All photos from the author’s website
Stupid Fast has been out for almost a year. It’s been really great. I’ve traveled a bit, met lots of writers and librarians and bloggers. Best of all, though, I’ve met “elusive” teen boy readers – both through my blog, email and in person. Good stuff.
I do have some concerns, though.
A really smart 16-year-old from Brooklyn wrote to tell me how much he loved Stupid Fast. He also said, “I hate books, always have.” What? A freshman at a high school I visited the other day told me: “I only like two books. Stupid Fast and this other one I can’t remember.” Okay… I have had similar exchanges again and again in the last year. It reinforces the reason I wanted to write Stupid Fast in the first place: there is a good-sized subset of kids who don’t have enough books to read. I was that kind of kid.
When I was fourteen-years-old, I played sports and played in the orchestra, tried out for plays and did okay in school. On paper I looked like a normal kid, maybe even a pretty high achieving kid.
Here’s the truth, though: I was all crazy on the inside. I was all like: “I should shower again because… is there a weird smell? What are you looking at? I think Kerri and Audrey are laughing at me. I hate them! My shirt doesn’t fit. What’s that smell? I love Jenny. I love her. She hates me! What’s wrong with my shirt? There’s definitely something wrong with my ear. What are you looking at? What’s that weird smell?” ETC.
Crazy. But… here’s the truth: not abnormal.
Having taught writing to college kids for the last six years, I know something for a fact: Almost everyone (male or female) felt like a dork as a teen. They write essays about it. But, boy culture puts a premium on hiding the truth. The girls in my classes are better at expressing it. Many have read books for years that help them make sense of things. Boys, who need the help most, have very few books that address their concerns. A few years ago, my son decided fantasy no longer spoke to him, then he read a few books that did, then stopped reading, because he could find nothing that spoke to him.
I had a similar experience. When I was fourteen, I read. A lot. If I hadn’t read Catcher in the Rye my life would’ve been much worse. Holden Caufield’s thoughts were so familiar to me. Even if they were a little terrifying, and he was on the edge, I knew that I wasn’t alone. I began to devour anything with a male protagonist. The more gritty, the more down to earth, the better (this was a big change, because up until that point, I pretty much read fantasy). Vision Quest, The Chocolate War, I am the Cheese, A Separate Peace… But soon, I ran out of material. I read some adult titles, but slowed down and almost stopped.
The publishing industry believes that boys don’t read, so they don’t publish books for them. My anecdotal evidence contradicts this belief to some extent. The boys I’m meeting enjoyed reading books that were meant for them, that directly address their way of thinking – which isn’t always pretty, but isn’t dumb or simple, either.
I’m on a mission, I guess. I want to write good stories aimed squarely at teen boys. In a decade, I want to have dudes come up to me and list ten books they love. The girls I’m meeting are able to do this! Girls are so lucky to have dozens of great books coming every month that speak to their experience.
If you’re a writer, maybe think about writing for boys? If you’re a reader, ask a librarian what’s new that speaks to boys. They’ll know (because there aren’t many titles). Maybe we’ll build a bigger market for these young men who need material so much!
Yeah, that’s my dream.
What an awesome dream! I may be female, but I like to read books that are aimed at boys too, and I can’t imagine being a guy and not having books that speak to you. I’ve always been a huge reader, and even if I didn’t always read books about people like me, I still had a multitude of stories that featured female protagonists. I know the publishing industry says boys don’t read, but it’s not true. We really do need to publish stories that they will read, that speak to them, that make them feel included in this great, big “world of books.” Thanks for the guest post, Geoff, and if you want to win your own copy of Nothing Special (sequel to Stupid Fast)…then keep reading!
To Enter: Leave a comment about this guest post: share a boy-centered book you love, your own thoughts about publishing for boys, etc.
Prize: One copy of Nothing Special by Geoff Herbach (you don’t need to have read Stupid Fast to enjoy it, but I would recommend reading it at some point!)
Open To: U.S. and Canada only I’m afraid!
Ends: Wednesday, May 30 (because it’s my birthday!!)
-Leave a new comment if you also comment on my review for Nothing Special (will be up tomorrow, Tuesday, May 22).
-Leave two new comments if you somehow enter the Pay it Forward giveaway (button in the right hand sidebar that leads you to all the details. The easiest way of entering is just spreading the word).
There you go, four ways to win this awesome book! Enter away!!