Never go back and read the books you liked as a youngster

I have fond memories of reading James Michener’s The Source as a teenager — in case you are unacquainted with that author, his schtick was to pick a geographical place and then write a long episodic novel covering its fictional history over thousands of years. The Source is about a mound in Israel, so he writes a chapter about a family at the dawn of agriculture growing wheat there, a small town and their Ba’als, a crusader castle, a group of soldiers in the Arab-Israeli War, you get the idea. It’s a series of vignettes in the long history of this region.

I had a cheap copy of this book I hadn’t read in decades, and just started skimming the beginning. The framing device in this novel is the story of the archaeological excavation at the site led by a man named Cullinane, digging up artifacts that are then used as the centerpiece of each story. And that is the problem. It’s unreadable. It was published in 1965, and it shows.

The first sign of trouble is the characters, who fit awkward stereotypes of The American, The Israeli, The Palestinian. The members of a kibbutz are helping with the labor of the site, and the story spends way too much time talking about how beautiful and scantily-clad the young women are. An Israeli woman named Vered Bar-El is a Ph.D. with substantial credentials as Israel’s “top expert in dating pottery”, but the story starts going in a strange direction. Cullinane is day-dreaming about marrying this petite, pretty girl with flashing eyes working at his side — she has given him no signals anywhere in the story that she’s at all interested in him romantically. In fact, we learn that she’s engaged to another scholar working there…a fellow that Cullinane tries to convince himself is not right for her. And then, suddenly, with no real reciprocal development between the characters,

And then one night in mid-July as he inspected the dig in moonlight he was alerted by someone moving along the northern edge of the plateau, and he suspected it might be a worker out to steal a Crusader relic; but it was Vered Bar-El, and he ran to her with a kind of release and caught her in his arms, kissing her with a vigor that astonished both of them. Slowly she pushed him away, holding on to the lapels of his field jacket and looking up at him with her dark, saucy eyes.

WTF? And this is treated as perfectly ordinary behavior in the field? She, a scholar with a fiance, is not at all shocked at this unprofessional behavior by her team leader? Michener was apparently incapable of imagining this scene from a woman’s perspective.

It makes me sad. I read this book in my teens and it went right over my head, and I just thought archaeology sounded neat and fun and interesting. I wonder how a teenaged girl would have felt about the discipline if they read that — dig leaders get to fantasize about the women working with them, and abruptly give them vigorous kisses.

Now I’m also wondering how common this casual dismissal of women was in the popular literature that might have influenced people’s choice of careers.


  1. says

    When I was 8 or so, my favourite book was The Rainforest, by Armstrong Sperry. I checked it out of the library repeatedly. It introduced me to rainforests and ornithology. About 10, 15 years ago, I had the chance to snag a first edition, which I did. I’m so sorry I did, too. Oh, the bigotry is awful, and it’s made quite clear that it’s a man’s world, no place for those women or girls.

  2. jazzlet says

    I read a lot of science fiction and one reason I read everything I could find by James H Schmitz was compentant female characters – lead characters even – with no romance in the stories at all. I love a bit of romance, but I also love books about competant women. None of those books really showed careers that were possible so the male dominated ones didn’t influence my choice of career.

  3. says

    I remember liking Dealing With Dragons as a kid, and it stood up much better when I reread it later. I hadn’t thought about it as a kid, but all the villains are men, and all the heroes women, except for one unnamed prince.

  4. says

    Absolutely disagree on this one, PZ.

    Some books, when you revisit them, show you how much better you are than when you read as a child. I thought Orson Scott Card was an incisive political thinker when I was 12. Now…I know a tiny bit about politics, and I can see he knows less.

    Other books, you get the second time around. Or you get them better. I thought James Baldwin knew people and racism when I was 16. Now I can see…he _really_ knew.

  5. blf says

    A variant of this is books you had to read because they were class assignments. It seems that many people loathe those books / stories. I now cannot recall many of them, but two stand out in my memory: The Hobbit and Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. To this day, I still cannot stand the later — I remember almost being physically sick at an RSC production some years ago — albeit I’m uncertain why I loathe it, but am mostly-convinced it dates from having to read & study the fecking putrid mess in class. (Circumstantial evidence for this is I otherwise like the parts of Shakespeare’s play-canon I know.)

