Monday, July 30, 2012

Watching the Olympics but Thinking About Writing.

Let's be honest, I'm completely distracted by the Olympics. Luckily, my son and his buddies are camped out in front of our TV and have graciously agreed to let me ask them some questions in between swimming and gymnastics.

To set the scene, the boys are bright, recent high school grads, all weeks away from heading to their freshman year in college. There is Max, class valedictorian, who is headed to Duke, Nick is headed to Santa Clara University. Aaron and Cass are going to University of Colorado. Dylan is going to Bates College in Maine and my son, Andrew, who spent the summer training with the Indiana University dive team and enrolled at IU where he took Analytical Writing.

Since a gang of boys isn't your typical Midnight Ink demographic (and despite some coming and going while I was trying to ask questions) I figured they'd be an interesting bunch to interview.

Question One:

What is the most recent book you've read?
Max:State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.
Nick:Acts of Faith by Eboo Patel
Aaron: Hunger Games and Game of Thrones
Cass:Hunger Games and Curious George Goes to the Zoo.
Andrew: Huck Finn.

What is your all time favorite book?
Max: Pendragon Series.
Nick: Native Son and I loved Where the Red Fern Grows. It made me cry.
Aaron: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Dylan: Cat's Cradle.
Andrew: Where the Wild Things Are.
Cass: The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Max: It's the only series I can read without falling asleep. 
Nick: I liked how Native Son showed how our surroundings impact behavior.
Aaron: Hunter Thompson is a great author and I love his point of view on society. 
Cass: I like books with pictures or coloring. (It should be noted, Cass has quite a sense of humor). 
Andrew: It stimulated my imagination. 

Who is your favorite writer?
Max: Roald Dahl
Nick: Jonathon Saffron Foer.
Aaron: Cormac McCarthy
Dylan: Kurt Vonnegut
Andrew:George Orwell
Cass: Shell Silverstein.

Do you like to read?
Max: I like to read Time and Newsweek.
Nick: I like magazines--Skiing and Rolling Stone--and if I'm interested in a topic I like to read about it.
Aaron: Yes. 
Andrew: Depends on the book.
Cass: I agree with Nick. I like to read when I'm interested in a topic. 

What is your preferred genre?
Aaron:I'll read anything I find interesting.
Andrew:Science Fiction.
Cass: Non-Fiction and The Hunger Games. I loved it.

What are you majoring in?
Max: Biomedical Engineering.
Nick: Biomedical Engineering.
Aaron: Political Science
Dylan: Business
Cass: Business

The boys are once again distracted by the Olympics and it's impossible to coax much else out of them, but my small survey sample has been enlightening, at least to me. 6 really smart boys. 2 are avid fiction readers. The others, who have read a lot and admire good writing, prefer to read non-fiction and magazines where possible. This gang has been hanging around my house since they were little tykes so I happen to know they all gobbled up the standard boy fare--Magic Tree House, Captain Underpants, Encyclopedia Brown, Calvin and Hobbes, the Aragon Series etc. etc. They all claim to have loved reading when they were young, but stopped wanting to read when it became homework. I've always heard young men, past the YA years, were a tough group readership wise. Interesting how accurate it seems for the moment. I'll have to ask again when they've all graduated and are reading for pleasure once again.


Kathleen Ernst said...

Interesting survey! Of course I wish that everyone loved fiction, but what matters most is that people like to read something for pleasure every now and then. (Loved the comment about Where The Red Fern Grows making one of them cry.)

Linda Hull said...

It was interesting talking to boys about reading and writing. Only one would readily admit he loved to read, but they all had books they really loved and authors they admired. I really do want to talk to them ten years from now and see how things have changed.