From my excellent friends Ami Angelwings and David Wynne:
On the assumption that in ten years, a lot of twenty-somethings will be re-reading Twilight and wincing in embarrassment:
Name three series or writers that you devoured as a teen but are now somewhat sheepish about having liked as much as you did. For each series, list off what you dug about them, what you're wincing at in retrospect, and whether you'd read 'em again.
This was kinda tough, because there's not a whole lot I'm embarrassed about having enjoyed. (What can I say? I am a gentleman of exquisite taste.) Heck, I'm not even ashamed that I liked The Sword of Shannara! I had to really wrack my brain to come up with answers to this.
1: The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
What I dug about them: They're epic fantasy. That alone was enough to get me hooked at first. C. S. Lewis was an imaginative writer who was equally good at writing action and humor, so it was easy to get into his books.
What I'm wincing at in retrospect: There's no easy way to put this: The entire series was a recruitment tool for conservative Christianity. I loved the books without question until the very last page of the last book, where Lewis wrote something to the effect of "...and Aslan no longer looked as a lion to them." Yes, Aslan didn't just represent Jesus, he was Jesus. The realization that the books served no purpose but to preach at me made me angry. I've hated allegory ever since. This is why I feel The Lord of the Rings was a far superior fantasy: there are Christian themes in the book and things Christians can find applicable to their beliefs, but nothing that actually represents anything from Christianity. And that's not even touching Lewis's implicit bigotry toward women (who screw everything up if they're not perfect little Christians) and racism (because good Calormenes actually worship Aslan, they just don't know it yet).
Would I read them again?: Probably not. Not least because I rarely re-read prose novels that I've already read (making an exception for Tolkien), but also because I just can't reconcile Lewis's worldview with my own. I'd be too busy gnashing my teeth in frustration to enjoy them.
2. Love Hina by Ken Akamatsu
What I dug about it: Akamatsu's art, while standard-issue "cute manga" style, was still very expressive and dynamic, and the man has an incredible gift for sight gags. If nothing else, the comic was consistently fast-paced and funny.
What I'm wincing at in retrospect: It's just a typical sexist harem manga. Actually, no, scratch that. It's the archetypal sexist harem manga. You've got one nerdy loser of a male surrounded by a bunch of gorgeous young women with improbable figures who by the end of the series are all head-over-heels in love with him. Plus some of the running gags, like Naru's hair-trigger acts of violence against Keitaro whenever she (inevitably wrongly) assumes he's perving on her or the other girls got incredibly tiresome after the first volume. And as for Ken Akamatsu himself, once I learned that he drew pornographic comics about pre-pubescent girls and wrote an essay that defended rape, well, that was the straw that broke the camel's back.
Would I read them again?: I might, if only to look at the art again.
3. Lots and lots of Star Wars tie-in novels
What I dug about them: Um, well. They were novels about Star Wars. That's pretty much all I needed.
What I'm wincing at in retrospect: I can't really get as in-depth about these as the others. The problem with them is simple: they're cash-grabbing crap written by talentless hacks. That's all.
Would I read them again?: If someone put a gun to my head and ordered me to, I might consider it.