The Reading List

Going into my senior year of high school, I was given a summer reading list with four titles on it.  This weekend I learned that my brother-in-law, who is going into his senior year of high school (yes, I have a brother-in-law nearly half my age), was given a summer reading list that was one book long.

When my wife and I expressed our dismay, we were given the opportunity to fix that and assign him a much deeper reading list than the school system has.  And since we’re us, we’re going to focus heavily on genre fiction for the list.  I want to stress, the purpose of the reading list is not to torture the young man, no matter how much he may deserve it, so we’re not looking for laborious tomes that he won’t enjoy.  The purpose is to find a handful of books (which is defined as 2-5) that are enjoyable and give a grounding into genre literature.  We’re looking for just fiction.  To that, I’m open to suggestions.  Note, he is not a complete neophyte when it comes to science fiction.  Fahrenheit 451, for example, is not on my draft list because he’s already read it.

I’d like to include one Verne or Wells story.  I lean towards Verne because the translation process keeps the prose more accessible.  Probably From The Earth To The Moon, but I could be persuaded into Wells’s The Time Machine.  The plan is a single Discworld book, likely Small Gods, though my wife is pushing for The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, read as a single narrative.  Which they are anyway.  For something nice and modern, we’re considering Watchmen.  We’re not the school system, we’re willing to include graphic novels.  We may restrict it to books we own and can lend to him.

So here’s where I ask for some suggestions.  We’d like to get the list assembled by the end of the week.  What should we include from Verne or Wells?  Is there a better Discworld option that the ones I listed?  Why do I always write “Discoworld” then have to go and correct it?  Why hasn’t someone written a book called Discoworld?  Focus!  If we were to include one Steampunk story for someone in his late teens, what would be the pick?

It’s an interesting assignment, and I expect I’ll get some suggestions that I’ve not read myself.

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  1. avatar

    #1 by Day Al-Mohamed on June 18, 2012 - 1:14 pm

    Watchmen awesome and ripe for a lot of discussion on the ideas of apathy, identity, morality and philosphy both national and personal, and where they intersect and where they may collide.

    Hmm, tough call. Are you looking more for classics or more modern. That skews things a LOT.

    Ursula K. LeGuin
    Octavia Butler
    To Say Nothing of the Dog – Connie Willis
    American Gods – Neil Gaiman
    Neuromancer – William Gibson

    My favourite Verne was “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” and my current steampunk favorite is Peter Westerfeldt’s “Leviathan.” Darwinists vs. Clankers. :) And I LOVE how it crosses with history.

    • avatar

      #2 by DLThurston on June 18, 2012 - 1:36 pm

      He’s already read American Gods, else it would be firmly on the list. It’s unquestionably a tough assignment, trying to come up with five titles that really provide some classics grounding with some modern style.

  2. avatar

    #3 by Linda Adams on June 18, 2012 - 5:36 pm

    Just tossing in a couple of thrillers for the action side of things:

    The Secret Crown, by Chris Kuzneski. That’s a new release. It’s kind of like Clive Cussler books.

    Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn. It’s a little old (12 years), but a great thriller if he lives in Washington, DC.

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