The End of YA?

I think Harry Potter and Twilight popularized the YA genre, one which is coveted by many. Readers adamantly defend YA’s depth, maturity, and optimism, themes which many YA proponents claim are not reflected in general fiction. Due to this, many readers opt to read a YA novel over fiction. I was once such a reader, but I have found myself changing.

It started when I came home from college on Fall Break. The prospect of being reunited with my bookshelf was too much to handle. On top of that, I had five whole days with no responsibilities which equated to five interrupted days of reading. Upon getting home, I sat in front of my bookcase for twenty-five minutes attempting to find a book which suited my interests. To my surprise, I picked a regular fiction novel. And then, another fiction novel. And again, another fiction novel. Surprised, I assumed that by Thanksgiving break I would be back in some YA. I wasn’t it. This pattern has seemed to repeat itself with each novel I pick up.

Is this the end of YA for me? I don’t know. What I do know, is that I picked up The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong just recently, a YA novel featuring paranormal elements, and I found the book to be loathsome. To be honest, I am curious. Is this the end of YA for me? Or are my book tastes diversifying? Or am I maturing? To be honest, I don’t know.

Advertisements

Friday Reads (5/30/14)

Happy Friday!  It is time for a non-holiday weekend which means I can get some reading done!  Here are some books I hope to read this weekend:

ImageImageImage

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (currently reading)

Untraceable by S.R. Johannes*

Fever (book #2 in the Chemical Garden Trilogy) by Lauren DeStefano

What books are you planning to read this weekend?  Leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear!

* Book sent to me for reviewing purposes.

Book Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

A Winner of the Alex Award, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction, named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything—instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave. –Goodreads summary

Publication Date: October 2, 2012.

Favorite Quote from the Book:

“After that, the book will fade, the way all books fade in your mind. But I hope you will remember this:
A man walking fast down a dark lonely street. Quick steps and hard breathing, all wonder and need. A bell above a door and the tinkle it makes. A clerk and a ladder and warm golden light, and then: the right book exactly, at exactly the right time.”

My Thoughts:

As someone who identifies herself as a bibliophile, this book resonates deeply with me.  Mainly, the book reveals a deep dedication, admiration, and respect for books.  Many characters throughout the novel have some affiliation with books which plays an integral role in their past, present, and future.  This is largely seen in the protagonist, Clay Jannon.  Searching for a job, Jannon finds himself becoming a clerk at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (by the way, why does a 24-hour bookstore not exist?).  Quickly, he finds himself succumbing to the power of books as he examines a strange group of frequent customers.  Unexpectedly, Jannon finds himself intermingling with a mystery involving books, secret groups, and potential immortality.  Wait, books can do that?  Yes, Jannon discovers they can!

Besides the look for books, I appreciated the way this story unraveled.  While I went into this book with no expectations, I had some preconceived notions with how this plot would ensue (basically, just accounts of owning a bookstore).  Essentially, this plot twists and turns in ways that one could never imagine.  Indeed, this is a sign that Sloan, the author, is aware of his audience and knows how to keep them anticipatory for the subsequent actions.  As the plot developed, the mysteries and characters developed; you just had to keep reading in order to get to the root of this chaos.  Admittedly, I got frustrated; I wanted to know what happened and did not possess the patience at times.  However, I am glad that Sloan wrote this book in this manner as it gave the novel interest.

Additionally, this book presents very interesting themes, themes which many books have not attempted to discuss.  For example, the theme of technology and its advancement is strongly emphasized in the book.  Sloan presents different arguments of how technology advances and hinders the human race.  This theme and others are thought-provoking and require the audience to engage in their own analyses.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, to say the least.  Everything about this book is enjoyable.  Even though I was excited for the book to end so I could figure out the “grand mystery,” I was sad to flip to the last page.  I had genuinely grown attached to the characters and plot that I wanted it to continue!  Sadly, it is over.  However, I am hopeful that Sloan may possibly write more in the future (or maybe he has published other books) because he is truly a talented author!

My Rating:

★★★★★ 5/5 stars!

Recommendation:

I’d recommend this for my fellow bibliophiles!

New App Lets You Read a Book in Less than 90 Minutes!

Recently, my Facebook friend posted an article on her wall.  Captivated by its claim to let readers read books in less than 90 minutes, I proceeded to read the article.  Upon scientific discoveries, app designers are working on an app which recognizes the “Optimal Recognition Point” (“ORP”) of each word.  This ORP enables readers to quickly recognize a word without fully reading a word from left to right, like you and I are doing now.  As individuals become more skilled with recognizing the ORP, readers can have the opportunity to increase the speed at which they look at these ORPs thus enabling them to “read” at rapid paces.  I highly encourage you to click the hyperlink and examine this technology!

I was intrigued.  How cool would it be to read books in less than 90 minutes?!  Think about how quickly we could cut back our TBR piles.

However, as I further studied these ORPs and looked at the article’s different examples, I found that this new technology may do more of a disservice to readers.  As someone who is studying English and Secondary Education, my courses heavily emphasize teaching kids how to critically read; this skill is especially emphasized in the newest standard of education, Common Core.  As I participated in the ORP activities, I found pressured (frantic, actually) to recognize these words.  If these ORPs were implemented in a classroom, I have in inclination that students would also feel similar feelings.  Simply, students are being discouraged to read critically because the emphasis is on speed and ability to quickly recognize words.  As someone who loves to find authors’ deeper meanings in texts, I am appalled by this new technology.

Unfortunately, I think this technology coincides with our society’s motto that “bigger and faster is better!”  I am not against efficiency, but I think the creators of these apps don’t fully understand or appreciate what reading offers those of us bibliophiles.  Therefore, I’m hesitant with these ORP discoveries and the ways they may impact our reading.

