Book Buddy Lists

Here are the original, unedited lists compiled by The Literary Bookie for a short-lived stint on the radio. The topics are: PTSD, College, Bullying, and Internet Addiction.


Featured Titles – Non-Fiction:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Writing about It Helps by Wallace Bellair (Memoir as therapy)
  • The Little Book of Heartbreak; Stories Soldiers Won't Tell You about What They've Seen, Done, or Failed to Do in War edited by Kevin Sikes (11 soldiers speak of what haunts them.)
  • Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala (the memoir of sole family survivor of a tsunami.)

Supplemental Titles – Non-Fiction:

  • An Operators Manual for Combat PTSD: Essays for Coping by Ashley Hart II
  • The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook; a guide to healing ,recovery and Growth by Glenn Schiraldi (author of The Resilient Warrior; before, during and after war)
  • Soft Spots: A Marine's Memoir of Combat and Post-Traumatic Stress by Clint Van Winkle (Iraq memoir)

Featured Titles – Fiction:

  • Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain (available in trade paperback) Do to a viral video of them in combat Dallas and Billy Lynn return from Iraq as media darlings. They are dragged through the grist mill of pop culture while trying to deal with all the baggage the they carried with them.
  • The Dog Stars by Peter Heller (available in trade paperback in May) This novel is the compassionate side of distopian fiction showing us that humanity will survive at the end of the world. 

  • The Anne Marie by Israel J. Parker (example of writing fiction as therapy. A tale about Atticus Stockton, a 160-pound black Newfoundland who loses his master at sea and through the dog the author is able to address his own PTSD.

Supplemental Titles – for the younger crowd:
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (Oskar Schell, his mother, and everyone he meets after 911 display the many facets of the condition. They discover their strength in community.)
  • The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (Harry is the quintessential orphan who allows his past to deter him from confronting his future.)
  • Bob Keene's Bruce Wayne. Isn't Batman the arch-typical conflicted anti-hero birth from trauma?, PTSD in a cape?

Characters exhibiting PTSD:

  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare (triggers, visions intruding based on a catastrophic past)
  • Larry in the classic The Razor's Edge by William Somerset Maugham The PTSD of the character is even more fleshed out in Bill Murray's reworking.
  • Both Tom & Savannah Wingo in The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
  • Four souls deal with a tragic bus crash in The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks
  • U.S. Marine Logan Thibault in The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
  • Billy Pilgrim in the kaleidoscopic Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut as he poorly represses his memories of the firebombing of Dresden.
  • Toru battling with the death of her true love in Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
  • The soldiers in The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien as they contend with that incubator of PTSD, Vietnam, the title of the book is the disorder in a nutshell.
  • Coleman tries to navigate through ghosts of his repressed past in The Human Stain by Philip Roth.
  • Everyone still alive in World War Z by Max Brooks.
  • Frodo Baggins from J.R.R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings


Today we will be tackling books for incoming freshmen and, well, high graduates pondering their futures. Let’s start with some nonfiction picks before I get to the meat and potatoes of today’s segment.

  • College Prowler series, fun, social and factual without being socially irresponsible like the slew of party-centric titles out there like College Work Case Scenario Handbook which replaces reference and advice with low-brow humor more suited for the “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” crowd. To quote Animal House, “Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”
  • The Naked Roomate and 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into by Harlan Cohen. Finds the humor in the many serious-to-you issues you may confront.
  • Look Dude, I Can Cook, 4 Years of College Cooking Made Easy by Amy Madden or Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen In it by Kevin Mills Trust me, man can’t live by ramen noodles and take-out pizza alone. Plus, malnourished will dull down the brain, bro!
  • A Girl’s guide to college; Making the Most of the Four Best Years of your Life by Traci Maynigo, M.Ed. (2003, updated in 2011, a perennial favorite)

For fiction we should be looking at the BILDUNGSROMAN; German translation The Formation Novel known better as the coming-of-age novel. In these stories we follow the growth of the young protagonist as they undergo a spiritual, moral, and intellectual transformation, however subtle. These books prompt real self-evaluation. Their worlds change from the carefree days of youth to the somewhat scary world of adulthood. Lest it be said the closer a teen gets to college age the more the decisions they make will affect the rest of their lives; all the more reason to Carpe Diem, seize the day!

