New York Post (08/19/00)

By Billy Heller

"Recharge Your Brain"

Hunter College sophomore Ned Vizzini admits he once spent an entire summer studying for the Stuyvesant HS admissions test (he got in). But he also recalls another summer, when his brain was basically closed for business.

"The summer between my junior and senior years in high school as the first time I didn’t have any camp. I didn’t have much to do. So I got a job house painting. I started playing dominoes with some guys I met on the street. I tried to make a rock band work."

"I didn’t really use my time too wisely," concedes the 19-year-old, who recently published a book, "Teen Angst? Naaah…," a collection of essays he wrote for the New York Press back when he was 16 or so.

With a strong case of hindsight, Vizzini says, "Wasting the summer and just having fun is not something anyone [adult] looks favorably on."

So how can you end your summer with a brain-boosting bang?

"Read an entertaining but still-smart book," he says. His choice: "For seventh graders and up, ‘Jurassic Park.’ Any sci-fi work is a good way to start thinking again. It’s not too taxing. But it will jog your brain cells."

And there’s always the Discovery Channel. "Did you know what there are herds of elephants in Africa that are evolving into tuskless elephants because so many of them are being killed by poachers for their ivory?" Vizzini asks. "I learned that there are now 15 tuskless herds, up from only two or three several years ago."