I don’t know if it’s my penchant for once-upon-a-time fairy tale retellings, but when I pick up a book, I expect it to be narrated in past tense. Recently, though, it seems like more and more YA books are being told in present tense. I’m not quite sure why this is a trend, but I find the more frequent use of present tense interesting and occasionally annoying (I write this completely aware of the irony that I am writing this post in the present tense).
I remember clearly the first time I noticed a story was being narrated in present tense–I honestly don’t remember the book or even quite when in my life this was, but I found the narration clunky and distracting, and I put the book down after a chapter or less. Looking back, I’m not sure if the writing was bad or clunky at all, or if I was just completely put off by the present tense. Now that I have encountered many more books that use present tense, I usually find it easier to ignore the tense and fall into the story, but not always. After all, past tense is something of a common language in English narrative writing, and it’s not like an author can’t convey that something is happening now even while using past tense. For example, Sam in Bennett Madison’s September Girls (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults) describes his current whereabouts using past tense: “I had decided to take a walk, and now I was alone at the edge of the water as it came and went” (p. 22).
When I thought about writing a Hub post on this topic, I decided to speculate about reasons why an author might choose to use the present tense instead of the past. This seemed like a good way to try to appreciate this writing technique better. Here are some possibilities I’ve come up with: Continue reading No Tense Like the Present
When did you start to love reading? Can you remember the first book that did it for you?
Why, yes I do remember–so glad you asked! I was in third grade at my local public library with my friend Margaret (a bookworm and savvy reader a few years older than me). She thrust Lois Lowry’s Anastasia, Again at me so I shrugged and checked it out. I spent the rest of that afternoon on my front porch for hours happily lost in the book. I was a reader. And I haven’t looked back since.
Over the years, I have found that the phase of life in which you read a book affects your outlook on it. Have you ever re-read a beloved book only to find you now despise it? Have you discovered that you still love that same book but notice a lot of different stuff now? If you’ve grown up reading chances are you have many fond memories of the greats you read as a kid. In this line of thinking my colleague Meaghan Darling and I put together some recommendations of titles to try now based on what you liked when you were younger.
* The Witches by Roald Dahl â€“Beautiful Creatures(2010 Morris Finalist) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Some witches are good, some are badâ€”but all are powerful!
It’s time once again to consider what books our favorite TV characters would read. While reading isn’t boring, it’s not that exciting to watch. So the question remains, what books would they read? This month I decided to bring the past to the present. Our six beloved teens from the 1970s probably read the classics like The Hardy Boys and books by Judy Blume. It definitely makes me wonder what books would the gang from That 70s Show read if they were teens today.
Eric Forman â€“ Let’s start with the unofficial leader of the group. When Eric is not obsessing over his on-again, off-again girlfriend or battling with his hard ass father, Eric has one other fixation, Star Wars. We know he went to see the original several times and has even had fantasies in which he is Luke Skywalker. I know he would plow through all of the different amalgamations of Star Wars graphic novels, from the first episode to the Clone Wars and beyond. I would also like to give him something I stumbled upon a few months ago that is just fantastic. Ian Doescher has blended together two things that have never combined before: Star Wars and William Shakespeare. I would give him Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope(2014 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults). Just the image of Jabba the Hut in Shakespearean dress is enough to make this title a favorite.
Jackie Burkhart â€“ We know that Jackie is a reader. On several occasions Jackie mentions reading Nancy Drew mysteries. I’d like to bring Jackie to the new millennium with a few options that are a bit more modern, but still with the Nancy Drew core. First, I’d give Jackie Lulu Dark Can See Through Walls by Bennett Madison. Unlike Nancy Drew, Lulu isn’t that excited to beginning investigating a mystery, but when her designer purse is stolen, she takes the case. Instead of ending every mystery with a hot fudge sundae like Nancy Drew would do, I’d bet Lulu would celebrate every mystery with a latte. I’m sure millennial Jackie would approve. Continue reading What Would They Read?: That ’70s Show
What. A. Summer. Sam didn’t think it would pan out to much, going to the beach with his older brother, Jeff, and his newly singled Dad. But the sleepy old beach is filled with beautiful blonde girls. Usually Jeff is the guy who gets the girls. Not this summer. They all seem interested in Sam.
Madison’s novel is a combination of summer romance and paranormal horror. It also contains a portrayal of sexism that has prompted strong reader reactions. A thoughtful analysis of these issues (with SPOILERS) can be found on The Book Smugglers blog. To get a sense of the intensity surrounding the discussion, take a look at the comments on goodreads.com.
Personally, I enjoy a good discussion on sexism. I was a teen in the 1970s, when feminism was seeping its way into the national consciousness, challenging the fairness of everything from high school sports to underwear. It’s an important issue during adolescence and early adulthood for both sexes, as awareness of one’s own sexual identity emerges. Life may alter these convictions over time, but it’s important to begin with an understanding of the insidious nature of sexual discrimination.
Fittingly, the band, September Girls, is a five-woman band from Dublin that combines intense reverb with catchy melody. Want to hear how it’s done? Check out their video below.
-Diane Colson, currently reading The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt