Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lab: Book List

For my lab I created a book-list for the CNHS library. I asked the librarian what theme she would like for the book list and she had two ideas. One was Earth Day and one was Books into Movies. We decided on the movie theme because it would include more fiction books and our fiction collection will be available the longest. (We are packing up for the summer/big move and non-fiction is getting packed before fiction).

I used the internet to do research on newer YA books that have been made into movies. I tried to stick to popular culture titles from the last 5-7 years. I was pleased with my list; I checked against the CNHS catalog to verify we had the books.

The next steps in my process were for publicity, in addition to the physical list. With the help of the librarian I made a display in the display case featuring a few of the books from the list along with some special edition books featuring pictures from the movies Twilight, Hunger Games and Harry Potter. 

The last part of my project was a prezi show featuring the books on my list. I categorized them, used images of the book covers or movie covers  and set up the show.

Since it is near the end of the year it will be hard to tell how well the list helps in the library -- but I hope that it makes an appearance in our new library next school year.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

  Sex, Murder and a Double Latte

Author: Kyra Davis
Genre: Chick Lit (Mystery Sub Genre)
Publication Date: 2006
Number of Pages:  (audio)
Geographical Setting: Seattle, WA
Time Period: Around 2003
Series (If applicable): Sophie Katz Mysteries: Passion, Betrayal And Killer, Obsession, Deceit, and Really Dark Chocolate, Lust, Loathing and a Little Lip Gloss, Vows, Vendettas and a Little Black Dress

Plot Summary:
Thriller scribe Sophie Katz is as hard-boiled as a woman who drinks Grande Caramel Brownie Frappuccinos can be. So Sophie knows it's not paranoia or post-divorce, living-alone-again jitters, when she becomes convinced that a crazed reader is sneaking into her apartment to reenact scenes from her books. The police, however, can't tell a good plot from an unmarked grave.

When a filmmaker friend is brutally murdered in the manner of a death scene in one of his movies, Sophie becomes convinced that a copycat killer is on the loose--and that she's the next target. If she doesn't solve the mystery, her own bestseller will spell out her doom. Cursing her grisly imagination (why, oh, why did she have to pick the ax?), Sophie engages in some real-life gumshoe tactics. The man who swoops in to save her in dark alleys is mysterious new love interest Anatoly Darinsky. Of course, if this were fiction, Anatoly would be her prime suspect....(

Subject Headings: : Mystery, Chick Lit
Appeal: Humorous, Witty, Female Detective, Fast Pace, Light-hearted with moments of slight suspense

Killer Heels, book one in the Molly Forester series by Sheryl J. Anderson

Advice columnist Molly stumbles across the dead body of a her coworker Teddy and decides to play amateur detective. So who's the main suspect? Teddy's wife; the boss he was carrying on with; or the model mistress? When a handsome homicide detective enters the scene, Molly's more determined than ever to be part of the investigation. Fluffy and fun.
Rebecca Vnuk, Read On…Women's Fiction (

Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum is out of work and hocking her furniture when she takes a job working for her questionable cousin Vinnie. As a green bounty hunter, Plum has her work cut out for her. Her first apprehension goal is an accused cop on the run –Joe Morelli and he just happens to be a romantic blast from her past, but that’s not deterring Plum. As Plum starts poking her nose in to the Morelli case she realizes she may have bitten off more than she could chew. When she’s saved from the misogynist boxer Ramirez by her target, Morelli, the seeds of a strange companionship are sewn. Walking the fine line between friend and enemy Stephanie and Morelli work to solve his case, clear Morelli’s name and most importantly, get Plum her $10,000 apprehension check.

