The full circle of a reading life:
5-11: read strictly for pleasure, decent books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Beverly Cleary, P.L. Travers, etc.
11-16: read strictly for pleasure and sex education, crappy books by John Jakes, Judith Krantz, Sidney Sheldon, etc.
16-22: read mostly for self-discovery, books of dubious quality by Herman Hesse, Carl Jung, Robert Pirsig, etc. Self remains undiscovered.
22-37: read mostly for self improvement, any book by any moderately serious writer who lives or ever lived. Occasionally read strictly for pleasure (P.D. James, Ruth Rendell) plus compulsive rereadings of the complete works of Barbara Pym.
37-42: read exclusively for job. During vacations read anxiously and ambitiously to fill holes in reading so as never to appear stupid. Fail. Though not infrequent, pleasure is strictly coincidental.
42: career as book critic over. Valiantly struggle through 2666. Try to read The Dark Side. Try to read American Lion. Try to read Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Life. Fail. For several weeks, in confusion, look at the pretty pictures in Jamie at Home and do not read at all.
43: pick up The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. Forget everything but funny, transporting, juicy novel. Until further notice, read strictly for pleasure.
What should I read next?