’t know…I think the multitude of books I read are not really imprinting into my brain like they did as a kid. The last couple of months I’ve purposely slowed my reading habit down so I can enjoy and linger over the books.

    @Lammie: I’ve got a guilty secret, and that’s my love for Betty Neels’ books. A title of hers was my first romance book, and there were many, many more. A lot of heroines tended to be nurses or in some way involved in a profession where the heroes were doctors. As soon as the heroines met the heroes, they would give up their careers and become dependent on the hero. I know for a fact I could not deal with that in my present day contemporary romances.

    @Anna Richland: You and azteclady were a lot more sophisticated than me as a kid *grins*. My non-romance reads consisted of Goosebumps lol. I’m afraid to read Julie Garwood books. I adored them as a teenager but I tried re-reading one and really disliked the heroine, so I’ve had to firmly tell myself to keep away. I don’t think your teen-self had bad taste, and nor do I think any kid these days will have bad reading taste. It’s just unbelievably awesome, including ourselves many years ago, that we had the good fortune to be able to read and enjoy so many adventures.

    @Pat Lieberman: Tamara Pierce’s books…if only I could time travel back in time to inhale them as a teen.

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