If you were an avid reader growing up, you probably have a stack of paperbacks somewhere in your house from your childhood days of locking yourself in your room so you could finish yet another Boxcar Children book. Or Sweet Valley High. Or Series of Unfortunate Events. Whatever your literature of choice, your favorite childhood books probably stir up a strong sense of nostalgia when you think of them now.
Since I’m a book hoarder, I still have all my paperbacks from those days, and from time to time I like to reread them. It’s always an interesting experience to look back and remember what I thought about the books back then… and to compare it to what I think about them now. Some books withstand the test of time (for example, Flipped, my favorite then and now). Others just… don’t. (Side note: I remember FernGully being the most amazing movie ever, and was so crushed when I rewatched it. So this also applies to kids who were wannabe film buffs, but had terrible taste in movies, aka me.)
Recently, as I was trying to fit a ridiculous amount of books onto my bookshelf — I mean, organizing my library — I found scores of dusty paperbacks from my pre-middle school bookworm days, and it got me thinking about the emotional process that is rereading your favorite childhood books.
1. Freaking Out When You Find The Lost Copy
You thought your favorite book was long gone — actually, you didn't think that, because you had completely forgotten about it until now! The battered novel falls out of an old box in the attic, and suddenly you're 10 years old again, using your allowance to buy it at Walden Books (remember Walden Books?).
2. Nostalgia When You See The Worn Cover
The bright colors are faded now, and the edges are worn. These sights give you a rush of nostalgia, and a rush of sadness for techy modern kids who only own ebooks (and, even worse, will have all their middle school photos preserved on social media forever. Bless their hearts).
3. Worrying That It Won't Be As Good As You Remember
You want to dive right in and start reading, but suddenly a fear grips you: what if you hate it? What if it isn't as amazing as you remember, and reading it will break the sparkling illusion that you've built up in your mind? You ignore that thought and start reading ASAP. You trust your childhood literature judgment, because you were obviously a genius then and now.
4. Remembering How You Felt When You First Read It
As you start reading, you feel the same emotions as when you first fell in love with the book, because let's be honest — besides the current lack of braces, you haven't changed THAT much.
5. Laughing At The Parts That Scared You/Made You Laugh/Were Your Favorite The First Time Around
OK, maybe you've changed a little. Because suddenly, stories that you thought were terrifying, or hilarious, or super romantic, etc., make you laugh out loud. Did you really stay up all night, huddled by the nightlight, because of this?
6. Getting Weirded Out By How Young The Characters Are
Speaking of romance, that brooding 13-year-old hunk from your favorite childhood series? He is a BABY. Also, you suddenly relate way too much to the older characters.
7. Either Feeling Disappointed In The End, Or Loving It Even More
Maybe the book is just as amazing as you remember, and you love it even more (see: Flipped). Or maybe, you suddenly question your childhood judgment, and feel grateful that you developed better taste in literature (the FernGully effect). Either way, the story takes you back, and you'll still love it forever.
8. Trying To Convince Your Friends To Read It
Wanting to spread the nostalgia, you ask your friends if they've read the book. If they haven't, you try to persuade them to buy a copy so you can all talk about it. It would be the perfect choice for next month's book club!
9. Feeling Depressed When They Don't Appreciate It Like You Do
When your friends finally give in and read the book, because you will not. stop. talking about it, they just don't get it. They say it was "fine," and then suggest that next month's book club choice be something more ~literary~, thus crushing your soul.
10. Finding One Friend Who DID Read It As A Kid
You nearly give up all hope, but then you find them: the one friend who ALSO loved the book as a kid. And they have the exact same copy! They are your new FAVORITE PERSON.
The two of you discuss everything there is to discuss about the books. Which characters you were crushing on, which parts made you laugh, your favorite book in the series, etc. etc. The only thing that would make your life more complete at this moment, would be a fresh pack of lip smackers, because you're in full blown Nostalgia Mode.
12. Discussing The Movie Adaptation In Depth
If there was a movie adaptation of the book, you obviously need to revisit it. You rewatch it, discuss it in depth, and probably feel disappointed because as always — the book was so much better. You briefly wonder if Hollywood will ever remake the movie (or, if there's no movie, if a film is in the works), and put your hair in pigtails to see if you look young enough to still play the starring role.
13. Trying To Find The Sequel (Or Writing One Yourself)
You wonder if there are any sequels to the book that you missed — or that you should reread. If you can't find one, you briefly consider a foray into fanfiction, because it's too tempting to wonder where the characters would end up.
14. Sadly Leaving It On The Shelf Until You Rediscover It Again
After a time, your childhood favorite ends up back on your bookshelf once more. And even though it stays there untouched for a while, that just makes it so much sweeter when you discover it again in the future.
Images: Giphy (14), Warner Bros Television