Untainted Books for 15 to 18 Year Olds

Charbel Makhlouf

Sparrow
Orthodox
My rather liberal/woke sister asked me this question today:

I need book ideas for teenagers learning history, social studies, literature, art, music, architecture, science, psychology, sociology, etc. what books did you find good when you were 15 to 18?? Fiction or nonfiction, fun reading or straight learning, I will take any and all ideas, hopefully dozens of them.

I'd really like to come up with a big list to give back to her that draws from all of these categories, but avoids woke, subverted or twisted/false ideologies. I'd also like to avoid any "obviously" right wing books that would tip her off and make her disqualify the entire list (eg. Industrial Society and Its Future, anything by Pat Buchanan, etc)

This is what I have so far:
  • Anything by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Anything by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  • Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun
  • A Complete Foxfire Series 14-Book Collection Set
  • Utopia by Thomas More
  • Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Can the forum help me build a longer list? :)
 

No-Designation Man

Kingfisher
Other Christian
I need book ideas for teenagers learning history, social studies, literature, art, music, architecture, science, psychology, sociology, etc. what books did you find good when you were 15 to 18?? Fiction or nonfiction, fun reading or straight learning, I will take any and all ideas, hopefully dozens of them.
I'd really like to come up with a big list to give back to her that draws from all of these categories, but avoids woke, subverted or twisted/false ideologies. I'd also like to avoid any "obviously" right wing books that would tip her off and make her disqualify the entire list (eg. Industrial Society and Its Future, anything by Pat Buchanan, etc)
Can the forum help me build a longer list? :)
I recommend the following - it fulfills all of your sister's criteria, and also meets your criteria of being completely politically neutral :):

 

Aboulia

Woodpecker
Orthodox
Chekhov's short story collections are great, in Ward No. 6 which is an entirely relevant story for today,
that a doctor treating patients in a lunatic asylum ends up befriending one of the inmates, realizes the inmate is completely sane, it's the outside world that's actually insane, and ends up getting imprisoned with the inmate because society deems him insane too.)

I'd be hesitant to give a woke liberal "Mere Christianity" in case they're triggered by the word Christian, not that the content isn't good, just might set off red flags. Not to say don't do it, you know your audience better than I do. If I were to suggest some CS Lewis, it would be the Space Trilogy, (the third book in the trilogy is also very relatable to today.)

Also, not just anything by Dostoyevsky, I'd avoid "Demons" as it takes a long time to get into it.

LOTR would be great reading too, if it hadn't been ruined by the making of the movies. Already knowing the plot ruins the fun.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy was the first book to clearly show the distinction between the male and female mode of thinking for me.
The Idiot is Dostoyevsky trying to embody the Christian ideal in a story, for his works
The Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajer , WW2 history, written by a German soldier on the Russian front, vivid detail, a few choice quotes from the book,

"But Russian excesses did not in any way excuse us for the excesses by our own side. War always reaches the depths of horror because of idiots who perpetuate terror from generation to generation under the pretext of vengeance."

