by Jennifer Ta

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It’s been a while since I’ve picked up a book and was really emotionally invested in a story. I remember when I was younger, I would always find a book that somehow made me think and feel long after I finished its story. There were times when I would pause to think about the book in the middle of doing something (either homework, shopping, or showering), wondering ‘What if? Why did this happen? Why couldn’t it be different? And always, I‘m left wanting more, just a few more pages after the ending, despite knowing that it had to end the way it did.

Maybe it’s because I’m older now that it takes more for a book to impress me. Maybe it’s school that’s making me so tired to read in general that when I do read, I want something that is quick to grab my attention. But still, there are times when I pick up a book from the past and reread it that I’m still struck by the storyline, the words, and feeling the same emotions I felt back then. I remember being completely obsessed with Sarah Dessen’s young adult novel The Truth about Forever. I just loved everything about it: the characters, the relationships, and how simple and touching everything was. I loved the emotional scenes the main character went through when it came to her father because it wasn’t anything that was melodramatic, it was just right. It ended up making me think about my dad and our relationship.

So is it really my age and new wisdom that is making me more critical of books? Could it be that maybe I only feel the same emotions when rereading a book is merely due to my soft spot for them? Or could it be that it isn’t really me that has a problem… Maybe the great books out there are slowly dwindling down and there just really isn’t that much left. Now isn’t that a scary thought?

When I’m thinking about what books are out there, I’m merely thinking of the really popular ones everyone seems to be talking about (Twilight anyone? And let’s not forget Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol). No offense to people out there who love these books, but for me, I’m just not that interested. Sure, they’ve got mass appeal and the storylines are engaging. The only problem is, once I’m done with one of those books, I’m done. I don’t want to know what happens next nor do I end up going, “Wow that was some fantastic writing!”

I’m really thinking something along the lines of Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen), Special Topics in Calamity Physics (Marisha Pessl), and Middlesex (Jeffrey Eugenides). And they don’t even have to be adult novels. I wish I could find another young adult book that rivals my all time favorite young adult book, The Only Alien on the Planet (Kristen D. Randle) or Stargirl (Jeffrey Spinelli). All of these books have original plot lines, and I always find myself so devoted to the story and characters and often thinking, “Why the hell can’t I write like that? Why the hell can’t I think of an idea like that?”

It’s just been so long since I’ve read anything like these books that I just don’t really want to read anymore. I’d just rather reread some of my old favorites and find satisfaction in them.

Of course, you kind of have to keep in mind that beauty (or in this case, a great book) is in the eye of the beholder. I remember recommending a favorite of mine to a friend and he couldn’t get past 40 pages. He believed it was too “plotty.”

Hm… Maybe it really is me after all.

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