What do you think?

The iPhone of Books

You know the book model to which I referring.  Girl meets boy.  Boy is flawless.  Girl and boy begin an immediate attraction and relationship within the first 75 pages.  Bad boy enters scene.  Girl swoons over bad boy.  Girl begins a flirtatious escapade with bad boy while maintaining her relationship with angelic boy.  Girl must choose one boy.  Girl chooses who we all knew she was going to pick.

As someone who reads a lot of YA, I have become pretty familiar with this formula.  This model is so implanted in 70% of YA fiction that I’m beginning to reconsider deeming these novels as “creative writing.”

As certain YA books receive popularity, I see more authors yearning to receive similar attention; this is where the book model strengthened and multiplied.  Obviously, the popular authors must be doing something correct; therefore, aspiring authors must imitate.  Unfortunately, popular authors gain their recognition from developing innovating ideas.  It’s like when the iPhone hit the shelves.  It was a new touch screen smartphone capable of things that other phones never were able to do.  Other phone companies saw Apple’s raging success and sought to make similar smart phones.  However, let’s be frank.  the iPhone is always the smart phone because it was first.  Therefore, these other aspiring authors are falling in the shadows of the popular authors because readers have already read “this book” before.

To all aspiring authors, the writing process is discouraging.  However, readers appreciate the iPhone of books.  Do not be constricted to a book model; make your own.  Then, you’ll have everyone wanting to copy your book model.

Myth Busters: The “Reading Slump”

All over the internet, my fellow bibliophiles succumb to this virus known as the reading slump.  Before I continue, let’s broadly describe a reading slump as a period of lacking the desire(s) to read.  Anyway, many people use this term, reading slump, to blame their lower completed book counts.  At times, I find myself admitting that I’m in a reading slump.  Lately, though, this term has started to irk me.

A bibliophile is one who loves reading.  As a football players loves to play football, a bibliophile loves to read.  For us, reading offers temporary moments of escape from our chaotic lives.  Therefore, reading becomes a hobby and passion which means our moments to read should be enjoyable moments for us.  

Now, whenever I hear people use the term “reading slump” to describe their inability to currently read, I cringe.  To me, the use of this term subliminally alludes to reading being more a chore and less of a hobby and passion.  Unfortunately, I think many of us get caught up in the numerical book challenges and lose reading’s true intentions which is to provide pleasure.  Therefore, I think using the excuse, “Oh, I’m in a reading slump,” is a way for us find a scapegoat for our lack of reading to our fellow bibliophile peers.  This leads me to believe that reading slumps are not a “thing,” and I believe it is time we embrace the fact that we are human beings who have very busy lives.  Our hobbies and passions are not limited to one activity (reading).  Rather, we should embrace these different activities to become more well-rounded individuals.  So, what??  You haven’t read in two days but decided to watch the first whole season of Sherlock?  Good for you!  I hope you enjoyed your time!

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many books you completed and how many pages you read in a month, what truly matters is the content that you read.  Perhaps you read a novel this month that filled you with an immense feeling of evangelical zeal that you cannot fathom picking up a new novel for the next few weeks for fear of disappointment.  Don’t worry about it!  Honestly, we read for the content, not the numbers.  So, fellow bibliophiles, happy reading!

The “Reading Slump”: BUSTED!!  

Are Books Really Good for Us?

Recently, I finished reading the classic and well-acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451.  Like many others, I was immediately compelled to the plot.  This novel takes place in the (possibly) near future (presumably after 2022 because the book references a nuclear world war during that year) in a futuristic society where all books are considered illegal.  In order to enforce this policy, firemen ironically have the job to ignite fires in order to burn this “contraband.”  Due to the lack of books, the characters in this novel are brainwashed into believing what the government wants everyone to think.  By receiving this perspective, they are limited to one viewpoint which is government’s ultimate wish because it is under the belief that books expose individuals to thinking liberally.  According to this government, this kind of thinking leads to differences and chaos.

Indeed, Bradbury’s creation of this world is extremely interesting.  However, I find it extremely ominous and a huge potential for our future.  Have you ever noticed how quickly we are all to judge someone for not having the “popular” belief as us?  For example, take the Phil Roberston instance where he expressed his belief that marriage is created for man and woman.  Immediately, media, politicians, and individuals attacked him for his viewpoint.  Yet, who is to condone anyone’s beliefs?  As myself and Phil are from the United States of America, we stand under the principles of freedom of speech as well as freedom of religion.  Both of these enable us to form our own values and morals.  Of course, not all of our values and morals can be considered correct.  For example, a man who believes that killing another man is morally acceptable is wrong because government has placed specific laws against murder.  Overtime, government has increased its restrictions on what we can and cannot do as people.  As more shootings are occurring, government is seeking ways to enforce gun restrictions.  A government that protects and serves its country is not a bad thing however Bradbury poses an interesting question in his novel on when are there too many restrictions and conformity.

Books expose billions of people everyday to different worlds, ideas, and beliefs.  Truly, books change and impacts its reader both positively and even negatively.  No one can predict the future of books.  However, what if books do begin presenting themes that go beyond the popular belief or ideas that can potentially be harmful to individuals?  For example, if there is a book on suicide, should there be restrictions placed on it because people could get the idea to commit suicide themselves?  I think not.  There needs to be a point where we stop finding scapegoats.  The root of problems and chaos does not come from a man against gay marriage or a gun or a book.  Rather, we are people create these harmful situations largely I believe because we are misinformed or easily swayed.  Therefore, I believe books present the positive attribute of exposing readers to liberally thinking.  

This movement of thinking more open-minded does not start by a silly blog post.  It starts with you!  Go pick up a book and immerse yourselves in a more enlightened way of thinking!