Thursday, August 06, 2009

10 Books Boys Should Read Before Age 18

Eric, one of my regular readers, posted a question over at another blog we both frequent that asked the blogger what 10 books he would list as books that all young men should read before they turn 18. I thought it was such a good question that I stole it as something I would like to answer on my blog. So, here it is!

1. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky - This would be for young men closer to the age of 18. Shows the bonds of brotherhood as well as the admirable qualities of a number of young men: the headstrong type, the intellectual, and the sensitive type. Gives a lasting lesson on the virtues of truthfulness, honesty, and empathy (and how difficult they can be to live out).
2. Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev - A bit more complex in its lessons and appropriate for maturing older boys, but it shows poignantly both the despair and the longing of young men reaching for adulthood.
3. The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis - A lesson for how a young boy with not much to speak of by way of wealth and status, and who seemingly had a rough start in life, could overcome his fears and feelings of inadequacy to find courage and dignity in his life adventures.
4. Boy's Life by Robert McCammon - A murder mystery told from the perspective of a boy coming of age in a small, rural Alabama town. Reminds any boy of those magical days of bicycles, baseball, friendship, and father-son bonding.
5. The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkein - Lots of heroism, leadership, and sacrifice in the midst of non-stop battlefield action with orcs and Ents and Elves. What boy with a vivid imagination and a taste for fantasy wouldn't like this?
6. Lord of the Flies by William Golding - Classic for helping young boys sort through questions of adolescent immaturity when it comes to friendship, power, and relationship to authority.
7. The Master of Hestviken tetralogy by Sigrid Undset - A great Norweigan epic tale of chivalry, honor, love, and pride -- but tempered with a stoic submissiveness to love - for wife and family.
8. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger - Classic teenage boy alienation and angst.
9. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling - Pure fun, with lots of magic. For most boys, the centrality of the Tri-Wizard Tournament will be the most appealing aspect of this book in the entire series. But a gripping story, too, that emphasizes fraternal honor, and courage and dignity in death, too, which makes this one a must read for young men.
10. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain - Camaraderie and adventurousness in 19th Century heartland America. Taps into the picaresque nature of young boys on the cusp of adolescence.

If I can think of more elaborate reasons for each of these choices, I'll put them in another posting.


Eric said...

Great list, Huck. Here's mine:

1. The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander: This is cheating becasue these are actually like 5 books, but it is a great fantasy epic that details the transition from youth to adulthood in one of the most thoughtful manners I've ever ran across in literature.

2. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier: Great book about peer pressure, self determinism, and the psychological complexity of adoslescence.

3. Chuck Yeager's Autobiography: Too many of our modern heroes are fictional. Here's one about a real hero, accomplishing amazing feats, told first hand.

4. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand: Whether you agree with her or not, Ayn Rand's ideas are accessible and intellectually engaging for young readers, and this book provides a good window into those ideas without being as socially divisive as Atlas Shrugged.

5. My Side Of The Mountain by Jean Craighead: Young people long escape, freedom, and self-sufficiency, and this book is a story of a young kid who finds all three in unique manner.

6. Where The Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls : A boy and his dogs. 'Nuff said.

7. Stone Fox by John Raynold Gardiner: More of a kids book, but a great introduction to the cold hard fact that in the real world, good causes often collide and make happy endings impossible.

7. Last of The Breed by Louis L'Amour - One of the few non-westerns he published, it is also one of his best books and is just one of my favorite "wilderness adventure" books of all time.

8. Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam: This book was that basis for the movie October Sky, and is a book about dreaming big, thinking big, and putting mischief to productive usel.

9. The Killer Angels by Machael Shaara: Fighting wars has historically been the province of young men, and this fictional account of The Battle of Gettysburg offers more insight to the strategy, honor, horror, and brutality of war than any handful of non-fiction books on the same subject.

10. A Seperate Peace by John Knowles: At some point, we all lose our sense of childhood innocence and have to deal with letting it go... a great book about that moment in a young man's life.

Huck said...

Good list, Eric. Of course, I would never recommend anything by Ayn Rand, just out of principle! But I think your choice of "A Separate Piece" was inspired. I had forgotten about this book and, upon reflection, I'd probably put it in my top 10 before "Fathers and Sons." "Where the Red Fern Grows" is a good choice, too, and would compare very favorably to my choice of "Boy's Life" by Robert McCammon, which, I failed to mention, is also about a boy and his dog. Some of the others I'm not familiar with, so I'll have to check them out. Thanks for sharing your selections. Too bad you and I only have little ladies to deal with. Perhaps I'll just have to put up my best 10 list for girls!

Huck said...

Make that "A Separate Peace"! D'oh!

Eric said...

Huck, the fact that I have a 'little lady' is what got me to thinking about this. A lot of these (not all) are books that were important to me growing up, but also books I wouldn't really recommend for my daughter to read, or think she'd be very interested in.

D-Vega said...

Some additional:

- Aesop's Fables

- Dante's Inferno

- A Brave New World

- The Stranger

- How To Stop Worrying & Start Living.

- The Prince

- The Communist Manifesto (Marx/Engels)

- The Federal Papers (compilation)

- The Odyssey