Body Movers by Stephanie Bond, Body Movers Series

Carlotta Wren’s parents have to go on the lam to avoid prison, leaving her in charge of a younger brother and with no means of support. Sales clerking at Neiman Marcus may not be the best job, but at least it keeps the rent paid and gives her the opportunity to keep up with fashion. Various mysteries are under investigation here, but the pleasure is as much in Bond’s humor and witty tone and in the descriptions of the world of expensive clothes. Barry Trott, Reader's Advisor Online Update (

Dating Can be Deadly by Wendy Roberts

Tabitha Emery, gifted with the second sight, longs to drink butterscotch schnapps with her girlfriends, but instead finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation due to her premonitions, putting her own life in danger when the killer sets his sights on her.
Baker & Taylor (

Tools:, Readers Advisor Online

Classic Romance: Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence

"His body was urgent against her, and she didn't have the heart anymore to fight...She saw his eyes, tense and brilliant, fierce, not loving. But her will had left her. A strange weight was on her limbs. She was giving way. She was giving up...she had to lie down there under the boughs of the tree, like an animal, while he waited, standing there in his shirt and breeches, watching her with haunted eyes...He too had bared the front part of his body and she felt his naked flesh against her as he came into her. For a moment he was still inside her, turgid there and quivering..."- Lady Chatterley's Lover

  • Author:  D.H. Lawrence
  • Title: Lady Chatterley’s Lover
  • Genre: Classic Romance
  • Publication Date: 1928, 1960
  • Number of Pages:  (audio)
  • Geographical Setting: England
  • Time Period: Early 1900s

Plot Summary:
Constance Chatterley finds herself married to the crippled Mr. Chatterly. Dissatisfied with their relationship which is based only on talking she finds herself in an affair with the gamekeeper of her husband’s estate. Lawrence gives Connie a bold voice speaking her thoughts about love, sex and affair in vivid detail – a racy novel in its time.

Appeal:  Steamy Literary/Classic Romance

Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller 1931
Forty years have passed since Grove Press first published Henry Miller's landmark masterpiece -- an act that would forever change the face of American literature. Initially banned in America as obscene, Tropic of Cancer was first published in Paris in 1934. Only a historic court ruling that changed American censorship standards permitted its publication. Tropic of Cancer is now considered, as Norman Mailer said, "one of the ten or twenty great novels of our century". Also banned in America for almost thirty years, Tropic of Capricorn is now considered a cornerstone of modern literature. (
Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov 1955
Awe and exhiliration--along with heartbreak and mordant wit--abound in Lolita, Nabokov's most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert's obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on love--love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation. (
Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James 2011
When literature student Anastasia Steele is drafted to interview the successful young entrepreneur Christian Grey for her campus magazine, she finds him attractive, enigmatic and intimidating. Convinced their meeting went badly, she tries to put Grey out of her mind - until he happens to turn up at the out-of-town hardware store where she works part-time.

The unworldly, innocent Ana is shocked to realize she wants this man, and when he warns her to keep her distance it only makes her more desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her - but on his own terms.

Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever. (
Fanny Hill, by John Cleland 1748
From her position of wealth and happy respectability, Fanny Hill looks back at her early life and disreputable adventures. Arriving in London alone, poor and innocent, she falls into the hands of a brothel-keeper. But only when she is separated from the man she loves does she enrol in the 'unhappy profession' of prostitution. Fanny becomes a kept woman and also works in an elegant bawdy-house, entertaining polite voluptuaries. By the age of eighteen, she can afford to retire; in her marriage she can at last combine sexual passion with romantic love. (
Fear of Flying, by Erica Jon 1973
Originally published in 1973, the ground-breaking, uninhibited story of Isadora Wing and her desire to fly free caused a national sensation—and sold more than twelve million copies. Now, after thirty years, the iconic novel still stands as a timeless tale of self-discovery, liberation, and womanhood. (
Couples, by John Updike , 1968
Couples is the book that has been assailed for its complete frankness and praised as an artful, seductive, savagely graphic portrait of love, marriage, and adultery in America. But be it damned or hailed, Couples drew back the curtain forever on sex in suburbia in the late twentieth century. A classic, it is one of those books that will be read -- and remembered -- for a long time to come (

Matthews, Christopher. "Top 10 Racy Novels." Time. Time, 28 Mar. 2012. Web. 02 May 2012. <,28804,2110281_2110282_2110288,00.html>.

