My son, Kid Zoom, turned 17 yesterday. I’d had no idea what to get him for his birthday, so last weekend I asked him what he’d like. His answer kind of blew me away, because what 17-year-old would ever say, “How about you give me a stack of books that you think it’s absolutely essential for me to read”?
I swear I am not making that up. Kid has two English teachers for parents, so he was maybe doomed to be a hyperliterate nerd. OK, and his first thought was “how about a video game?” which I don’t think was serious anyway. It may have helped that, the day before, I’d handed him a paperback copy of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried that I’d picked up at a yard sale, and he’d stayed up late reading it, so “Dad’s recommended books” was already on his mind. Even so, I was touched — not quite touched enough to overcome my usual habit of last-minute shopping, but I did at least put a little thought into the list of books I ended up getting him.