For young women peer pressure, the inundation of mass media marketed for the lowest common denominator of intellect questions their body image, their self-worth. Young men have always faced tribal rites-of-passage to adulthood, now muddied as a pimp culture the re-enforces the female stereotype and demeans what it means to be an adult man.

From Homer’s Odyssey we have tales concerning resisting life’s temptation for the personal and greater good. Many of the titles have been on the school summer reading lists because of the insight they afford the reader.

Take a few of these quotes and tell me they don’t relate to a teen facing their future:

“Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself.”  That’s from To Kill a Mockingbird.

“I never seem to have anything that if I lost it, I’d care too much about”  That’s our cautionary tale of a young man unprepared for what he calls “the phony world” in Catcher In The Rye.

“When Death captures me, he will feel my fist on his face.” How’s that for teen angst. That comes from Zuzak’s classic The Book Thief where a teen finds that through chaos he can find courage, the courage to challenge the answers, not the questions.

So here’s a short list of suggested titles that will find simpatico to your own Bildungsroman.

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (great movie too directed by the author.
  • One of the Literary Bookie’s favs of 2012 for adults or teens, The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker.
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green or his latest, The Fault in Our Stars.
  • The newly released Harvard Yard by Andre Aciman. In this novel an Egyptian Jew goes to Harvard dreaming of tenure and academic respect. He befriends an Arab cab driver and is introduced to living life on the edge. The night life threatens his dream and just as decides to buckle down his friend is threatened with deportation? What would you do?

The transition from innocence to adulthood is never an easy one but it is your story to write. Like the best of writers you learn from those who preceded you. Go forth! Write on!


Check out these stats: 
  • With children K-12th grade, 1 in 7 are either a bully or have been a victim of bullying.
  • 284 thousand children in secondary schools are physically bullied each month.
  • 0% of children 4-8th grade report being victims of bullying. 
  • 13 million children will be bullied this year alone.
Does that sound like an epidemic to you? Well the founders of The Bully Project felt so and in 2011 they created a controversial documentary film distributed by the Weinstein brothers. The companion text is; BULLY ; An Action Plan for Teachers, Parents, and Communities to Combat the Bullying Crisis edited by Lee Hirsch, Cynthia Lowen, and Dina Santorelli It’s as if the film continues after the credits through the pages of this book. Thanks to the many contributors we have an exhaustive guide for all caregivers to our children.

Another non-fiction pick would be Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy by Emily Bazelon. It not only includes testimonials of conventional and cyber bullying, it shares her analysis of the phenomena. She clarifies that not all conflict is bullying. Bazelon’s mantra is to treat something one must first know what it is.

From Judy Blume’s novel Blubber in 1974 on up, stories that touch upon bullying themes have been used to breach the subject with children. 

