Reading at 13, 15, and 17

Mom,

Such a great question, and one I’m finding myself somewhat flummoxed by, as I don’t quite remember what I read in my leisure time at 15 years old. As we’ve discussed IRL, I’m working on a post for Adult Books 4 Teens about reading Stephen King, who was my great love from 11 to about 15, but 15 is when I stopped reading him.  Also in that period I remember reading a lot of Michael Crichton.

christgauMeanwhile, as you pointed out, my twitter handle, @droogmark (which was also my first AIM handle in college) is from A Clockwork Orange, which I read during a period I remember much better.  The summer between Junior and Senior years of high school (when I was 17), I tore through a large number of world-shaking (or at least me-shaking) books: A Clockwork Orange, 1984, Brave New World, Catch-22, a number of Vonnegut books, and several others.  This was, obviously, a very heady summer for me, and Catch-22 remains one of my favorite books of all time.

So what the heck was I reading when I was 15?  Well, I certainly did read The Catcher in the Rye, but that was for Jim Harville’s Intro to English Literature Course–I also read for that class a not-unreadable prose translation of The Odyssey, and (the start of a life-long obsession) Macbeth.  Certainly, these books all affected me deeply, but I still can’t recall what I was reading in my spare time.  It occurs to me that I may not have been reading a whole lot, as I was pretty overloaded with homework from teachers like Mr. Harville.

videohoundThe only books I know for sure that I was reading were nonfiction: I was still reading quite a bit about The Beatles at that time (an obsession which began in 4th grade or so, but lasted much longer than Stephen King)–biographies, critical analyses, general books about the 60s counter-culture.  It was already around 15 that I started to get into reading criticism.  I remember reading a lot of reviews of movies and music–the perennial AllMusic Guide, the Videohound books, Rolling Stone magazine, Robert Christgau’s review volumes. And now that I think of it, that reading may have had a lot more of an impact on my actual life than The Catcher in the Rye or Catch-22.  After all, I now spend a large part of my professional life reading and reviewing books, not a lot of time engaging in teenage angst or war protest.

So there you have it–my very confused recollections of reading at 13, 15, and 17.  You may remember some it better than I do–any thoughts?

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