by SEAN POWER
As a young fella, no matter how much my Mum tried to convince me, reading just wasn’t cool. I was happy living in a world filled with computer games and blockbuster-movies.
But as I got older and thanks to a few good English teachers, I discovered that books weren’t all that bad. Looking back it sounds stupid. But almost overnight, a trip to the library turned from a chore into a choice.
I learned that books could teach you about things that others wouldn’t talk about. They could teach you about places you’ve never been, things you’ve never seen and words you’ve never heard.
I’ve already written on Mamamia about how one author helped me grab adolescence by the gut and take control.
What was starting to feel like a rocky road, quickly became more manageable, thanks to reading the words written by an older Aussie bloke who’d already been there and done that. After flicking through a few hundred pages, I learned that I wasn’t the first person to feel a little lost growing up.
I’ve since been searching libraries and bookstores to find other books that I wish I’d read as a teenager. Books that I would have learned from, had they popped up in my empty bookshelf ready for me to try reading, without any expectations of a kitchen table dissection on what I’d learned from my parents, once finished.
Below is the list of six books I reckon every Aussie male teenager (fifteen years old and over) should own.
Mums – all it needs it a gentle push. I reckon that the characters and stories in these novels are enough to drag even the most comatosed, un-emotional, grunting, snorting, farting Aussie male teenager out of his cave and into the library.
And why not make it a competition? There’s a little over six months left in the year – that’s one book a month. If they can get through the list before Christmas, put a prize on the cards. You won’t regret it.
Plus, if you’re a Mum with a son and are unsure about what’s going on inside their head, it might not be a bad idea to read a few of them too. All of these novels are brutally honest and reflect the realities of growing up as a fella.
Sam de Brito is having the conversations about manhood that all young fellas should have had at fifteen. He is a writer who is educating the next generation of Australian men about how to become better blokes by confronting and discussing life’s realities.
In his book published in 2008, The Lost Boys, we follow the journey of Australian everyman Ned Jelli. It’s a painfully honest narrative of mateship, love and family that showcases the numerous black holes boys can fall into when becoming men.
An absolute MUST read.
2. HOW IT FEELS, written by Brendan Cowell.
Once you pick this bad-boy up, you won’t be able to put it down.
This is the story of Neil, his girlfriend Courtney and two best mates Stuart and Gordon. Set in suburban Sydney you follow the foursome as they say goodbye to adolescence and try and find their feet as adults. Losing their virginity, the ripple effect of a suicide and father-son relationships are all key topics.
One of the best things about these books is that as a reader you are forced to feel the awkwardness, as three best mates try to explain what they’re thinking and feeling but fail.
From the outside it looks ridiculous but as someone who’s been on the inside, it’s an all to common occurrence.
3. HIGH FIDELITY, written by Nick Hornby.
Relationships, they’re funny buggers. And Nick Hornby does a great job showcasing how bloody confronting and confusing they can be in this book. Chances are you might have already seen the movie but don’t worry – this is ten times better.
When Rob’s girlfriend leaves him for another man, he goes a little mad. It quickly becomes flashback frenzy as he travels back in time to remember five of his most memorable break-ups. And luckily for us, as he dissects each relationship, we get the opportunity learn what not to do in our own.
Like all good stories, the journey helps Rob answer life’s big questions, which leaves us with a winner of an ending.
4. HEART OF A CHAMPION, written by Carl Deuker.
Even though this book is based around the all-American sport of baseball, the bigger tales it tells can easily connect with an Aussie audience. Based around two best mates – Jimmy and Seth – dreams of being a sports star, depression, alcoholism and mateship are all explored.
This book is at its best when it explores what it feels like to grow up with out a Dad. And whilst that’s not something I’ve had to deal with, many of my mates have – and this book helped me figure out what they’ve had to grow up dealing with.
You can also find a letter that one bloke who read it wrote to the author here. It’s pretty powerful stuff.
Learning to cook is one of the best things I’ve ever done. Whilst my mates are fumbling through the cupboards for canned soups and packet potato mash, I start chopping up the fresh vegetables and declare I’m putting on a curry night.
Jamie Oliver’s book is a quick and easy crash-course in technique and taste. The recipes are healthy – it can help you woo a woman on date night and learning to cook for yourself will ultimately save cash.
And if you’re lucky, your teen might even cook you a meal.
Sports-stars are supposed to have it all. But when one of the country’s most talented footballer players – Ben Cousins – is taken over by a drug addiction, everything falls apart. This book demonstrates how easily a recreational habit can stuff up your entire life and destroy a family.
The football themes throughout, are the hook for any sport loving teen. But it’s the gritty truth about drugs and stories about Cousins’ relationships that will keep them turning the pages.
Unfortunately, following the publication of this book, Cousins’ has faced even more drug-dramas. It could be worth printing a few of the articles out and slipping them inside the novel too – it’s just proof that a fight with addiction is never over.
Sean Power is a twenty-year-old radio producer who spends too much time on Twitter. You can follow him on Twitter at @POWERSOZ. He’s also written about growing up as an Aussie male here, how much he loves old people here, and appeared on Mamamia on Sky News here and here.
Mamamia’s publisher/editor Mia Freedman adds:
God I love this post. LOVE. IT. As the owner of a teenage boy, can I give one word of advice to fellow owners? That word is: KINDLE. Or E-READER. My son was not a big reader. Books are just not as appealing as screens – screens are their world and their device of choice. Paper is so 2005. I bought my son a Kindle from Woolies (they’re around $100, which sounds like a lot but is actually way cheap when you factor in how much you save on buying books – many of which are a couple of bucks) and it literally transformed how much he reads overnight. We went from virtually nothing to a book every week or two. He loves the control it gives him in browsing and it doesn’t FEEL intimidating in the way an actual paper book can if it has a lot of pages. My suggestion would be to buy a Kindle or any type of E-Reader and load it up with the books Sean has mentioned above.
So, what books have helped you grow up? What other books would you recommend that young Aussie males read? Have you read any of the books mentioned, if so – what did you think? Share your thoughts below.