We recently caught up with R. L. Stine on the 20th anniversary of his iconic Goosebumps series to talk about two decades in scaring young readers. While he’s mostly known for writing children’s horror, it turns out Stine has diverse taste in literature. Read on for his top summer book picks, and also the most overlooked Goosebumps book that he hopes readers will check out.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What are you reading this summer?
R L Stine: I just finished Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and wow, it’s really clever. You think you know what’s going on, but you don’t. It’s nice and nasty, too. And then I also just finished Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead. It’s really good, funny, and so involving. It’s so well observed, and I couldn’t believe it was written by a 29-year-old author, and that she’s not from a Northeastern WASP family. She captured all these people who are in a different generation from her.
What are you reading next?
I’m going to read the new Michael Frayn book, Skios. I love him. Noises Off has to be one of the funniest plays ever written.
Any good children’s or YA?
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen. It has a great protagonist, because the kid is just awful. Just an awful kid — and mean, and uncooperative and terrible. Just a really great protagonist. I thought teenagers would really like him because he’s so horrible. I thought it was really well written. For me, it had a great surprise at the end. But everyone I’ve given it to, they call me and say they guessed the surprise on page 22. I write this stuff, but I can never figure it out when I’m reading a mystery. I’m always surprised. My wife thinks it’s hilarious. I fall for everything. And I write this stuff! I was just shocked by the end of The False Prince.
What’s the Goosebumps book you think is always overlooked but fans should check out?
There is one that I really like that no one knows. It’s called Brain Juice. It’s one of my favorites. No one ever mentions it, no one ever read it. It’s this purple liquid that these two kids drink, and they get smarter and smarter and smarter. They get so smart that they get kicked out of school because they’re too smart for school, and they lose all their friends — their friends can’t stand them — and they become bigger and bigger geniuses, and these two aliens from another planet come down and see them and say, “Gee, they’re smart enough to be slaves on our planet.” So they kidnap them and take them off in a space ship to their planet, and as they travel through space, they get stupider and stupider and stupider. I love that. They didn’t do a TV show of it, so that might be one reason why it doesn’t get remembered. The ones that we made TV shows of, people remember.
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