Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Boy Dream Guest Post by Geoff Herbach + Giveaway!

Book Boy Dream Guest Post by Author Geoff Herbach, whose novel, Nothing Special, is out now (sequel to Stupid Fast)!

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!!)

Extra Entries-

-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!!


Giselle said...

I don't actually know many boys who read and those who I see on Goodreads i'm like YOU'RE COOL!! :D

Wily Guy said...

I guess I'd have to wonder what we consider the 'boy experience' because I know my two boys read a lot and always have a series or two that they are reading. Now, some are science fiction and some fantasy, so if we are looking for Judy Bloom for boys, I don't know if that exists.

Nice article.


Mimi Valentine said...

Awww, I LOVE that you're writing books aimed more towards teen boys! You're so right when you say that most books are aimed towards girls nowadays. Part of that has to do with the fact that boys don't read as much -- but then I think back, and I wonder, "Isn't the reason why a lot of boys don't read because there aren't many awesome books for them in the first place?" x)

Thanks for sharing, Geoff and Lauren! This was an awesome guest post! :)

Missie, The Unread Reader said...

Fantastic guest post. And it's something I've thought a lot about too because of my 11 year old cousin. I couldn't get him to read, and it was his poorest subject in school. So I got him a subscription to a couple of gaming magazines in hopes that they'd appeal to him, and they did, but mostly because of the pictures. *sighs* But then, I tried again. I got him a Rick Riordan book, The Lightning Thief, and sure enough, it worked! He read it and he liked it! I was amazed, but then I realized, it just takes the right kind of book to unleash the magic of reading.

Now, instead of me picking books for him, I take him to bookstores so he can pick what appeals to him most.

Thanks for this awesome guest post, Geoff, and for doing your part to reach out to all types of readers.

Missie, The Unread Reader said...

opps, forgot to say, please enter me in the giveaway. Thanks!

Linda Kish said...

When my son was young, he loved to read Goosebumps books. I spent a small fortune at the Scholastic book fairs. buying them. He also liked the books where you could choose the direction of the story. I think parents should encourage kids to read whether boy or girl and provide materials for them to read. I'd love a copy of this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Jill The OWL said...

The book Crackback has been super popular with my boys!

Thanks for the great post and giveaway.

Ajoop. S said...

Amazing guest post that really got me thinking! It's true that there are very few male protagonists out there, especially in the contemporary genre. As a girl, I find male POVs refreshing as well. The Catcher in The Rye and The Chocolate War were amazing books that made a huge impact. I also enjoyed Looking for Alaska and Colin's point of view in An Abundance of the Katherines by John Green.