First, you fall in love.
Maybe it’s instantaneous and you were aware of it. Maybe it took a while and you only realize it in retrospect. But you fall in love with the words, the plot line, the characters that sit as dear to you as any real human company. You love it so much you don’t even want to share it with other people because you want it to belong to you and you alone. You want to hold the sentences close like some sort of secret.
And then, maybe time passes. Maybe things happen. Perhaps you grow up. When you return to re-read your favorite book — your book, the book you once thought was written just for you — for the umpteenth time, you’re shocked at your change of feeling. Suddenly, it’s as if everything you once loved has been colored into a different shade. You cringe at turns of phrase that you once found beautiful. The characters are much less realistic than they used to seem. You feel displaced, dispassionate, disappointed.
You might try hard to love it again. You make yourself look over it in minute detail in the hopes that you might rediscover your affection. You try to justify certain things that just don’t make sense anymore. You read reviews online and seek out quotes so you might be convinced again, but end up finding more people that are starting to pick it apart in ways you can’t help but agree with.
It’s a hard thing to accept, that something you were once so connected to, something that moved you so completely, has changed for you. And you know it hasn’t changed, not really. It’s the same old book. Of course, it’s you who has been made different. But, perhaps seeing a physical sign that you are different is more disconcerting than you would like it to be. Time always passes in strange ways for us. We have memories of who we were and they never seem that long ago. It’s only when we pin things down into numbers, into logical form, that we are surprised.
When you’re no longer in love with your once-favorite book, you hold no illusions about its place as a great piece of literature — not for you, anyway. And it’s a little bit sad and a lot bittersweet, but mostly, it’s just okay. It’s okay to grow and change and leave things behind. You’ll find a new book tomorrow. You’ll find something else to fall in love with. As we grow and learn and discover and read, we always do.