Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Guys Read book club: summer '10, session 3, Mice Templar vol. 1

Unsurprisingly, it's been so long since I actually did this book club session that I've forgotten most of what happened. The price I pay for my procrastination, I suppose.

Most of what I've already said about boys and books is applicable here, too: they like the ones with violence, they get off-topic easily, they think explosions are cool, etc. There is one thing I noticed with this session, though, which is that boys are competitive. Shocking, I know.

Mice Templar is a comic, or "graphic novel" if you're as pretentious as I am. And one of the complaints I got from the guys—or at least the loudest and most vocal guy in the room—was that it was too short. This kid was a huge fan of the Redwall books, which are notable for virtually inventing the modern Mice With Swords genre, but also notable for being thick enough you could use each book as a weapon. Seriously, those things are usually four or five hundred pages of close-set type, approximately 70% of which is author Brian Jacques describing in great detail the food at every single meal and 30% of which is furry creatures stabbing other furry creatures.

So I though Mice Templar would be close enough to this kid's tastes that he'd like it quite a bit. But, in fact, he was pretty down on, almost derogatory of, the book, just because it has fewer pages than a Redwall book. (Which, as I've pointed out, is not a rare thing; most bibles have fewer pages than a Redwall book.) I realized later, with the benefit of hindsight, that I should have pointed out that length does not always equal quality, but that retort unfortunately didn't occur to me at the time.

But it did make me realize that, while boys don't read very much (or at least as much as girls), they get very competitive about what they do read. They want to show off that they read the longest book, the heaviest book, the most complicated or new or whatever book. Which is a valuable lesson for me to have learned. Something to think about when I select next summer's books, assuming I'm still here next summer. (Which I mean not in a "I might be dead" sense, but a "I might be in another city or state" sense.)

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