Re: RARA-AVIS: Boys & Reading

From: Patrick King (
Date: 28 Jul 2009

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    I suppose that the list of 20 books for boys in this article, like any list of 20 anythings anywhere, is about selling new stuff rather than tried and true stuff. In my experience TARZAN OF THE APES & A PRINCESS OF MARS by Edgar Rice Burroughs swallowed my life whole when I was 13. Dumas' 3 MUSKETEERS & THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO, I just loved that stuff. It was then, too, I first read Conan Doyle, Dashiel Hammett and Ian Fleming who also rocked my world. The thing I remember about being that age, 48 years ago now, is that I didn't want to read "books for young people" any more. I wanted to read books that dealt with action and violence and sex. The pictures of nearly nude women on the covers of most of Burrough's books were a tremendous attraction to me, and the stories didn't undermine the fantasy as so many other books did. This may be less a factor for the modern boy who sees nude women everywhere. But it was a major factor for me in 1962.

    Patrick King


    Yeah, I've long suspected that to some extent the "boys don't read" observation is self-fulfilling. If a publisher comes to this conclusion, are they more likely to publish fiction for females to survive and profit?

    But when speculating about the effects of boys not reading books it is wrong to ignore other media. The article says boys have trouble understanding narratives and and don't appreciate fiction, but then says boys play videos, video games, and watch TV, narrative forms all. In these discussions literacy and literary are too often equated.

    Ironically, most of the names contributing to this list are male, and we're mostly about reading fiction after all, though I suspect that the appellation "boy" may need preceding by the word "old" (and certainly that preceded by the word "good") to be applicable here.



    ----- Original Message -----

      From: David Rachels

      To: rara-avis-l@ yahoogroups. com

      Sent: Monday, July 27, 2009 1:45 PM

      Subject: RARA-AVIS: Boys & Reading

    For those interested, this is a brief, useful overview of recent

      research regarding teenage boys and reading:

    http://www.teacherl ibrarian. com/tlmag/ v_30/v_30_ 3_feature. html


    On Jul 27, 2009, at 1:24 PM, sandra seamans wrote:

    > If you take a cruise around the web, that's where you'll find all

    > those young men reading. They're hanging out at places like A

    > Twist of Noir, ThugLit, Flash Fiction Offensive, Beat to a Pulp,

    > just to name a few, and reading print magazines like Out of the

    > Gutter. And that's only the mystery readers, the sci-fi field has

    > even younger readers. So they're out there reading zines and

    > buying books by the folks they're following on the web. I'm always

    > amazed when I drop by their blogs and find out how young some of

    > them are.


    > Sandra


    > --- On Mon, 7/27/09, Patrick King <abrasax93@yahoo. com> wrote:


    > That's rather a drastic conclusion! Maybe the boys aren't all DARs

    > and they just can't get their work published. We're all aware its

    > hard to get fiction published these days.


    > Maybe they're reading 'hardboiled' and 'noir' fiction so, unlike

    > vampire and zombie fiction, the mass media doesn't notice. There

    > are a lot of possibilities of what happens to people who get into

    > the habit of reading early, rather than they stop reading.

    > Certainly that poll hasn't been taken.


    > Patrick King


    > ************ ********* ********* ****

    > Unfortunately, the boys tend to stop.


    > David


    > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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