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Books in Concert

As a teenager I never, and I mean never, read more than one book at a time.  I tried it once or twice but would inevitably get the plots or characters confused or get wrapped up in one book and entirely forget about the other.  As I got older I began reading more than one book at a time, after much practice I have discovered I love reading several books at once.  Often  I have an audiobook in my car, a printed book in my gym bag, and a book I carry with me at all times, either printed or on my phone.  However, in all my years of reading I have never thought of intentionally reading two books simultaneously.*

By happy accident two books arrived from my hold list and I started them on the same day.  The first was Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, a book that I had been anticipating since I had read several good reviews and it had been recommended highly by one of my teens.   The second, By The Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters, had been on my list since I read 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher about a year ago.  I started listening to Before I Fall on my way home from work and that evening cracked open By The Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead.  I had not planned on the two working so well together, but now I feel like it is obvious as chocolate and coffee or ice cream and chick flicks.

Before I Fall is a story about Sam, a girl who is part of the most popular clique at school and the consequences of her actions on other people’s lives.  Sam doesn’t always use her influence for good (in fact she does this only rarely) and for the most part either stands by or joins in as her friends taunt and bully her classmates.  Alternatively, By The Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead, is told from the perspective of a girl who has been bullied her whole life.  Daelyn has attempted suicide twice before, her second attempt has left her mute, and plans her final attempt when she finds a social networking community for “completers.”  It has been enlightening to read both at the same time, experiencing bullying from two different perspectives.

This made me think that perhaps there are other great literary pairings out there.  Books  that, when read in tandem, can complement each other.  Here are some of my recommended pairings:

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver and By The Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters

Hate List by Jennifer Brown and Give A Boy A Gun by Todd Strasser

Before I Die by Jenny Downham and Deadline by Chris Crutcher

Boy Toy by Barry Lyga and Boot Camp by Todd Strasser

I know there must be more out there.  What are your suggestions?

*I have since talked to friends and colleagues who said they had similar assignments in school, but it is so much more fun when you are doing it for yourself, wouldn’t you agree?

–Kate Pickett

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Kate McNair

Kate is the Young Adult Librarian for the Johnson County Library in the Kansas City metro area. She loves, playing roller derby, crafting and being surprised!

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