Discussion: Over 40 and Too Old to Enjoy Reading?

Posted June 5, 2015 by Melissa in Discussion Post | 36 Comments

Too Old To Enjoy Reading?

So I’m wondering…does there come an age in our lives where we become too old to truly enjoy reading??

Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic…maybe I’m still not fully adjusted to being old…(40 is hard for me…let’s just get the elephant in the room that is my age out of the way)…but honestly…I’m wondering lately if I’m going through a really long slump…or if reading just isn’t as enjoyable as one ages.

I think perhaps it comes down to what type of reader one is.  Since childhood reading for me has always been an escape…but it’s been a lot more than that too.  It’s been a means of exploring dreams and hopes, possibilities and futures.  Love, school. career, travel, adventure,  marriage and family etc.  Reading for me not only provided entertainment and an escape from a sometimes not so pleasant reality…but it also provided a way for me to see what possibilities and opportunities awaited me “out there.”   It fed my imagination and allowed me the chance to live and experience all manner of things and in doing so…perhaps discover a little bit more of who I was and what I wanted out of life.

I’ve realized lately though, that my reading experience is very different.  Most of the time, I now catch myself relating to characters or sympathizing with them…but I no longer find myself dreaming with them or inspired by them to dream on my own.

Have I reached the point in my life where I feel like my own future is set?  My possibilities no longer limitless? My dreams reduced to just that…dreams…?

What do you guys think…does reading and the pleasure derived from reading change as one ages and goes through different life stages?  Do we enjoy it less…or do we simply need to find a way to enjoy it differently?  Or is it a matter of allowing ourselves to dream of endless possibilities regardless of age?


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36 responses to “Discussion: Over 40 and Too Old to Enjoy Reading?

  1. I started devouring books at the age of 4 and have never stopped. I’m 49. I think I even appreciate books more because I can better perceive the depth of things. The only thing is sometimes it is hard to relate to many younger book bloggers and what they read. But don’t get me wrong , it is wonderful to see so many young people read and blog
    emma recently posted…Book review: Suspended Sentences โ€“ I love France #153My Profile

    • Melissa

      I can’t see myself ever stopping either..but I do find it interesting to see how the way I read has changed.

  2. I’m only 25, so I can only guess most of it, but I’d say you just have to learn to enjoy in a different way. You used to dream with the YA / NA characters more, because you didn’t have the power to make a change to your own life — underage, lack of money, you name it. It’s a material world, and it keeps most of us from living our dreams more.
    Now you have that power. You’re already married, you can find a new job and move across the globe if you want to, decide to have (more) kids, or a pet… all those possibilities you have now were only dreams before. Life is at the tip of your fingers, and not only in your head anymore. So instead of reading about adventures, of finding love and friends, you live that. You go out with friends and your hubby, enjoy a meal or a movie or a vacation.

    So since you’re in a completely different state of mind, maybe you should try a new genre. Cecilia Ahern and Nicholas Sparks come to mind — those rainbow-roses romances. I feel they don’t get me dreaming so much, but let me appreciate the love I have, and for me that’s just as good as dreaming away with YA charas. I guess you have to let go of those old feelings and expectations for your reading if you want to move on to how it is part of your life now. I believe if you can do that, you will come out of your slump and love reading again. =)

    Btw, 40 isn’t old! My mom is already 55, and she isn’t even a grandmother yet. I don’t consider her old until she’s officially a granny. x) My grams turned 88 last week, and she’s still doing pretty good, emotionally and mentally, although she’s widowed for over 10 years and doesn’t get out of the house anymore. She’s still full of life and I hope she still gets to see great-grandkids. That’s when I will officially declare her ANCIENT. ๐Ÿ˜‰
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  3. I turned 50 this year and still love reading. While books inspire don’t dreaming as much as they used to, they do still inspire me to dream, to hope, and to just lose myself in another world for a while.

