What this tells us is that really, there is no magical transformation. It isn’t that books can’t change you. Of course they can, if you let them. With time and effort, they allow you to understand yourself and the world more deeply and better. But your self is not remade with a bang. There is no thunderbolt. Whether you like it or not, you are who you are. And it is the reality of this youthful illusion’s dissolution that gives The Secret History its tragic appeal.