Tell Me What to Read

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I need to branch out my reading. Mostly, I just read YA fantasy, or YA contemporary, or YA anything. I think it’s time I read something that’s not YA!Ā *gasps*

So, I decided to ask you guys what I should read. I’ll read whatever you tell me to, be it YA or non-YA, as long as it’s readily available on Amazon UK. Although not anything like Fifty Shades of Grey or something, and preferably not Les Miserables, though if you tell me to then I’ll do my best.

Sooo…go ahead! Let the the first weekly/monthly/never-again Blind Reading Thing begin!

(God. I just told you that I was trying to branch out from YA, and here I am making terrible Hunger Games references.)

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6 thoughts on “Tell Me What to Read

  1. GAAAH! I suffer from the exact same problem. You may notice that I use capital letters in ALL my comments. I think that’s a fangirl problem XD
    Anyway, you should really read, er, Hex Hall (nope, that’s YA), hmm there’s Incarceron too (have you read that too? YA again, so strikout) and Inkheart (Aaargh, YA AGAIN) šŸ˜€ šŸ˜€

    I think I may be obsessed with YA too. Sorry if this comment was utterly useless as Nirvana failed to rampage through her mind to find a book that was NOT YA!
    :S

    1. This just proves that YA is a (mostly) awesome genre! šŸ˜€
      I shall dutifully go and read the books you have mentioned. I think I’ve read Inkheart (the one with the sad fire dude and his marten thing?) but from what it can remember, I never read the sequels. Thanks! šŸ™‚

  2. Rather depends what you like in a book. Or perhaps more importantly what you don’t like in a book.

    Going on the ‘YA’ theme, three things spring to mind:

    – Have you read Robin Hobb’s “Assassin’s Apprentice” and its sequels? It follows a young boy, bastard son of a prince in a dark ages kingdom. Fitz goes around doing typical teenage-boy things: falling in love, studying magic, making terrible decisions, learning how to murder people, befriending an albino court jester who speaks in riddles, etc. The whole trilogy has Fitz as a teenager (he starts as a kid but grows up quickly early on), although it’s not normally advertised as ‘YA’ due to being a bit grown-up. It’s quite readable, though – epic/heroic fantasy, war, quests, saving world, etc. There’s a follow-up trilogy with Fitz in his thirties, and then another one coming out now with him approaching old age. But the original trilogy can be read as it is.
    [Hobb also has two related series in the same world with a lot of YA characters. ‘Liveship Traders’ is a big family epic, but the main characters are a young tomboy sailor woman and her teenage hideously spoiled fashion-obsessed niece and teenage book-loving wimpy nephew. With pirates and sea serpents and talking ships and slave trading and whatnot. These books are a bit slower to get into than Assassin’s Apprentice, though. And her ‘Rain Wild Chronicles’ at least at first follows a small group of teenagers trekking into a rainforest to make a new home for themselves – but they’re probably best appreciated if you’ve read all the earlier books, because there is some overlap. I would say though that each of her series feels a little different, so if you don’t like one you may still like others].

    Anyway, there are a lot of books in total, but Assassin’s Apprentice itself is actually not all that long.
    Hobb’s writing is generally focused on characters and relationships rather than plot, although she can write really exciting bits when she wants to.

    – You almost certainly haven’t read Mary Gentle’s “Ash: A Secret History”. This is very much not marketed as YA. However, the protagonist is a teenage girl (Ash) – specifically, a 19-year-old mercenary commander in an alternative mediaeval Europe. Just how alternative it is doesn’t become clear until later, but it ends up mixing historical fiction with fantasy and science fiction (it gets pretty mind-bending). Ash is a strong character, but Gentle is more about the plot, which is an unpredictable rollercoaster with a lot of fun and violence along the way (although the violent backstory Ash gets on the first page is worse than anything that happens in the book). Don’t be put off by the weird little sections with a modern historian commenting on the story as history – they’re not done well at first, but it all works out in the end.
    ‘Ash’ is, despite being in some regards utterly insane, probably the most realistic portrayal I’ve seen of a middle-ages setting, painstakingly researched. [Gentle is a military re-enactor and swordswoman with several history degrees, who got a masters in war studies just in order to do research for this book]
    Unfortunately, it’s an incredibly long book. In some editions, it’s broken up into a series of four short novels instead, although it’s really all one story. But does it really matter? It’s still a fraction the size of some popular book series, it’s just that it’s all in one volume…

