Yes, I Love YA

I can’t count the number of times that, when I have told people that I mostly read Young Adult books, they’ve turned to me and said something like: “Don’t you think they’re a bit trashy? When are you going to start reading real books?”

About three years ago, someone in the bookshop said that I was going to run out of YA books to read, and that I should start on adult. I bought a few adult books, and I did enjoy them, but fast forward to today and I’m still reading mainly YA. And wonderful YA is still being written.

I really hate the idea that YA and children’s books are somehow less worthwhile than the ones in the adult section. Okay, they’re pretty much all narrated by teens and young people. But what’s wrong with that? We have lives that are just as complex as anyone else’s, and we deserve a voice — we deserve to read about people who are also going through a period of testing boundaries and discovering yourself. In some ways, it seems to me the most interesting age a narrator can be.

Putting down YA books only puts down young people and their voices, when we should be doing exactly the opposite! When people start to say that we’re just mindlessly addicted to social media and don’t have any opinions beyond celebrities, it’s just discouraging us from speaking up.

Having a younger narrator doesn’t mean a book is any less worth reading, or any less interesting. In fact, YA books cover a wide range of complex, important themes but in a way that’s really accessible. Yep, a book can be readable and nuanced! Writing an awesome YA book isn’t any less work than writing an adult novel; there are just so many different genres within each of those brackets.

Maybe reading YA doesn’t require as much consideration as a novel with Victorian language might, but personally I think it’s really difficult to get a love for reading by starting straight with ‘classics’. I really appreciate that some people love them, but personally — and I say this as someone who has always loved books — they take me a while to get through, and a while to understand and get into.

But I’m not reading to learn life lessons, or how to write a book. I’m not even reading to improve my English. I’m reading to enjoy it. To experience stories beyond my own. Reading for pleasure doesn’t come from an adult telling you that you should put down the book you want to read and pick the ‘better’ one they’ve chosen for you instead. Discovering the stories that get you excited is so important, and it’s difficult to do that when your school limits what you can read by the complexity of a book’s sentence structure.

If you want kids to develop a love of reading, then let them read what they love. Perhaps reading one genre will lead to them becoming interesting in another, or perhaps they’ll just love that book — it doesn’t matter. Sharing stories is what matters.

I think that YA fiction is one of the most exciting, diverse genres — we definitely do still have progress to make, as we always do, not just within the books but in authors and publishing as well — and it’s so important for teens to be able to see themselves in books. YA can give a sense of belonging and validation. It can tell young people (and older people) that they’re not alone. There are just so many goddamn amazing YA novels out there.

So before you tell me that my favourite books are trash: maybe pick up a YA book yourself. You might actually enjoy it.

The School Book Tag

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I was tagged to do this tag absolutely AGES ago — back in September, I think — by Engie @ Musings From Neville’s Navel, and it was originally created by Chloe Lauren @ Diary of a Lonely Girl.  NaNoWriMo is slightly eating up my time so I thought it would be a good idea to do a fun post like this! (Although all my posts are fun, obvs, sometimes my brain needs a bit of a break.) (I’m also listening to Leslie Odom Jr’s Christmas album as I write this. It’s beautiful. Don’t judge me.)

radio silence alice oseman

MATHS

a book that has two characters who equal perfection

I think this was supposed to be, like, a romantic couple, but I’m going to go ahead and say FRANCES AND ALED FROM RADIO SILENCE. I know I talk about this book basically every other post but it is awesome and you should all definitely read it. (I think I’ve written this sentence a lot in this post, haha.) Aled and Frances are basically just friend goals and I love them. They have problems but they’re asdfjkl so cute and great and nerdy.

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BIOLOGY

a book I would like to dissect

Science was originally just one category — a book you found hard to get into — but I decided to add a couple of my own because I AM ACTUALLY A REALLY BIG SCIENCE NERD. I like busting science stereotypes, and I also like more sciences, so here we are. (I do hope that’s okay!)

