Posted in Fiction Fanatics, Kids at Heart, tagged Afterworlds, ALA, Alex Awards, Alice Hoffman, All the Bright Places, All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Horowitz, Beth Reynolds, Book Thief, Carl Hiaasen, Children's Librarian, Douglas Adams Series, E Lockhart, Eoin Colfer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Gayle Foreman., Isabel Allende, James Patterson, Jennifer Donnelly, Jennifer Smith, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, Jodi Picoult, John Feinstein, John Green, Love Letters to the Dead, Maile Meloy, Mark Haddon, Maureen Johnson, Me Before You, Meg Wolitzer, Nick Hornby, Norwich Bookstore, Norwich Public Library, Rainbow Rowell, reading, Say What You Will, Sherlock Holmes, The Beginning of Everything, The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, The Fault in Our Stars, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, The Norwich Bookstore, The Rosie Project, YA, young adult, Young Adult Literature, young adults on October 13, 2014 |
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Book Jam Question: Why read Young Adult Literature?
Answer from Beth Reynolds, Children’s Librarian, Norwich Public Library, and bookseller, The Norwich Bookstore:
“It all comes down to is this: Labels don’t matter, good writing does.”
Outstanding children’s librarian Beth Reynolds (and someone we are also lucky to call a dear friend) offers some words of wisdom around the YA genre and some sure fire hits for all of us looking for a good book — young adults and adults alike. This is our first in what we hope will be a series of guest bloggers on the Book Jam. So now, please enjoy a posting by our first guest author — librarian extraordinaire, Ms. Beth!
Ask anyone who works with books and they can fill you in on what happens to be the latest internet drama over one book or another. There is always an uproar about some genre: Chick-lit, Fantasy, Horror, Science fiction, Romance etc… When a group of books gets categorized and labeled, readers of that genre are often dismissed for their tastes. As if what they’re reading isn’t good enough, as if it isn’t literary enough for the likes of critics or someone looking down from on high.
As someone who spends her weeks donning her librarian’s cap and weekends wearing her bookseller name-tag, I can tell you that it’s often possible for me to guess a reader’s preference when they walk through the door.(Again, this is Ms. Beth writing this post, so please don’t try to find the Book Jam Lisas working in either a bookstore or library, although we both frequent both.) After many years of experience, it is possible for me to make some predictions and assumptions–but it’s not foolproof. In fact, the best interactions I have are with readers interested in a book just because the topic interests them, because a friend suggested it, or because they heard an interview on the radio.
But truly, NOTHING makes me happier than an adult coming into the Young Adult section to get a book, not for a teen, but for themselves. Much ink has been spilt over this very controversy – adults who read YA. If you think adults reading YA are wasting their time or if reading in the teen section is not something you’ve ever considered, think about this:
- The lines between adult fiction and YA are blurry — There is a large amount of crossover and sometimes a book that ends up classified in one section is often thought to belong in the other. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was published as YA here but as Adult in England, the opposite is true of Mark Haddon‘s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Take a look at the Alex awards for each years offerings of titles published as adult but of interest to teens; you could be reading YA and not even know it.
- YA books remind us of what it was like being a teen — I admit to reading a fair amount of boy meets girl, or boy meets boy or girl meets girl. Something about the vulnerability mixed with the possibility and potential for more appeals to me. I love the ability of these teen characters to live in the moment and their willingness to take that risk. Sometimes it’s hard for me to imagine that adults are ones doing the writing they manage to convey such honest teen emotions. Recently, Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira, Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld and The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider became some of my favorites new books to recommend. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is being published in January and I hope everyone rushes out to read it.