Monday, April 2, 2012

John Green's
The Fault in our Stars

Genre: Young Adult / Realistic Fiction

Publication Date: 2011

Geographical Setting: Indianapolis, IN

Time Period: Modern

Plot Summary: In John Green’s latest novel, The Fault in our Stars, Hazel Grace and Augustus, soon to become star-crossed lovers, meet at a grim cancer survivor’s group. Hazel, whose lungs are failing is relentlessly and sweetly pursued by Augustus, who previously lost his leg to cancer. Hazel finally opens up to Augustus and they bond over her favorite book, a trip to Amsterdam, and the familiar paths of young cancer patients. With humor and grace Green has created a story that will bring a flood of both laughter and tears.

Appeal Terms:
Character and Dialogue Driven / Witty Language
Dark / Emotionally intense/ Tear-jerker

Similar Authors and Works
From my experience…
Looking for Alaska by John Green (Character and Dialogue Driven / Witty Language)
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult (Dark / Emotionally intense/ Tear-jerker )

From Novelist…
Before I Die by Jenni Downham (Dark / Emotionally intense/ Tear-jerker )
Forever Changes by Brendan Haplan (Character driven / realistic fiction)

From Amazon…
The Baldheaded Princess: Cancer, Chemo and Courage by Maribeth Ditmars

Non Fiction:
From Amazon…
Teenagers Face to Face with Cancer
Grace: A Child's Intimate Journey Through Cancer and Recovery by Melinda Marchiano

Interview with John Green on The Fault in Our Stars

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fantasy Annotation: American Gods

American Gods

After choosing to read a fantasy book and reading up on the fantasy genre, I realized just how diverse the category is. If you’re curious, check out Reader’s Advisory Online’s “Fluent in Fantasy.” I would categorize American Gods as a mix between paranormal fantasy and myth & legend fantasy.

2001 By Neil Gaiman
Fantasy Fiction (paranormal / legend and myth)
Setting: Mostly in modern day America, some episodes are historical and some are other-world.

Plot Summary:
When Shadow is unexpectedly released early from prison the surprise is not all happy. Faced with the death of his wife Shadow sets out on a journey of grief, illusion, myth and gods. As Shadow half heartedly returns home for his wife’s funeral he is met by Mr. Wednesday, who has a job for Shadow. After his wife’s funeral Shadow reluctantly joins Mr. Wednesday’s crew. On this unexpected journey Shadow is able to answer the mysteries of his past, have closure with his wife and ultimately save new gods and the old gods from a bloody battle. Gaiman creates a believable story of modern myth and post millennium, “ worship,” all while weaving in the stories of the “old gods” who were brought to American in the minds of their believers hundreds of years ago.

Appeal Terms:
- Intricate plot/ story line: Gaiman tells the story of Shadow and his journey with Wednesday, while also interweaving the stories of other “old gods” and their journeys to America.
- Character Driven: Gaimain focuses on Shadow. The reader is aware of all that Shadow sees, feels, hears and senses.
- Dark Humor: There is a subtle dark humor in this tale

Read Alikes (From Novelist using these search terms: Fantasy Fiction, Intricate Plot, Character Driven, Darkly Humorous)

Anasi Boys by Neil Gaimain
His past marked by his father's embarrassing taunts and untimely death, Fat Charlie meets the brother he never knew and is introduced to new and exciting ways to spend his time. (Novelist)

Wicked Series by Gregory Maguire
The Wizard of Oz redux! A revisonist narrative of L. Frank Baum's classic story, this series sheds new light on the political history and social problems of Oz. Green-skinned Elphaba, better known as the Wicked Witch of the West, attempts to overthrown the corrupt and tyrannical Wizard of Oz, but the fight for equality and freedom doesn't end with her. (Novelist)

October Daye Series by Seanan McGuire
(First book in series) Half-fae Toby retreats to the human world after being rejected by her Faerie family, but finds her anonymity compromised by the murder of an important countess who binds her to investigate, forcing Toby to resume her fae position.(Novelist)

