I stared at the screen for a while as I thought about how to get this confession down into words. I might catch some flack for this, but then again, others may stand up in solidarity. I’d like to talk about a book that at the time I was reading it (and it’s sequels), I really loved.
Before I tell you what the book is, let me set the stage.
It was late 2008 and I had pretty recently switched to an English Literature major. I remember sitting outside one of my first classes and listening to people talk about a fantasy novel, and I felt so at home. They were also making fun of this movie trailer that had come out, saying it looked so bad and that the books were kind of along the same lines. I didn’t join the conversation, but I knew the movie, and I had to agree. The acting seemed stiff and silly, and to be honest, I had no desire to read the books. Then my mother got me the first two books of the series for Christmas. I thought, fine. I’ll read them to be polite. And hey, it was technically fantasy.
I read the shit out of that first book. I would be in class thinking about how I couldn’t wait to get home to read it. Maybe it was that conversation I overheard, but I never brought it with me. As soon as I got home, I’d devour as much as my schedule would allow. The main reason: I loved the love interest. I was obsessed. He made me swoon with his cheesy lines and overprotectiveness. Maybe it was because I was in a mediocre relationship with a guy who kind of treated me like dirt (didn’t think so at the time of course). Maybe it was just that the book was just kind of fun, in that over-the-top silly, romantic kind of way. And it was different than anything I’d read before.
You may have guessed the book I am talking about.
That’s right. I fell in love with Twilight at 23. Now, the sequels and movies tempered that love. And time has further diluted it. And now at 33, I can say I don’t really care for it. But back when I first read it, I loved it for what it was. I knew it didn’t have the best writing, and it certainly had its problematic moments, but for what it was, it was done well.
But as I write this, I have to ask myself: why don’t I love it anymore? Is it the outside forces that have influenced the way I view a book I clearly enjoyed? Is it that my tastes have just changed? Is it that we always try to look at books with a critical eye rather than focus on pure enjoyment? Did I just have shit taste back then? Maybe my life situation had an effect on what books had an effect on me at that time. I find it fascinating that a simple book like Twilight can bring about these much larger and important questions.
I think I can say that Twilight was a book I needed at that time in my life. It was a fun, escapist romantic story that was just the thing for my broke, stressed, and lonely self. As I’ve grown and changed, I realize that the book is no longer for me. I’ve gotten over the stilted dialogue and the poor plot. But in the same vein, I can’t truly be one of those people that hate on the book. Sure, I can have a good laugh, but I don’t think it deserves the vitriol we give it (particular not Stephanie Meyer). And as I write this, the shame I felt in revealing the book is washed away. Because, honestly, no one should ever be ashamed of what they enjoy. Even if that is Twilight.