"So be brave: life is war, and war is life. Liberty doesn't exist ......... When I had my first taste of war, in Spain, I thought of suicide-- it all seemed so vile. But then I saw the ferocity of others who also believed in the justicie of their cause, and offered themselves to acts of murder, as to a purification. I watched the soft, effete French shift from terror to toughness, and take up the arms they couldn't use when they needed them, once we had restored their confidence and offered them the hand of friendship. In general, human beings don't accept the unaccustomed. Change frightens and upsets them, and they will fight even to preserve situations they have always detested. But a slick armchair philosopher can easily rouse a rabble to support an abstract position-- for instance, "all ment are equal" --even when the differences between men are obviously as great as the differences between cows and roosters. Then those exhausted societies, drained by their "liberty", begin to bellow about their "convictions" and become a threat to us and to peace. It's basic wisdom to keep peoplelike that well fed and content, if one wishes to extract even a tenth of the possible return.
Something of this kind is happening on the other side. As a people we are fortunate in being somewhat less indolent than they. If someone tells us to examine ourselves, we at least have the courage to do it. Our condition is not absolutely perfect, but at least we agree to look at other things, and take chances. We are now embarked on a risky enterprise, with no assurance of safety. We are advancing an idea of unity which is neither rich nor easily digestible, but the vast majority of the German people accept and adhere to it, forging and forming it in an admirable collective effort.This is where we are now risking everything. We are trying, taking due account of the attitudes of society, to change the face of the world, hoping to revive the ancient virtues buried under the layers of filth bequeathed to us by our forebears. We can expect no reward for this effort. We are loathed everywhere: if we should lose tomorrow those of us still alive after so much suffering will be judged without justice. We shall be accused of an infinity of murder, as if everywhere, and at all times, men at war did not behave in the same way. Those who have an interest in putting an end to our ideals will ridicule everything we believe in. We shall be spared nothing. Even the tombs of our heroes will be destroyed, only preserving-- as a gesture of respect toward the dead-- a few which contain figures of doubtful heroism, who were never fully comitted to our cause. With our deaths, all the prodigies of heroism which our daily circumstances require of us, and the memory of our comrades, dead and alive, and our communion of spirits, our fears and hopes, will vanish, and our history will never be told. Future generations will speak only of an idiotic, unqualified sacrifice. Whether you wanted it or not, you are now part of this undertaking, and nothing which follows can equal the efforts you have made, if you must sleep tomorrow under the quieter skies of the opposite camp. In that case, you will never be forgiven for having survived. You will either be rejected or preserved like a rare animal which has escaped a cataclysm. With other men, you will be as cats are to dogs and you will never have any real friends. Do you wish such an end for yourselves?

"Too many people learn about war with no inconvenience to themselves. They read about Verdun or Stalingrad without comprehension, sitting in a comfortable armchair, with their feet beside the fire, preparing to go about their business the next day, as usual. One should really read such accounts under compulsion, in discomfort, considering oneself fortunate not to be describing the events in a letter home, writing from a hole in the mud. One should read about war in the worst circumstances, when everything is going badly, remembering that the torments of peace are trivial, and not worth any white hairs. Nothing is really serious in the tranquillity of peace; only an idiot could be really disturbed by a question of salary. One should read about war standing up, late at nightm when one is tired, as I am writing about it now, at dawn, while my asthma attack wears off. And even now, in my sleepless exhaustion, how gentle and easy peace seems."
 

Jacques Bel

Pigeon
Catholic
It really depends on the kid. I was a bookworm back then, so for me Crime and Punishment was a great read at that age, which left a "scar" in my soul and marked the transition to "true" literature. From that novel on, I just started reading most Russian classic novels of the XIXth Century. And I greatly enjoyed them. I also read some poetry which is a completely different thing, but completely worth it.

But now, from all of the kids around that age I know, I can just think of one who has the vocabulary and maturity to read such a novel if (and only if) he puts some effort and avoids for a while the computer, consoles, mobile phone, tablet and electronic stuff for a while. These devices kill our attention span. And they're even more harmful in young lads who are still in physical and psychical formation. I can notice it in myself as a grown up adult, and I'm trying to reclaim my concentration back, still with a low success rate.
 

Cuchulainn2016

Woodpecker
You don't say whether the teenagers enjoy reading, or don't. Or whether they are boys or girls.

That makes a big difference.

Most important thing is to pick stuff that they will enjoy so they don't see reading as a chore, but as something to enjoy. In many ways that is more important than what they read specifically.

For boys you need some adventure/action.
Fleming's Bond.
Howard's Conan.
Old school Clancy.
Tolkien is a bit of a slog though.
C. S. Lewis is good, but is more for younger children.
Conn Igglundens Julius Caesar stories.
Cornwell's Sharpe.
Timothy Zahns Heir to the Empire Star Wars trilogy.
Crichton's Jurassic Park.
Biographies of renowned military heroes.
Anything about the Gurkhas.

Older fiction is much better as it contains more "truth". Think old school noir detective stories with tough but honourable P.I.s that solve cases with shoe leather, brains and the judicious application of fists and .45acp, and dames with more curves than a box of snakes, rather than a modern story about a feminist lesbian detective teaching misogynists how much better she is than them.

Whatever you do, if they have an interest or aptitude for reading, don't try to restrict them to what you consider "appropriate". It will have the exact opposite effect to what you want, and may stifle their interest in reading overall as well.
 