Alison Wonderland by Hellin Smith
After divorcing her philandering husband, Alison Temple works at the agency she hired to catch him under the name Alison Wonderland, tackles a case involving the shady dealings of a pharmaceutical company, and helps her best friend with her depressed mother. (Novelist)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Young Adult Readers’ Advisory - Special Topics

As a high school teacher heading towards a librarianship in a high school setting, I have spent a lot of time pondering how to grapple with issues specific to my patrons – young adults. Books for young adults seem to be popping up everywhere – I have no worries that I’ll be able to provide a sufficient variety of titles for these young patrons. I do however worry about what may be considered too mature, or too inappropriate for young readers. Or, perhaps the greater issue is – what will parents consider too mature or inappropriate? Some critics have suggested rating systems for books, others call for a re-categorizing of the large section considered “young adult.” Although school librarians have the same ALA Bill of Rights as any public librarian, their jobs within schools may make it difficult to avoid the self-censorship which librarians are taught to circumvent at all costs.

It’s no secret that young adult books are hitting record sales and subsequently librarians and teachers hope that those numbers are translating to more young readers. However, past those shiny new covers – what is the content in all these books? Whereas all young adult content runs the gamut of maturity and genres many agree that the topics in young adult books are becoming less veiled and more controversial. In Ken P. Coley’s paper, Moving toward a Method to Test for Self-Censorship by School Library Media Specialists, he writes that, “In the past few decades the content, character, and language of young adult (YA) literature, both fiction and nonfiction, has moved in the direction of greater realism and toward a more frank treatment of issues of interest to teenagers” (Coley). This is just a grown up way of saying that young adult books are dealing with sex, drugs, abuse and non-traditional romantic relationships, in a way that has never been so blatant and in your face. This frankness may be what is driving sales and drawing higher readerships among today’s youth. But, how much is too much? What is too mature or just downright inappropriate for today’s youth?

In 2010 blogger and father, Tony Buchsbaum of January Magazine published a post titled, “Are Your Kids’ Books Rated-R?” Buchsbaum, like other parents, questions the content of some young adult books. His post’s inspiration was Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green. Buchsbaum states that the publisher, Dutton Young Readers, categorizes this book for readers age 14 and up. Buchsbaum is trying to hold written sources to the same standards as the Motion Picture Association of American’s movie rating system. He explains that simply the use of the word “cock” would push this book up to a “PG-13” rating and other passages would easily categorize it as “R.” When this book was released I read it, and although I have no doubt that Buchsbaum’s quotes are accurate these were not the parts that made a lasting impression on me. I valued Green’s book for its ability to make a teenage homosexual male’s humanity real to me as a reader. There were no doubt other valuable aspects of Will Grayson, Will Grayson but that was the lasting effect on me. One issue at play here is protection, Buchsbaum undoubtedly would want to protect his young adult children from such lines as, “thrust your fierce quivering manpole at me” and “cock + pussy = a happy rooster-kitten couple.” Parents and teachers make many censorship choices for the children and teens in their care in the name of protection. But, who will protect these youth from ignorance?

Although there are those who would prefer to censor language and situations that display anything but simple black and white problems with obvious right answers there are certainly teens and adults who are standing up for more complex and mature young adult literature and they have a solid argument. In the Educational Leadership article, “The Relevance of Young Adult Literature,” B. Joyce Stallworth writes about the importance of young adult literature in helping teens to “confront weighty life problems.” Stallworth’s article focuses largely on incorporating young adult novels into classroom curriculum, but the message here is still supportive of modern young adult literature, even if it contains mature issues: “Many contemporary young adult novels contain themes and content that mirror problems facing many of today's young people (Stallworth, 1998), from bullying and sibling rivalry to more serious issues like teen pregnancy” (Stallworth). Stallworth and other library professionals are not the only ones speaking up for young adult literature.

