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Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The best books of 2014

For some reason, I'm on the GoodReads mailing list even though I don't use it at all, so when I saw that the 2014 Readers' Choice winners had been announced, I clicked on it to see if Larry Correia had won. And I literally laughed out loud when I saw the covers of the winners... now, do you notice anything that seven of these eight books have in common? Which one of these books is not like the others, which one of these books just doesn't belong? Of course, as we know from the Hugo and Nebula Awards, it's only a matter of a year or three before that last anomaly is viciously stamped out too. No wonder book sales are continuing to decline. Seriously, even the gamma males of science fiction aren't going to read any of that equine ejectus.

And we are supposed to believe they're honestly and truly going to make good, nay, even better, computer games. Really? To quote the Sports Guy: "The lesson, as always, is this: women ruin everything."

Here is the primary difference between men and women. In the past, women would look at a male-dominated list of book awards and be struck by feelbad because she felt excluded. A man looks at that list, laughs, and thinks, do they really read that shit? THIS STAR WON'T GO OUT? Are you freaking kidding me?

Robert Heinlein was wrong. These are not the Crazy Years. They are the #GIRLBOSS Years.

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121 Comments:

Blogger Josh December 02, 2014 1:05 PM  

Shouldn't YES PLEASE be in the memoir section?

Anonymous Daniel December 02, 2014 1:11 PM  

Darn. Lena Dunham missed top prize. Her book made the cut of finalists, though.

Anonymous Porphyry December 02, 2014 1:14 PM  

holy shit, is the future just a bunch of girls masturbating in public with cis-males trying to assist them? Cause that's essentially what this is the literary equivalent of.

Anonymous Starbuck December 02, 2014 1:15 PM  

I want to see 100 percent female representation mandated for Congress, the White House, the Federal Reserve, and every single Fortune 500 corporate board. I don't want to see Atlas shrug, I want to see him laughing his ass off. - VD

Well, they got a good start with the federal Reserve. Yellen, I think is a female. Sort hard to tell though, I'll give ya that!

Anonymous Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings December 02, 2014 1:17 PM  

Oh, what a feeling this list gives! The heart goes pitter-patter!
I think that a nice airport display would include both Girl Boss and 50 Shades of Grey perhaps in a 2 for 1 price.

Then professional women could be seen reading Girl Boss in public, and have 50 Shades for beddy-by time at the suite hotel, leaving them feeling good about themselves all day and all night.

Blogger Corvinus December 02, 2014 1:20 PM  

I don't want to see Atlas shrug, I want to see him laughing his ass off. - VD

At least when men are funny, they tend to be doing it on purpose.

OpenID therationalmale.com December 02, 2014 1:22 PM  

You should've seen the titles from the 10 competing books for just the 'non-fiction' category.

Only 2 were written by men.

Anonymous Daniel December 02, 2014 1:23 PM  

Martian got 30,000 votes. Lock-In came in second with up to 14,000+ votes. Statistical evidence that the male minority element of GoodReads is gamma.

Lena Dunham's rape memoir was 5th in Humor. With more votes than Lock-In.

Anonymous Porphyry December 02, 2014 1:32 PM  

The one thing that comforts me is that essentially everyone involved in "neoreactionary space
" could easily be the "badguy" in any of those stories. That's more than a little satisfying

Anonymous Daniel December 02, 2014 1:35 PM  

Correction: I read the wrong number. Dunham's rape joke book actually fell behind Lock-In by a few thousand votes. So, McRapey wins the rape-off.

Blogger Laguna Beach Fogey December 02, 2014 1:35 PM  

I just finished reading #Girlboss by Sophia Amaroso, the owner of the 'Nasty Gal' clothing line. It contains some solid advice for entrepreneurs and business owners. It's not as feminist as you'd expect, although Amaroso is somewhat associated with Lena Dunham. (LD endorsed the book]. I suspect she's probably not as feminist as her fans want her to be. She's a really odd character.

Blogger Manach December 02, 2014 1:39 PM  

Well, Serenity came in #1 in Graphic Novels.

OpenID tteclod December 02, 2014 1:39 PM  

Lock-In premise: "The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed."

That's not science fiction, that's Scalzi's fantasy.

Anonymous Porphyry December 02, 2014 1:39 PM  

"So, McRapey wins the rape-off." lol

Anonymous Daniel December 02, 2014 1:40 PM  

Oh Lord. In Memoir there's a finalist titled "Redefining Realness." About a trans woman*. His last name is Mock.

My tears of laughter are redefined real. Really redefined real.

*Technically, he's a trans sister. I hope he's got a show on the radio.

Blogger Danby December 02, 2014 1:44 PM  

Women love to talk about reading books.
Men love to talk about the ideas in books.
People who talk about reading books like to make ranked lists and give awards.
People who talk about the ideas in books like to write replies, either as reviews, forum posts, direct replies to the author or if he really has a lot to say, as books.
Books written for women will always have the upper hand in these sorts of lists, because really, what man could be bothered, except a gamma or lambda male?

Speaking of which, Ace linked this illustration of the difference between male writing and female writing on his website the other day. It's hilarious.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/the-english-assignment/article692939/

Anonymous Porphyry December 02, 2014 1:44 PM  

look at poetry it's absolute shit.

Anonymous WaterBoy December 02, 2014 1:44 PM  

Wait...Anne Rice is writing vampire novels, again? Did she redisunconvert again, or was she somehow able to reconcile glorification of evil with her "Christian" beliefs? Or has somebody else taken over the pen name?

Anonymous Stingray December 02, 2014 1:47 PM  

As I understand it, Ann Rice renounced her faith again. She couldn't reconcile something or other. Some SJW talking point, I believe.

Anonymous Crude December 02, 2014 1:50 PM  

As I understand it, Ann Rice renounced her faith again. She couldn't reconcile something or other. Some SJW talking point, I believe.

Anne Rice's Christian phase went a bit like this:

Anne: I'm a Christian now! Okay everyone, first order of business: Homosexual sex acts are A-OK. My son's gay, so I know. Christ would approve of that, so get with the program!
Christianity at large: No.
Anne: This is a hateful religion! I can't be part of a religion that doesn't approve of sodomy! There's no God after all, even if Christ was kind of nice! But Christ would dislike you!

Anonymous Crude December 02, 2014 1:51 PM  

Actually, a correction. I think she still believes in God, but "not the God of organized religion". Blah blah.

Anonymous Wyrd December 02, 2014 1:52 PM  

The basic plot to every Rice vampire novel:

Two vampires, one coffin.

