The List

Do you have a teen who might be looking for something interesting to read? The Toronto Public Library runs a great service for teens called “The List”. They interview teen readers in their branches about great new books they’ve read, and why they thought they were fantastic.

Drop by their page to hear more, and get a new reading list for summer!


9780062656322_25b35Lauren Oliver‘s BEFORE I FALL, was one of the first Young Adult novels I ever read (after TWILIGHT and THE HUNGER GAMES, of course), and I’m excited that the movie version now has a trailer!

The book has a really unique premise…about a teen who dies in a car crash, but relives that last day seven more times, each time changing just enough to (hopefully) learn something. It had such a unique voice, and interesting character development, that I hope the movie will do it justice.

You can watch a little teaser right here, starring up and comer Zoey Deutch as Samantha Kingston.

Let me just say the book bloggers of the internet are already losing their minds. 2017 can’t come fast enough!

What Have You Read?

Recently, we were going through a listing on the CBC website about the “Top 100 Young Adult Books That Make You Proud to be Canadian” in order to find the perfect book for our very first Bridging the Generation Gap Book Club. When you thindust-220k about YA books, Canadian authors aren’t immediately the first ones to come to mind, but I think it surprised us as to how many of these we’ve already read.

Our Generation Gap Book Club doesn’t begin until November, but we’ve already picked the first selection…DUST, by Canadian author Arthur Slade. This is an ambitious, dark tale that will be sure to stir up plenty of conversation between our young readers and their parents.

But there are plenty more Canadian YAaspyinthehouse-220 books on this list that we found ourselves discussing.  Books like A SPY IN THE HOUSE by Y.S. Lee, part of “The Agency” series that was one of the Red Maple® selections in Forest of Reading a few years back. This is a great historical mystery that readers have applauded. Don’t worry, there are several in the series, so you won’t have to make due with just one story.

One of my favourites is PLAIN KATE by Erin Bow, a magical tale of a young wood carver who loses her beloved father and is accplainkate-220used of witchery. I know that after reading this tale to several Grade 4 & 5 classes, it would be the perfect fit for a book club discussion (bring your kleenex!).

Why not look through the list to see how many books from this list you’ve read. My score? I’m sad to say it’s very, very low. Guess I have a lot to catch up on!

Readers rarely change

This past weekend, I went to see The Hunger Games. After recommending these books for the past few years, I was so excited to finally see the big screen adaptation. While I really enjoyed it, the book was better, as is typical many times. But what really made this interesting, was the theatre full of teenagers and their enthusiastic discussions prior to and post-movie.

There are readers and there are non-readers. With the development of “trend” fiction (first Harry Potter, then Twilight, now The Hunger Games), more and more non-readers are joining the pack to see what all the excitement is about. This happens especially before and during a movie release of a “big” book. While regular readers have often already done the whole series by the time the movie version comes out in theatres, non-readers often jump on the bandwagon, curious to see what all the hype is about. I’m not complaining…anything that gets kids to read is important. (The fun thing is that a big book also brings in the parents who want to know what their kids are reading. This has been true for all three of the last trending books.) But aside from these books, non-readers probably will remain non-readers in the long run. Too bad, because there are a LOT of great books out there.

While we were waiting outside the theatre to buy tickets, a gaggle of teenage girls discussed the book vs. movie at great volume. They were excited and enthusiastic and well versed on the book. It’s wonderful when kids know all the little details, and can discuss the pros and cons of having them changed in the movie version. You’d think that a movie theatre full of kids in the 10-18 demographic would be noisy, but it wasn’t. After all, the movie-goers were readers!

Trends will come and go, and thankfully, they seem to evolve within juvenile or young adult books….right when we need to capture someone and get them into longtime reading. (Not that it’s too late when a person gets older, just that it’s relatively rare to start reading voraciously after becoming an adult.) Right now, we’re still well into the dystopian themed books (end of the world, post-apocalyptic etc.,) and it doesn’t look like we’ll see that change any time soon. It’d be nice to see a stand-alone contemporary YA book garner a little attention from non-readers, like Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why.  But for now, I’m happy to see young people debating the merits of a book over a movie. Speaks to my heart.

