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Grownup Reading, Childlike Feeling.

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

I was having coffee with a friend, a retired school librarian, and as usual, book recommendations were flying across the table in tennis-match fashion. Many of the titles we touched on only briefly, confirming that the other had read one, or that it was on her TBR list. I was surprised to learn, in our meandering journey through our minds’ libraries, that my friend was unfamiliar with Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. I told her that I found it to be easily the most compelling story I have read in my adult life, putting up a good fight for my #1 favorite slot and threatening the book that has had that honor since I was 12. She then made an observation that seems so absurdly obvious that I couldn’t believe I’d never really thought about it: she said that it takes a lot for a book to change our lives as adult readers, far more than it does when we are in grade school or even high school. As we talked about this a bit, I knew it to be absolutely true: our relationships with the people in our world, the challenges we face, the successes and failures we celebrate and mourn, every life experience we have as we grow through young adulthood makes it a little harder for an author to create a new feeling, a new awareness, a new idea or world view. Perhaps that’s why I became drawn to fantasy and speculative fiction more as an adult: the possibility that an author could present me with something outside of my existing understanding of my personal universe is greater in those genres.

It also got me thinking about more of the books I remember from my early childhood and middle youth. How the main characters were always ones with whom I shared some integral likeness – above-average intelligence, heightened empathy, and low self-esteem make the most frequent appearances – but who also had something I didn’t. Sometimes it was the means to pursue an Ivy League education seriously; I’d read about people who owned houses with, you know, guest rooms and matching dining room sets and things. Sometimes they were stunningly beautiful, which made it possible for them to be popular AND an egghead. Sometimes they could move shit with their brain-power focused through their eyeballs. Things I couldn’t even dream of, because they were so far removed from my reality.

Now, I’ve learned enough about life and experienced enough of it for myself that an author can’t woo me so easily. I find myself critiquing rather than simply appreciating. I don’t see the world many authors write about as an unfamiliar one anymore. One that seems as far removed as the distant planets of science fiction, or the alternate realities hiding in fantasy. The world of adult emotions, responsibilities, opportunities, and dreams-turned-reality. Now, I have so much of all of that that I miss that childlike ability to view it from the outside and *want* it.

And I still really wish I could move shit with my eyes.

What’s the biggest difference you’ve noticed in yourself as an adult reader versus a young reader?

Banned Books Week

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

So in preparing a post for work today, I decided to count how many of the top 100 banned and challenged classics I’ve read. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I’ve only read a tenth of them! Granted, I’d say well over half of the ones I’ve not read are in my physical TBR pile, or on my wish list, but still. That is tragic. So, I’m challenging myself to read at least three banned books between now and October 2. Which means I have to find them. After I clean up the aftermath of last night’s crockpot lasagna.

What are some of your favorite banned/challenged books? Are there some you honestly can’t imagine why they made the list? Do you think it’s ever appropriate for a book to be removed from circulation?

Free-form Friday

Friday, May 7th, 2010

It’s official: I am now the Social Media Editor for AudioFile magazine, the print and online resource for audiobooks! Tim Spalding, the founder of LibraryThing, let me know about the opportunity a couple of weeks ago, and it is truly a dream job for me on many levels. I’m very excited about the new community we’re launching on May 14, and will be sure to post an open invitation here once we’ve officially come out of beta. I hope you’ll join us even if you aren’t a regular audiobook listener; we’re going to have some exciting guest moderators, YA titles that you can download free from the publishing partners in our Sync teen summer listening program, and lively discussions about new and upcoming titles, technology in the publishing world, and so much more. I’m new to audiobooks myself, and have already been introduced to some great books and fabulous narrators.

That being said, what would your dream job in the bookish world be?

Suing for the right to burn books

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

This came from my BookBlips daily radar; while it’s sometimes overwhelming in quantity, I’m grateful for the news and new blogs I find through the feed.

Christian group sues for the right to burn YA novel with homosexual protagonist

Clearly, this is more about raising a stink than actually seeking to censor the author; the only effect it has had on me is adding one more book to my wish list, and causing me to seethe with indignation at the gall of some individuals. Thankfully, the folks who support censorship never seem to learn that by deeming a book unfit for children (or adults, for that matter), they often only succeed in giving it huge media attention resulting in a sales spike for the offending work. Which is just fine by me.

Book in question: Francesca Lia Block’s Baby Be-Bop