    It may be that how you read and what you derive from reading is changing; after all, people change during their lifetime. That’s not inherently bad. It may mean changes in what you choose to read, how often you read, and even your blogging, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Our tastes and needs change; we can fight it or learn how to live with it. As long as you are deriving enjoyment from reading, are still getting a benefit from reading, don’t give up.
    Bea @Bea’s Book Nook recently posted…Bea Reviews Finding Sheba by H.B. MooreMy Profile

  4. Unless I’m blind, I don’t think I will stop reading.

    For me I think it’s more of an evolution. Like now, I can’t stand some YA/NA tropes. I find it ridiculous to be enjoyable, the drama and such. Also, reading a LOT has set my standards high. I find it harder and harder to enjoy simple plotted romances. I guess I’ve been spoiled with fantastically written plots and believable conflicts.

    Maybe you need to discover a new genre and hopefully you’ll find a book/s that will bring back that child-like wonder in you again.
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    • Melissa

      LOL…I can’t imagine ever not reading either. Going blind is my worst nightmare! But I do think that as we age the way we read and enjoy books changes.

  5. karen

    I am 49. I have always loved reading. It is a family “thing”. We talk about books and authors that we discovered. None of us have the eact same taste in books but somehow that does not matter. It is just the love of the stories. My momma is in her 70’s and she still loves to read–mysteries are her favorite. I am really into YA. I feel in love with Harry Potter about 15 years ago and even now I mainly read the same type of books. I know my reasons for reading have changed over the years and I no longer fantaize about being a certain character but I still love reading. I love the world that is created, the characters that are there and the “what happens next/how does this turn out”. As long as I live, I will read. Nothing is more relaxing than escaping into another world and falling in love with other characters.

  6. I will be 42 in a couple of weeks, and I can’t imagine ever not loving reading. I think it is all about reading what you love. Perhaps you need a shift. I have gone through lots of reading slumps since starting the blog, and I think it boils down to getting stuck in a genre or reading books that publishers and such want you to read. Once you find the right book to revitalize you, I think you will find your way. For instance, right now, I am listening to the Martian because it is getting so much buzz, and I love it. A book I would have never picked up on my own, so you never know what book it will be.
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    • Melissa

      Very true Heidi…I think it’s a shift in perspective…in the way we read and what we are looking to get out of the experience!

  7. 40? I think you need perspective. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have a 90 yr. old friend and although she isn’t a reader her age hasn’t stopped her from doing what she wants. She now lives in an assisted home but still has her freedom and her red convertible mustang! How is that for perspective? I would say if I became deaf and blind I’d stop, but then Helen Keller didn’t stop and she was both!
    Melissa (Books and Things) recently posted…Audiobook Review: The Glass Arrow by Kristen SimmonsMy Profile

    • Melissa

      LOL…Trust me…I am not talking about stopping…but simply about how for me…the experience is changing as I do:)

  8. Maybe I’m too young to really answer that but my mother is quite over 40 and she loved to read. She is always asking me for new books.

  9. Jeanie Dannheim

    Oh, I hope not!! I am well over 40, and find that there are too many books and not enough time. I hope that you will keep reading until it is fun again – enjoy your cat pictures and blog, and would miss if you weren’t reading any longer! I hope to keep reading as long as I can still see, or even hear audio books (which I listen to in the car). 40 is young! It is well in my rear-view mirror and I am hungrier to read now than ever!

    • Melissa

      Thanks Jeanie…I never mean to stop reading…I’m just starting to think about how the reading experience changes as we age…

    • Melissa

      I think as we age the characters that we can relate to changes and the ways we relate changes…

  10. Unless I’m blind, I can’t ever see myself not reading (and even if I did loose my sight, I’d listen to audiobooks!). I’m not even close to 40, but already the way I enjoy books has changed a bit. As a teen, I’d get sucked into the dreaming aspect, imagining myself as the characters and all that. Now that I’m a (nearly brand new) adult, I read books and think “hey, I actually could do that now”. It’s different, but not bad.
    The Bibliophile Babe recently posted…COVER REVEAL: Step F*@k by Scarlett WardMy Profile

    • Melissa

      I think that is exactly where I was ging with this…how and why we read changes..but the answer is no…our enjoyment does not!