Anonymous Daniel December 02, 2014 1:56 PM  

Or has somebody else taken over the pen name?

Her Jesus pastiches didn't have as zealous of a fan base. She left the Church again after realizing it was more organized than she had led herself to believe. She had to finish the vampire books: it's the Christian thing to do.

Anonymous Timmy Z December 02, 2014 1:58 PM  

Anne Rice has a solid marketing plan...
Convert, collect $$ from Christians
Deconvert, collect $$$ from seculars
Rinse, repeat, count your cash

Anonymous Anonymous December 02, 2014 2:00 PM  

Huh. I've only read one book on that list.

Blogger Jill December 02, 2014 2:01 PM  

Goodreads has become a pit of vipers and nastiness. I mean, this does not altogether surprise me.

Anonymous Stilicho December 02, 2014 2:07 PM  

8 different categories are listed, yet looking at the covers and titles one would be prone to suspect that they are all variations on a romance novel.

Anonymous Carlotta December 02, 2014 2:09 PM  

Of course I warned about the whole Anne Rice conversion. A friend was an editor at a big Christian mag that was running a story on her conversion and new book about the lost years of Jesus. She ask me to look over it pre-pub. I shredded it. She was very conflicted because she couldn't prove me wrong. Published anyway.

Again. I have found Christians to be the least serious about their religion of all religions.

Anonymous Stilicho December 02, 2014 2:11 PM  

Yellen, I think is a female. Sort hard to tell though, I'll give ya that!

Nah, Yellen is just Jamie Dimon in drag.

Anonymous Carlotta December 02, 2014 2:13 PM  

What is interesting about these books is even those who buy them won't actually read them. Can't tell you how many times I have been told by someone they read something and when you start asking them about they panic. Apparently "reading" now means buying, walking g around with it, and spouting off passages that you heard were good in a review.

Maybe if they cracked it open and read it they might wake up ?

Really, they are the equivalent of a new purse.

Anonymous Daniel December 02, 2014 2:16 PM  

Non-Fiction finalists, in sentence form as spoken by a book editor on the brink of awareness:

Who we are: all joy and no fun. What if the girls of Kabul (are) the 6th Extinction?

Divide one nation, waking up the innovators. Being mortal, (the) bad feminist (is) the opposite of loneliness.

The empathy exam (will) console wars.

The future of the mind has no place to hide.

Men explain things to me: 10% Happier. This changes everything.

Anonymous Porphyry December 02, 2014 2:18 PM  

Cant stay away from the vampires. Vlad 2014! Down with Nagash and the empire!

Blogger Cataline Sergius December 02, 2014 2:19 PM  

Honestly teenage boys are now actively taught not to read.

Think about it. How would you react to the idea of literature, after you had been force fed a diet a of Margret Atwood, Kate Chopin and Maya Angelou.

After that slog through estrogen soaked quicksand, you would either be a male castrato singing in the choir of SJW feminism. Sniveling grateful for every kick that came your way.

Or if you have kept track of your balls, you would be absolutely to delighted to be done with all this reading bullshit and happy as hell you'd never have to do it again.

If you want your son to read, take an active interest and give him a few ideas in that direction.

Anonymous Eowyn December 02, 2014 2:20 PM  

I just reread Interview With a Vampire not too long ago, having read it back in middle school. Good gravy, it was terrible. The homoeroticism I remember, but not the shades of pedophilia.

Not that her Christian lit was much better. It was like, without all the evil, she didn't know what to write about, so she info dumped characters' histories. I can't believe Prince Lestat won...makes me wonder if folks voted for the name without having read the book itself.

Anonymous Heh December 02, 2014 2:22 PM  

"I just reread Interview With a Vampire not too long ago,"

I have tried to read it... several times... can't get any traction.

"What is interesting about these books is even those who buy them won't actually read them."

My wife just said, "Ugh I don’t know how women can read that stuff either."

Blogger Jason Roberts December 02, 2014 2:36 PM  

How long do you think it will be before Simmons repudiates that quote?

Blogger Eric December 02, 2014 2:37 PM  

They say 90% of books are written for women now. I can believe it, too. When I look at the Kindle book lists it's all Lena Dunham type stuff.

Anonymous yackety yack (don't talk back) December 02, 2014 2:39 PM  

"look at poetry it's absolute shit."

Pretty much all American poetry has been shit since the death of James Schuyler and James Merrill. Adrienne Rich? Jorie Graham? Puh-leeze. John Ashbery, who was once great, is still doddering about, but he has some sort of auto-Ashbery device that just randomly spews nonsense, and he always wrote too much.

There's a few flashes of brilliance here and there, more in Ireland than America though. One book of recent poetry that I think is superb is "The Drug of Choice" by Christopher Cahill. That one's both funny and demanding, and has actual technical brilliance, not just prose in a blender. But mostly, yeah, poetry these days is writing-school myuck.

Anonymous Will Best December 02, 2014 2:39 PM  

I can't believe men can't even muster up the votes for nonfiction win.

Anonymous Daniel December 02, 2014 2:43 PM  

I thought Interview With a Vampire was an interesting foray into the genre, but the girl portion was completely broken because it acted as if a brain that size would mature normally. That was stupid. I didn't mind the first part of Lestat because it flipped perspective on him (and both the vampires were bad guys, so it wasn't subversive in the political sense, just interesting) but I didn't finish that book, so it must have run out of steam.

Rice has the imagination of an eroticist, not a fantasist. Ultimately, her vampires are ornamental, not elemental. I will say Interview is good fertile background for tabletop RPGs that include vampirism in the setting.

Blogger Laguna Beach Fogey December 02, 2014 2:44 PM  

The History sections of book stores aren't much better. Every other new book seems to be about WWII, Jews/Holocaust, or Civil Rights-related story.

In the Military History section I saw an elderly man--clearly a member of the 'Greatest Generation' [lol]--picking out some WWII books.

I wanted to confront him and ask: "Take a look around. Was it worth it?"

Anonymous zippo December 02, 2014 2:45 PM  

"They are the #GIRLBOSS Years."

#This #hashtag @thing #is #spinning #out #of @control. #I'm @getting #very #tired #of @this @stupid #trend.

"after you had been force fed a diet a of Margret Atwood, Kate Chopin and Maya Angelou."

I agree with your overall point, but Kate Chopin doesn't belong with the rest of those mooks. She's a real writer, and her short stories are quite excellent. Put her in the Flannery O'Connor bin, her books, "je te garde".

