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Out of Our Comfort Zones: Ted and Sarah read SOULLESS and I KILL GIANTS!

Sarah Debraski and I decided to try something interesting to broaden our horizons: we each made a list of the types of YA books we didn’t read, and then each chose a book for the other person to read from those categories, to deliberately force ourselves outside of our comfort zones and read something we normally wouldn’t. Did it work? Read (and listen!) on in this post and podcast.


Heroes, Monsters and Women in Pants — Your Guide to the DC Reboot

Big news, comic book fans! DC — the comic book line that brought us Batman and Superman — is rebooting! This September, they will start 52 iconic and not-so-iconic titles over at number one and create a brand-spanking-new continuity to draw in younger, hipper audiences. Comic book blogs have been very exciting to watch since the announcement, as fans engage in commentary, critique and wild speculation. For those of you who have never really been into comics, now is a great time to start, since the confusing, decades-long, often contradictory storylines that can overwhelm the beginner will no longer be an issue. While we wait for September, here’s a guide to starting out with DC, or reviving your interest in DC after a long hiatus.

But first, the novice’s guide to enjoying comics:

1. Find a good comic book creator that you really like. If you need assistance doing so, check out Comics Should Be Good — possibly the best comic book blog on the Internet. Read this blog. Live this blog. Love this blog.

2. When you find your author, read their run on a title. Sometimes this means you jump into a series in the middle, but you can always look up continuity events on Wikipedia. Don’t feel like you must read the entire title back to 1965 just to comprehend it.  That way lies madness.

3. Once you reach the end of your author’s run, put the series down. You can keep going if you like the new writer, but don’t feel obligated. You will just end up disaffected and bitter, complaining on an Internet forum somewhere. Nobody wants that. There is enough nerdrage in the world.

Here are some of the series I have found with this deceptively simple technique — my back-road tour of DC. These are titles that will make you excited about DC comics and the reboot, even if you are not a super-fan.


Food for Thought

Even if you are full of ideas for how to feed your brain with healthy foods maybe its time to give your stomach a break and feed your mind with some words.  Check out YALSA’s  2011 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers. You’ll find lots great fiction (don’t worry I’ll get to that in a second), but the real fun is the non-fiction, some of it is food related.  Try Yuck! The Things People Eat by Neil Setchfield if you want to kill your appetite.  Or if you want to laugh until you just might throw up, I recommend Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong by Jen Yates. The Cake Wrecks website is the way to go if you can’t find the book.  Personally I want stay with the cupcake craze so What’s New Cupcake: Ingeniously Simple Designs for Every Occasion by  Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, is on my must-read list.  This book begs the question, why did they stop making scratch and sniff books?

If light and sweet isn’t for you and only a total overindulgence is your favorite fare, try This is Why You’re Fat: Where Dreams Become Heart Attacks by Jessica Amason and Richard Blakeley. Decadence to the extreme, you can find lots of images to drool over but very few recipes because this book is for drooling and not for cooking.  For your daily dose of extreme cuisine, flip through this book at your leisure.   I enjoyed being allowed to like food that is bad for me, can’t I eat my fried Snickers in peace? [check out blogger Joel Brun’s take on it here.]

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Reacting to #yasaves

Over the weekend the YA lit world was abuzz with reactions to an article titled “Darkness Too Visible” in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal.  Authors such as Cecil Castelucci, Laurie Halse AndersonLibba Bray wrote impassioned responses, and librarians and others had a lot to say too.  On Twitter the hashtag #yasaves was used as people wrote tweet after tweet about the importance of YA lit.  On Sunday YALSA Past Presidents Sarah Debraski and Linda Braun chatted about the article and its response.  Here is the transcript of that chat.

Linda:   Sarah, I was just reading all the Twitter postings on the Wall Street Journal article on YA books. OMG, have you seen it?

Sarah: Yes! I’m not surprised by the reaction to the article. It felt like yet another “gloom and doom all the ya books are so negative and depressing” type article. I think it’s really cool that the reaction has been to twist it into a positive-tweets with the #yasaves hashtag

Linda: Yeah, the #yasaves hashtag is pretty amazing. This morning when I looked it was actually a trending topic on Twitter. I love that it shows the power of YA readers and also how when something is published we can respond quickly, and I hope effectively. That article was just so uninformed that maybe Twitter can help inform.

Sarah: There are so many YA authors on twitter with huge followings that I’m sure they are drawing tons of attention to this.

Linda: That’s actually how I first saw it. It was either Laurie Halse Anderson or Maureen Johnson that posted about the article.

Linda: I need to track down when the #yasaves first appeared however.

Sarah: I feel like in the past year whenever there’s been an article about YA lit the twitter feedback has been immediate and widespread-that right there should show people that YA lit is booming.

A couple of things really bugged me in the article.

Linda: Tell me.

Sarah: First–her opening example of the woman in the bookstore who simply had to leave without anything. Really? She couldn’t browse until she found something? Ask for a recommendation? Because you know what? I personally do not read books with particularly horrific descriptions or storylines-I haven’t been able to bring myself to read Shine. But I still find plenty of other books to keep me busy, so yes, there might be a trend, but there’s still many many other books published for people who don’t want to read those.

The other thing that really got to me was the author’s statement “In the book trade, this is known as “banning.” In the parenting trade, however, we call this “judgment” or “taste.” It is a dereliction of duty not to make distinctions in every other aspect of a young person’s life between more and less desirable options.”

While I agree that parents need to show judgement and they do have a responsibility towards their children, the critical thing that she doesn’t say is that the book trade calls it banning when parents try to make those judgement calls for everyone, not just their own child.