RARA-AVIS: Re: Boys & Reading

From: Kevin Burton Smith (kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 29 Jul 2009

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    Patrick wrote:

    > 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.

    My reading history is very similar. I'd add in the Hardy Boys, The Three Investigators, William Campbell Gault's hot rod books, MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN and a few others, plus a lot of comic books, but it's interesting how, somehow, so many of us gravitated to the xact same books.

    I know I'm not supposed to like Robert Parker (or anyone else who sells too many books to be considered "cool") but I thought his recent CHASING THE BEAR, a Spenser novel specifically aimed at young boys, was actually pretty good. It probably would have made a big impression on me at the time, revolving as it does around questions of courage and honour and love and how to be a man.

    Hell, it made a decent-sized impression on me when I read it a few weeks ago.

    Or maybe I'm still not finished growing up.

    According to a ALA report in PW a few months ago, reading has increased in most demographic groups, particularly among the young, but some of the methodology has been called into question. Seems they're counting online fiction as well as books.

    and Mario wrote:

    > I quote from a conversation overheard at a bookstore, between two
    > teenagers. "You know, life here is so fucking boring that I just
    > pick up books and read them". The other one: "Yeah, books are the
    > shit."

    Sounds like half my customers some days. After all, books ARE the shit. Though it'll probably never fly as a corporate slogan.

    > Lots of things go on that are not caught by "averages" or other
    > quantification mechanisms. And let's not forget that a good book can
    > make a reader for life. Schools don't really make readers except in
    > the most mechanical sense.

    Not necessarily so. A good teacher can make a real difference. Every now and then, someone suddenly gets blind-sided by a book and becomes... A READER!

    It's one of the joys of book selling (and, I presume, teaching): turning on someone to a good book.

    Kevin Burton Smith Editor/Founder The Thrilling Detective Web Site
    "Wasting your time on the web since 1998."

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