OT, but recently the captcha gave me "haram". These SJW assholes are EVERYWHERE, trying to normalize a deeply alien and hostile concept. Anybody ever get something like "chrism" or "altar"?

Blogger Ghost December 02, 2014 2:47 PM  

Other than Dracula: Dead and Loving It, the only other vampire story that actually sucked me in was Bram Stoker's.

My daughter begged me to give the first twilight movie a chance. As soon as twinkle toes started sparkling, I turned it off, went to my study, and seriously considered changing my opinions on post-birth abortion. So, so very disappointed in her.

Blogger Josh December 02, 2014 2:47 PM  

8 different categories are listed, yet looking at the covers and titles one would be prone to suspect that they are all variations on a romance novel.

Of course the greatest love story will always be the love that a woman has for herself.

Anonymous Stickwick December 02, 2014 2:51 PM  

I saw the title of the post, then the covers, and for a moment thought VD had lost his mind. Then I realized it's someone else's notion of the best books of 2014.

Here is the primary difference between men and women. In the past, women would look at a male-dominated list of book awards and be struck by feelbad because she felt excluded.

Caution: Snowflakes ahead. I realize this is how a lot of (most) women are, but, personally, I'd be thinking, here's a list of books probably worth reading. I had very little time to read books this year, and so had to be rather judicious. After a fair amount of reading through reviews (by male readers), I chose a biography of Isaac Newton, a treatise on the science and philosophy of immortality, and a brief history of physics. Guess the sex of the authors.

Anonymous LLC December 02, 2014 2:53 PM  

My wife teaches junior high and high school English, and this is what she struggles with - wading through the "award winning" books to find fiction and nonfiction her students (particularly her boys) will read.

Which reminds me - I need to read through that stack of YA novels she gave me to see if they're any good.

Blogger Jill December 02, 2014 2:53 PM  

To be fair, there are 20 categories of Goodreads winners. Of those winners, about 7 were written by male authors. I imagine Goodreads is largely female dominated (have no stats to back that up). It's also not 100% a pit of vipers as I said in another comment; there is simply a growing nastiness among some Goodreads users. I don't know why.

Anonymous TLM December 02, 2014 2:54 PM  

Waterboy,

I thought the same thing when I saw Ann Rice on that list. Guess Jesus wasn't sufficient enough for her, and she had to revert back to Lestat chick porn.

Anonymous Heh December 02, 2014 2:54 PM  

The History sections of book stores aren't much better. Every other new book seems to be about WWII, Jews/Holocaust, or Civil Rights-related story.

Yeah but those WWII books are the only books in the whole damn place that are worth reading.

Anonymous dh December 02, 2014 2:57 PM  

Yes, Goodreads is very heavily dominated. They are owned by Amazon, on the last investor call I dialed into there was discussion. Goodreads does not really make any money directly, it's a sales tool for Amazon.com, and it's supposed to be somewhat independent. Do not be surprised if Amazon folds it into the main website, or just shuts it down. It causes them quite a bit of grief.

Basically high-volume readers are of two demographics - quite high-end, the type of people who have large libraries at home, and who read a lot. Or, very low-end. Paperbacks, used paperbacks, etc.

Blogger Pinakeli December 02, 2014 3:06 PM  

Ghost December 02, 2014 2:47 PM

My daughter begged me to give the first twilight movie a chance. As soon as twinkle toes started sparkling, I turned it off, went to my study, and seriously considered changing my opinions on post-birth abortion. So, so very disappointed in her.


There is a line in one of the Monster Hunters books:

"The only time a vampire sparkles is when he is on fire."

Try that one on her.

Anonymous Women Ruin Everything December 02, 2014 3:07 PM  

It's also not 100% a pit of vipers as I said in another comment; there is simply a growing nastiness among some Goodreads users. I don't know why.

I know why.

Blogger Jack Morrow December 02, 2014 3:16 PM  

I'm on Goodreads' mailing list, and I look mainly in the history category. There are usually some interesting-looking books in that category every month (almost all written by men), but I don't see them getting the votes on the end-of-year list. I notice that the history runner-up is about female agents in the Civil War.

The humor winner is by someone I've never heard of, but it sounds as though it could have been written by any female comedian (formerly "comedienne") of the last 25-30 years. The humor runner-up is by the not-exactly-manly Neil Patrick Harris.

Who the heck is Esther Earl?

My fiction nominee is The Flaming Sword by Thomas Dixon, a ripped-from-the-headlines novel about a Communist attempt to take over the United States, inciting race riots, and using Negroes as dupes. The novel includes Jewish (referred to as "Syrian") agitators, and even a phony Negro Jesse Jackson-type clergyman. Oops, my mistake--that novel isn't from 2014, but from 1939.

Anonymous Stilicho December 02, 2014 3:16 PM  

Caution: Snowflakes ahead.

A woman who writes physics textbooks is, by definition, rather unique. Add in "happily married" and "mother" and I'd say remarkably unique.

Anonymous Krul December 02, 2014 3:19 PM  

Lots of generic portrait covers. I'm guessing the theme of those books is some variation of "Look at me!"

It's like Facebook, only in this version she literally puts her face on a book.

Blogger Danby December 02, 2014 3:24 PM  

"...there is simply a growing nastiness among some Goodreads users. I don't know why."

Someone sensed power in manipulating Goodreads. That's all

Anonymous scoobius dubious December 02, 2014 3:26 PM  

"My wife teaches junior high and high school English, and this is what she struggles with - wading through the "award winning" books to find fiction and nonfiction her students (particularly her boys) will read."

For the boys, start with "The Man Who Was Thursday", "The Once and Future King," some Dashiell Hammett, "The Zoo Story", maybe "The Martian Chronicles", maybe "A Streetcar Named Desire". There's a marvelously crazy but absorbing play about the American Revolution called "Tom Paine, a Play in Two Parts" by Paul Foster that had me absolutely riveted as a 9th-grader. It's kind of avant-garde in its technique, but touching, funny, and quite informative. Faulkner's stories in "Go Down, Moses" are good, so is Flannery O'Connor's collection "A Good Man is Hard to Find" (the title story has the meanest, funniest single line in all of American literature). George Bernard Shaw's one-act plays are funny and mean and interesting, especially "How He Lied to Her Husband," "The Admirable Bashville" (funniest depiction of boxing EVAH) and "The Man of Destiny".

Two books every intelligent teenage boy should read: "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" (Tolkien did a translation, and believe it or not his isn't even the best) and "Arms and the Man" by Shaw, the funniest and most knowing play about war ever written.

Don't know what's best for girls.

