When the Right Book Comes at the Wrong Time

Dear Former Self,

You didn’t know it at the time, but you would have loved this book. It’s right up your alley. Unfortunately you aren’t here anymore and I can only do so much to envision what your reaction to it would have been. I’ve tried to summon your spirit, to imagine this being your favourite book—how you’d love the characters, the humour, the conflict, the adventure… but that time has passed.

It’s all very well to say that what distinguishes a really timeless masterpiece of a book is that it can be enjoyed by all ages: both you, Former Self, and me in the present. But what about the books that can’t? They’re no less valuable to the age that they do appeal to, if found by the right person at the right time for them. Unfortunately, sometimes they aren’t, and I can only imagine what it might have been like for you to read this book five, or even ten, years before now.

But now you can’t live vicariously through me to make experiencing this book anything more than a bittersweet might-have-been. It hits right in that transitional place in your taste and development—the one you tried to stretch way too long but that nevertheless ended in you emerging with more discernment and maturity. And you already found a couple of books then that were your favourites during that time and will probably stay my favourites forever because they were right for that time. They should. But this… this came too late. I can’t go back, capture the impressions your mind would have had and retroactively love this book.

So it’s time to move forward—look for books that are right for me now so I don’t miss them this time—and let go of what might have made the “perfect possible past.” It’s a good reminder that books I’m interested in now may not interest me forever and I should read them before it’s too late.

With nostalgia,

Present Me

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