All the Old Books are New Again

…at least, they are for me right now, as I’m having the intensely pleasurable experience of introducing my son to the great science fiction that I grew up with, and recommending good current fiction as well.

My Aspergian son reads well but slowly, so he’s not able to get through the sheer number of books I did at his age (plus, I never had to deal with the siren song of the digital world.) He often listens to recorded books (thank you, Audible subscription) but I still have to make recommendations knowing that he won’t read as many books.

So, where do you start? Start in the Golden Age and work your way up? Start now and go back?

I also homeschool him for his core classes, including English and Social Studies, so a few novels made their way in under the guise of assigned reading. Last year, he read Little Brother by Cory Doctorow at the same time we were following the Edward Snowden situation, so that was a huge success (my son is feverishly reading Homeland right now.) We also started listening to 1984 on a car ride recently, and maybe it was the narrator, but we were both super creeped out by descriptions of the Ministries in the beginning, especially the Ministry of Love–I’d forgotten how great George Orwell’s prose is.

This past school year, my son read Starship Troopers and then All Quiet on the Western Front, which, along with The Iliad, made for an entire year-long examination of war in literature. He has a dystopian literature class coming up, so he’ll read Fahrenheit 451 and Ready Player One. (The class also covers World War Z, which he’s read and loves–of course…)

So my son’s getting quite a dose of dystopian fiction–I’ll need to bring in a broader view of science fiction and fantasy. For sure more Heinlein, some Asimov and Clarke. Plus John Scalzi, Neal Stephenson, Iain Banks, Stephen King…LOTR! Narnia!!!

So many great books, so little time…luckily, he likes to get recommendations from me (so far), and even more luckily, I feel the need to revisit these novels to make sure my recommendations hold up over time…

Any ideas? If you could read only ten books EVER again, what would they be? Or, if you were designing a high school curriculum around science fiction, how would that look?

This was the cover of my copy of Starship Troopers, from when I first read it in the late seventies or very early eighties. I had to get a new copy for my son because this one sadly fell apart when I tried to read it.

This was the cover of my copy of Starship Troopers, from when I first read it in the late seventies or very early eighties. I had to get a new copy for my son because this one sadly fell apart when I tried to read it.

Advertisements

Lexicon, by Max Barry, has turned me into a drug dealer-ish book pusher

Is it totally lame to review a book that’s been out for over a year? Well, I can’t help it. Lexicon has genius plotting and amazing characters, but the thing that makes me sigh with jealousy and admiration is the voice. I loved Max Barry’s prose style in Jennifer Government and Machine Man, but he’s reached new heights of awesome in Lexicon.

I’ve been accused of being a little drug dealer-ish about pushing this book on people, but it’s just so incredible that I can’t help it. It’s helped me lay off the evangelizing of How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, The Magicians by Lev Grossman, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, and World War Z by Max Brooks a little, but everyone needs a friendly neighborhood book pusher, right?

I’ve ordered extra copies of all of the above to lend to people so I don’t have to give them my personal copy and risk it not coming back. I need all of the above books close by so if I feel sad or discouraged in any way I can open any of them for a little dose of pure happiness. (Okay, that sounds worryingly druggy…)