    That was also largely true of the The Hobbit until I reread it for the first time some years ago. Whilst it still doesn’t rate as a “favourite”, I no longer loathe it. That loathing stopped me from reading LotR for perhaps too many yonks, until I finally picked up the book some time ago to read over the end-of-orbit period. I found myself engrossed, reading the entire story at the rate of a book a day, and have been a fan of LotR ever since — which is perhaps what motivated me to reread the much shorter book I learned to loathe in school.

  6. Owlmirror says

    In other fora, when discussing the rereading of books one once liked or loved that now don’t live up to one’s current standards of quality, the notional conceit is that the book has been visited by a fairy and changed from that good stuff that was remembered: The Suck Fairy. Also, the fairy has siblings: The Racism Fairy; the Sexism Fairy; the Misogyny Fairy; the Bigot Fairy; no doubt others.

    It looks like “The Source” was visited by the Suck Fairy and the Sexism Fairy.

    Some books do hold up.

  7. wondering says

    If women weren’t shunted aside as wives, lovers, eye candy, or helpmeets in these sorts of media, we were generally ignored altogether.

  8. says

    LotR and The Hobbit still hold up for me, as do the works of Arthur Ransome (Swallows and Amazons Forever!), Beatrix Potter, and Margaret Wise Brown (don’t ask how many times I had to read the last two to small offspring).

    Hal Clement is still good, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that his later work is actually more inclusive of good female characters. Heinlein, though, yuck.

  9. birgerjohansson says

    My childhood and youth books were a mixed bag.
    To use Science Fiction as an example, much by Arthur C Clarke and Stanislaw Lem still is readable.
    And I also read space opera that I knew even then was quite ridicilous, but fun, like van Vogt’s The War Against the Rull.
    — —
    Alistair Mc Lean was very uneven but some of his titles remain in print. Desmond Bagley is now obsolete. The same goes for other authors in genres that have been achieving considerable sophistication despite humble beginnings.

  10. TheGyre says

    For me it’s Heinlein’s Stranger In A Strange Land. I read it when I was 13. I hate to admit it now, but that book had a very profound effect on me. Bits and pieces of its hokey ‘philosophy’ still scuttle around like insects that will not die in my psyche. A few years ago I picked up a copy of the original, uncut version and reread it. *Sigh* Would that I had never known about it. My teen and early adult years might not have been quite so foolishly misspent. Of course it came on the cusp of the counter culture and the Vietnam War, so its message had great appeal to my generation. And then there were the girls that you tried to Grok with, which inevitably led to other, memorable things. Books have power, even the bad ones, and kids don’t have the ability to know the difference between the useful and the junk.

  11. says

    I think that what’s important is what we take away from these stories. I read The Source several times, and what I remember most vividly was the pride in artistry of Herod’s builder, and the severe practicality of the crusader castle at Ma Coeur. The doomed, honorable, futility of the siege – I don’t recall a thing about the “present” story. Did it affect me? Perhaps another person read it and that is what they came away with. Is it random? What do we remember from a book?

    I mentioned Shogun before – all I remember of that is the fascination it gave me for samurai culture, and the many things I later uncovered as a litany of inaccuracy. But it set me on the path. And I remember the fight between the browns and the grays – in retrospect I wonder where Clavell stole that from, because it was so far above his normal level of work.

    We only remember fragments that are important to us. But if they’re the fragments that promote racism or misogyny, then what?

  12. says


    Of course it came on the cusp of the counter culture and the Vietnam War, so its message had great appeal to my generation.

    Books have power, even the bad ones, and kids don’t have the ability to know the difference between the useful and the junk.

    Speak for yourself, please. I read Stranger in a Strange Land when I was around 11 in 1968, and thought it was a pile of crap. Its ‘message’ did not appeal to me, and I did just fine in figuring out the difference between useful and junk.

  13. Ogvorbis wants to know: WTF!?!?!?! says

    I recently reread my favourite book from when I was young. The impetus behind it is the release of an animated movie based on the book. So I read Ferdinand the Bull again. And cried. And realized that it is still one of the best books I have ever read. Even if it is written for small children.