Happy reading!

Would you read it anyway?

Just this past week, I’ve had to do this twice….mention to an adult, who has picked up a book by one of their favourite authors, that this new book is YA or even worse, for middle grade readers.  Why would they be so confused?  It seems that more often now, well established adult authors are trying their hand at writing for teens or kids.  Is it a way to make more money? Or is it just something they’ve always wanted to do? You be the judge.

Now, it’s not that we don’t want our patrons to read something they might like, it’s just that we feel the need to warn them that the subject matter might be a little below their interest level, or even slightly off the wall from what they’re used to reading. Sometimes, a patron will take it and say they want to try it anyway, but more often, they’ll put it down and say they didn’t realize.  They aren’t picking these up off the shelf, usually.  Either the book has been on a cart, or they’ve put it on hold over the internet. Either way, I always hope they’re not too disappointed.

James Patterson, who was just named the top selling author on this year’s Forbes list (he made $84 million last year), has not only released a series of books for Young Adults, but also one for the younger crowd. His Witch & Wizard series seems to follow the whole Harry Potter fling  (I’m sure he didn’t write to trend…..) but is directed at young adults. I think his middle grade book is more obvious.

Kathy Reichs also recently joined the ranks of YA authors with her book, Virals, which could also cross-over into adult reading quite easily (it involves a group of teens solving a crime). The great thing about this new series (the next book is about to be released) is that it comes with a fun, interactive website.

The Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer books by John Grisham are some of the latest to hit the market. Yes, the main character is a kid and he’s a lawyer…..but most teen and juvenile books play with the fantastical and make it work. (You’d probably never believe an adult book that had the main character going back to 1st grade as a student, but a kid lawyer?  It works.) The interesting thing about Grisham’s books for kids is that they don’t even appear on his official website, almost like they don’t exist at all. Is this because he doesn’t want his loyal adult readers to get confused?  I’m not so sure. But Theodore Boone has his very own interactive website that looks like lots of fun.

Of course, there are many more authors I could use as an example, but these are some of the more famous few. What’s your feeling as an adult reader…would you try any of these, just because they’re written by your favourite author?

Darkness Too Visible

An article in the Wall Street Journal this week has a lot of Young Adult authors, publishers and readers up in arms. According to the article, a woman went into a bookstore looking for a book for her teenage daughter, and couldn’t find her a THING to read! Well, there were plenty of books in the young adult section, but nothing she thought appropriate. Her complaint was that everything being written for young adults these days is too dark, too violent, too…..real?

Just a quick scan of our own shelves reveals a huge variety of books.  I understand in some ways where she is coming from. As a mother, she probably doesn’t approve of the difficult and often controversial subject matter that teens are interested in (ie. cutting, teen suicide, anorexia etc) along with the supernatural trends that are out there (vampires, ghosts), but the simple fact is, teens like to read about difficult topics and anything that gets them reading is great, in my opinion.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard from a mother about difficulty choosing books.  Just this week, we had a mother in who wanted to find something for her 16 year old.  She felt the juvenile fiction was too young, and the YA stuff could be to explicit. Even one of our favourite young readers (15 years old)  complained yesterday that she didn’t want to read about boys and kissing….she just wanted a great story.  So where are those books? Well, there are lots of them, you just have to look.

I’m sure that in bookstores, the books on display are the ones that are selling most (supernatural, tough issues etc), so that’s probably why the mother in the article couldn’t find anything to read. People tend to pick up whatever they see, rather than sift through the shelves to find something appropriate that might not be facing out. And she could have asked someone for a suggestion. That would have solved her problem entirely.

There’s a great article on the value of those “controversial” YA books right here.  This is just one of many that I read on the subject, and I hope the woman in question took to the internet to read some rebuttals as well. For now, I’m satisfied with the fact that most teens can walk away from a bookstore (or the library) with at least one or two good books in hand. When that stops, we have a problem. 

And on another note, just a cute picture that one of our teen patrons dropped off. Lilli is a budding photographer in our community and this is her cat, Sweetie, enjoying the benefits of a good book.  Thanks, Lilli!

(Photo by L. Mayer)