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Tag: Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults

Popular Paperbacks: Books to Write Home About

From Flickr user CDaisyM.
As a reader, I love edgy books. Titles that toe the line or cross it altogether in subject matter can bring on the greatest reading thrills. Give me an author who is willing to be adventuresome and not stick with the status quo on a subject matter. Sometimes these books can be a bit too much in terms of swearing or sex, but this is definitely not always the case and this is why Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults needs YOUR help for the final category for this year’s list.

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Popular Paperbacks: Gowns, Greasepaint and Guitars!

Do you love the arts? Have you been busy devouring books set at boarding schools? Well if so, you really need to consider nominating a title for YALSA’s Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults list.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be discussing the four new categories that make up this year’s PPYA lists. But first, some information about Popular Paperbacks. This is a list that is focuses on titles that are widely available in paperback and encourage teens to read for pleasure. Literary quality, while a fine addition to any PPYA nominated title, is not the first consideration. Rather, these are books that truly fit the idea of popular: that is, something anyone would pick up for pleasure and fun. PPYA is all about the fun, and every year it tries to tackle topics that are current and relevant to readers’ lives. The Hub has been a big supporter of PPYA, doing several posts about PPYA lists they would like to see revisited. Maybe in the future, you’ll see similar topics popping up again. And now, onto the first theme for today’s discussion.

Gowns, Greasepaint and Guitars: not the same old song and dance

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PPYA revisited: Short Takes

by flickr user visual.dichotomy

Of all the many booklists YALSA puts out every year, Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (or PPYA) might be my favorite. It’s not that I don’t love the literary excellence recognized by the Printz or get excited by the new voices in YA literature lauded by the Morris. It’s just that PPYA is so useful. I spend a lot of time reading and thinking about YA literature. When awards season comes around, I’ve heard about and read many of the Best Fiction for Young Adultstitles and the Printz titles. Last year I managed to read all five Morris finalists before the winner was announced. PPYA, on the other hand, always brings something new to the table. Maybe it’s something that came out before I was a librarian. Maybe it’s something that slipped under my radar when it was first published. Either way, I can always count on PPYA when I want to find something new.

With my love of PPYA in mind, I decided to revisit an older list that I think could use some serious updating. One of the PPYA categories from 2000 is Short Takes. That list features 25 collections of short fiction and nonfiction that cover a huge range of topics–everything from horror to undergraduate life to prom night to multiculturalism. There are collections of stories by a single writer, like Chris Crutcher’s Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories, and anthologies containing the work of many authors, like Stay True: Short Stories for Girls. It’s a great list, but all of the titles on it were published between ten and twenty years ago. It’s time for an update! With the diversity of the original list in mind, I present to you fifteen short story collections, published in the last ten years, now available in paperback–PPYA Short Takes for a new decade!

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PPYA Revisited: Teens from Other Times

Historical Fiction section of a libraryRecently, an author friend on Goodreads posted about the recent scarcity of historical fiction in the YA category. After a swift perusal of my own “read” and “to-read” list, I couldn’t help but acknowledge that it’s true. With that thought in mind, I had a look at YALSA’s Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (PPYA) lists, which have themes every year. The last time a historical fiction PPYA list was done was in 1998, the second year PPYA was in existence. The theme was “Teens from Other Times” and featured familiar titles Catherine, Called Birdy, Walter Dean Myers’ Fallen Angels, and Ann Rinaldi’s In My Father’s House. Of the twenty five titles placed in this category, few are regular familiars. If there are fewer pure historical fiction novels being written for a young adult audience, how do we determine the best ones to read? I am a history buff myself, and I usually find that fascinating characters, groups, or events from history can draw out the most compelling story. This is not, however, always the case. A fabricated historical figure, or one whose name might have been picked from a historical account and then fictionalized, can pull a reader just as well in any era. Every point in time had something going on; it’s up to the author to realize that event and make it palpable to the reader.

With that in mind, let’s look at a few books that might be on this PPYA list if it had been created today. This was actually a difficult list to put together, as there are no parallel plotlines, no magical realism or urban fantasy, and absolutely NO speculative fiction (that last was really hard; some of my favorite “Victorian” novels are actually steam- and dieselpunk). Also, more recent titles were considered; we’re going to stick to novels written in the 2000s or later. Finally, the parameters of PPYA–as seen in the title–indicate paperbacks, and therefore some of the great historical fiction that has come out in the past year would not qualify.

PPYA lists are usually 25 titles long; we’re going to do 10 of the historical fiction novels that have been incredibly popular from their hardcover release through to their paperback ones.


Geeking out about Popular Paperbacks

This year’s Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults comes to us in four categories, each with some excellent titles. In the Adventure Seekers department, you’ve already heard all about my enthusiasm for Finnikin of the Rock. From the Forbidden Romance list, I’ve mentioned my love of Anna and the French Kiss. And the Sticks and Stones category’s Thirteen Reasons Why was a heartbreaking read with a message not to ignore the pain of other people (check out Jay Asher’s essay about his first class visit for the book). But I want to talk about the fourth category, Get Your Geek On.

It’s a good time to be a geek (or a nerd or a dork….). Intelligence is prized as strength rather than stigma, and being adept with technology is a potential career boon instead of a weird hobby. Science fiction and fantasy are popular genres for books, television and movies. Even roleplaying games are making regular media appearances. Geeks have become cool and this list is full of cool geeks. Here are some highlights:

Geektastic, edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci, boasts short stories of all kinds of geeks from an exciting array of authors. With 15 stories by 15 authors interspersed with by comics by Hope Larson and Brian Lee O’Malley, there is something for everyone in this collection, and probably several names you’ll recognize. Highlights include a Klingon cosplayer who falls for a Jedi at a convention, a taciturn LARPing hero, a quiz bowl outcast, and a party full of people pretending to be their online roleplaying characters. The illustrations on the book’s cover are Nintendo-style pixel drawings representing the authors. For a fun activity while reading, try to guess who’s who and check your work against the author bios at the end of each story.