  11. Noooooo! I’m in my mid-late 40s (and I’m gonna keep saying that until I hit 50) and I don’t think it’s the case at all. I think perhaps our tastes change, but that probably happens as much as a result of life changes as age. I read a book recently (Luckiest Girl Alive) that I might have appreciated in my 20s and 30s, but now I’m in my 40s I just wanted to slap this superficial snobby lead character around the head!

    My mum’s recently turned 70 and she’s reading more than ever. I’m sure she’ll need large print books in a decade or so, but until then she’s loving the increased time she has for reading now she’s retired.

    Deborah recently posted…Weekly check-inMy Profile

  12. Hmm… Off the bat I would say yes of course reading changes through age because you do…. Your needs change. I don’t know about you but I needed an escape when I read as a child… My reality was horrible… Maybe instead of thinking your not dreaming anymore…. perhaps your something better, content… You can read for luxury and not escape… Just a thought
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  13. Hm – I’m 35 and was a bookworm since before I can remember. However, there were years in there when I didn’t read at all, or just read maybe one book. This was mostly in my 20’s. I think we just hit those times in our life sometimes. You may not have lost it, but maybe it’s just on vacation. lol
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  14. I don’t think I can stop reading, and I’m your age-ish, LOL! I hop genres and try something new to keep my interests fresh. Heck, I just started reading YA again after a very long dry spell reading that genre. Also, as I age I also notice that I don’t read as much as I like to, but I read whenever I can. Audiobooks have really opened up a whole new reading experience for me. I hope you’ll find what works for you. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Grace MyBookSnack recently posted…To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before + P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han Audiobook ReviewsMy Profile

  15. I’m 50 and I’m going through a bit of this right now. I don’t think I’m too old to read but I do think how I read and relate to characters is changing.

    When I first started reading YA several years ago it was fun to remember my own youth through them but now I find myself rolling my eyes or thinking of their safety as an adult instead of being able to slip into their shoes.

    I think that blogging and reviewing takes a lot of joy out of it too. You’re constantly analyzing instead of escaping and I also think it changes what you read. We tend to read more of what everyone else is reading instead of finding something on our own.

    I’m trying to explore different genres that didn’t appeal to me before. Maybe our dreams are just different – more grounded in reality maybe??

    Karen @For What It’s Worth
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  16. I don’t think age necessarily but just what you’re going through in life at that moment. I know I go through phases where I’m just not as connected to what I’m reading. Sometimes it’s me. Sometimes it’s just a bad slump. But I wouldn’t say a certain age. Both my mom (58) and my grandmom (85) are huge readers still and like to escape into books. SO I’m hopeful I’ll be the same. It might play a different part in my life some years but I hope I always still enjoy the escape.

    And boo on feeling that way about your age. I had that when I hit 26. A very random age to have that hit but for some reason it hit me hard. I’d expected a very different life by 26. It was also the age my mom was when she had me and I’d wanted kids by then. Now at 33. Eh. I’m kind of glad my plans didn’t turn into reality.

    Maybe you need a jump into something new? When I was feeling meh-ish I started a bucket list of random stuff I wanted to do that was little and big things. I’ve slowly been doing the little things. Some have taken me out of my comfort zone. Others are just things like doing a puzzle again which I used to love doing but hadn’t done in probably 10 years.
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    • Melissa

      I think you’ve hot the nail on the head…it’s a combination of things…including needing the motivation to “freshen” up my life in some ways! Our moods definitely affect our reading!

      • Last year (or year and a halfish ago) when I was feeling that way and started doing the little changes (even things like doing my nails and trying new ways to paint them) it was amazing how much something so little could make me feel so much better and excited about things. We forget to do the fun little things so often I think. I know it gets me in a terrible life-ish-rut after a while.

        Hope you find a bit of flare to freshen things up and get your reading mojo back!
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  17. I am way over 40 (LOL), and I am reading more now than ever. Partly because, after retirement, there is more time. And I believe that as long as I keep reading and enjoying it, life is full. Reading, blogging, and writing are my focus these days.

    My mother kept reading well into her 90s…she always loved it.
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