I read as a kid, but not omnivorously. Rather, I read repetitively. Looking back, it was probably a self-soothing gesture, just like my incorrigible fidgetiness. In middle school, one of the books I read repetitively was Roald Dahl’s Boy, his slim autobiography about growing up in Britain in the 1920s and 1930s. Already reared on my mother’s taste for British television (To the Manor Born, anyone?) and concurrently watching reruns of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, it was perfect for me. I particularly remember the sweets incident, where Dahl and his school friends are given free Cadbury bars as testers. There’s a wonderful Quentin Blake illustration of the young Dahl eating chocolate on a sunny stair, and I loved it. I may not be as huge a Roald Dahl fan as others of my generation, given the ‘90s penchant for adapting his works to film, but that’s still a warm memory for me.
Remember last summer, when NPR hosted that poll about the best science fiction and fantasy novels? Well, this summer NPR had another poll—this one aimed at generating the best ever teen novels, according to NPR listeners. While I rushed to last summer’s, if only to fulfill my obligations as a Tolkien fanatic and devotee of Jacqueline Carey, I didn’t to this one. Why? Because of the rather thin criteria. Whereas last summer’s poll focused on two genres that, at the very least, can be defined in broad strokes, this poll focuses on an audience instead—an audience we’ve only recently invented, and have only recently started catering to.