Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Teenage Boys Who Read and Other Mythological Creatures

By Kelley Lindberg

Reading material on my teen son's
nightstand right now: H.P. Lovecraft
stories, a Nick Hornby novel, and
snowboarding and gaming magazines.

Just when I think I’ve got him figured out, my teenage son does something unexpected.

He buys a book.

Doesn’t he know teenage boys don’t read books? Doesn’t he realize he’s defying all the publishing experts who have written him off as a demographic?

Does he ENJOY being a rebellious anomaly?


Honestly, my 16-year-old boy doesn’t read nearly as many books as he used to. He used to devour books every night and would get in trouble for reading them in class. Then he discovered video games, built his own computer, and found like-minded connections on the internet, and books began to take a back seat to his technology interests. Like every other American teen, he has a lot of competing activities vying for his time now (school, work, social life, technology, TV, movies, and music).

But just when I start to worry that he’s forgetting about books, he surprises me. Last night, he went to our local Barnes & Noble (we don’t have an indie bookstore in our town) with his girlfriend for a study-date. When he came home, he couldn’t wait to show me what he’d bought there: a monstrously large volume of H.P. Lovecraft’s Great Tales of Horror. It was on sale for $7.98, and he said his ninth grade English teacher had introduced them to H.P. Lovecraft stories, and he’s wanted to read more ever since. (Thank you, Ms. Bryson!)

But that wasn’t the most surprising thing he told me. No, the next statement out of his mouth was, “They also had Dante’s Divine Comedy in a really fancy leather binding, but it was $30, so I didn’t get it. But my girlfriend bought the cheaper version for $8, so she’s going to let me borrow it. I read a little of it at the store and it seemed really interesting.”

Seriously? Dante’s Divine Comedy? What American teenager willingly goes out and spends his or her own minimum-wage-part-time-job money buying Dante’s Divine Comedy?

I despair for this generation.

Oh, wait. No I don’t.