  14. says

    My “why did I like this crap as a kid” authors are Piers Anthony and Robert Heinlein. When I was in my teens, I actually wrote fan fiction set in the Incarnations of Immortality universe. Then I snagged Anthony’s Bio of a Space Tyrant set and began to realize just how messed up he really was. I found some of his books when I recently moved and started to read them… oy, I wish I hadn’t. I ended up throwing them away, they weren’t good enough even to leave out for someone else to find. As for Heinlein, he had some interesting ideas for the 1960s, but nothing that survived much past that.

  15. Tethys says

    I’m sure some of my teen reading material was utter dreck, and I have no desire to reread it. A series called Flowers in the Attic was hugely popular, and it’s main plot device is misogyny/incest. Book one begins with a daughter is widowed and penniless, has returned home to her awful rich parents house. She is forced by her mother to keep her children locked away in the attic and hidden from her father as the price to shelter them. No idea if it shaped my future career choices. I also read a lot of Stephen King as a teen, but lost my taste for the horror genre as an adult.

  16. Raucous Indignation says

    Heinlein was always un-readable crap. So were a lot of other “great” authors who were shoved at me when I was young. Worthwhile books, especially sci-fi, were few and far between.

  17. antigone10 says

    Castle Roogna was my very first fantasy book when I was super young, by Piers Anthony. I read it when I was 8, I want to say, picked up from a garage sale for 10 cents and I loved it. I found later, as an adult, and re-read it and wanted to travel through space and time to protect my younger self from that evil, awful, dreck.

    But, Piers Anthony was my gateway to Terry Pratchett, and I still love Terry Pratchett and fantasy. Later I read Wrede and Pierce and found better all-around fantasy. And those books still hold up.

    And oh god, VC Andrews (she of Flowers in the Attic fame)! Someone really shouldn’t have let me read those books. I worry what they did to my psycho-sexual development (though, just to clarify strenuously, I never had incest-y thoughts). Oh ick. Oh yuck.

  18. says

    Heinlein’s YA stuff was decent, as long as you remember that they were written in the 40s and 50s before Sputnik and Apollo, and when we still believed there could be life on Mars and that Venus was a dense, steamy jungle. It was when he tried to delve into more adult topics and current events that he jumped the shark.

  19. Pierce R. Butler says

    If our esteemed host can no longer handle the introductory material in The Source, just imagine the reactions from some alternative universe in which he plows through to the undiluted Zionist propaganda in the last few chapters.

    A friend who went back to the Nancy Drew stories from her childhood got a hold of some of the earliest editions and compared them with those she’d read. She found a systematic but partial cleaning-up: f’rinstance, Nancy’s fat friend who ate three sandwiches at a sitting in the ’60s version had, at the same meal in the same story thirty years before, enjoyed seven.

  20. Ogvorbis wants to know: WTF!?!?!?! says

    I have been very disappointed rereading Alan Dean Foster (especially the Spellsinger series) — so shallow, so contrived, and the few female characters are even more shallowerest. Niven (his early stuff — tales of known space, etc) has held up but his writing alternates between too stiff and too loose (no, I really cannot explain better than that), but he was the shit when I first read his stuff.

    One of the writers I remembered from my youth that really has survived (for me) is David Drakes Hammer’s Slammers military scifi series. Although technology and tiny fusion plants and ftl travel between the stars are important, the people — good, bad, evil, helpless, whatever — are central to the plots, not, like Niven and Heinlein and Foster tacked on just so that someone can actually speak the necessary dialogue or see what happens.

    I still enjoy Frank Herbert’s Dune series (first read at 13 or so, first understood in my mid-20s) and, yeah, he’s misogynist and anti-gay and a little scary, but the ideas and actual working economy and ecology make it worth reading every decade or so.

    Tolkien still holds up and, like the Harry Potter books, every time I read them, I pick up yet another way that the plot recurses upon itself in odd, but enjoyable, ways.

    I still collect and reread regularly short stories from the Golden Age. Of course, not only was it the Golden Age of science fiction, it was also the Golden Age of racism, sexism, misogyny, colonialism, etc., so, while enjoying the ideas, the plot construction, the innocence of the stories, I am, at the same time, mentally decrying the treatment of anyone who is not white and male and straight.

    The Babar books, of early childhood, books I really enjoyed, are now unreadable. And, as I stated above, Ferdinand is one of the few books that, for me, still holds up.

