Why our interests come and go over time.

Wooff asks: As a kid, I have always had this interest for reading books. You’d give me a book and I’d finish it within a week. As I grew up from 4th grade to 7th, my book addiction became less. And then I got depressed in 8th grade and got interested in books again. And now I’m happy – and it takes a lot of force to make myself read a book. Why is it so? Is it because I have too much studies or it because I’m just plain lazy? I would like to start reading with interest again. Although when I read a book I become interested in it again. But I want to have the excitement back. I want to be able to be excited even before reading the book, instead of just forcefully making myself read it.

Hi Wooff –

This makes me think about food (But hey, everything makes me think about food).  When I was a puppy, I loved nothing more than cheese pizza.  Then I got a little older, and, while I wouldn’t say no to cheese pizza, I would spend my nights dreaming about lamb chops.  Then I got a little older than that, and started going nuts about cheese pizza again.  Why?  I have no idea.

But with you, I think it’s a bit clearer.  What’s going on is that you’re growing up!  And as your brain develops, you’re having different interests at different times.  When you were about eight years old, you were obsessed with books.  But then your body started changing, you got all sorts of hormones going wild in you, and you became more interested in other things.  Particularly other kids your age (this is completely normal).

But then (also normal), your development hit a wall.  Life started making less sense, and you didn’t feel completely right about yourself or the world around you.  And books became a great place – both to hide out, and to let your new, maturing brain connect with newer, more mature thoughts.

Now (normal yet again), you’ve gotten through that depressed time, and books don’t seem all that interesting.  Maybe you’re craving more real-life interaction, or even TV or video games… whatever it is, there’s nothing wrong with it.  You’ve got a lot of studying going on, so you’re getting enough reading – you just want other things when you’re done with your homework.

Now I can’t tell you when you’ll start to crave books again, but I’m guessing you will.  However, when that happens, my guess is that you’ll go for a completely different sort of book than before.  For example, my human friend Handsome, when he was young, only liked funny books and stories.  He was bored by any books about real life.  He’d read them, but he was so much happier with fun exciting tales.  But after a while, when he got older, he got pretty bored with fiction, and was only interested in reading biographies and books on psychology and politics!  Same guy, mostly the same brain, but craving different things for his different life.

So my advice for you, Wooff, is to relax and be yourself, and keep doing your schoolwork.  And maybe you’ll read something for a class that gets you completely obsessed (Handsome, for example, who had always loved comedy before, read a very serious play in high school about three miserable people stuck in a room for eternity, and rabidly read everything by that writer he could get his hands on for over a year!).  Or a friend will share a book with you that’ll get you all crazy for them again.

It’ll happen.  What’s great is that you learned, as a child, the love of reading.  That’s as great a gift as any human can ever have.  Like a good dog, it might wander, but it’ll always come back to you eventually.


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