No, not really. Just couldn’t resist.
You might be curious what writers I like. I’ve never taken a Rorschach test on this, but let’s give it a try…
Thrillers — first writer who comes to mind is Martin Cruz Smith, who I consider the ultimate prose stylist in the field. But I love many others: Robert Crais, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, John Grisham, Daniel Silva, Neil Gaiman, and Thomas Harris. Scott Frank’s recent novel, Shaker, holds its own with this illustrious crowd—check it out. This genre is my favorite for eating up the miles on long drives or getting me through the daily gym grind. I must say, I listen to more than I actually read.
Literature — which doesn’t have to be bo-ring. My favorite writer is Larry McMurtry, who I come back to time and again. His characters and stories never fail to resonate and have kept me company throughout my life. Other favorite writers include Annie Proulx, the ultimate poet/prose writer; Amy Tan; Pat Conroy; Carl Hiassen, who always makes me laugh; Tom Sharpe, who makes me wet my pants (especially Riotous Assembly and Indecent Exposure— though I have found they’re not for everybody); John Irving; Kurt Vonnegut.
Children and Young Adult — many adults don’t realize how much wonderful literature is intended for minors. If you’re not old enough to drink, books have to be really well-written to hold your interest. In no particular order, here are many favorites: Gary D. Schmidt (especially Okay for Now); Avi (especially The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle); Louis Sachar (duh—Holes); Gary Paulsen; Cynthia Voigt; Christopher Paul Curtis (especially Bud, Not Buddy); Island of the Blue Dolphin; Where the Red Fern Grows; Flowers for Algernon; the Oz Books; Jean Craighead George (especially Julie of the Wolves); Roald Dahl; Sid Fleischman (especially By the Great Horn Spoon); Pippi Longstocking; Barbara Park’s Junie B. Jones, which kept my granddaughters and me laughing through many a bedtime; Beverly Cleary, whose books I loved even as a boy over fifty years ago.
And I could go on and on— there’s just no good reason our children are not readers, with so many great books to choose from.
But I’ll take this opportunity to get on my soap box: we have to not just be better teachers, but better librarians. It takes a bit of work to find the books and authors that will turn young people into addicts for the printed word. I’ve heard many faculty meetings devoted to drudgery, but I’ve never, in twenty-two years of attending them, heard one devoted to a discussion of books our students might love…