Goodbye Old Friend, and Hello

November Sunset2Stumbled across this quote recently, attributed to Martin Tupper: “A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever.” It struck me as rather sweet and innocuous, at first, but then I thought about it for a moment and realized something.

It’s complete nonsense.

Well, to be fair, almost complete nonsense. Unless you keep buying new editions every few years, odds are that the cover and words on the page aren’t going to change. You reread an old book that you read years ago, one that has been sitting patiently on your shelf for all those years, and odds are that the book, true enough, has not changed at all.

But there’s a pretty damned good chance that you have.

Take any book off the shelf that you first read years ago, one that moved you profoundly. Something that got you excited to turn the page, kept you reading past your bedtime when there was work/school the next day. Try reading it now and see if your experience is the same today as it was four or five or twenty years ago. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

So how did that go? Continue reading