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The Wayback Machine

February 5, 2016

There was a very interesting discussion at work about changing tastes. I don’t think of myself as someone who reads much pure sci-fi; I read fantasy. That is what I read. But, that’s not exactly true anymore. That was true a long time ago, but I actually quite like sci-fi and I read it in a pretty regular mix with my other genres.
So, my coworker and I were discussing this and that led us to wondering if the us of ten or twenty years ago would actually like the books that were important to us now. I decided to look at the books I have on the Staff Picks and think about how the me from high school would have felt about them.

The Nick Harkaway Trifecta
gone away world
I probably would have bounced off of Gone Away World at sixteen. The post-apocalyptic part would have worked, but I think I probably would have gotten thrown by the long flashback. Although, back then, before grad school had its way with me, I thought it was my divine calling to finish every (non-school) book that I started, so I most likely would have pressed on, but been whiny about it.

is important enough to me now that I got a giant tattoo based on it. I’m pretty sure that all the things I love about it now; the steampunk elements, the octogenarian super spy, the 1950’s doomsday devices, would all have appealed to me back then too. (Interesting fact, back in high school, I was positive that I would never get a tattoo. So, things change.)

I would have LOVED Tigerman. I was super into comics in high school, so a book that has this much to do with a boy’s love for comic books, combined with the general Nick Harkaway awesomeness would have worked really well for me. Although, I’m not sure I would have picked it up with the cover that it has. I probably would have by college, though.

Daniel Polansky’s Low Town is something of a puzzler. I read tons of mysteries in high school, but most of them were Agatha Christie novels or cozy mysteries like the Lillian Jackson Braun Cat Who mysteries. I didn’t really get into the noir novels until later. Although, I did always like the fashion, not that that would apply to a secondary world fantasy.

Shades of Milk and Honey
is one of the only books on the list I can unequivaclly say I would absolutely have loved in high school. I read Jane Austen over and over again then. I didn’t know that you could combine Jane Austen and magic, but I would have knocked over my own mother to get to a book that did it.

good omens
Good Omens
is the other book I can say with no hesitation that I would have loved. I can say this because I did love it back then. And, In fact, I had already loved Good Omens for years by the time I turned sixteen. I still have my original hardcover that my mom got me. So I should probably feel bad about the knocking her over thing from the previous blurb.
serial killerJohn Wayne Cleaver might have been too much for teenage me. I’m not really sure. On the one hand, I was a little gothlette and so a boy with all the psychological indications of being a sociopath might have seemed like a great sort of person to spend some quality time with. On the page! Even as a high school student, I wasn’t into dangerous boys in real life. I usually went for the Latin nerds and the D&D gamers over the guys who got in trouble.

delia's shadow
Ghosts. Turn of the century San Francisco. A serial killer. I’m sure there were things I would have liked better… David Bowie in Labyrinth. Um… anything else?  Oh! The Princess Bride. Cary Elwys in The Princess Bride. Howl’s Moving Castle. Not much else though. So, Delia’s Shadow would have make the cut too.

Overall, I think that my tastes haven’t changed that much although my perception of my tastes may have changed. I would have told you back then that I liked mysteries and fantasy novels and that was about it. Oh, and comic books. And yeah, fine, historical novels. And classics. But not anything else. Except some sci-fi, but not very much.
I think there are more things that I loved then that I probably wouldn’t like now more than there are things I like now and would have turned my nose up at then.
What about you? Are there books you love now that you don’t think you would have appreciated ten or twenty years ago?

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