Galaxy_Traveler

Robin
Other Christian
Ernest Hemingway's 'A Farewell to Arms' was my favorite when I was 18, as well as 'For whom the Bell Tolls'. Hemingway used to have a macho image and was accused of misogyny long before the era of woke, but I get the impression that nowadays he is being somewhat overlooked by the younger generation, so you might be able to sneak it in.

When it comes to Dostoyevski, I highly recommend 'Crime and Punishment' for young readers with short attention spans. It is clearly written and keeps tension all throughout, and despite its length is a quick read.

Charles Dickens is also a great one, I would probably start with 'Oliver Twist'.
 

Easy_C

Peacock
My rather liberal/woke sister asked me this question today:



I'd really like to come up with a big list to give back to her that draws from all of these categories, but avoids woke, subverted or twisted/false ideologies. I'd also like to avoid any "obviously" right wing books that would tip her off and make her disqualify the entire list (eg. Industrial Society and Its Future, anything by Pat Buchanan, etc)

This is what I have so far:
  • Anything by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Anything by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  • Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun
  • A Complete Foxfire Series 14-Book Collection Set
  • Utopia by Thomas More
  • Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Can the forum help me build a longer list? :)

CS Lewis's Space Trilogy is a good suggestion. "Mere Christianity" will turn her off by the title. The Space Trilogy will not, but that book trilogy undercuts the entire basis of modernist thought.


For boys, a good sci-fi adventure book are some of the old Battletech novels. They're full of 80's cheese but a lot of the authors are of a different breed: military historians and Vietnam vets. The best place to start is Decision at Thunder Rift.
 

Seraphim

Chicken
Orthodox
My rather liberal/woke sister asked me this question today:

I need book ideas for teenagers learning history, social studies, literature, art, music, architecture, science, psychology, sociology, etc. what books did you find good when you were 15 to 18?? Fiction or nonfiction, fun reading or straight learning, I will take any and all ideas, hopefully dozens of them.

I'd really like to come up with a big list to give back to her that draws from all of these categories, but avoids woke, subverted or twisted/false ideologies. I'd also like to avoid any "obviously" right wing books that would tip her off and make her disqualify the entire list (eg. Industrial Society and Its Future, anything by Pat Buchanan, etc)

This is what I have so far:
  • Anything by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Anything by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  • Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun
  • A Complete Foxfire Series 14-Book Collection Set
  • Utopia by Thomas More
  • Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Can the forum help me build a longer list? :)

I recently picked up a single-volume anthology of Wendell Berry fiction from Library of America, and have been thoroughly enjoying it. This will very likely fly under your sister’s radar because if she’s heard of him at all, it is likely in connection with his environmental views—which at a cursory glance would be entirely palatable to the average wokester, though in reality his environmental views are situated within a context of Christian stewardship.

And from what I have read thus far, his fiction is excellent—being both entertaining and nourishing. Themes that I have picked up on are as follows: nostalgia for a more wholesome time; lamentation for the loss of connection to place, tradition, and community; the proper orientation of men to women, women to men, and other conventional societal norms; and the sense that things are perceived most truthfully when viewed with God in mind.

I highly recommend it for the formation of a young man’s worldview.

The version I bought can be found at this link: https://loa.org/books/567-port-william-novels-stories-the-civil-war-to-world-war-ii
 

cosine

Robin
I think Dostoevsky might be a little heavy for a 15-16 year old.

Mere Christianity is a good pick; she might enjoy The Chronicles of Narnia as well.

I’d also chuck in 1984, Animal Farm and Brave New World.
+1 for Animal Farm. That is a digestible book for young people. If you recommend War and Peace to her(or to me), it probably won't actually get finished.
 

MartyMcFly

Kingfisher
Other Christian
Cheaper by the Dozen is a semi-autobiographical book and mostly non-fiction based on a family with 12 kids. It is a humorous book that is good for ages 10-100 and I have read it 3 times and seen the 1950 movie movie based on the family (I recommend the movie also, even though it was a bit too short). The parents were also important in the business world as well as industrial engineers. The father had a unique parenting approach, but it was a close family and overall the values were traditional (such as the father chaperoning the daughters on dates).

It is a light book compared to others named on this page, but it is fun to read and I think some of the family values are good (such as the idea of bidding on extra chores, the kids performing family plays for the parents, etc...).

Cheaper by the Dozen Summary & Study Guide
 
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