Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Do you love to read? I do! I just got a message from Mrs. B with 100 books the BBC chose that most people had probably only read six of. I went down the list, and I had read 51 of them. Some people love to read, you just can't stop them.
Needless to say, reading is a high priority at my daughter The Spare's Blue Ribbon High School. Spare is one of those people who doesn't like to read. She's a slow reader and very picky about content, unless the reading material in question is a teen magazine.
Every summer, Spare must read a book and complete an assignment before she returns to English class in the fall. This summer's reading must be a book by a winner of the Penn-Faulkner Award.
Now, there are prizes and there are prizes. Some, like the Nobel Prize, are given to people who mostly write stuff that anyone can easily read and understand. (Yes, there are exceptions.) The Pulitzer Prize likewise most often goes to a serious but approachable book.
The Penn-Faulkner, on the other hand, is almost invariably a high-brow, college-level piece of writing with heaping helpings of sophisticated vocabulary, "deep meanings" that are so deep you could drown before you find them, and literary tricks that delight college professors and baffle the rest of us.
When Spare read down the list of books, Mr. Johnson and I just looked at each other. Mr. J. is a book collector, so he has first editions of some of them. Not because they're gripping literature, but because they're collectible. (Oh well, to be fair, he is reading one right now. I forget which one.)
I'll be the first to tell you that kids should read during the summer. When I was Spare's age, that's just about all I did. But wouldn't it make more sense for Spare to choose her own summer book, one that might actually pull her face out of the vapid teen mags?
Spare made a choice from the list, and I'm not going to say one bad word about the book she chose. Except it's not a book for a 15-year-old. I didn't read it when I was 15. I didn't read anything like it when I was 15.
Wish her luck. She's going to need it.
There's an epidemic of drugging and drinking at Spare's Blue Ribbon High School. Gee, I wonder why.