- There is often a shared feeling of experience among books in different genres — There are times when I read an adult book and I think “Hey, this feels just like book I read that was meant for younger readers. Somehow the author has managed to evoke that same essence”. Here are a few of my recent discoveries of superb pairings:
All the Light We Cannot See = The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close = Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life
Me Before You = Say What You Will
The Rosie Project = The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee
- There is more in the YA section then sex, drugs and gratuitous swearing — John Green, Maureen Johnson, Jennifer Smith, E Lockhart, Rainbow Rowell, Gayle Foreman… fabulous authors of realistic, contemporary fiction. Just kids, no fantasy or paranormal romance, with their honest emotions. There is a scene from Green’s The Fault in Our Stars when Hazel’s mom worries about losing her daughter, she questions whether or not she’ll be a mom anymore. To me that writing shows that divide for what it is: an aching, piercing line that divides, but one which we as adults can crossover to occasionally pretend that the world of choices after high school is still ahead of us. Many people say they wouldn’t go back again, but reading YA lets you relive some of the good parts.
The best part of reading YA is that these books are often told in the first person. The writer knows they have to grab the reader from the very beginning, so the first sentence often hooks you. Also, most books in this genre are not incredibly long and don’t require a huge time commitment. If nothing else, they are easily accessible but filled with thought-provoking ideas that linger after you finish reading. They contain multitudes– like some of the teens you know. Sometimes I read them in between other books, I think of them as palate cleansing. They take you out of your own head and that’s often why I read.
I ran into a mom and her teen-aged daughter the other day and we started reminiscing about the book club we had when our kids were in 4th grade. Wanting to invoke that feeling again, I asked if her daughter would be up for a Book Club when she went away to college next year and we started listing off fun titles to read. She asked if I had read When We Were Liars and I nodded my affirmation with a conspiratorial smile. Her mom looked intrigued and I thought, “Hey, my work here is done. Though my mission to have adults sample what YA has to offer still looms large”. If you’re intrigued to find out more about adults reading YA, read on:
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Posted in Armchair Travelers, Closet Mystery Lovers, Fiction Fanatics, Food Lovers, Just the "facts", Kids at Heart, Must Read Memoirs, Sports and other Adventures, Tough GIfts, tagged A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon, All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, Amanda Coplin, And The Dark Sacred Night, Anthony Marra, Be IN a Treehouse, Beth Reynolds, Boys in the Boat, Brown, Capture the Flag, Carin Pratt, dads, Daniel James, Darragh McKeon, Donna Leon, e. lockahart, Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World's Most Versatile Ingredient, Elizabeth Blackwell, Father's Day Books, Father's Day gifts, Graduation gifts, How to Cook Everything, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jim Gold, Joanne Dugan, Julia Glass, Kate Messner, Laura McBride, Lev Grossman, Lisa Cadow, Lisa Christie, Mark Bittman, My Beloved World, My Venice, New York Times, Nickolas Butler, Norwich, Norwich Bookstore, Norwich Inn, Norwich Inn Pub, Norwich Public Library, Pages in the Pub, Penny McConnel, Pete Nelson, Phil Klay, Redeployment, River Cottage Veg: 200 Inspired Vegetable Recipes, Shotgun Lovesongs, Sleeping Beauty, Sonia Sotomayor, Sonya Sones, Sonya Sotomayor, summer reading, summer vacation, Summertime, The Essential New York Times Grilling Cookbook, The Magicians, The Night Before College, The Orchardist, Vermont, We are Called to Rise, We Were Liars, While Beauty Slept on June 9, 2014 |
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Last week, on a GORGEOUS Spring evening that actually felt like summer (being Vermonters some of us were melting in the 78 degree heat), readers from Norwich, Vermont and surrounding towns gathered in The Norwich Inn Pub to hear about some superb new books to bring to the mountains this summer, and to give to grads and dads later this month.
The evening was the latest outing of the Book Jam’s live event – “Pages in the Pub”. This event is designed to bring together independent booksellers, literary bloggers, educators, librarians, and book lovers for an evening of talking about great titles.
This event sold out, but those people lucky enough to get a ticket sipped drinks, listened to great book reviews and laughed a bit. We focused on GREAT books for summer reading because summer is just around the corner, and great gifts for grads and dads because those celebrations are upon us. Because of everyone’s efforts, a few people completed their father’s day shopping during the event, and most got a good start on stocking up on great summer reading. We also raised over $700 for the library, all while increasing sales for a treasured independent bookstore – The Norwich Bookstore of Norwich, Vermont.
