Three Things That Turned A Violent Dystopian Novel Into A Required Reading Classic

Three Things That Turned A Violent Dystopian Novel Into A Required Reading Classic

What books were you required to read in school? If you are like most Americans, it may have included The Great Gatsby, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, and Lord of the Flies. Each of these books has a fascinating backstory. Each has become embedded in the culture through the millions of formative minds that read them. But only one is a bloody dystopia in which students themselves carry out the violence: Lord of the Flies.

I recently revisited the book as I worked on my current novel, The Green Tower. I figured I could learn from another chaotic struggle in a jungle. But Lord of the Flies is much more than that. Here are three things that have turned this novel into a classic that has endured—long before books like Hunger Games made dystopia cliché.

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The Greatest Story Ever Told

The Greatest Story Ever Told

Science is catching up with ancient human wisdom. Studies of the brain show that stories activate parts of the cortex like nothing else. Or as one scholar put it, as he measured the brain activity of people watching a James Bond movie, he was “watching an amazing neural ballet in which a story line changes the activity of people’s brains.” (HBR, Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling).

We all know this is true. Stories change us. Sometimes profoundly. And it makes you wonder: what is the greatest story ever told? What story has produced the most total change in human brains? Here’s the definitive answer, plus a storyteller’s reasons why.

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Reading A 1,000-Page Book Is Like Running A Marathon

Reading A 1,000-Page Book Is Like Running A Marathon

When was the last time you read a book over 1,000 pages? I mean really read it. Not skimming, reading parts, or cramming with cliff notes before a test. I bet it has been a long time, if ever.

There’s no judgment here. There’s just this: we’re more distracted than ever, so reading a long book has become a monumental task. It’s harder than running a marathon, in my opinion, and I’ve done both. In fact, I might even invent a new bumper sticker like those ubiquitous white circles with the bold, black numbers “26.2”—except this one will say: “1,000+”. Here’s how to join the club, and why you should.

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Why Books Can Be So Much Better Than Their Movies: Five Examples from Ready Player One

Why Books Can Be So Much Better Than Their Movies: Five Examples from Ready Player One

When I was younger I watched Jurassic Park. I loved it. Then people told me I should read the book, because it was even better. I didn’t believe them. How could a book about dinosaurs be better than actually seeing them, in all their stomping and vicious action? But they were right. I read the book, and it was better. Now I usually try to read a book before I watch its movie.

Ready Player One is the latest example. I read Earnest Cline’s book a couple months before watching Steven Spielberg’s movie. I really enjoyed both, but the major differences surprised me. The book generally fares better with reviewers, averaging 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon, while the movie scores 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. And yet, surprise, surprise, Hollywood Reporter says the movie is better. I disagree. Here are the top five reasons why I think the book prevails.

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Building On Rock: Why It’s Critical To Get The Foundation Right

Building On Rock: Why It’s Critical To Get The Foundation Right

Last week a work crew dug eight deep holes under my home’s foundation. We’re talking coffin-deep holes. The purpose was to solidify the house, which clings to a steep hill, but a series of unexpected setbacks made the project more exciting than planned. At the same time I’ve been reworking a manuscript that needed a little more steel in its structure. 

Here’s what these efforts have been teaching me: fixing a foundation is the hardest work there is; it’s also the most important.

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