Author of the blog, Meditations of a Teenage Philosopher, who comments largely on books for teens and calls himself, Uomo di Speranza recently authored a post titled, “Should Parents Censor What Their Kids Read?” Speranza argues that parents are trying to protect their children when they restrict their reading – but from what? Reality? On the issue of teenage pregnancy specifically Speranza points out that many parents would warn their children against having an unplanned pregnancy – but few would discuss the emotional state of a young mother. He writes, “In most minor’s lives, parents are the only people we can trust to accurately describe these issues; yet, can many parents accurately describe the feelings associated with teenage pregnancy, or would they ever describe a sexual experience to their child? I do not think so. This is a need that reading can fill superbly” (Speranza). The greater argument here is that reading about real life—real scary—situations can give teens a chance to share in the emotions without sharing in the actual experience. Speranza ends his blog post by reminding all readers that young adults will soon inherit the reality that adults already poses – books that offer realistic situations, characters and emotions can only help prepare teens for their inevitable future.

So what’s a good librarian to do? There seems to be no end to new and potentially controversial, yet popular, young adult literature. Caught in the crossroads between what literature might offend parents or administrators and what teens are reading, librarians have a tough line to walk. In her 2010 School Library Journal article, “The Problem of Self- Censorship,” Rebecca Hill writes about how easy it can be for a librarian to self-censor, especially in a school setting. The tag-line for the article reads, “You’re nervous. The book in question is edgy, maybe controversial. Someone might complain so you have to decide. Does it stay or does it go? Do you put it on a restricted shelf or require parental consent? This is a crossroads that many school librarians face. When the pressure to self-censor happens, do you let fear determine what you do with the book?” (Hill). Hill’s message is clear, don’t let fear cause you to self-censor; wait for a real challenge to come then continue to fight the good fight. Just this quote causes book titles to pop into my head – some award winners even – Libba Bray’s Going Bovine, John Green’s Looking for Alaska or Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and The Handmaid’s Tale, to name a few. This article’s most realistic piece of advice came from Dee Ann Venuto: librarians should always be armed with the library’s selection sources and a reconsideration form. Would these tools quell a parent on a rampage over the oral sex scene or drinking in Looking for Alaska? What about the cussing and drug use in Going Bovine?

One thing is clear – there is not an easy path to take. Young adult literature is thriving and readership is growing. School librarians of the future have an important task at hand: creating a rich and diverse collection and pointing students in the right direction to their next book choice. We have to trust that teens know what they are comfortable reading and try to provide quality works for them. There will be challenges but hopefully, with use of selection sources and the backing of the ALA librarians will keep their jobs – and keep doing their jobs well.

Works Cited

Buchsbaum, Tony. "January Magazine: Are Your Kids' Books Rated R?" January Magazine. 20 Jan. 2010. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. .

Coley, Ken. "Moving toward a Method to Test for Self-Censorship by School Library Media Specialists", American Library Association, September 27, 2006.

Hill, Rebecca. "The Problem Of Self-Censorship." School Library Monthly 27.2 (2010): 9-12. Education Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 22 Feb. 2012.

Speranza, Uomo Di. "Meditations of a Teenage Philosopher: Should Parents Censor What Their Kids Read?" Meditations of a Teenage Philosopher. 15 Nov. 2011. Web. 28 Feb. 2012.

Stallworth, B. Joyce. "The Relevance Of Young Adult Literature." Educational Leadership 63.7 (2006): 59. MAS Ultra - School Edition. Web. 22 Feb. 2012.

Works Consulted

"50 Years of Reading Free." YALSA. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. .

Benedetti, Angelina. "35 Going on 13: The Best YA for Adults 2009." 302 Found. Library Journal Archive, 19 Nov. 2009. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. .

Goldstein, Meredith. "Young Adult Novels Heating up the Charts." 6 Nov. 2011. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. .

Merri, Lindgren V., and Megan Schliesman. "Edgy Young Adult Books:Examining Boundaries in Literature for Teens." CCBC Booklists. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. .

Pulverness, Alan. "Draw the Line | TeachingEnglish | British Council | BBC." TeachingEnglish. BBC, 25 Nov. 2010. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. .

"SafeLibraries." : High School Student on Censorship. 10 Jan. 2012. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. .

