bring me my YA

YA Saves – My very late response

So that just happened.  My 10 year high school reunion that is.  When the plans first started bouncing around Facebook I’ll admit I was all eye-rolling, whatever, I’m not going to that attitude.  But as plans came together and more people I haven’t spent enough quality time with committed I mellowed to a less obnoxious, why not?  Compared to all the terrifying things I’ve done in my life, 50 foot cliff dive, preschool storytime with over 90 kids, Cumberland Cemetery on a fall Friday the 13th, this was nothing.

The day of an old friend posted on her Facebook wall that even though she was invited she didn’t think she was cool enough to attend.  I didn’t response back or mention it to anyone there but it bugged me.  This was a girl I was really close to.  So close we spent New Year’s Eve on a highway overpass because we were too chicken shit to go to a party we’d been legitimately invited to.  That one comment brought back memories of how many things I didn’t experience or events I didn’t attend because I was too intimidated or hesitant.  And hanging out with my old classmates last night I realized, not for the first time, there’s nothing to be scared of.  It was a room full of people living their lives, some married, some single.  Some still at home and some flew in for the weekend.  No one cared about being cool enough.  And if they did it didn’t make a difference to me.

My ALA 2010 Haul, a Proud Moment

So maybe that’s why I read YA and find a connection to the characters and their story.  I’ve been confronted with it before, why don’t I read “adult” books and what I could possibly get out of stories about teenagers and their high school drama.  It’s not the usual assumption that I’m immature or want to be back in high school.  More I think I’m discovering a lesson I wish I learned then but instead took a lot of growing after high school.  It’s become my golden rule, if you’re always yourself and you love yourself, not much anyone else thinks will change that.  If YA lit was as robust and expansive when I was in high school as it is now maybe I would have looked differently at my small world.  Maybe I wouldn’t have needed to chase after so many experiences in college and later.  I might have trusted more, made more mistakes and let more people in.  Because in the greater scheme of things it wouldn’t really have hurt anything.

Of course this could all just be the perspective of ten years talking but I think about the books I read then and the books I read now and can’t help but wonder if John Green, Cecil Castellucci, Malina Marchetta, Gayle Forman and David Levithan were on my radar how I would have seen my world differently.

I did learn one other universal truth this weekend, people for the most part stay the same or become more like their parents.  Now that is a truly scary and hopeful thing.

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I read whats I likes…

…and I likes whats I read.

I have a long running conversation going with a few people about why I don’t like adult novels.  As a blanket statement this is close to blasphemy I know.  I’m a librarian, gasp, how can I not like adult novels.  I clarify.  I don’t like adult fiction novels that aren’t genre, aka “literature.”  Double gasp!  I haven’t read the classics, The Bell Jar! Moby Dick! Anything by Tolstoy!?!

No I haven’t and I admit I probably never will read “the classics.”  I’m throwing alot of quotation marks around, annoying even myself, but I am reader that holds firmly to the idea of reader her book and that reading should be valued itself, not the material type.  I’ve gotten to an age that I know what I like in a book and I don’t waste my time reading something I won’t enjoy.

That isn’t to say I’ve never read a classic or literary novel I’ve enjoyed.  The Stranger grabbed ahold of something unknown in my and won’t let go, I raged at Things Fall Apart, and Jane Eyre made me a romance reader all those years ago.  Occasionally I “discover” an adult book that surprises me.  And I find those tend to be closer to genre novels than literary ones.  Jasper Ffrorde, The Maisie Dobbs series, and random non-fiction titles. (Honestly, give me a non-fiction about history or biography and snooze, give me one about state shapes or medical oddities and I’m all over it.)

So what does this say about me?  That I lack maturity (hells yes), that I can be a lazy reader (constantly), that I lack the moral and intellectual depth to be effected by literary text…well…maybe not.  I see myself as an emotionally intelligent person, more than an academically intelligent.  I use my emotions and my sensitivity to others to make sense of my world.  I use these same skills in my reading life.  I appreciate a story that allows me to step into a character’s emotional world.  Something about YA and genre novels feel more accessible.

So what’s the big deal?  I’m not in school, no one can make me read a book I don’t want to.  Except those good natured people who say, you have to read this.  And I smile and nod and maybe jot the title down knowing it will never go into my “to read” pile.  Hell, half the books I put there don’t get read.  Especially if it is a popular, well-known book, my natural eye-rolling, scoffing instincts kick in.  I will admit, I can be a snob and think I’m above the plebeians with their Team Edward shirts and can haughtily say, I read Twilight in 2006.

That leaves me wallowing in the YA/Genre ghetto while I privately deride people for liking popular books like The DaVinci Code and anything ever (ghost)written by James Patterson.  I’m an absolute hypocrite and I intend to stay that way.  Life’s too short to waste it on bad books.

Image source: Flickr via ryannicholasjones