Anonymous Dumb founded December 02, 2014 3:38 PM  

Must get The Martian.

It is interesting that The Martian was initially self published and then picked up by a publisher when they saw how well it did. I hope the gatekeepers get the axe.

Anonymous scoobius dubious December 02, 2014 3:42 PM  

Oh, I forgot to add: "Tom Paine, a Play in Two Parts" isn't all that easy to find, but you can order it from Dramatists Play Services, who specialize in keeping scripts in print. Worth a look -- you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll stamp your feet.

When I was a kid I loved "The Cossacks" by Tolstoy -- good military action story set in the wilds of southern Russia, and it's short, so it's a quick taste of Tolstoy.

The smarter kids should also be steered towards Kafka -- the short stories and parables, not the novels, unless they really like it. Also Turgenev's "A Hunter's Album" (sometimes also called "A Hunter's Notebook").

The REALLY smart kids should read "Heart of Darkness" by Conrad (also "The N-word of the 'Narcissus'" if possible, maybe even "Lord Jim" if they're plucky), "A Confederacy of Dunces" by J.K. Toole, and "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" by Joyce. (I put that last one in to piss off VD, but sorry, dude, it's a classic for a reason.)

Non-fiction, one necessary recommendation: "The Great Siege" by Ernle Bradford, a short but compelling historical account of the siege of Malta, Turkish army outnumbers the Knights of Saint John by something like 20 to 1, guess who wins. The book is thrilling, historically precise, and does a great job of explaining how this improbable victory was one. Plus, it sticks to your ribs. These kids are going to inherit a fucked-up world, they'll need all the vitamins and minerals they can get.

For poetry at that age, the superb and compelling "North of Boston" by Robert Frost. It's not his sappy platitudes, he was a lean mean muthafucka in his youth, the poems are dramatic stories and they're very compelling. You can read them aloud in class as little plays, with different students taking different parts.

Anonymous Krul December 02, 2014 3:55 PM  

Non-fiction, one necessary recommendation: "The Great Siege" by Ernle Bradford, a short but compelling historical account of the siege of Malta,

I'll have to get that. The description reminds me of one of my favorites, 1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West by Roger Crowley. It's a rivetting tale of the desperate last stand and final defeat of the old Byzantine empire against the rising Ottomans. Crowley emphasizes the conflict as a culminating event after centuries of conflict between Byzantines and Muslims. You really feel the desperation of the Byzantines, sorely outnumbered and trapped but determined to hold out against the immense Ottoman army.

Anonymous coyote December 02, 2014 4:18 PM  

"I wanted to confront him and ask: "Take a look around. Was it worth it?" spoken as true oh-so-hip whatever cynic/genx millennial whatever. Those WWII survivors never questioned the narrative, never dreamed sick fucks would "confront" them in the country their friends bled and died for. Were they used by evil war-mongers? Perhaps. Were they naive bearers of a narrative that was never true? Perhaps. Were they ever cynical assholes who think everything the country stood for was wrong? Never. And they didn't ask for that stupid label of 'greatest generation' that retarded boomers pinned on them: Every single one of them I have known, reject it.

Anonymous p-dawg December 02, 2014 4:22 PM  

For boys, I recommend picking up the original Hardy Boys books, as well as Tom Swift, Encyclopedia Brown and Starship Troopers.

Blogger Josh December 02, 2014 4:34 PM  

For boys, GA Henty. Guttenberg has the ebooks.

Anonymous Tim L December 02, 2014 4:39 PM  

Here's one for you:
ABDO Publishing: https://www.facebook.com/ABDOpublishing

ABDO Publishing (while kowtowing on the removal of the "for Boys" in their title; they have decided to keep the series of books for Girls to have "Girls" specified on the title. They have a series "Strong, Beautiful, Girls" as well as "Girls to the Rescue" and "Girls Sports Zone". Three series that specifies "Girls". The one series that specified "Boys" had that 'boy' distinction removed because apparently it lacks openness. Sure, ABDO Publishing.

Anonymous Apollo December 02, 2014 4:41 PM  

"My wife teaches junior high and high school English, and this is what she struggles with - wading through the "award winning" books to find fiction and nonfiction her students (particularly her boys) will read."

At least shes trying. I have been an avid reader all my life, since before I started compulsory schooling, but based on the fiction I was forced to read in highschool I understand completely why many boys/men don't like to read. The only book I was given that I remember not despising was "A Kiss Before Dying" by Ira Levin. I still remember it now, more than 20 years later, because I was shocked at how much I enjoyed it, compared to all the other dreadful crap they forced on me, which was essentially the then-equivalent of the Goodreads list pictured above. A case in point, one book we were forced to read was "Summer of my German Soldier" by Bette Greene. I challenge any man here to even make it through the Wikipedia entry on that book without contemplating self immolation.

Funnily enough all the girls in the class loved "German Soldier" and hated "A Kiss Before Dying". So yes, unfortunately they really do "read that shit"...

Blogger Pinakeli December 02, 2014 4:49 PM  

I still remember reading "Johnny Texas" in 1962. Try finding that in a school today.

OpenID malcolmthecynic December 02, 2014 4:51 PM  

A case in point, one book we were forced to read was "Summer of my German Soldier" by Bette Greene.

Wow, I remember that crap book. Nobody liked it.

Anonymous kh123 December 02, 2014 4:55 PM  

* Paging Epimenides. Epimenides to editorial... *

OpenID malcolmthecynic December 02, 2014 5:00 PM  

For my college class, I had to create a lesson plan for a year of HS English. It involved lots of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien.

This was, naturally, my platonic ideal classroom.

I still hope I can trick a school into using "Till We Have Faces" because of the Greek mythology connection, and because people often mistake it for being feminist.

Anonymous kfg December 02, 2014 5:06 PM  

I just had a look at Doctor Dolittle for the first time in a long time. It hit me that the SJWs would start tearing out pages with the first chapter. Patriarchy and misogyny both! Even a strong hint of systemic speciesism. And it only gets worse from there.

But I'm going to stand up here for cultural diversity. The young should be exposed to other peoples and other ways of thinking. I think Yoshikawa's Musashi novels are a fine recommendation for boys. It starts, with the very first line, with a body count in the thousands.

No that's some serious culture.

Anonymous Apollo December 02, 2014 5:08 PM  

Wow, I remember that crap book. Nobody liked it.

The girls in my class liked it, all the boys hated it.

OpenID malcolmthecynic December 02, 2014 5:11 PM  

Scoobius,

...the title story has the meanest, funniest single line in all of American literature...

Anyway, I bet I'll get some flack for this, but I absolutely love "The Book Thief". The best prose I've ever read in any book, contested only by Wright's Night Land stories.

It's also a story about the "other side" of a war (the Germans in WWII) that doesn't come off, to me at least, even the slightest bit creepy. Never is it implied that the allies are bad people, and never are the actions of the allies or the Nazis ever equated. It's just a story, narrated by Death, about a girl living with her foster parents in WWII era Germany, and her family just so happens to be part of the 10% who don't support the Nazis.

Blogger Laguna Beach Fogey December 02, 2014 5:11 PM  

John Buchan: the Richard Hannay and Edward Leithen novels.

OpenID malcolmthecynic December 02, 2014 5:13 PM  

Gah, I forgot to ask: What was the line? I don't recall.

Anonymous WaterBoy December 02, 2014 5:15 PM  

coyote: " And they didn't ask for that stupid label of 'greatest generation' that retarded boomers pinned on them"

Actually, the term originated with Tom Brokaw, a member of the Silent Generation.

Boomers already have enough to blame them for. No need to throw another one onto the pile that doesn't belong there.

OpenID malcolmthecynic December 02, 2014 5:19 PM  

Also, "creepy" should be "preachy".

Anonymous pseudotsuga December 02, 2014 5:39 PM  

As a boy, I enjoyed "brainy boy" adventures. (The Hardy Boys were so-so--they were too old (i.e. high school, driving, etc.) for me to really enjoy.
I read the Alvin Fernald (by Clifford Hicks) books, and the Mad Scientists Club books (by Bertrand Brinley--some science and Americana both, since it has UNSUPERVISED boys doing all kinds of scary and possibly dangerous things!). If your boy isn't a strong reader yet, try the Trick books (Lemonade Trick, etc) by Scott Corbett. The semi-autobiographical Great Brain series (J. D. Fitzgerald) are well done, with some great protagonists in a vanished rural America.
I see that nobody has recommended the Harry Potter books or the How to Train Your Dragon books for modern boys--and I have my doubts that they should be on the list. They are pretty "girly" overall, even though they both feature a male main character.

Anonymous scoobius dubious December 02, 2014 5:58 PM  

"Gah, I forgot to ask: What was the line? I don't recall."

@malcolmthecynic ---

Well, this is sort of like telling the punch line to a joke without telling the joke, O'Connor builds up to this very carefully, so you may not think it's funny as a stand-alone, SPOILER ALERT! but at the end, when the crazed killer The Misfit is looking down at the body of the nasty old lady he's just murdered, he sort of eulogizes her by saying, "She would of been a good person if only she'd had somebody to shoot her every minute of her life."

Now THAT is the dictionary definition of COLD.

"or the How to Train Your Dragon books for modern boys--and I have my doubts that they should be on the list. They are pretty "girly" overall"

The Dragon movies and the TV show are both excellent, though -- probably a lot better than the books. They're well-written, good stories and characters, exciting, and visually spectacular. It's one kind of television that really is almost as good as reading. And Hiccup comes across as a pretty good role model for how to turn a beta into an alpha.

This isn't a book rec, but it's an exercise that might get kids interested in language and writing. When I was a kid, on rainy days me and my friends would sit around and write new, snarky lyrics to famous rock songs. At one point we had completely written all-new lyrics to all of Queen's "A Night at the Opera" to mock another kid we hated. Sort of like Weird Al except usually personal. Hey, we were there first. The point being, you take something they already like and are familiar with, and show them how the form can be manipulated to produce new content. It's fun, and it sneakily teaches them all sorts of tricks about language and writing. I dated a schoolteacher for a while who complained she couldn't get her kids engaged, I told her about this, and she tried it with her classes. She said the results were really good.

Anonymous Rhys December 02, 2014 6:17 PM  

@ LLC: Ignore scoobius please. The books he recommends are for one or two boys in class at most. My brother never read anything in HS and was your typical disinterested HS boy. Any of that elitist crap of scoobius' would have turned him right off. However, my mother found him a series of books called 'Rangers Apprentice'.

They're juvenile books and, to anyone who reads VD, immature books that you could have read in an afternoon when you were eight years old. However, the average high school student is an idiot thank to modern teaching policies and disinterested parents.

By all means use scoobius list as recommendations for the more intelligent kids who already love reading but for the majority of teenage boys go with something like Rangers Apprentice, or maybe a Heinlein juvenile

Blogger SirHamster December 02, 2014 6:23 PM  

Now THAT is the dictionary definition of COLD.

It also has an interesting truth to it - she was on her best behavior while threatened with death.

Which of us need an adverse environment to be on our best behavior? Which of us would act better if given more comfort and prosperity? Perhaps we ought to be thankful for the societal upheaval and adversity we will need to face.

OpenID malcolmthecynic December 02, 2014 7:30 PM  

"She would of been a good person if only she'd had somebody to shoot her every minute of her life."

Now THAT is the dictionary definition of COLD.


Ah, now I remember. It's a good line, classic Flannery O'Connor dark humor. SirHamster is correct, it also points out the real truth that she only, finally, was honest when she had a gun pointed in her face.

Anonymous FUBAR Nation Ben December 02, 2014 7:30 PM  

The only that looks readable is the Romanov Sisters.

Anonymous WaterBoy December 02, 2014 7:59 PM  

OT: Who says there's no benefit to going to college? Video game scholarship

Anonymous Not cynical, no, not me December 02, 2014 8:09 PM  

It also has an interesting truth to it - she was on her best behavior while threatened with death

….it also points out the real truth that she only, finally, was honest when she had a gun pointed in her face.


So she was a typical modern woman, then?

Anonymous scoobius dubious December 02, 2014 8:37 PM  

@Rhys -- well if you're going to be THAT way, I guess there's always Ernie Bushmiller.

Anonymous Rhys December 02, 2014 9:07 PM  

@ Scoobius: I wrote that comment harshly but my point still stands. Modern education is fucked up and for most its nothing but glorified daycare. I graduated HS ten years ago and back then there were kids in HS who were functionally illiterate. I was reading adult novels before I left primary school but most people in my class were not. I had already found Isaac Asimov on my own and while some recommendations from my teacher along the lines you posted would have been helpful for me and one other boy in my class they would have been too much for the majority of teenage boys.

Teenage boys want to read books about adventure and growing up and becoming men and while the Once and Future King or Hammett may have been acceptable to you when you were in ninth grade, the lowered standards off today mean the majority of boys cannot keep up and need something simpler.

You read VD so I'm going to suppose you're at least 1SD above the mean so already your reading tastes are probably beyond that of the majority of your peers. Further, school has to cater to the lowest common denominator and this means that standards are sinking faster than Scalzi's writing career. This also means that it is almost impossible for you to see things from the perspective of the average ninth grade boy or to connect with them on any level, let alone recommend what books they should read, especially since most of them are disinterested in reading to begin with and would not bother beyond the first page of a book that does not grab their attention.

While it would be nice to recommend the classics and get boys reading them you have to realize that the real challenge is to just get them reading anything, hence why I recommend something like Ranger's Apprentice. By all means if they take to reading and want more to read then recommend then TH White or Conrad.

Blogger pyrrhus December 02, 2014 9:30 PM  

"For boys, I recommend picking up the original Hardy Boys books, as well as Tom Swift, Encyclopedia Brown and Starship Troopers."

I think all of Heinlein's YA novels would be suitable.And Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea is excellent. And for a somewhat younger set, all of the Lloyd Alexander novels, including the Book of Three and Prince Caspian.

Anonymous zen0 agog December 02, 2014 9:30 PM  

Princess Lit.

Anonymous Viidad December 02, 2014 9:46 PM  

My ten-year-old (just turned 10) just finished reading The Once and Future King and absolutely loved it. He's also read The Martian Chronicles, Asimov's 6 "Lucky Starr" novels, Ben Hur, Kon Tiki, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, War of the Worlds, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Time Machine and a bunch of other classics. He also read through The Happy Hollisters and the Hardy Boy books over the last few years.

I wouldn't say that's really a high-brow or brainiac list. I'd say it's about average for a homeschooler.

We don't have a TV but I have a great library in my office. He's a reading addict... and his little sister is following right behind him now.

Anonymous George of the Jungle December 02, 2014 9:56 PM  

I used to date Diana Gabaldon (maiden name). She was a sweet girl, way back when.

Anonymous Bah December 02, 2014 10:10 PM  

It's also a story about the "other side" of a war (the Germans in WWII) that doesn't come off, to me at least, even the slightest bit creepy.

Try Willi Heinrich, Cross of Iron, or, Lothar-Günther Buchheim, Das Boot

Never is it implied that the allies are bad people, and never are the actions of the allies or the Nazis ever equated.

Fuck that. The genocidal, totalitarian Soviets SHOULD be described as bad guys -- worse than the Nazis. The war atrocities of the Allies (e.g., burning German women and children to death) SHOULD be equated with those of the Nazis.

It's just a story, narrated by Death, about a girl living with her foster parents in WWII era Germany, and her family just so happens to be part of the 10% who don't support the Nazis.

Screw those losers and traitors.

I'm going to have to read my Sven Hassel books again just to get the stink of your gay-ass ideas out of my mind.

Anonymous Scintan December 02, 2014 10:50 PM  

Cliques gonna Clique

Anonymous Carlotta December 02, 2014 11:06 PM  

Animal Farm. The Jungle. Robinson Crusoe. Treasure Island. The Prince and The Pauper. The Last of the Mohicans.

OpenID malcolmthecynic December 02, 2014 11:14 PM  

I'm going to have to read my Sven Hassel books again just to get the stink of your gay-ass ideas out of my mind.

You have fun there, chief.

Anonymous Hoss December 02, 2014 11:44 PM  

I can't believe anyone spends two seconds on that shit. I'm pissed that you duped me into reading the titles alone!

Anonymous Stickwick December 02, 2014 11:51 PM  

Viidad: My ten-year-old (just turned 10) just finished reading [impressive list of books].

Has he read the Jack Aubrey novels? Those are great for boys. I also highly recommend getting Patrick O'Brian's Navy: The Illustrated Companion to Jack Aubrey's World to go with them.

Anonymous Barko Ramius December 03, 2014 12:14 AM  

Red Badge of Courage was da shit back in Elementary school. Teachers made us read Steinbeck and tested us after each Chapter back then. I hated it. Hated pearls, mice, and creepy characters I couldnt connect with.

Someone upthread mentioned that Civil war spy gal book that came in 2nd in the History category- Tinker tailer tempress spy? I saw that book in my local library and was tempted to take it out. But it was on the same shelf with that Hillary book and an Adele bio so my WRE-EWS went off and I was like, fk that, I'll stick with Ben McIntyre for espionage History.
Much as I loathe them, doing the emo SJW thang is as easy as doing a Hindu conv. store clerk accent. Theres more than enough un read shit out there, my friend.

Anonymous Viidad December 03, 2014 12:47 AM  

@Stickwick

No - he hasn't. Thank you for the suggestion.

Blogger Whiskey December 03, 2014 1:04 AM  

Bah Kenneth Mars wants you to know the Fuhrer could dance your pants off.

Good books on WWII are written by those who fought there. Pappy Boyingtons, With the Old Breed, and Helmet for My Pilliw.

Anonymous Sensei December 03, 2014 1:24 AM  

As a homeschooled kid Jules Verne and Kipling were my favorites for fiction, I've read and re-read almost all their work many times, along with some of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes but also some of his other work). It's sad that much of Kipling's best work is all but unknown these days, people only remember his short stories for children and whatever weak interpretations of the Jungle Book they've seen. I learned some lessons about human nature and politics from him that I didn't even realize at the time.

Someone mentioned G.A.Henty, I enjoyed his stories very much up to a certain point in early adolescence when I suddenly found them rather juvenile. Still have fond memories of Beric the Briton, though... We also had the "Sower Series" of biographies of famous people.

Then of course there was J.R.R.Tolkien and C.S.Lewis, both of whom I might have been a trifle obsessed with for multiple years, Frank Peretti (I was a bit too young for some of his stuff but "borrowed" it from my parents and read it anyway), some Tom Clancy I almost certainly shouldn't have been reading yet but was pretty awesome when you're a teenager in a Republican family..

We also had, courtesy of a grandfather, most of the Great Books of the Western World, which I read at least half of, and where I got introduced to Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, Plato and Aristotle, etc. Plutarch and Sir Isaac Newton were fun.

I suppose I got something startlingly like an actual education just from having good books around and being drawn to the quality stuff, entirely apart from the homeschooling curricula we tried, though the Great Books were considered part of that.

Anonymous Barko Ramius December 03, 2014 1:40 AM  

For you armchair adventurers I recommend, Enduring Courage, the Eddie Rickenbacker story. A fun read that could be adapted to screen with the right director. Meaning, anyone other than Scorcese. Early race car history- ER sported a bat heart for good luck during one race- WWI dogfighting, and a great finale out at sea.

Anonymous Jack Amok December 03, 2014 1:59 AM  

Good books on WWII are written by those who fought there. Pappy Boyingtons, With the Old Breed, and Helmet for My Pilliw.

Run Silen, Run Deep.
The Cruel Sea

Blogger Jack Morrow December 03, 2014 2:16 AM  

In addition to the Sherlock Holmes stories, ACD wrote other works worth reading. I particularly recommend The Tragedy of the Korosko.

There are the Charlie Chan novels by Earl Derr Biggers.

And for those who detest political correctness, there are Thomas Dixon's other novels, especially his racial and anti-socialist works such as The Leopard's Spots; The Clansman; The Traitor; The Black Hood; The One Woman; and Comrades.

By the way, has there been a book published in the last 25 years or so that wasn't a New York Times bestseller? And who made NYT the great arbiter, anyway?

Blogger Eric December 03, 2014 2:58 AM  

If you like war stories read Rudel's autobiography, which I think was released in English as Stuka Pilot. You want a good (true) story of the ultimate man's man - that's it. Sure, he never denounced the Nazis, but he was probably the best pilot who ever lived.

Anonymous kh123 December 03, 2014 3:19 AM  

"Meaning, anyone other than Scorcese."

Oh, c'mon now. Take issue with whatever historical revisionism he may indulge in, or the fact that he runs interference for paedos like Polanksi; all true enough. As a visual director and storyteller, he's top game, mate.

Anonymous Discard December 03, 2014 3:48 AM  

There's a lot more good history being written today than WW2 stuff. I'd suggest "A Country of Vast Designs", by Robert Merry, about the Presidency of James K. Polk, or "Cod" by Mark Kurlansky.

If you want your kids to read, be a reader yourself. Little kids want to do the things that adults do. If you think you're going to get them hooked on reading when they're teens, good luck.

Used bookstores might still have popular histories and biographies from the 1950s and 1960s. The books are shorter, straightforward narratives than the books written today, without apologies.

About a third of the books in the history section of my local bookstore have authors with Jewish sounding names. I don't refuse to read them, but I stay aware.

scoobius dubious: Ernie Bushmiller? I'm wondering, where do I know that name? It comes, Nancy and Sluggo! You are old. I'm old. Even when I was little, I asked my mom what was supposed to be funny about Nancy. That comic strip really sucked.

"The Great Escape", by Paul Brickhill is back in print.

Coyote: Unless I'm mistaken, Laguna Beach Fogey is neither a GenX or a Millenial. He's an old fogey.

I think that a lot of the WW2 books today are written by writers who have no real interest in the subject, but know how to mine the archives that are readily available nowadays. Pick some suitably narrow topic, research the hell out of it, produce a book. The market is there, so the drones work to supply it.

Anonymous map December 03, 2014 4:25 AM  

Pinakeli,

If you really want to blow your daughter's mind, then ask her why Jacob and Edward can't do better than Bella.

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus December 03, 2014 8:05 AM  

I'm on goodreads...lots of whiny bitches (ostensibly) male and female. I got into a spat with some SJW over her whining about AToB: passive aggressive sniping where they don't write a review but instead make a custom shelf title such as "authors behaving badly". She took offense that I dared disagree. Funny, I am a very easygoing and tolerant person...but as time passes I find my tolerance for SJW dreck approaching zero: to the point now where even a whiff of SJW has me thinking violence and counting reasons where I should restrain the " fist of Death" like Alice from Dilbert

Anonymous John Smallberries December 03, 2014 9:32 AM  

This isn't for the kiddos, but a couple of recommendation are:

The Dark Valley by Piers Brendon, covering the interwar years. It's well-researched and although it's pedantic in places, it was enjoyable because the shooting parts of the big 20th century conflicts get all the attention it seems, while the events and personalities (other than Hitler The Most Evil Person Ever to Live) that led to the whole mess get much less. Be forewarned, you will see the word "adumbrate" dozens of times.

Speaking of the shooting parts, as far as WWII memoirs go, you could do a lot worse than The Threadbare Buzzard by Thomas M. Tomlinson. Covers his time as an RAF/Marine aviator from 1941-1945. Very readable, neither over-the-top anti war nor one of those rah-rah-rah jingoistic things. His interesting take on Boyington ("the only prisoner ever to gain weight in Japanese hands") and the Black Sheep phenomenon in general? Pure propaganda creation. That Greg Boyington is more well known than Robert Hanson obviously rankled him, with some good reason.

O/T but are there any good histories, novels or memoirs from the Korean War that the Ilk can suggest? I've read overviews and there's always Bridges at Toko Ri but I'd like more. I read Max Hasting's account and wasn't impressed, with the best I can say about it is that it wasn't a Stephen Ambrose pile.

Blogger tweell December 03, 2014 10:06 AM  

I'm surprised The Martian slipped in there (although I voted for it along with Monster Hunter). It has actual science in it. Eh, call it the token male book.

Anonymous Stickwick December 03, 2014 11:12 AM  

Darth Toolpodicus: Funny, I am a very easygoing and tolerant person...but as time passes I find my tolerance for SJW dreck approaching zero...

Same here. I had a "meh, whatever" attitude towards a lot of SJW stuff in the past, but the more they push, the more hostile I feel about it.

There seems to be a sea-change taking place. People we know in both Europe and the U.S. who are normally apolitical or even a bit liberal are starting to become very angry and shift towards traditional views. I recently spoke with an older female friend of mine who, ten years ago, was angrily defending stuff like homosexual rights; but now she confesses that she's starting to get put off by it and is going in the other direction. She cited the aggressiveness of the gay rights crowd as one reason. Congratulations, SJW dipwads, you're starting to PO the ordinary people.

Blogger Jack Morrow December 03, 2014 12:47 PM  

The War that Made America is very good; in a similar vein, and a little shorter, is The War That Made America by Fred Anderson, about the French and Indian War.

The Dark Valley sounds like one worth looking for.

Blogger John Wright December 03, 2014 12:52 PM  

The Martian is awesomely awesomesauce old fashioned get-your-hand-dirty hardest of hard science fiction, diamond hard, everything based on real technology. It is the story of Robinson Crusoe on Mars, told with humor and wit.

Anonymous John Smallberries December 03, 2014 1:14 PM  

One thing about The Dark Valley that impressed was just how similar all the propaganda, prevarications, justifications, foibles, egos and outright lies sounded so similar to what we're constantly bombarded with today.

History may not repeat exactly but it sure as hell rhymes.

Blogger John Wright December 03, 2014 1:23 PM  

"The smarter kids should also be steered towards Kafka -- the short stories and parables, not the novels, unless they really like it. Also Turgenev's "A Hunter's Album" (sometimes also called "A Hunter's Notebook").

The REALLY smart kids should read "Heart of Darkness" by Conrad (also "The N-word of the 'Narcissus'" if possible, maybe even "Lord Jim" if they're plucky), "A Confederacy of Dunces" by J.K. Toole, and "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" by Joyce."

With all due respect, which is none, let me say the books you are recommending for boys are crap, crap, and crap. THE PEARL is also crap. OF MICE AND MEN is also crap.

The good stuff? Boys stories?
TREASURE ISLAND by Robert Louis Stevenson
MAD SCIENTISTS' CLUB by Bertrand R. Brinley
A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens
The Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander (BOOK OF THREE, etc)
THE HOBBIT by J.R.R. Tolkien
A PRINCESS OF MARS by Edgar Rice Burroughs

For older boys?
THE GREAT DIVORCE by C.S. Lewis
MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY by G.K. Chesterton
SKYLARK OF SPACE by E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith
SLAN by A.E. van Vogt
HAVE SPACE SUIT, WILL TRAVEL by Robert Heinlein

I will also recommend a sadly overlooked gem of a book by Carol Kendall called THE GAMMAGE CUP. I had liked it as a child, but, upon rereading, I thought it a superior work of craftsmanship. Even though written by a woman, and with a heroine main character, the story has as much fighting and action and intrigue and humor as boys will enjoy.

Again the theme hardly needs repeating in our modern times, but the book is a paean to non-conformity, but also a warning against complacency. Sometimes old enemies do appear again. In this book you can read about my hero and idol, Walter the Earl, the quixotic antiquarian of Slipper-on-the-Water, who is the John C Wright of the Minnipins.

Anonymous kfg December 03, 2014 2:26 PM  

"Stuka Pilot"

Got my copy on the shelf right over there. When I was a child a department store within walking distance had a rack of the whole series.

I not only second this recommendation, but would add Japanese Destroyer Captain.

Anonymous Cail Corishev December 03, 2014 3:27 PM  

Anne Rice's Christian phase went a bit like this:

Anne: I'm a Christian now! Okay everyone, first order of business: Homosexual sex acts are A-OK. My son's gay, so I know. Christ would approve of that, so get with the program!


Yep, that was it exactly. Not just Christian, but Catholic, the church that's considered one of the most anti-homosexual there is. I read some of her re-conversion memoir, and it came across as very much a nostalgia thing. Smells and bells, as we call it, not theology. When she was a little girl, she went to daily Mass often with her mother, so the incense and statues and all that were a big part of her childhood in Catholic New Orleans, even if she didn't particularly understand it. It's not unusual for people of a certain age to go back to those childhood comforts at some point.

At the same time, as a famous author with Hollywood connections, I'm sure that all her hip "Catholic" friends (including priests and bishops) were progressive types who assured her that the Church's stance on matters like homosexual marriage was outdated and sure to change any day now. In later interviews, she really does come off that naive, as if she had no idea that she wouldn't be able to call up her liberal pastor and say, "Hey, do a marriage with all the trimmings for my son and his boyfriend," and have him do her bidding.

Anonymous Cail Corishev December 03, 2014 3:43 PM  

My wife teaches junior high and high school English, and this is what she struggles with - wading through the "award winning" books to find fiction and nonfiction her students (particularly her boys) will read.

She might go to kolbe.org (a Catholic homeschool curriculum company) and look at their literature programs. You don't have to buy their materials to use their lists. They include quite a few adventures that boys will like, but other classics as well. For instance, the 4th-6th grade list includes:

Black Beauty
The Boxcar Children
The Hobbit
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Kon-Tiki
The Miracle Worker
My Side of the Mountain
Old Yeller
A Wrinkle in Time

The junior high list includes:

Tom Sawyer
Animal Farm
Dandelion Wine
Fellowship of the Rings
Little Women
Robinson Crusoe
Out of a Silent Planet
The Screwtape Letters
A Tale of Two Cities

Those are just a few from each list. Interestingly, many of the books on the lists won awards like the Newbery back in the day. At least they can't take those awards away. Our local library here carries nearly every one of them -- sometimes displayed prominently because of those awards.

Anonymous Cail Corishev December 03, 2014 3:59 PM  

The books he recommends are for one or two boys in class at most. My brother never read anything in HS and was your typical disinterested HS boy. Any of that elitist crap of scoobius' would have turned him right off.

There's a lot of truth in that. I've had trouble getting kids interested in CS Lewis and Tolkien -- not because they aren't smart enough, but because they've already seen all the movies. So they're either spoiled, or complaining because "they changed it," or complaining that it's boring because they're not being swept at top speed from one CGI marvel to the next. These aren't dumb kids, but they've been trained to expect nonstop action, and they bore so easily. It's hard to tell what will catch their interest, but it helps to step back from the literary stuff, no matter how great it is, and start with something simple that won't stress their attention spans.

On the plus side, if you can get a kid to enjoy reading, the problem pretty much solves itself from then on.

Anonymous Don December 03, 2014 6:51 PM  

The Great Brain was a good series of books. The Mad Genius Club was great. Funny as heck. My eight year old did read 'The Ranger's Apprentice' series. He thought it was really good. I liked Andre Norton and Leigh Brackett as a kid. Oh and Louis L'Amour.

Anonymous Bart Allen December 04, 2014 4:54 AM  

Here are a few suggestions from a US reader who was grew up with a variety of influences on his reading materials.

For boys and girls, the "Just William" books by Richmal Crompton are a treasure. Some of the vocabulary may be challenging for younger readers, as the books were written in less dumbed-down times, but it's not insurmountable. The first book in the series was published in 1922.

Each book is a collection of short, but related, stories about humorous events in the lives of a group of English schoolboys in the countryside.

The author was an English woman who had an amazing knack for writing from the perspective of adventurous and wild boys. The series isn't well known in the US, but in England they actually rival Harry Potter.

Another favorite childhood author with a lively imagination is Enid Blyton. Some favorites for young readers are "The Enchanted Wood" and "The Magic Faraway Tree", and for slightly older children, "The Famous Five" and "The Secret Seven" are enjoyable adventure series.

Adults "binge watching" Netflix shows have nothing on eager young readers discovering a new Enid Blyton series they fancy.

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