Our SUPERB presenters included (and we truly thank them for their time and talent):
- Beth Reynolds - Beth is the children’s librarian at the Norwich Public Library during the week and dons her bookseller cap on the weekends at the Norwich Bookstore where she has helped many a family find the perfect last-minute birthday present. When not working in town you can find her at home knitting, reading, baking, writing or taking pictures of her new lop-earred bunny.
- Carin Pratt – Carin moved to the Upper Valley three years ago after spending 30 years in DC working as a television producer. She’s never looked back. She reads a lot.
- Penny McConnel – Penny is the co owner of The Norwich Bookstore. She lives in Norwich with husband Jim and enjoys gardening, reading, studying Italian, cooking, knitting, visiting her three sons and a grandson in Phoenix, the Bay Area and Burgundy France, and best of all, doing things with Jim.
- Jim Gold – Our first male presenter in Norwich says — “Reading has given me the quiet eye and understanding heart to see beyond the confines of my dental profession. It fosters good conversation. Other activities that feed my soul: hiking, cycling, canoeing, gardening, woodturning, cooking and time with my favorite and far more experienced book seller, Penny McConnel.”
- Lisa Christie – Lisa is, among other things, the co-founder of the Book Jam and a nonprofit consultant. One of her best jobs was being the founder of Everybody Wins! Vermont, a statewide literacy organization. In her spare time she reads (though never as much as she would like), bikes, swims and has fun with her husband and two sons.
Since most of you could not join us in person, we now share the great titles discussed last week. This post lists all twenty-one books discussed during the evening (Beth somehow snuck in an extra title), each with its special six-word review written by the presenter. Each of their selections is linked to The Norwich Bookstore web site where you can learn more about the picks and order your books. You’ll also notice that the selections are divided into rather specific categories to make browsing easier. Have fun looking, and enjoy getting a head start on your summer of great reading.
Non-fiction or reference book – For people who like to ponder large tomes during summer vacation
- Summertime by Joanne Dugan (2014). Selected by Beth – Photos you’ll want to jump inside.
- My Venice by Donna Leon (2013). Selected by Jim – Poignant. Insightful. Clever. Observant. Witty. No BS.
Cookbooks – For anyone looking for summer inspiration
Memoirs – For people who enjoy living vicariously through other people’s memories
- My Beloved World by Sonya Sotomayor (2013). Selected by Penny – Inspiring. Hopeful. Insightful. Educational. Fantastic story.
Adult Fiction – For a woman who only has time for the best fiction after hiking all day
- Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler (2014). Selected by Carin – Thirty-somethings navigate small town lIfe.
- While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell (2014). Selected by Lisa – “True” story of “Sleeping Beauty”. Fun.
- We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride (2014). Selected by Beth – It’s all about connections. And love.
- The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin (2012). Selected by Jim – Excellent character development carries moving tale.
- And The Dark Sacred Night by Julia Glass (2014). Selected by Penny – Searching can bring you home again.
Adult fiction – For a man who has enough camping equipment, but not enough good fiction
Books for summer campers/ young readers in Tree-houses (ages 8-12) – books for those beyond tonka trucks and tea parties but not yet ready for teen topics.
- Capture the Flag by Kate Messner (2012). Selected by Lisa – Series. Art. History. Fun. Smart kids.
Books for your favorite High Schooler – “not required” reading for teens to ponder during the long hours of summer vacation
- The Magicians by Lev Grossman (2009). Selected by Beth – Imagine Harry Potter going to college.
- We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (2014). Selected by Lisa – Charmed Island Life? Tragic Choices. OK?
PERFECT books for the dads and grads in your life – or stated another way, last minute gifts to ensure happy celebrations
A brief note to our valued readers — While we are not Goodreads, we are trying to grow and show that small independent bloggers and bookstores make a difference. So this June, we are campaigning to increase our subscribers.
Please subscribe if you have not already done so. And if you are a subscriber, please encourage your fellow readers to subscribe to the Book Jam. To subscribe, go to the right hand side of our blog – under email subscription – and provide your email. THANK YOU!
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