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Boy Books: Breaking across gender boundaries

There are boy books, and there are girl books. It’s just a fact of literature. However, that doesn’t mean that girls can’t read boy books, and vice versa. This is something I prove daily.

Some of my favorite books are books directed toward middle school boys. Take John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series for example. These books center on a 16-year-old boy named Will who becomes an apprentice to a mysterious Ranger, a group of men skilled in noiseless movement, camouflage, knife-throwing and archery. Give me a character with a bow and arrow and I will be a happy camper. But imagine the looks I got as a high school student carrying these books from class to class. “Megan, what are you reading?” Oh, you know, just books about teenage warriors learning how to sword fight and throw knives. I was judged, but luckily I never worried much about that. However, I think it’s sad that it would be more socially acceptable for me to say I was reading about girls in short skirts backstabbing each other or discussing the pros and cons of different superficial guys they think are “hot.”

Another of my favorite boy book series is the Airborn trilogy by Kenneth Oppel. These books follow the story of cabin boy Matt Cruse and his adventures on an airship. With a  little romance and a lot of swashbuckling, it’s the perfect mix. The Young Bond series by Charlie Higson is one more fantastic series directed toward boys that is absolutely fantastic. It tells of the adventures of a young James Bond attending boarding school in England, and retains all the intrigue, danger, love and betrayal that are key elements to any Bond story.

While I accept that there are books geared specifically for each gender, I am a firm believer that no one is confined by those standards. If you’re a guy who likes bildungsromans whose main character is a girl, then you shouldn’t be judged any more than a girl who happens to enjoy science fiction or war novels. Everyone is different, and no one has to choose one genre of book and stick with it. Read often and read variety. I  enjoy a good romance novel just as much as the next girl (Pride and Prejudice anyone?), but that doesn’t mean I can’t fight pirates or battle dragons with the boys. Read what you like – and no matter what that may be, just remember there’s a girl that’s a sophomore in college anxiously awaiting the next big series featuring a 16-year-old stowaway/archer/explorer. And proud of it.

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