Anyway! I’m going to go with The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M Danforth. I have been thinking a lot about this book lately since I somehow persuaded my friends that it was super cool and now their school English book group is reading it? But it reminded me HOW MUCH I FREAKING LOVE IT. It’s literally an amazing book. The reason I chose it for this option, which was kinda supposed to be a book that you love to pick apart, turn over, and analyse, is because IT HAS SO MANY PARTS. It’s super well-written, and it has such circular kind of narrative. (That’s probably the wrong word. Maybe I should say it comes full circle. Oh well.) Whilst still being a coming out book of sorts, it subverts so many tropes that I don’t like to read in traditional coming out-y books… It’s just an incredibly nuanced and beautiful story. YOU ALL SHOULD READ IT ASAP.

barefoot-on-the-wind

PHYSICS

a book with a lot of potential

This one is supposed to be an unreleased/unread book that sounds super cool. I’m choosin Barefoot on the Wind by Zoe Marriott! I saw Zoe at YA Shot and that basically rekindled my intense love for her books. THEY ARE ALL GREAT AND I HIGHLY RECOMMEND. This is the sequel to Shadow on the Moon, a fantasy Cinderella retelling in Japan. (Also includes the first trans character I ever read, I think…? Which I only realised like super recently.) Barefoot on the Wind is a Beauty and the Beast retelling in the same world, with feminism and cool original spins. She talked about it a bunch at the fantasy/women/power panel I attended and it just made me really hyped.

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CHEMISTRY

a book I really bonded to

#sorrynotsorry for my extremely bad science jokes. We’ve been learning bonding in Chemistry at schools so it is really on my mind. For this one I’m picking The Next Together by Lauren James, which was an incredibly enjoyable read for me because it just HAD SO MANY THINGS I LIKE. Time travel! Humour! Science! History! Cute people being cute! Reincarnation! The premise was just amazing. It fits me so well. (I am also very excited for its sequel which also has QUEER GIRLS which is EVEN MORE MEEEE.)

aristotle and dante

ENGLISH

a book that should be a modern classic

Ooh there are SO MANY books I could have gone with here, but I really love Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I think it get quits a lot of recommendations, but it really does deserve it — it’s such a beautifully written, nuanced, and complex book. (But also really readable.) Literally just everything I want to read? It should definitely be a modern classic. And also more people should read Benjamin Alire Saenz’s other books too, because they are also excellent. *nods*

gena-finn

P.E.

a book that I raced to the finish with

I recently read Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson and it was very cool. 😀 It’s written in like, messages and journal entries? So it was a pretty fast read — and also the story was just page-turning in itself. (Exceedingly-beautiful-page turning. The physical edition of this book is literally SO BEAUTIFUL, guys.)

carry on uk cover

MUSIC

a book that reminds me of a song

I feel like this post is basically just me repeating all the books that I always talk about but…Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I was already listening to Rainbow’s Carry On playlist before the book actually came out. Every time I open the book I just think of all the songs with Carry On. (Carry On My Wayward Son, Carry On, Bohemian Rhapsody.) All Rainbow’s books have music things in them, actually, but this one in particular for me.

I’m tagging Lia @ Lost in a Story, Michelle @ The Writing Hufflepuff and absolutely anyone else who wants to give this a try! Although, as ever, please don’t feel pressured to do this tag; it’s totally up to you. 🙂

what’s YOUR favourite school subject? what do you think of science? are you doing nanowrimo/shrieking incessantly like me?

One Page More! E01: Politics & Government in YA

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One more book, one more page…one page more!

*punches the air in enthusiasm* I’m so excited to finally be sharing with you guys my new podcast. 😀 (Yes. Podcast. EXCITING TIMES.) One Page More! is a monthly podcast in which I  — along with various bookish and bloggerly guests — talk about YA, musicals, and social issues. Essentially, as I so eloquently put, all the things that I love. 😛 We’ll hopefully be covering all sorts from new releases to particular topics and random chatter. For the inaugural episode, I was joined by the wonderful Elly @ A Hufflepuff’s Thoughts and Victoria @ Doodles and Scraps to discuss politics & government in YA. Go forth and listen, my friends!

I do hope that you enjoy, and I also hope that this will continue to grow and develop as I work on it. I have a lot of things to learn — okay, next time I seriously do need to say ‘like’ and ‘um’ less — but I’m excited to be sharing flailings with you in a different format. (Also compose another jingle.

Also: I’m on the lookout for people to guest with me, so if you think that would be your cup of tea then do give a shout by commenting below; I’d love to hear from you! 😀

Are YOU the Chosen One?

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Think that you might be the protagonist of a YA Fantasy? Find out here, and discover whether you actually need to save the entire world or not!*

You’ve always been a Normal Plain Jane. You’re totally average looking, which is to say that you could be a supermodel. Which is to say that you are a straight white female with dramatic red hair living in the USA — and you have an improbable name like Satchel. Or Canada. Or Sage. Because why not. You’re kind-of-but-not-really in love with your quirky guy best friend.

