One of the best things about having children is they can be a source of wonderful ideas. You know, the kind we all had when we were young and then promptly discarded when the business of being a grownup took over our lives. A few weeks ago our daughter told us she was compiling a Summer Reading List. It was an idea she had gotten from some of her friends (how fortunate we are that her friends are marvelous young persons all) and she was soliciting ideas from them, her older brother, who is a voracious reader as well as being a teacher, and even from her dear ol' Dad. It didn't take long for her to come up with a list of over twenty books. And she had a plan for financing this venture. She would trade in her manga books, of which she has (or rather, had) literally hundreds. A portion of her substantial collection had already been sold at bargain rates to some of her classmates to supplement her allowance. She still had enough to fill five good sized shopping bags.
For those of you not familiar with the literary form that is called manga, well, my take on it is that they are comic books disguised as conventional paperbacks and they are read back to front. I have always had some reservations about these books but now is not the time for me to go into all of that.
Yesterday we visited Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, bags of books in tow and reading list in hand. As the resident Book Appraiser went through the offering we browsed. Not everything on her list was found and a few had to be passed by in order to stay within budget, but she certainly got off to a good start with a nice assortment of literature. Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Gregory Macguire's Confessions of a Wicked Stepsister, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, John Green's Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns, Josh Grogan's Marley and Me, Darren Shan's Cirque Du Freak, A Living Nightmare, and Markus Zusak's The Book Thief are just some of the books she selected. Some, like the Bradbury and Gaimen and, of course the Shelley, I have read, many of them I plan on borrowing sometime in the future.
And, of course, I couldn't spend that much time in Changing Hands without making a selection or two of my own. I had heard about A.J. Jacobs' book The Know-It-All, One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World on NPR some time ago and the blurb on the front cover by Jon Stewart cinched it for me, and Rousseau's Dog, by David Edmonds and John Eidinow just caught my eye in the Philosophy section. At eight bucks for a pristine hardback I couldn't resist. So now I have three books waiting for me as soon as I finish David McCollough's latest, The Greater Journey, Americans in Paris, those two as well as Dick Van Dyke, My Lucky Life in and Out of Show Business, which I received as a birthday gift (yes, Andy, I opened it early!) and which I am really looking forward to being an enormous fan of Mr. Van Dyke, bad Cockney accent in Mary Poppins notwithstanding.
But I don't have a Reading List. Not yet. Going to do something about that. And I'm certainly up for any recommendations.
Go Ye Forth and List Likewise