Not signed up for YALSA’s 2016 Hub Reading Challenge? Read the official rules and sign up on the original post. Anything you’ve read since the awards were announced counts, and the challenge runs until 11:59pm on June 23, so sign up now!
My Challenge reading has slowed down in recent weeks due to other titles demanding my attention (book club picks, adult nonfiction, and recommendations from patrons), but we’ve got over two months still to read, so I’m feeling good about my progress. The most recent titles I’ve finished are Mike Mullin’s Ashfall, and Lumberjanes, Vol. 2: Friendship to the Max.
Ashfall, from the 2016 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults Top Ten list, is an awesome example of how the Challenge helps me improve my Reader’s Advisory game. The first in a completed trilogy, Ashfall is a survival thriller, told in first-person by regular-guy Alex. It opens with the first fiery indications of the eruption of the super-volcano under Yellowstone and continues in an unrelenting march of action and human ingenuity – and desperation – in the face of drastically altered and unpredictable circumstances. This book is all about what happens next, with the answers generally including some suspense, some gore (probably not a great match for anyone uncomfortable with butchering scenes), and some seriously ethically-appalling human behavior. Stylistically, this was pretty far from my personal reading preferences. But it’s a perfect match for tons of my students who want to read about stuff happening, and it’s always exciting to know I’ve added another title to my arsenal of recommendations for patrons whose reading tastes are really different from my own. And it’s always great to have a completed series to recommend, especially with summer vacation for students just visible on the horizon.
I’d read the first collected Lumberjanes volume before the Challenge started, so I already knew I loved the world and its characters when I picked up volume two (Volumes 1 & 2 are on the 2016 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten list). Summer camp stories will always have a strong appeal for this former Girl Scout, and I have been thoroughly enjoying the multi-faceted characterizations of each Lumberjane. The series pokes gentle fun at its own strong-role-model presentation with earnest excerpts from the Lumberjane Handbook opening each chapter/issue, and then delivers honest-to-goodness role models in hilarious, high-action scenarios, all without getting too preachy in tone. Several of the panels have made me laugh out loud, and I am always grateful for storytelling that celebrates a broad spectrum of ways to be a brave, caring, conscientious person in our world while challenging the notion that certain attributes or skills are inherently gendered. The Lumberjanes are exactly the sort of girls I wish I’d had more representations of in the media when I was still an adolescent.
Next up for me will probably be Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the YA titles from the Amelia Bloomer Project’s 2016 Top Ten list. I’m always looking to add in some nonfiction, and this looks fun and inspiring.
What have you been reading for the Challenge lately? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and join the conversation on social media; look for the #hubchallenge on Instagram, Twitter, and our Goodreads group. If you’ve finished the Challenge, a) bravo! and b) fill out this form.
-Carly Pansulla, currently reading SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard