Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Summer Reading in the North Woods

The Call of Cthulhu and other Weird Stories by H. P. Lovecraft
The Great Shark Hunt by Hunter S. Thompson
The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
God Bless You Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut
Guards! Guards! By Terry Pratchett

What are these? These are the books that my 16 year old son is taking to read at summer camp. I put them in his duffel bag this morning, along with Virgil’s Aeneid (in English, the new Robert Fagles translation) which he has to read for third year Latin. I think this is an extremely interesting batch of books, chosen by a boy with a keen mind and discerning taste. Last summer he read Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, all seven volumes. The summer before that, he read all of Douglas Adams. I am continually thrilled by his evolution as a reader.

I am trying to remember the books I read when I was 16. While I am not certain of titles, I do remember authors: Jean Plaidy, Victoria Holt, Anya Seton. Daphne DuMaurier. Jane Austen. Charlotte and Emily Bronte. A more predictable list than my son’s. I see that Three Rivers Press has come out with lovely new editions of Jean Plaidy’s books about the English Queens. They have not bothered to reissue the Victoria Holt books (Plaidy and Holt are both pen names of Eleanor Hibbert). The Holt gothic tales are a bit out of style right now, I imagine.

What books do 16-year old girls take to camp now? I haven’t got one of those, so I don’t know.

4 comments:

Sam Houston said...

That's quite a list, Becky. I'd be embarrassed to list what I was likely reading at that age.

Susan Balée said...

Girls read the "Gossip Girls" series or "The A-List." At least, my girl was at 16 and is still into such books (she's 18). She also likes Kurt Vonnegut and Stephen King, but these versions of desperate-housewives-for-teen-girls series are the real sellers. Kind of pathetic. I read through one of my daughter's last year -- something called "Summer Boys" -- and it was all about sex among affluent teens summering in the Hamptons, but without any actual descriptions of the body parts involved(probably not allowed, or something). Reminded me of the old romance novels where when sex happened, readers hit a metaphor like "the wheat waved" or "the sea crashed furiously on the shore" but the actual mechanical workings of human bodies was verboten.

Becky said...

Susan, that is too funny. I think that the Victoria Holt books had a lot of "wheat waving." I remember a friend who had an older cousin who gave her a shopping bag full of raunchy paperbacks. She and I worked our way through that bag of books over the course of one summer. I do remember there were some worthwhile ones in there also: that's where I discovered Georgette Heyer, who, while not quite highbrow reading, is at least a cut above some. I also remember reading Sidney Sheldon and Colleen McCullough in those years. Dove Grey Reader was remembering The Thorn Birds -- I was obsessed with that book.

Susan B. said...

Oh, my -- I adored "Thornbirds," too. I was a Catholic girl and I loved the idea of that tortured older "Father" finally breaking his vows and giving in to his love for the girl he's known all her life.

However, I would never have cast Richard Chamberlain in the movie version of it. I'd infinitely have preferred some brooding Briton -- Richard Burton, maybe, or Anthony Hopkins (though he might have been too young then).

Yeah, "Thornbirds" and "Gone With the Wind" were my two teen favorites. I also liked Graham Greene's "Our Man in Havana" (another avuncular father/lover type). Can you tell my parents were divorced and I was looking for a father/Father figure??? No surprise I married a guy quite a bit older than I am, a psychologist and a *stellar* father.

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