  • One of the best recent books to address bullying is also one of the best independent reader books of 2012; Wonder by R.J. Palacio. It is the tale of August Pullman who was born with a facial deformity. If he thought life was hard before, wait until he enters fifth grade! This novel will hook you from the start with its humor, tragedy, and everything in between as you root for August in his fight to just be normal.
  • Another lauded book from last year uses a character’s disability to gain insight to the bullying issue. Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller and Zach Stentz. Like Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, we have a autistic narrator unraveling the clues to a crime. Colin’s condition manifests itself with an inability to be touched, disdain for anything blue and an inability to read facial expressions. What he is very attuned to however is details which he notes and connects with miraculous precision. A gun is found in his school, a bully is fingered and the only chance of proving the bully’s innocence comes from one of his victims, Colin. Together they teach each other about growing up and chancing on friendship.
  • Four Secrets by Margaret Willey turns the bullying situation on its head. Four girls make a pact to take revenge on king bully at their school, but secrets are fragile things, hard to keep and promises even easier to break. When does the bullied become the bullier.
  • Here’s another tale for middle school student on how thin that line can be; The Bully Book by Eric Kahn Gale. Middle school stinks especially if you're Eric Haskins. He's a grunt, this year's whipping boy. Eric however finds a rulebook for bullies. Within its covers are tricks on “making trouble”, “ruling the school “and, yes, “grunt selection”. Could being a bully himself be Eric's way out? I think not. A title with a similar vibe for girls is Poison Ivy by Amy Goldman Koss.
  • Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones lets the reader know they are not alone from the likes of Lauren Kate to R.L. Stine, top teen authors share their bullying stories.
  • There is also Confessions of a Former Bully by Trudy Ludwig, illus. Beth Adams. This easy read is told from the unusual point of view of the bullier rather than the bullied, providing kids with real life tools they can use to identify and stop behavior. Remember, bullying hurts both parties in the end.
  • For early chapter readers, the Diary-of-a Whimpy Kid set, I suggest The Odd Squad: Bully Bait by Michael Fry by the cartoonist who gave us Over The Hedge. Nick is pretty sure he’s the shortest seventh-grader in the history of the world. He doesn’t fit in and spends more time inside than outside his locker. A well-intentioned guidance counselor forces Nick to join the school's lamest club. This squad morphs into an empowered team ready to face whatever school throws at them; bullies, romance, zany adults, and the brave new world of friendships.

WEEK 4: Internet Addiction

Books addressing the perils of Gen-N, the ‘Net’ generation? Well here are a few titles that address the condition of internet addiction.

  • iDisordwer: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming Its Hold On Us by Larry D. Rosen is based on decades of research but doesn’t come off as overly-academic. It presents down-to-earth methods to stay in check with the ever-increasing presence of digital communication in our lives. It also presents warning signs such as Dr. A has presented to you this evening.
  • Cyber Junkie by Kevin Roberts. Kevin labels himself a reformed video game addict. Does that term sound harsh to you? When behavior denigrates every aspect of one’s life such as internet addiction does, its an addiction. This is not just a memoir to identify with, but a step-by-step method devised by the author to edge you towards internet sobriety. He also clearly states that no book can replace good council; it can only enlighten you to your own therapeutic needs.
  • The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. This Pulitzer Prize finalist asks the big question, “is the world of texting, Google and the like making us stupid?” Leading scientists point out that texting actually decreases the ability to think in complex ways because it eliminates complexity in sentence structure. This author may be on to something. Some people attribute the shorter length of successful novels to this 'culturally induced ADD.’ All this technology is shiny and fun but we are losing the ability to handle sustained thought.

Novels can enrich the reader while dishing out thrills. They offer consequences for one’s actions, a resolution, and lessons learned; the heart of story that video games sorely lack. Here’s some Books that Read Better Than Video Games Play!

  • The Maze Runner series by James Dashner. 60 boys are led by Thomas who’s only memories are his name and the vague recollection of a girl. They are thrust into a game with the fate of civilization at stake. Think of it as William Golding’s Lord of the Flies played out in a labyrinth.
  • The Hugo and Nebula award-winning Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Imperiled humankind is saved by the heroics of International Fleet Commander Mazer Rackham. Hooked? His adventures in the Enderverse race through another 7 novels.
  • The Books of Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau. The last refuge of the human race is underground. Two children discover that their world may be a fabrication and fight for the freedom of their people.
  • For the zombie gamer out there nothing plays better than The Benny Imura series by Jonathan Maberry. From Rot & Ruin, to Dust & Decay, to Flesh & Bone culminating with this Fall’s Fire & Ash, the author delivers not only unrelenting rashes of attack, but pathos and mortal decisions around every corner. Consider it The Walking Dead for the young adult set.

This has been your Book Buddy imploring you to keep the radio on, but put down the device, back away from the monitor, and play the most challenging game out there… life. Oh yeah, and read a book while your at it, you’d be surprised how a good book can inspire your play!

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