"YA Books That Are Too Mature? - Reader's Paradise Forum - GardenWeb." GLYPHS. 5 May 2009. Web. 28 Feb. 2012. .

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mystery Annotation - One for the Money

One for the Money

by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum is out of work and hocking her furniture when she takes a job working for her questionable cousin Vinnie. As a green bounty hunter, Plum has her work cut out for her. Her first apprehension goal is an accused cop on the run –Joe Morelli and he just happens to be a romantic blast from her past, but that’s not deterring Plum. As Plum starts poking her nose in to the Morelli case she realizes she may have bitten off more than she could chew. When she’s saved from the misogynist boxer Ramirez by her target, Morelli, the seeds of a strange companionship are sewn. Walking the fine line between friend and enemy Stephanie and Morelli work to solve his case, clear Morelli’s name and most importantly, get Plum her $10,000 apprehension check.

Appeal Terms:

  • · Mystery
  • · Female Detective
  • · Humorous
  • · Witty
  • · Fast Paced

Read Alikes:

Wollie Shelley Series by Harley Kozak – Book One: Dating Dead Men

Zephyr Zuckerman Series by Daphne Uviller – Book One: Super in the City

Kinsey Millhone Series by Sue Grafton – Book One: A is for Alibi

Jane Kelly Series by Nancy Bush– Book One: Candy Apple Red

Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles series by Tess Gerritsen– Book One: The Surgeon

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Kirkus Style Review - Angela's Ashes

McCourt, a retired NYC school teacher finally wins the lottery with his humorous and gritty memoir, Angela’s Ashes. Like any good story teller, McCourt draws the reader in with a tale a woe: a alcoholic father, a jobless mother, too many babies to feed and hardly any social services in sight. Growing up first in New York and then in the slums of Ireland McCourt fights to feed his family, get an education and have a little boyhood fun. Faced with the wrath of his mother and the Catholic priests McCourt finds his way in and out of sticky situations. With an almost completely absent father the young McCourt must rely on his Catholic education and the boys on his lane to teach him the finer points of becoming a man. Although McCourt’s goal, to provide for his family, seems simple he’s fighting against “class distinction” – being from the Limerick Lanes. With the unexpected help of his mother’s stingy sister who buys him a new suit -- he’s able to land a job delivering telegrams. On the side he gets employed as the local money lender’s assistant – he uses his linguistic skills to write threatening letters to delinquent accounts – his friends and family. Although the life of an impoverished Irish child is grim McCourt’s excellent storytelling and humor keep readers holding on for the next chapter as young Frankie eventually comes of age and sets sail for America.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Secret Shopper

For my secret shopper assignment I went to Columbus' downtown library, the Bartholomew County Library. I go to this library from time to time, but my typical library mode is self-service. I know how to use the OPAC and other tools so typically I don't ask for help.

It was about 6pm and I meandered up to the desk where there were a couple of staff members. On the main floor there are four desk areas (Circulation, Reference, CD/DVDs and Computers). I skipped the circulation desk, no one was at the reference desk so I went to the computers area. It is very much in the middle of things anyways. It seemed like a good place to ask. There were two staff members at the desk and one other person waiting on help. As soon as they knew I wasn't there to sign up to use a computer the reference librarian (I am pretty sure that would be her title) invited me over to the reference desk since it was a "book question."

A the reference desk she asked what book I was looking for. I told her I didn't know, just a "a good one." She didn't hesitate and asked me what types of books I liked to read (one point, RL). I gave her a vague, but basically true answer -- "I like a variety of types of books, but I'm looking for something light hearted." She escorted me over to a display area for papers/documents. I've never actually noticed this area before... (another point, RL).

At the display she showed me several author list organized (and somewhat color coded) by genre. Romance was pink, Vampires were red... and there was also a list for Fantasy, which she said included some Science Fiction and a Cozy Mysteries list. She explained that Cozy Mysteries were less violent than other types of mysteries. She said a popular author from that list was Janet Evanovich.

