They’re the books my junior high principal used to entice non-reading boys, and they worked like nothing else. They’re the books beginning with cliffhanger action, getting more exciting with each page, and ending satisfactorily every time (the boy and the girl have an understanding). They’re Jubal Sackett, Sitka, Last of the Breed, and Sackett. That’s right, they’re Louis L’Amour westerns (well, a few of his books, including Last of the Breed, aren’t westerns, but they’re still great books).
By “great” I mean, for starters, they have heroes worth remembering. I remember, for instance, the Sacketts. There are certain arroyos, canyons, and long vistas that take me back to a reading moment, and I say, “Look, I think Tell Sackett’s down there in that gulch.” And there’s no doubt he’s about to do the right thing. Not the easy thing, but the right thing.
So, no, these books aren’t Putlizer winners, they don’t have endorsements on the back telling us how “poignant” they are. We won’t impress our “intellectual” acquaintances by stacking them about our living room. And if we do try stacking them, they won’t remain stacked as do all the “right” books and the “must-reads”. Rather, they will be read!
Every freeschooled bookwyrm has turn-on books. Hannah, for instance, began her love affair with books by reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Secret Garden. Her only Louis L’Amour book was The Last of the Breed. Our other three bookwyrms have read, as have their parents, every Louis L’Amour (as far as we know) more than once. Of course, bookwyms read almost all genres–anything and everything worthwhile, and some books not so worthwhile.
“Not so worthwhile” includes many recommended books, best sellers, and “must-reads” which are missing at least one of those main ingredients–worthy characters, an interesting plot, and a satisfactory ending.
Let’s stop worrying about what other people say we “should” read and let’s please ourselves with books that deliver. Like say, a real romance. Say, maybe, a Louis L’Amour.