If we are lucky, we read the right books at the right times, and both the books and the times should be left alone. Have you read Moby-Dick yet? No? Well, don't go back to The Catcher in the Rye, then. It was great once and maybe you're asking too much of it if you want it to be great all over again. This is not to diminish the books that we read at earlier stages in our lives, not to make the claim that, as we get older, our critical faculties get sharper - the sad truth is that we lose as much as we gain.Nick Hornby's absolutely right about the impossibility of rereading certain books we loved when we were younger and feeling the same way about them. And I find myself saying increasingly about books "My much younger self would have loved this, but the me I am now is unimpressed." One of the perils, I think of growing older and having read so many other books.
Hornby has now finished his tenure at The Believer where he wrote an engaging monthly column about the books he'd bought and the books he'd read, which were then collected The Complete Polysyllabic Spree. Now he has been asked to choose 40-odd books for a writer's table at Waterstone's bookshops across the UK. His highly browsable, completely unsnobbish list is here . And although he recognises how hard it is to make reading suggestions for other people, I think he makes a pretty good job of it!