What’s The Eleven-Year-Old reading this week?

The Star Diaries by Stanislaw Lem

What the book is about:

I was more than a little surprised to see The Eleven-Year-Old pick up this book this summer. Lem’s Star Diaries seems like a rich read for adults, much less eleven-year-olds. And yet, there she sits, by turns giggling and absorbed, in a book I didn’t read until well into college.


Written as the memoirs of star-pilot Ijon Tichy, The Star Diaries is a collection of space adventures that range in length from vignettes to novellas, and in tone from playful, satiric, and philosophical.

I don’t know how many of the references The Eleven-Year-Old actually understands, but there’s no doubt that something about this book is working for her. The humor in the “Seventh Voyage” is particularly approachable. In it, Tichy gets caught in a time loop which causes multiple versions of himself to start crowding his ship. It’s full of giggle-inducing and mildly mind-blowing sentences like:

“That Friday me by now was the Saturday me and perhaps was suddenly knocking about somewhere in the vicinity of Sunday, while this Friday me inside the spacesuit had only recently been the Thursday me, into which same Thursday me I myself had been transformed at midnight.”

The book’s format lends it to being enjoyed in small, bite-sized doses. As far as I can tell, that’s exactly what The Eleven-Year-Old is doing. Which is fortunate, because seeing her read it has made me want to reread it myself.

Why The Eleven-Year-Old Likes It: “It’s a really weird, yet seriously deep look at humans and their flaws.”

Related Links:

About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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