Does reading great books ruin you for reading good books?

When I finish reading a Charles Dickens novel, a sort of malaise comes over me. I fret that no other novelists writing in or translated into English could possibly engage my imaginative faculties such that I will enjoy and benefit from reading their novels as much as I do from reading Dickens’s.

*sighs dramatically whilst draping back of hand against forehead*

At this point, if you’re rolling your eyes and thinking, bombastic, much? … Well, you wouldn’t be wrong.

It’s a nonsense thing to worry about and, let’s be honest, kind of obnoxious. In 2015, I read four novels by Charles Dickens that were outstanding, and I read dozens of novels not written by Charles Dickens that were sometimes outstanding, sometimes great, and other times quite good. I was happy to have read them all, for different reasons.

So there you have it:

Worrying that other novels won’t be engaging or enjoyable because they weren’t written by Charles Dickens = Empirically verified as nonsense.

And I even proved this to myself by following up my reading of A Tale of Two Cities with Lauren Groff’s thought-provoking Fates and Furies, which I had a hard time putting down.

So, to recap: One can believe [insert author of choice] is the greatest-ever English language novelist and still – GASP – enjoy and/or benefit from reading other books not written by said author.

Rant to self over. Thank you for listening. 🙂 And what do you think: Agree, disagree, or something in between?

Dickens looks like I feel when I finish reading one of his novels.
Dickens looks like I feel when I finish reading one of his novels.