  21. thirdmill says

    I distinguish being a talented writer/storyteller from having a world view that I agree with. I’m far from being a libertarian but I really liked Heinlen’s The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress and Stranger in a Strange Land — they’re both good stories that are well written even if I don’t agree with his worldview. Sometimes it’s possible to enjoy a story for the story’s sake.

  22. says

    Say what you will (&, as noted above, I really don’t remember the framing story) but The Source was instrumental in bringing me to atheism, by making it pretty clear that the religious stuff (& the changes in religions & of religions) was all a pathetic human construct.

  23. gijoel says

    @13 I read a ton of Heinlein’s juvenile series. Though I didn’t read Stranger in a strange land till I was about 16 or so, and it struck me how much it flipped from gays are teh evil, to gay sex is okay in his later books.

  24. fishy says

    I’ve thought to myself once or twice if a young person were to ask for a reading recommendation, what would I give them? Part of the background in this scenario is that this particular person is reading-curious, but not actively engaged on their own behalf.

    I always want to suggest The Call of the Wild.
    It is a great adventure and an easy read. On the third hand, it is a product of it’s time and treats native Americans as savages to be pushed out or exterminated, which is what Buck does in the end. I still think it is a good book for anyone to read.
    I suppose the point I want to make is that I don’t feel diminished by certain things I have read over time. In fact, I sense growth. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to work?

  25. Simple Desultory Philip says

    i read voraciously as a kid; looking back now it’s clear i was devouring good and bad in roughly equal portions. weird twisted horror-loving me definitely was into the incesty gothic of v.c. andrews, who has already been mentioned, as well as a lot of the old canonical sci-fi authors and piers anthony (who was always sexist as hell but whom i did finally stop reading, horrified, when i accidentally at age 14 or so got my hands on a non-xanth book of his called “firefly” which is about a giant amoeba (?) that lures and kills people by secreting irresistible human sex pheremones, and also includes a looooong apologia for pedophilia). i’ll also add in dean koontz, who at least got better as a writer over the years but never really got *good*, and the super out-there ya horror novels of christopher pike, my favorite of which was about, um, ancient lizard people masquerading as sexy high-school students that kill a bunch of their classmates in an underground acid lake in some kind of ritual sacrifice? so i’m not gonna defend much of that these days. on the other hand, a lot of my other favs – the hobbit/lord of the rings, bridge to terabithia, beverly cleary’s ramona books, number the stars, where the red fern grows, tons and tons and tons of poetry, tamora pierce’s alanna series, the neverending story, the dark is rising series, and thankfully for my horror-loving heart, most of stephen king – all still pretty much hold up. harlan ellison is a pretty mixed bag. my one realllllly problematic old love is h.p. lovecraft, whose naked, virulent racism/xenophobia is a central theme in his work; i would never ever recommend him to anybody without massive, massive caveats and warnings but i do still go back and read, for example, the tale of charles dexter ward, the call of cthulhu, and the whisperer in darkness at least once a year.

  26. Trickster Goddess says

    I enjoyed the Encyclopedia Brown mysteries as a kid, until I read one (while still a kid in the 1970s) that hit me with some obnoxious casual racism. The story contained a reference to a historical time when the local area “was still overrun by Red Indians.” I’m white, but at the time I was living in a Cree village in northern Ontario and it really offended me that someone regarded people who were living in the land where their ancestors had lived for thousands of years as some kind of infestation.

  27. says

    I’ve read essentially all fiction and non-fiction by Asimov and Clarke. Their science fiction, and early James P. Hogan, is pretty good. (I know that JPH is a holocaust “sceptic”. One can separate the work from the artist. As Mark Twain said, Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.) Robert L. Forward has some interesting stuff, but pretty cliched characters, especially the female ones. From Heinlein, I’ve read only The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which is OK for what it is (though with some goofy characters), and the uncut Stranger in a Strange Land. It is well written in the sense that it is a page-turner and reasonably well structured, but I kept waiting for the real story to start—and it never did.

    As far as female characters in science fiction, Asimov’s Susan Calvin stands up pretty well, especially considering that the stuff was written in the 1940s and Asimov had very little experience with women. Clarke’s characters tend to be bland, and Heinlein’s are often mouthpieces for his own libertarian philosophy. (OK, Asimov also has mouthpieces, but done better, and his philosophy is better.)

