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30 August 2007


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I have the first Cooper book here to read because I just recently even heard of her before. After reading that I am curious to what I will think about them because I didn't read them when I was a kid.


Yeah, definitely keep me posted on that -- the other factor I thought of is the seventies-ness of the books. You know how some people REALLY don't like seventies movies? I think it works the same way for books.

Brian F.

Given our earlier mini-discussion, I'm eager to see if this phenomenon will also apply to NAOMI AND ELY'S NO KISS LIST.

I can't believe you just got spammed. Vera sucks.


If it develops a fanbase in the first place. I seem to be disliking it more and more as time goes by. Except for the idea of British Bingo. I could get into that.

I hated getting spammed. I'm off to delete the hell out of it.


clumsy and portentous writing? am appalled that anyone could think that of susan cooper's writing! shocked and appalled! though...i did read them first as a kid. and i can see how there are books that fall into the category of not being able to crossover from childhood to adulthood, but would have thought that applied more to books like babysitter's club and nancy drew (which i thought were fabulous as a kid, but not so much now), instead of classics like the dark is rising series. but okay, maybe BSC and ND are in a different category since i read them as a kid and don't find them first rate any longer, but i read susan cooper as a kid, thought she was first rate then, and still think she is first rate now.


Rereading A Catcher in the Rye as an adult, the overwhelming feeling I was left with was one of sadness. Holden's mix of actual insight and teenage over-thinking are, to him, the whole world, and thus everything is disappointing and everything in the future is going to be disappointing. I just kept wishing that there were some way that an adult could make clear to him that things are likely to be essentially okay, that he's smart and perceptive enough that he'll find his way, that however it seems now, the world really isn't all shit. As an adult, it seems far less about the teenager being right in calling out the world on its hypocrisy than about how the teenager's insularity is always going to render the world difficult and frustrating.

There's also the loss of his brother hanging fairly subtly over the whole story, which goes a long way towards explaining Holden's loss of faith in the world. That's something I completely missed when I was a kid, but its reality comes through with particular force in the relative forbearance and attempts at understanding shown Holden by the adults around him, some of whom really do make an effort to help him.

It's still a good book, but rather than being the world-changing shock that it was when I was fifteen, all that adds up to something that's just quietly sad. I have no idea whether I'd think well of it if that adult reading had been my first--and it seems far from clear that Salinger means for us to that more adult perspective on it. From what I've read about him, he could just as easily be identifying completely with Holden's perspective.


I have noticed the same thing with Catcher in the Rye. People who love it read it at the "right age." I read it my senior year of college and was much less enchanted. It wasn't until I read more Salinger that I began to appreciate it more, but I still love all his other work more than Catcher.


We listened to the Dark is Rising while driving on vacation, and hubby's thoughts (he didn't read it as a kid) was that it was way too dense. It needed, in his opinion, more light, funny, stuff to break up the tension.

I read it first as an adult, and I love the series. But then, I'm a bit of an Arthurian nut and a fantasy geek so I don't count.


Emily, I'm afraid my opinion on The Dark is Rising would shock and appall you. Enough said. Yes, I was an adult reader of the book.

I guess I read Catcher in the Rye at the right age, because I still cherish it 35 years later. (Levi, good analysis; everything you wrote rings true with me.) It was the Nine Stories, though, especially "For Esmé with Love and Squalor" that really rocked my young world.

I re-read Portnoy's Complaint after becoming a parent, and found myself totally in sympathy with Alex's mother, unlike the first reading years earlier. Remember when she holds a knife over him to make him eat? What adolescent reader could understood that? What mother couldn't?

I love Wind in the Willows (having come to it as an older teenager) but it bored my children. I find this to be fairly widespread. Adults adore it, children yawn. Know of any exceptions?

I never wanted to try the Moomin books as a child because the drawings looked so squishy. Now that I have read them (as an adult), I like the drawings, too, by association with the lovely, wise stories. Those books have so much in them that you have to be older to catch anyway; in a sense they're really for older readers up to adult.


My friend, to contrast the article, just read The Dark is Rising as an adult and enjoyed them - especially TDIR and The Grey King. I remember even as a child not liking Over Sea and Greenwitch as much as the others.


Really? I always loved Greenwitch. The ones I didn't re-read as much were the last two -- mostly because they made me cry, I think.


I didn't read the entire series until I was an adult. While I found some of the writing a bit stilted, I absolutely loved the books. The subject is ground that has been covered so many times before, but I am a complete sucker for any story where children are left to their own devices to take on evil (and if the story is set in the British Isles, all the better...don't know why this is the case, but it is).


