My friend Oliver is 12 years old. I give his single mom a break every now and then, and he comes over to hang out. He's a whiz on a skateboard, has some killer dance moves, and radiates angelic sweetness. "You're a good person," he said to me once, apropos of nothing, getting me all choked up. He sees the best in everyone, though his own life has included years in a homeless shelter and an abusive dad. Recently, I saw Oliver on a sunny California day. We were outside at the pool, eating watermelon and relaxing. He loves to talk about his Xbox or Weird Al YouTube videos. Instead of going there, I asked Oliver, "Read any good books lately?" In response, he mumbled, "I guess." Books aren't Oliver's thing. I know he'd rather talk about basketball, or sneakers, but I wouldn't, and I was on a mission.
"What's your favorite book?" I asked.
"I don't know," he said, staring off into the distance.
Oliver reads only when absolutely required to. You'd never find Oliver sneaking a book under the blankets with a flashlight, as I did growing up. (The midnight glow from his bed would be an iPhone app.)