The other day I realized something: my reading style has changed over the years, and I like the old style better.
When I read books as a child and pre-teen, I became the main character. I was always on their side, even when they were clearly (in hindsight) wrong. I was happy when they were happy, sad when they were sad. Unless I found a character completely unrelatable, in which case I would abandon the book (which I did approximately twice), I would dive into their skins completely and without reservations.
Now, when I read a novel, I identify with characters here and there, but never lose sight of myself as “the reader,” separate from the events of the story. That aloofness allows me to judge the characters, to criticize their moments of stupidity or irrational choices. Which might seem like a good thing. But the truth is, when we’re living our lives without the benefit of seeing the whole picture, we make stupid choices. Sometimes we’re stressed out, scared, or just plain inexperienced, and we do the wrong thing. As a younger reader, I understood that, because I had the ability–which I’m losing little by little, I painfully note–to empathize fully with the characters. Continue reading