Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Manifesto on Reads

I was having a chit chat about blogs and such with Cousin A over the weekend, and she commented (read: lamented, but it a really nice way) on the amount of teen lit I've been reading as of late.

She's not wrong, obviously. The word cloud makes that pretty recognizable.

But it wasn't always this way. In fact it's something of a recent thing; one year ago I kicked off The Summer Of YA Lit. Which oh-so-quickly turned to fall, though I told some friends that YES I could indeed still call it Summer Of YA Lit in October because it's Indian Summer right now don't you know. But then the holidays rolled around. "I'll just keep with it one more season," says I. Right. Just like when "I'll only have one more piece of pie" or "I'll only leave Target with what I came here to get."

I like me some variety, and all the genre hopping of yore was a result of getting bored with certain subjects. I mean, really - can you blame me? HELLO History major. I couldn't even touch any kind of historical account for like a year and a half after graduating for fear it would set off some kind of post-traumatic stress from my last semester of reading (or, you know, skimming) 2 or 3 books a week. So I tasted some biographies, some science, some contemporary adult lit (blech) -- you know, just doin' what I do. Then last year I stumbled upon Angus, Thongs & Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison.

And that was it. The moment I became a Teen Reader For Life.

Since my tete-a-tete on Sunday I've been ruminating on my new relationship with teen lit, so here, Cousin A, are two reasons why I've taken a proverbial dip into the pond of Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction with reckless abandon and with zero intentions of leaving the pleasant waters:

1. My reading motivations have changed. Remember the days when I used to be rather snobbish about books? Probably not, as it's not something that usually pops up in daily conversation (or The Blog), but I was a bit elitist about what I read. Shocking, I know.

Ya, well, those days are over. My high horse gave me saddle sore and a bad case of faux intellectualism, which just isn't my color. Instead of reading solely to gain some more smarts to cram into me little brain, I began reading just for sheer enjoyment of it.

That is not to say that teen lit is just a load of mindless drivel created only to entertain the young, the base and the dim-witted amongst us. No indeed! I find it, more often than not, to be just the opposite. Which brings me to the next point:

2. YA/MG lit SPANKS adult lit. Now I hate to generalize, but -- well, actually I don't because I generalize all the time even though I know I oughtn't -- but adult lit by in large? BLAH. And please don't leave some comment about how wrong I am because of the merits of such-and-such book because I KNOW. I've read lots of good fiction in my day, okay? I still think most of it's crap though.

Ooh this makes me want to play Word Association Time! Okay just real quick. Here we go -- When I think Contemporary Adult Fiction, I think: drug addiction. any kind of addiction. self-medication. crappy relationships. never learning how to not have crappy relationships. the whole world sucks. lots of bad words. lots of graphic jenk. poorly developed characters. characters I can't relate to. which is probably a good thing. mediocre storytelling. not much complexity. and certainly no subtlety. sloppy writing. way more repetition than this world needs. we all need years of therapy.

Alright sooo - more than one word. Whatever. It's my game and I play it how I want.

In ya fiction, however, you will find Danger! Major Decisions! Adventure! Inner Turmoil! Communication Issues! Witty Banter! Life Lessons! Some Really Heavy, Dark And Crappy Life Lessons Learned The Hard Way! Minimal Emotional Baggage! Previously Unknown Specialness! Sexual Tension! Abounding Love Triangles! Hope For Mankind! The Innocence Of Youth! The Lack Of Innocence Of Youth! Teens Who Converse Like They Are 26! A Plentitude of Irrational Behavior!

With all that and so much more, why NOT read it? And if your answer is something like, Because Sparkly Vampires don't really kookoo my coco puffs, then hear ye this:

There is more to teen lit than urban fantasy paranormal romance love polygons!

Though bookshelves might suggest otherwise, being flooded with cover art of fangs and claws and wings and creepy smoke and illuminated stones and whathaveyou. And there are a number of quality entertainment reads of the above stated kind, but if it's not your thing then cool. There's plenty of other subject material in YA/MG to choose from.

Okay, so now you (all 3 of you) know way more than you wanted to about the history and probable forthcomings of my reading choices.

So -- do you wish I would dabble more in other genres and have recommendations? Would you like some recommendations for A Foray Into YA Lit that you're thinking about making? (I know you are!) Do you have some recommendations of things I should put on my ever growing TBR list? If so then by all means tell me. Feedback is appreciated, though I do love to feel like I am contributing to a cosmic void. Come one come all!

1 comment:

  1. amen. long live ya lit~ it's my guilty pleasure as well as my achille's heel. i honestly haven't picked up anything but for at least 6 years (besides the bofm, of course; so what?

    bravo! thanks for the reviews and the nods of agreement which inevitably follow each of your posts.