My Crusade As "First Man"

I like to read. There I said it.

One of my favorite childhood memories was making the trip to the library or the "Bookmobile," a library on wheels, like a big RV. But then there came a time when I figured out that cool guys didn't read, or at least didn't admit to it. Maybe I quit reading partly because reading became homework, someone else was telling me what to read and how to feel about what I read. Reading lost its wonder. But it was probably the cool thing, mostly.

Ringo Starr playing a set of Black Pearl Ludwigs

Ringo Starr playing a set of Black Pearl Ludwigs

By Junior High I was pretty much in full pursuit of coolness. I was playing in the band and you know what that means. Fortunately, I had chosen drums, so at least I was in the hip section of the band. But you couldn't be in the band and love books and hope for cool.

Thankfully by the time Junior High was ending, I had arrived, by Junior High standards. I was playing drums in a decent little garage band, playing a Ludwig drum set  like Ringo Starr's. We played a lot of school dances and Teen Towns. But I had to be careful, early adolescent coolness is a fragile and fleeting thing. I didn't want to risk it all by toting a book around.

Now, I'm just delusional. I believe that being well-read is cool. I'm not delusional about that part, but rather about the assumption that I still have whatever it was that made the girls want to talk to me between sets at the Saturday Night Sock Hop or fight over a broken drumstick.

I've decided: if my Amazing-Missus ever runs for President and is elected, my crusade as First Man, will be to encourage young boys to read. As a part of this crusade I would need a recommended reading list of course. I want my reading list to meet the high criteria set by C.S. Lewis:

“No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.” 

I thought I would start with ten books on my list. It's a work in progress (obviously since there are only eight on the list so far:

  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain
  2. The Red Badge of Courage. Stephen Crane
  3. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain
  4. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. C.S. Lewis
  5. The Call of the Wild. Jack London
  6. The Outsiders. S.E. Hinton
  7. To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee
  8. Peace Like A River. Leif Enger

These last three, some may question, so I'll qualify a bit.

The Outsiders is here because it is a wonderful book, one of the best coming-of-age stories. And it happens that it is set in my hometown, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the author attended the same high school I did. (I never remember meeting her at a Teen Town if you were wondering).

To Kill A Mockingbird, another female author and a female narrator--Scout Finch, one of my very favorite characters ever. This is one everyone should read every few years.

Peace Like A River is the newest book on the list. It is a fascinating story, also narrated by a kid, this time an asthmatic boy.

So, any suggestions? Come on don't be afraid. No one here is going to think you're uncool. Click on Comment and be part of the discussion.


Peace Like a River
By Leif Enger

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