LIKE Ed Sheeran, Les Mis and Killing Eve, I think Normal People is one of those things that everyone adores - except me.

A friend gave me the book - one of those cherished reads you want to pass on to others - and I thought I’d love it. By the time I was halfway through it, I realised I didn’t love it at all.

Sally Rooney’s novel is a modern classic, beloved by many. And I can see why - it’s beautifully written; subtle, nuanced and raw. A compelling story of two mismatched but strangely connected people, it lays bare the power struggles of class and sex, smalltown hang-ups, university life, and the thrill and brutality of young adulthood.

It is all of those things, and more. It is intense, moving, haunting and unsettling. And, having almost finished the book, it is leaving me cold.

Now Normal People is the TV drama of the moment. The surprise hit, emerging from BBC Three to be requested nearly 20m times on iPlayer, has become a must-see in lockdown. All 12 episodes are screening on BBC1 on Monday evenings - for those quaint old-fashioned types among us who prefer to watch a drama unfold gradually instead of wolfing down the whole lot in a 24-hour binge, as a significant portion of its mostly young audience did when it was first released.

A fatal consequence of that piecemeal way we now watch must-see drama came this week on The One Show when the stars of Normal People, Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones, were asked about the possibility of a second series. Someone quickly mentioned “spoiler alert” but it came too late for those of us who either haven’t yet read the entire book or seen the entire series. Thanks to a careless line of questioning by the presenters, we were suddenly made aware of how the story ends. Cheers for that, One Show.

Something similar happened when the new series of Killing Eve was released on iPlayer before it launched on BBC1 in April, leading to a spoiler on Gogglebox. Not that I cared one way or another about Killing Eve (see above).

I don’t binge watch entire seasons of TV in one sitting for the same reason I haven’t fallen in love with Normal People the way many ‘normal people’ have. I’m just too old for it. I feel detached from Normal People because it’s not my zeitgeist, but a bit maternal too, because they’re just kids.

It’s a book I should’ve read in my twenties. But I discovered, to my horror, that Sally Rooney wasn’t born until 1991, by which time I’d already gone through university. I was starting to knuckle down in the real world, no longer inhabiting the bubble of student life, with its thrilling friendships and romances. It’s brief but special; sometimes I think it was the happiest, most carefree time I ever had. But I also remember the pain and confusion, as well as the joy, of those intense connections that you only have at that age. The grieving of a broken relationship, at that delicate transition into adulthood, can be harder to bear than the other kind of bereavement.

Inevitably, life becomes less of a thrill as we get older - not just the daily grind and paying the bills, but because nothing feels quite the same as it did in our teens and twenties. Nothing will ever be as fresh, exciting, dangerous or hopeful. I could watch a film aged 19 and feel like it had changed my life. I can’t remember the last time I felt that.

And thank goodness for that. Because being intense is exhausting! I’ll take the hum-drum of middle-age, thankful that never again will I have to navigate the euphoric, hellish passage of youth.