The Help Desk: Dun DUN Dun Dun Dun Dun DUN Dun Dun DUUUUUN

Every Friday, Cienna Madrid offers solutions to life’s most vexing literary problems. Do you need a book recommendation to send your worst cousin on her birthday? Is it okay to read erotica on public transit? Cienna can help. Send your questions to

Dear Cienna,

In my house, all I hear is my son humming the Imperial March. Stars Wars coming back is like the second coming (the seventh coming?) for him. He’s read all the Star Wars books, so I’m hoping I can expand his horizons a bit by some other science fictional universes. Any recommendations?

Jean, Shoreline

Dear Jean,

You're in luck: Because I have a womb deemed "clinically resentful," I've resolved in this new year to be a better parent to other people's children in lieu of trying to fashion one myself. Think of me as a well-endowed, biblio-centric wet nurse! I am figuratively leaky with ideas.

Here are a few: Dune, The Dying Earth, the Shannara novels, and the Wrinkle in Time quintet. Those should keep your son busy for 2016 and if not, huffing paint will! (HAHAHA, JK. Don't let your child huff paint, Jean – unless you do it as a dare to teach him a lesson about the stupidity of accepting dares.)

As a bonus, here are a few other parenting tips for you, from practiced non-parent to parent:

At dinner, do not allow your child to eat directly from the can. Encourage him to use a bowl, instead (i.e. a fancier form of can).

Avoid making direct eye contact while saying, "I love you" lest your child develop an over-inflated sense of self. It's better to always look just beyond his right shoulder. Then, if/when he accomplishes something noteworthy with his life, he will have earned the combination eye contact and praise.