Our final genre of discussion is one that we know is a popular one these days: books for the younger crowd, from middle grade to young adult. If you do not normally talk about this genre on your site, maybe you want to feature books that you remember impacting you during this stage in your life. If this is where you tend to gravitate, maybe you want to list your favorites, make recommendations based on genres, or feature some titles that you are excited to read coming later this year.
I'm of the firm belief that YA doesn't exist. You know how bookstores decide what is YA, nine out of ten times? If the protagonist is a (pre)teen or child. That's it. Maybe some places make some content considerations, such as for violence or sex or so on, but that's not the defining aspect.
"Easy" reading and "hard" reading certainly exist (along a spectrum), and "easy" reading is where I sort most everything that people call YA: Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Twilight, John Green's entire oeuvre, etc. etc. And to be honest, most of the time I think they're crap.
(This includes Harry Potter. I am the only person on Earth writing about books who doesn't like Harry Potter. I positively loathe the series, as a matter of fact. I am a hater, and I am gonna hate.)
So which YA novels do I like?
There are, of course, books that are considered YA that I do like, even love. For example, right now I'm reading Sarah Maas's Throne of Glass series. I studied Creative Writing with her at college and admired her writing even then, so I'm glad to see her succeed at BEA and around the world.
Roofbeam Reader mentioned another series that has long gotten the short shrift: The Dark is Rising sequence. I love these books and have compulsively re-read them, especially the eponymous second volume, from elementary school up until adulthood. If you haven't read this series, you should. I don't think it's just nostalgia tinting my love of these books; they are really and legitimately great stories with great Arthurian/magical world-building.
|This is the closest I could find to my edition of the book. Same image, but less dorky font.|
The new covers they're printing now are butt ugly; I hope they don't permanently replace this one.
|Fortunately the library editions weren't from JUST FOR BOYS, but even if they were, I would have ignored that appellation.|
Science fiction goes hand-in-hand with fantasy, of course. I was maybe 15 or 16 when I first read Neuromancer and my enthusiasm for William Gibson has never waned. Prior to him, I enjoyed the books of William Sleator, particularly Interstellar Pig.
Fantasy wasn't the only thing I read, though. I also enjoyed a good mystery, too. By middle grade I had outgrown my Boxcar Children, Encyclopedia Brown, and Nancy Drew books and traded them in for some Agatha Christie. Who is not considered YA but nonetheless was a staple of my childhood. The same goes for my dad's old copies of The Thinking Machine stories and The Boys' Book of Great Detective Stories. (Again, I conveniently ignored the "For Boys" imperative.)
The latter was especially interesting because it had mostly true detective stories and also the history of detective work. That's where I first learned about Alphonse Bertillon, the French criminologist who determined a way of identifying suspects by measuring their body parts: like height, around the head, wrist, feet, and so on. It wasn't a terrible method, as the odds are quite significantly stacked against two people having the same name and having similar facial features and having identical or even similar identifying measurements and ratios. In fact, Bertillon's system helped the authorities in France capture quite a number of repeat offenders, and it was soon used by police forces around the world.
But in a stroke of ultimate weirdness, when Americans booked and measured a man named Will West, there was a nearly identical William West already in prison. Identical measurements, identical ratios, and their facial features were even similar to each other. The only truly significant difference between them that anyone could spot at a glance was their fingerprints. That case (and the fact that it's easier to take fingerprints than measure lots of bobs and bits) was probably the biggest factor in the switch over to fingerprints.
The final author I want to mention here is Wendelin van Draanen. How I Survived Being a Girl and the first few books in her Sammy Keyes: Detective series were a lot of fun.
In the meantime, we want to know how you felt the week went. What were some of your favorite aspects of Armchair BEA 2014? What were the most intriguing conversations or the posts you recommend everyone read? Did you want to summarize your own posts all in one spot? This is your opportunity to share your wrap-up for the week in the way you feel most appropriate.
On Day 2 I had a really fun and interesting conversation about book reviews on Good Reads and why I'm not going to read The Fault in Our Stars. That and finding all these new, interesting blogs to read has been the best part.
If you go back through my posts (beyond ArmchairBEA), you'll notice I have eclectic, though generally thematically connected, tastes and posts on topics that, for whatever reason, I can't find a whole lot of active-but-small blogs posting on. I'm not a Christian, I'm not a wife, and I'm not a mom, so the typical ~blogging~ community is generally on a different wavelength from me. But this week it's felt a little like I have found my people, so to speak. I hope those of you who have found my ArmchairBEA posts worth reading and commenting on will stick around for the long haul and future posts that have nothing to do with books!