Author Kevin Smokler spent a year going back through books he read in high school to see what they would mean to him now as an adult. He compiles his experiences in his book "Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven't Touched Since High School."
Your views of the books change when you aren't reading for a school assignment, he says. And while you've grown up, the book is still waiting for you, unchanged.
"At the heart of Smokler's book, then, is the awareness that in high school — though anytime, really — we are too immersed in the process of formation to coherently make meaning from what our experiences are telling us," writes Brandon Bye for Fiction Writers Review. "Only later, standing at the crossroads of memory's infirmity and history's insufficiency, can we adequately feel the charge of what Smokler calls a formative moment."
Going back to a book brings a new perspective to the classics, he says.
From The Wire:
We can't help but bring ourselves to the books we read, in ways large and small, and part of what we bring of ourselves to a book is an understanding of time and the culture in which we live, as well as what we've personally experienced. "The book is like a building and it changes over time. We enter it at different points in time. Maybe 80 percent is that we're different, but classics take on different meanings throughout time. The perception of the art changes," says Smokler. "The first experience with a book is the point on the map where you can see how far you've come, and maybe in a different way, it's who are you now," he explains.