I am shocked AND appalled, and rather insulted by the idea that seems to be at play here... that just because one reads something as a child somehow means that any opinion they have of it as an adult (good OR bad) should be suspect or hold less weight. Readers of ANY age always bring their own experiences and perceptions to the books they read, and that should by no means negate or discount the subsequent opinions they form.

But then again, I'm always suspicious of someone who says they're "too old" to enjoy something anyways...

Sheila Ruth

I first discovered the Dark is Rising series as an adult, probably about 5 years ago. I loved them and I never thought the writing was clumsy.

a Paperback Writer

I am exactly the reverse of what you suggest: I read Cooper's series as an adult and loved it. (Especially Greenwitch. How dare you people not like Greenwich? That's my favorite of all!)
I read Catcher in the Rye as a 9th grader and thought it was boring and pointless. Two years ago, with many years of teaching English under my belt, I told myself, "It's time to read Catcher in the Rye again and see what it is you missed as a kid that people rave about." I read the book again -- and I still think it's boring and pointless. I apologize to all of you that I just offended, but I cannot for the life of me understand why this book is supposed to be so earthshattering, except that it was unusual at the time.
Sorry. But I've never seen the point of Lanark or Moby Dick either, and those two are also considered to be earthshatteringly important books.
Again, I apologize.
But, go, Cooper! Yippee!
I've got her on my 7th grade reading list for this year.

Kelly Fineman

I didn't read the Cooper books until last year. And I adored them all, until I hit the ending of Silver on the Tree and the mind-wipe kicked in. In fact, I'm still angry about the mind-wipe. But I love-love-love these books, that I discovered and read for the first time as a forty-two year old kid.


I don't dislike Greenwitch by any means - I just preferred the stories about Will.


Yeah, I can see that -- I can probably quote much more verbatim from The Dark is Rising than any of the others. I liked the bits in Greenwitch that dealt with Simon and Barney being super pukey to Will. But it was the creepy ghost scene and the wreckers stuff that really did it for me. That and Jane figuring it out about Will ages and ages before the boys. And the setting. And the tone/mood.

Yow. Loved pretty much everything about it.

And the train scene in the last book: into the dark, into the dark, into the dark...! Scary. It's getting to be re-reading time, I think.


Now see, I THINK I read The Dark is Rising when I was young (or I may just have got it out of the library several times) but I started reading (or re-reading) the whole series when you started posting about them the other week... I've read Over Sea... and The Dark is Rising and I liked Over Sea... a LOT and I quite liked The Dark is Rising - the only problem I had with Dark is Rising (these italics tags are GETTING ME DOWN) was that overcoming the dark/saving Will's sister/and so on seemed almost accidental/depending on the luck of what happened, rather than him actually mastering his power completely. And ALSO, the first chapter of The Dark is Rising is SO astounding that the rest just wasn't going to match up... I still thought it was good but there was just SOMETHING about that first chapter (the dogs, the radio, the birds, the symbol). And the other thing I didn't like was Will 'losing' his childhood... it struck me as a terribly lonely life to live. I know I'm a wimp!

I am looking forward to the rest of them, though.

Catcher in the Rye I first read when I was approximately 16 and I QUITE liked it but I felt like I had completely missed the point of it, when I hadn't. I liked it enough to read the rest of Salinger and I liked the others a whole lot more and wasn't able to go back to Catcher afterwards.

Julie Carter

I'm one who read Cooper as an adult and I really disliked the series (I don't think I even bothered to finish all of the books). Will is honestly one of my least favorite characters ever.

But I'm accustomed by now to being in the minority on this one.

tim b

I read the series for the first time about six months ago. I sort of agree that they're very '70's, except for the first one, which to me reads very early-60's. Some lovely sentence-by-sentence writing but at the end of the day, I found it more grandly doomy (in a bad way) than coherent. I wonder if the whole read-it-while-you're-young-love-it-forever paradigm applies to people who meet Tolkien later in life. I've reread LOTR a zillion times, but it's also something I loved as an adolescent.

Jen Robinson

Interesting discussion. I'm a bit like that with the Dark is Rising books. I think I got to them too late. I'm not saying that this always happens, but clearly it sometimes happens. And sometimes you try a book too early, too, and are only ready for it as an adult. What I think does happen for many people is that if you truly bond with a book when you're a kid, you remain bonded to that book for life. For many people (or at least for me), this is also true of Disney World (if you fall in love with the magic when you are exactly the right age, usually around 10, you can keep a bit of the magic forever).

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