If you are not a Normal Plain Jane-slash-supermodel, then you are likely to be Harry Potter 2.0. (Because every fantasy novel ever must be compared to the first fantasy series ever. Obviously.) This time around you are a straight white male with green eyes and messy dark hair living in the USA. You might have a slightly less stupid name, but you can’t be sure.

Anyway. Whether you are Normal Plain Jane-slash-supermodel or Harry Potter 2.0, you have recently been thrust into a brand new world at the tender age of 16. Whilst looking through your recently deceased grandmother’s attic (you just inherited her grand old house) you found a mysterious magical item that suddenly caused strange things to happen around you. Well, strange things have always happened around you, but you’ve only started realising it now because you’re super smart.

The strange happenings build up. Something dramatic happens that tips the scales. You can’t lie to the people in your tiny boring town anymore. You run out of your kitchen with tears streaking down your face. But just when you think everything is beyond fixing, a mysterious, beautiful, brooding boy with green eyes turns up to help you. (Only you’re Normal Plain Jane-slash-supermodel. Harry Potter 2.0 does things all alone and kisses the pretty girl at the end. There are no options except outdated gender roles and m/f couples.) He saves you but is also very rude to you. He told you that you should mind your own business and he doesn’t know you can see all the magical creatures. You’re confused and distressed — you insist that you’re just normal. Despite his rudeness, you find him mysterious and intriguing. You think that he probably has a tortured backstory that causes him to be this way.

You feel guilty about your guy best friend who you’re kind-of-but-not-really in love with. Whoops. But Brooding Boy is just awfully intriguing. You think that you might be the only girl to get behind his snippy façade.

Anyway. Somehow along the way here you manage to pick up a wizened mentor. This old bearded dude tells you that you’re actually the prophesied chosen one. You’re not any normal kind of magical being — no, you are a Special Combination that allows you to save the whole magical world from the Raving Evil Villain. The wizened mentor possibly gives you a bit more advice, but as soon as it’s convenient he dies.

Who even knows where your parents are at this point. Oh no, I remember: you’re an orphan! You’ve been living with foster parents all your life. Except they’re not around either… huh. Weird. Oh well, you have bigger fish to fry right now.

Like that dramatic prophecy. You have no idea how it could be true. You’re just a normal teenager! How on earth will you save the whole magical world? Ah, now you remember: the wizened mentor instructed you to find the a special magical object that will be integral in your defeat of the Raving Evil Villain. (He’s really evil, is this one. Wants to take over the entire world. What an original plan.)

You embark on a long and dangerous journey. Although this probably takes up a decent chunk towards the end of the book , it’s mostly walking and sexual tension with the Brooding Boy. The boring/mysterious forest just outside your boring/mysterious town is a lot further away than you had thought. But let’s just gloss over that because it’s not particularly interesting. (Though it would have been a lot easier if Wizened Mentor hadn’t conveniently died, to be honest.)

Yes. Once you find said special magical object, the Raving Evil Villain appears. Your heartbeat gets so loud that you are sure he can hear you from your hiding place. But it doesn’t matter, because you selflessly decide to reveal yourself and save everyone else. There is a dramatic showdown.  Potentially you are injured, but odds are that you live. (There are still another 2 books in this series for you to star in, after all.) The Raving Evil Villain explodes in a poof of darkness and evilness. Exhausted, you fall into the arms of Brooding Boy. Just as he professes his love to you, everything fades to black.

When you reawaken, you are preparing to leave. You have been unconscious for several hours but experience no serious health effects, which is dubious considering most people only faint for a few seconds. Anyway. Then you return home in a way quicker time than it took you to arrive. Everyone hails you as a hero, except for a few token pessimists who think you’re a fraud. You have been changed forever. You’re still struggling to deal with your whole situation. But whatever’s wrong inside you can be instantly fixed by the love of the Brooding Boy. Somewhere in all of this your best friend found his soulmate and he is happily dating her. The book ends on a final bittersweet domestic scene as you are recovering with Brooding Boy. Turns out he does have a heart of gold after all.

are you the protagonist of a YA fantasy? (if so, WHAT ARE YOU DOING STILL HERE?! you should be saving us all!)

*Not entirely serious. I am, in fact, a big fan of YA fantasy. 😛 If you enjoyed this, you may also want to check out its YA Dystopia counterpart! And just as a reminder: this is a scheduled posts, and I am currently away with no wifi.  But I would love to meet any potential Chosen Ones when I return on 4th August!

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! *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.)