Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Millennium Battle

by Julia Buckley
My sixteen-year-old son and I are reading Stieg Larsson together. We didn't actually plan this as a mother-son activity; I bought the first book on a whim and left it lying around. He picked it up one day and asked if he could read it.

This was a dilemma for me. On the one hand, any book that encourages my son to read--especially when gaming and texting compete for his attention--is a good book. Larsson's first book in the series is obsessively readable and exciting.

On the other hand, sending him into this book was sort of like giving him permission to fly off to observe at a Swedish sex resort. Whatever sexual imagery he hadn't already seen on tv or conceived of himself, he would probably learn from Stieg Larsson.

In any case, he read the first book and we discussed it, and then he bought me the second book for Christmas. He may have had a hidden agenda, because he promptly started reading it on December 26th. I didn't get at it until recently, when I had jury duty. I went downtown with about 200 pages under my belt, then read about 400 more in my time at the Daley Center in Chicago. The second Larsson novel was even better than the first.

My son and I discussed this one, too, and I found that I liked having reading material in common with him (which I really haven't had since I read him the books myself). And who knows when we will both like the same book again? So I ordered the third one, and we are snatching bits of reading when we can pry the book away from each other. We have arguments like this:

IAN: Mom, did you take out my bookmark?
ME: No, it fell out. Sorry.
IAN: You took it out! You were mad at me for not taking out the garbage!
ME: That's ridiculous. It's hard to keep the bookmark in when you're turning pages beyond it.
IAN: It's going to be hard to find my page.
ME: I think you were on 118.
IAN: (already reading) Mmmmmrph.

Or, when we are less confrontational, like this:

IAN: Did you get to anything significant yet?
ME: I don't know--they're doing a lot of background checks and stuff.
IAN: But nothing . . . big . . . has happened?
ME: No! Is something big about to happen?
IAN: I can't say. Just keep reading.
ME: Take out the garbage.

And thus, we have shared a special bond--the joy of reading, the wonder of shared discovery.

I waited a long while to read these books, but better late than never. And it's nice to discover a great treasure like this series just sitting and waiting patiently for you--and your offspring--to pick it up.


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Julia, how WONDERFUL that you and Ian are enjoying reading and discussing books together. Please don't let it end with these books. What you're doing is so very special.

Julia Buckley said...

Thanks! It is kind of fun.

Terri Bischoff said...

That is awesome. What a great example/idea. My boys are little yet, (5, 3 and 3) so it will be a long time before we get to sharing books, but I hope for that someday. We like to read books and now my 5 year old has taken to writing his own (with full illustrations!) He's so cool. :)

Julia Buckley said...

Terri, what a bright boy! And twins--God Bless you.

When my son was six, we started reading Harry Potter out loud. I read them all seven books. Wow. When I look back, it seems like such an accomplishment. :)

Ann said...

Wow! That sounds wonderful. Reading and discussing the books with your son. I bought all three books for my Kindle. I hope to read them when I am traveling. Now I am excited to get to them!

Kathleen Ernst said...

Julia, how fun! I hope you share many more books, and that it's become a lifetime habit. My mom and I sometimes pass books back and forth--she lives in another state, and it's nice to share opinions.

Lois Winston said...

Julia, I think it's fantastic that you and your son can bond over a book series like this. I've tried to get my sons to read certain books, but rarely succeed. They haven't even read my books. Maybe I need to write a book about football. :-(

Julia Buckley said...

Lois, my sons haven't read my books, either. At first I said they couldn't because of adult content. Now I think they could handle it but they just don't care that much. :)

Ann, give the first one a chance--I did find parts of the beginning a bit slow, but after it hits its stride you won't want to put the Kindle down.

Kathleen--my mom and I have a family lending library, too. She comes to my house and starts wandering over to the book stacks, asking me what's new. I'm saving up to buy her a Kindle, too, since I think she'd like it.

G.M. Malliet said...

What amazes me about these books is that he wrote all three before seeking publication for even one. I do have this story right, don't I?

I've never heard of an author doing such a thing. I have always been sorry he didn't live long enough to see his books published, let alone take over the bestseller lists.

Julia Buckley said...

Yes--it reminds me of that guy who wrote RENT and then died before it opened. And he was only in his late twenties or early thirties when he died of some mysterious flu-like ailment.

I don't know if Larsson got some sort of guarantee about his trilogy before he wrote it. It does read like one long obsessive story rather than like

Julia Buckley said...

Oops--I cut off my last line. "Rather than like three books."

Alice Loweecey said...

Sounds like so much fun!

Beth Groundwater said...

The last time I had this experience was when the whole family was reading Harry Potter together. My son was (is) the die-hard fan, so he would read each book first, and maybe even sneak in a second read while the rest of us were getting to it. He'd be bursting to talk about it, but he wasn't allowed until we all finished. Poor guy!

Beth Groundwater said...

Hey, Terri, my all-time favorite children's book to read aloud is "Possum Come a Knockin'" and you've got to get that Appalachian twang thing going. I hope you can find a copy for your two.

Julia Buckley said...

Beth, those Harry Potters are worth the read (and the re-read).