  28. chigau (違う) says

    I read Stranger in a Strange Land as a middle teenager and thought it was hilarious. Especially all the blasphemy.

  29. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    For me it’s the Chronicles of Narnia. I didn’t see the racism in them at the time, or the Xian themes. In my defense, Susan was my favorite character and I was pissed at the way Lewis wrote her off.

  30. jack16 says

    Childhood reading,

    In my second grade readers were divided into two groups, the good and the poor. I was in the latter. The dam broke that summer. I became a voracious reader of comics. I think it started with Mickey Mouse. By the end of summer I was literate and didn’t know it. I told my third grade classmates how I hated “reading” . The teacher asked me to read a short passage aloud and it was EASY. An incredible, astonishing moment!

    Mark Twain, Agatha Christie, Manning Coles, The Bobbsey Twins, whatever bookshelves I’d access came to me around this time. Surprising “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” has not been mentioned.


  31. jrkrideau says

    I was recently rereading A. Conan Doyle’s Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. He holds up quite well.

  32. leerudolph says

    I started re-reading Bester’s The Stars My Destination tonight; obviously I have put it down temporarily, but only because my eyes were beginning to close and my attention to wander (so what better to do than read a few blogs before bed?). I first read it within a year of its publication, then again in my early 20s, a third time sometime earlier in this millennium—this may well be the last time. I don’t think I really got it all the first time, maybe not the second. Now I think I do.

    But it’s never made me want to go back and read The Count of Monte Cristo (which I didn’t like as a school assignment, in abridged form).

  33. chigau (違う) says

    I read all the Tarzan and all the James Bond as a teenager (before 1975).
    Tried a re-read in the 1990s.
    mmm mmm mmm ah no no no

  34. redwood says

    @40 chigau (違う) Me, too, both of those authors and then rereading them a few years ago. No, no, no way. (By the way, according to your name, you might be “different,” but you aren’t “wrong!”)
    In college I read Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig and it affected me a lot, especially the parts about doing things well just for the sake of doing things well. It also sparked my life-long interest in Zen. I haven’t reread it though, maybe afraid to.

  35. Marc Long says

    I recently reread one of John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee books I’d originally perused when Carter was President. Still holds up as a good read. Not high literature, but it is what it was supposed to be – an easy afternoon read of shady dealings in and around Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I may hunt up other books in the series, just for old times sake.

  36. Rich Woods says

    Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen still works (if by ‘works’ I mean ‘induces nightmares about claustrophobia’).

  37. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    Gonna third The Swallows and Amazons series. I read them over and over as a child and last year re-read them aloud to The Small Fry.

    There are a couple of places where the N-word is used if you’ve got early editions and there’s a lot of mildly problematic colonial attitude. I say mild because Ransome’s stereotyping of the non-English never goes so far as to demonise them. Though being thoroughly white myself I’m open to correction on that point.

    I will say I approached Missi Lee with some trepidation. It wasn’t as bad as I feared but several times I had to stop and point out lazy stereotypes. And we had a general talk before I began that one about nationalistic/racial biases and how difference is not synonymous with inferior.

  38. says

    Marc Long:

    I recently reread one of John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee books I’d originally perused when Carter was President. Still holds up as a good read.

    I read all of those in my early teens. A few years ago, I came across some of the books at a thrift store and bought them. I couldn’t do a full re-read, the casual sexism and misogyny were absolutely cringe-worthy.

  39. Ogvorbis wants to know: WTF!?!?!?! says

    One series that is horribly regressive, which I enjoyed as a teenager, was the Childe Cycle books by Gordon R. Dickson. I remembered liking them and then thought that, well, maybe I should re-read them. So I did. And they are both worse and better than I remember. Once I grokked the allegorical nature, they became even better and even worser. Not the shoot-em-up scifi I thought they were. I’m still not sure about them. Regressive yes, redeeming social value, not sure. Still decent (not great) reads, though.

  40. says

    I read and re-read the Flashman books. I think they hold up well because they make one think about and see the casual racism and misogyny of the empire. There probably have been people who mistook Harry for an example of how to live, but they’re likely few and far between.

