Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Alan Harps On, Ad nauseam...

Yes, I did have to check on the spelling of Ad nauseam prior to writing this (Spelling Bee champ I am not). I am going on about the use of horror or any other genre of writing, in whatever medium, to get teens interested in reading (again, linking to Aaron Polson's blog: it did get a lot of response from his readers).

When I think back long ago, prior to the grey hair, I can remember a number of books that really made an impact on me. There's no way that I can list them all but here is a sampling:

  • The Four Feathers (A.E.W. Mason)
  • The Sun Also Rises (Ernest Hemingway)
  • The Scarlett Pimpernel (Baroness Orczy)
  • Kim (Rudyard Kipling)
  • The Razor's Edge (Sommerset Maugham)
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Jules Verne)
  • The Stand (Stephen King)

As you'll notice (aside from the King, probably his best) there is a common theme of adventure stories set mostly in foreign places. I'm not sure if this applies to teen boys (are girls interested in this sort of stuff as well?) but I think that if you capture their imagination at an early age, the love of reading will stay with them for the rest of their lives. That being said, I now have to put this to practice to get my 13 year old son to read a book without the use of a bribe or death threat.


Natalie L. Sin said...

For me it was

1. Island Girl (adventure/survival)

2. Books about sharks/shark attacks (non-fiction)

3. Pet Sematary (horror)

I read several classics, but done impacted me. My focus was almost exclusively on blood and guts *lol* I was lucky to stumble on King early, and get a taste of great horror writing. My bar was a tad low before then ; )

Alan W. Davidson said...

I liked Pet Sematary as well, but my next favourite King would be Christine (very psychological and much better than the movie)...and I didn't do sharks as a kid (aside from Jaws). I had a pirate book in the school library that I would refer to for gory pictures (but I would never sign out).

Anonymous said...

The first book that I can remember really capturing my imagination was "Gorilla Adventure" by Willard Price. The other books I loved, slightly later when I was maybe 11 or so, were the Nigel Molesworth books by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle. Oh, and the Tripods trilogy by John Christopher.

When I left primary school and went to big school, they had a huge collection of Andre Norton in the school library, (along with a near complete collection of Eagle comics) so I worked my way through them, along with Kipling, H G Wells, Verne, H. Rider Haggard and anything that looked remotely SForF.

But here's a thought. I'm about your age, Alan, and I remember my world, when I was wee, to be a small gray place, profoundly lacking in excitement. Adventure stories were one of the few ways you'd learn anything about the wider world outside your own experience.

Nowadays, kids are so connected that (a) they, literally, have the world at their fingertips and (b) it's largely homogeneous, because almost every meme is global.

Curious that the most popular kid's fiction these days is Harry Potter for pre-teens and Twilight for tweens. Fantastical fiction that gives a glimpse into a world that's completely out of reach.

Alan W. Davidson said...

You make some valid points, Anton.

Aaron Polson said...

Funny, but when I was a teen, most of the stuff I read was military history (true stuff from Vietnam and Korea) or military thrillers. I kept telling my mom I was going to join the Navy, just to get a rise.