    – Margo Lanagan’s work often IS marketed as YA, although I’m not entirely sure why. Her ‘Tender Morsels’ is a flawed (imo) but beautiful little book combining an accessible, YA-friendly approach and YA characters with a fairy tale aesthetic and some dark, important content. It’s a modern retelling of a fairy tale, essentially. Don’t read if you can’t handle darkness, though, or if you’re easily ‘triggered’ – in the first chapter or so, it’s a little horrific, and although it get a lot lighter later on it always combines light and dark throughout.
    Alternatively if you like short stories, her collection ‘Black Juice’ has some very good ones, and again she often has young protagonists. You may find some of them a bit abstract, though (but not the first one – the first story is heartbreaking).

    Anyway, both those Lanagan books have won both YA awards and more general awards.

    —————

    There are hundreds of great books. [I think you saw on my blog the list of over 100 SF&F books people voted on? Almost all of those are good books, though very varied, and good in different ways]. The three I suggest above – “Assassin’s Apprentice”, “Ash: A Secret History” and “Tender Morsels” are all books that, in different ways, sort of have YA elements, but are also challenging and ‘adult’ in different ways: Assassin’s Apprentice and its sequels are quite ‘mature’ and complex about relationships and characters; Ash is almost like a boy’s own adventure novel (or in this case girl’s own adventure novel) but written for adults; Tender Morsels ostensibly looks and feels like a YA novel, or even perhaps a very sophisticated children’s book (from the days where there were books for old children rather than books for young adults…), but is actually probably the darkest of the three in content.

    Of course, when I was in school I was mostly reading trash – Dungeons and Dragons novels, Raymond E Feist, Shadowrun, Pern, lots of fairly brainless adventure reading, ideally with dragons. Nothing wrong with that, I guess. I think kids should grow into reading more adult books (‘as well as’, not ‘instead of’!), but I think it’s important that people take it at their own pace – nothing makes teenagers hate good books more than pressuring them to read them. I pretty much stagnated in terms of reading content throughout the whole of secondary school – but if people had made me read ‘better’ books I’d just have resented it. I think if I ever have children I’ll try to have a deal with them: I don’t make them read stuff they don’t like, and in return they agree not to decide to hate the things they don’t immediately like. That’s probably the most important thing when you branch out from your comfort zone of reading: if you don’t like it, it’s OK not to read it, but don’t let that stop you from trying it again later on. Our tastes change – if we let them.

    (And toward the end of school I read ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’, which I instantly thought was the greatest book ever written – it’s kind of a love-or-hate book, really.)

    ————-

    Oh, maybe this goes without saying, but despite what I said above about pressuring people, everybody should read Terry Pratchett.
    Who, incidentally, has quite a lot of books with YA protagonists, now that I come to think about it.

    But yeah, I think I may be wandering off topic now. Short version: there are three books that you MIGHT like but that might also be a bit different from what you normally read. If you don’t like them, that’s OK, there are plenty of others…

    But I do tend to think the key isn’t “what do I like?” – it’s “what do I not like?”. If there’s something you don’t like, people can give you reccs that avoid that, and you may find something new that you do like – whereas if we try to match what you like, the reccs may include elements that put you straight off the book and then it doesn’t matter how great they are.

    Well, don’t know if that helped you at all, but it made ME think about some things a bit, so that’s good…

    1. Thank you very much!

      I haven’t read any of those books (except a different one by Margo Lanagan, and one or two Terry Pratchetts) and whilst they might be a little different to what I normally read, I’m interested to give them a try. The main purpose of this post, for me, was to try new books and genres. (And yes, I did look at your list!)

      Whilst I do like to read YA, when we read books or study a passage for English, there is a difference in the writing to some YA books I have read. It makes me feel a little guilty, although the writing isn’t necessarily the thing that makes the book.

      Your comment has helped me – it’s interesting to hear someone else’s experiences with genres and books. šŸ™‚

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