    Then there were the Gor books. I’ll admit to enjoying them at a time, then enjoying them again as an example of – what? Literary trolling? It wasn’t until the 90s that I encountered online role-players who apparently mistook it for a life-philosophy. It’d be as though someone read The Destroyer and didn’t realize it was a send-up.

    It took me into my mid-teens to realize what reactionaries Pournelle and Heinlein were, and it made me appreciate Haldeman so much more.

    The Brisingamen books remain wonderful. I also read Swallows and Amazons and a great deal of Twain. Twain holds up, and was a valuable antidote to Fenimore Cooper and Connecticut Yankee is still a delight.

    Another series I loved was Welch’s Knight Crusader. I suspect it’s still OK.

  41. says

    Heinlein was so uneven – and he believed his PR. I met him once in the mid-70s and he really, really tried, ‘tried’ being the operative word, to be the alpha male he wrote about. It was… um… odd. Especially because Ginny, his wife, was there looking on while he tried it. She was laughing. Make of it what you will.

    “Have Space Suit, Will Travel” was one of my first SF reads when I was oh 8 or 9 or so. It probably started me on the route to where I am at today, so I can’t complain about it. My favorite/worst scene in Heinlein is in one of the last books after he went off the deep end, I cannot remember which one – I flat out refuse to reread any of them to find out. Life’s too short to read that stuff more than once – where the female is *in hard labor* on the way to the hospital to give birth and wants to have sex in the taxi just to see what it would be like, because Real Women™ are always, always hot for sex. The male, that bastion of reason, says, no, no, probably not a good idea in this circumstance. I did a lot of headdeskthudding at the time while trying to read that one.

  42. blf says

    Heh. Some of the previous comments reminded me that my time living in the Santa Cruz area (California) overlapped with Heinlein’s time in the same area, making me wonder if I ever saw him without knowing it. Not that it matters. I myself only ever read one of his books (Friday) — which happened to be published during that overlapping period in Santa Cruz — and it so put me off his writing I’d made it a point to avoid anything by that misogynistic nazi.

  43. says

    The Mitchner novel that really did me in was Centennial. It’s about Colorado, a place where I lived as a child, and still love. However, the beginning has something about a Native American killing an elk and eating its gizzard. Immediately after reading that, I tossed the rather chunky paperback across the room and swore for a good ten minutes. Elk do not have gizzards. Only birds have gizzards. They, the birds, need them because they don’t have teeth. Attention to detail people. I’m sure he made scads of money off this book, and probably, there are people out there who still believe that elk have gizzards. Now, I will quietly swear to myself for a few minutes.

  44. Greta Samsa says

    As a child I remember reading several Owen Colfer books; it broke my heart when I returned to them and realized that they had cretinist propaganda mixed in.

  45. JoeBuddha says

    OK, I can do you one better. I was a HUGE Lensman fan in my youth. I loved the story and the way he took each book to the next level. However, I finally figured out how outright racist and mysoginist it was. I spent some time wondering if you could upgrade it, but the mysoginy was built in to the narrative, so no. Haven’t been able to read any of the classics ever since.

  46. Owlmirror says


    Elk do not have gizzards. Only birds have gizzards.

    I was curious, so I checked, and according to WikiP, some other animals have gizzards, including crocodilians (NB: No citation, but a bit of search does find support in biological literature), some fish, and some crustaceans (also called a gastric mill). Some(?) non-avian dinosaurs and pterosaurs may have had gizzards as well.

    But towards the bottom of the page, it also says “The term “gizzard” can also, by extension, refer to the general guts, innards or entrails of animals.”

    So . . . Michener could have been using the more generic non-technical sense of gizzard.

  47. keinsignal says

    I was gonna chime in with “on the other hand, if the books you liked when you were younger were by Piers Anthony, save yourself the trouble. They are horrifying crap.” But I see Gregory @17 and others have beaten me to it. QFT: “Then I snagged Anthony’s Bio of a Space Tyrant set and began to realize just how messed up he really was.”

    Heinlein’s politics aside, I still liked “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress” when I re-read it a few years back. I should probably give “Job: A Comedy of Justice” another swing through one of these days.. However it’s held up, it had a profound effect on me at the time I first read it (in junior high or thereabouts), and likely set me on the course that wound up making me a reader of this blog in the first place.