Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen
mrissa

Grown-up Book Questions

Over in Novel Gazing, I asked a question (or series of questions) I'd like to repeat here: when did you start reading "adult" books? I don't mean erotica or porn, I mean the books that are shelved in the grown-up section of the library or bookstore. (Which of those is more mature than which children's/YA novels is another discussion entirely.) Do you remember what you started with? Was it gradual or all at once? Did anyone try to stop you from reading things they thought were "too old" for you? Did they succeed? Do you think they were right?

If you have kids, do you set a firm marketing-division limit on them (as in, no grown-up books until you're X years old), or do you take it on a case-by-case basis, or do you let them roam the library/bookstore and talk with them about what they choose, or what? If you don't have kids, how do you handle it with gifts to nieces/nephews/young friends, or how do you hope to handle it with future spawn?

My dad gave me Prelude to Foundation when I was 11-nearly-12, because he was so darned excited it was out in the first place. And I had been reading Anne McCaffrey's Dragonsong series, and the last one was shelved in the adult SF/fantasy section at the bookstore there in Kansas. So the store owner showed me where it was. I was absolutely boggled: there was an entire section of the kind of books I liked best. Including more Asimov and more McCaffrey: who knew they had written more? Who knew it all had a name? I was in a daze for a week. Hmm. I may still be in that daze, actually, fourteen years later. I may have arranged my life around that daze. I think it was late June/early July: school was out, but my birthday hadn't come up yet. So it's around my grown-up-book-iversary.

(When I run out of things to celebrate, I mentally dub it the nanoversary of something: X times 10^-9 seconds have passed since whatever it was, marriage or whatever. Then, yay! Time to celebrate. Happy nanoversary!)

I had read a few adult books before that, including some with "adult content" -- Mary Stewart's Merlin series was a recommendation from my mom when I was 9 or 10. But that was the dividing line for me, and it was a fairly sharp one.

One of my friends recently talked about how her older brother took a King novel from her when she was 12 because it was "too old" for her and how grateful she was and how right he was. And I was just stunned, because I'd have been furious if anyone had tried to do that to me. Scott once told me I "didn't need to" read a certain book, in a kind of closed-off tone that I took as "it'll be too scary for you," so I promptly went out and read it. Turns out it was a tonal misunderstanding: the issue was that the book in question, Piers Anthony's Firefly I think it was, sucked. Oops. But still, I got an allergy to being told books were too old for me when I was 5 and my kindergarten teacher tried to keep me from reading The Prince and the Pauper, and I have not yet recovered from it.
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