Roundtable: Formative Reading Experiences (Part II)

Jeffrey Ford

There’s a slim book, The Other Side of the Mountain by Michel Bernanos, recently newly translated for the VanderMeer’s Weird anthology for Corvus.  It’s trippy and way strange and somewhat brutal, but I first came upon it in the Scholastic Book Club.  A million thanks to them for getting that book to me when I was a kid.

Stefan Dziemianowicz

Now that’s interesting. Michael Dirda, former book review editor of the Washington Post, has just had a book on Arthur Conan Doyle published by Princeton Univeristy Press. In it, he relates how the Scholastic Book Club introduced him to Conan Doyle via a paperback of The Hound of the Baskervilles (thereby touching off a lifelong interest). Another title he recalls getting through Scholastic was The Mystery of the Spanish Cave.

Gary K. Wolfe

Wow, Jeff, that Bernanos book seems a weird choice for a kids’ reading program; I came across it in a mass market paperback years later, and it was pretty disturbing.  He was the son of Georges Bernanos of Diary of a Country Priest fame, and I think he committed suicide shortly after finishing the manuscript.

Jeffrey Ford

Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either, even back then.  It was a formative reading experience.

One thought on “Roundtable: Formative Reading Experiences (Part II)

  • November 10, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    A couple of comments mentioned certain, er, salacious books, passed around for the “hot parts.” I didn’t read any of them at the time—I read some later, in full adulthood—but several of the SF books I read at entry-level, particularly Heinlein from “Stranger in a Strange Land” through “Time Enough for Love,” and some others, were just drenched in sex.

    But I didn’t notice! It all went right over my ten- to twelve-year-old head. Later, some time after puberty hit, when I reread some of them, I saw it—but, by then, reading those books for the sex scene was out of the question. (I pursued that interest elsewhere.)


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