Next, I told her I had heard of that author. I was agreeable to this suggestion and she showed me where the Evanovich books were and commented on how these books were organized by author's last name. She did warn me that sometimes Evanovich had some "adult" language in her books -- in case I might be sensitive to that (score again, RL).

She also mentioned that Sue Grafton had a similar style of books and she pointed out some "classic mysteries" but I was fine with the Evanovich. She gave me a little information on Ms. Plumb's life -- that her family and friends showed up again and again in her novels but the "mystery" part was pretty much enclosed with in one book. This came up because I expressed concern over picking a book that started in the middle of a series and not understanding what was going on.

After my reader's advisory sneak attack I asked another series of telling questions that I really did need the answers to! I was looking for legal papers to help a friend of mine out. The same RL was very helpful and showed me the screen while she pulled up the library's homepage, the Cengage- Learning database and options with in the legal papers.

My only beef with the experience was that this sweet older RL has a quiet voice. If she was turned away from me, I had a hard time hearing her. She was however, very helpful and she seemed very comfortable answering my RA questions.

Overall, props to BCPL!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Never Apologize for What you Love...

I am a shameless reader of young adult literature. However, I realize that does not complete answer the question what "types" of books or what "qualities" within books are important to me. I would say in general that young adult books are character/personality driven. The setting, or more specifically, the situation they are in my play a huge roll in the book but the author is spending time showing how the characters act/react in response to situations and other characters -- not describing the setting or landscape in detail.

I feel that young adult books have a certain emotional appeal. This is the hardest part for me to define. As an adult I can identify with many of the emotions felt by the characters -- so I can't say that the emotional appeal to in these books is strictly limited to younger readers.

The two types of young adult books that I like the most are realistic fiction and sci-fi / fantasy that specifically tilts towards the futuristic utopia/distopia. With in "realistic fiction" my first instinct is that I like characters that are "normal" but I guess, more specifically is that I like characters that appear average yet have mental wits. I like witty writing. I like a character that is wise beyond his/her years and makes witty observations about his/her surroundings.

Sci-fi / fantasy/ utopia-distopia... well, that's getting pretty narrow as it is. But, to bring it on home -- I like books that subtly point out flaws in our society or the human condition by using a futuristic version of ourselves to show how bad we as humans could potentially mess up our world.

YA Realistic Fiction Examples:

Possibly my favorite book, (technically tied for favorite with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) John Green's Looking for Alaska, is a solid example for my above description. The main character collect's people's last words. This appeals to me in a literary/academic sort of way. His nick name is "Pudge" even though he's bean pole skinny -- wit. He leaves his dull public school to go live at the private Culver Creek. There he meets his new best friend and roommate, and most importantly the girl of his dreams, Alaska Young. Alaska is far out of Pudge's reach but the three friends embark on some adventures, school pranks and also ponder life's deeper questions through out the school year.

John Green has written several books that fall into this description -- so far I've read, and enjoyed, all of them. An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I have not had the pleasure of finishing his most recent book, The Fault in our Stars.

Sci-fi / fantasy/ utopia-distopia Examples:

I've never been much of a classic Sci-Fi person. Even the adult Sci-fi books I've tried to read I never really got into. I guess I don't want to have to work too hard when reading for pleasure. I like the literary epiphanies to float like little presents into my lap -- I don't want to have to fight through descriptions of imaginary planets to get to the story. That being said... here are my favorites in this category:

Uglies (series), Among the Hidden (series), Hunger Games (series), Matched (series), House of the Scorpion.

Defining what I don't like is a little trickier. I don't like books that are boring. I don't want endless descriptions of anything really. I prefer a plot that moves along at a decent pace. I don't mind a little jumping back and forth -- different perspectives or flashbacks are okay as long as I can follow. I don't mind non-fiction biographies/memoirs as long as they more or less read like a novel. Generally, historical fiction does not appeal to me.

Some books I didn't love:
Octavian Nothing, M.T. Anderson - couldn't relate with the characters
Leviathan, Scott Westerfeld - the "steampunk" setting was not appealing to me
Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver - too much teen drama