“Grown-Up” Books (For the Kid in You)

Girl_Reading

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.

Witches_HUB

* The Witches by Roald Dahl –Beautiful Creatures (2010 Morris Finalist) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Some witches are good, some are bad—but all are powerful!

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Judging Books By Their Covers: US versus UK

union_jack“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” It is one of the most common cliches in existence. And yet, during my trip to the UK this summer, I found myself doing just that. Books that I had already seen in the U.S. (or in some cases, already owned) looked so much more appealing with the covers that were designed for the UK. This made me ask several questions:

  • Why were different covers designed for the UK and the U.S., particularly given that the text itself was almost always identical?
  • What was it about the UK design sensibility that I liked?
  • Was I alone in my preference?
  • And, of course most importantly, how many books could I reasonably bring back in my suitcase? Continue reading Judging Books By Their Covers: US versus UK

Audiobooks for Reluctant Listeners

By RCA Records (Billboard, page 29, 18 November 1972) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By RCA Records (Billboard, page 29, 18 November 1972) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
June is Audiobook Month!  Many of us have fond memories of being read to as a child, but did you know that you can still be read to?  That is the value of audiobooks! The story comes alive and, with the right narrator, you can hear a story much more differently than you would reading it.  Accents are perfected, exclamations are understood, and even words or names you may not know or have never heard before make sense to you.  This is my second year evaluating audiobooks for YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults committee.  As chair of this year’s committee, I am so excited for all the great audiobook-related things happening this month.  Articles are being written about the importance and resurgence of audiobooks, you can get in “Sync” this summer and download free audios, and the audiobook circulation at my Library sees a nice increase starting in June with many people going on road trips and vacations.

To give you an idea of what makes an audiobook a good listen, here are some of the criteria that gets an audiobook on the Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults selection list:

  • The narration has to expand or compliment the original text.  In other words, when you listen to a narrator tell the story, it comes alive and allows the you to experience the text in a different way.
  • Character voice variation is key!  We must have a sense of who the character is by the different qualities in the voices that the narrator uses.  For example, it is a lot more enjoyable when you are listening to a narrated conversation and can tell which character is talking without the text cues letting you know.  Accents, exclamations, and sound effects also are considered.  If done well, they really make an audiobook amazing!
  • There is also the importance of a match between the text and the narrator.  You know when it is right; your ear picks it up.  The narrator embodies the main character and sometimes even all the characters in the books.
  • The technical production on an audiobook is also a criteria for the Amazing Audiobooks list.  We want to make sure the editing is done well, the sound quality is even, and that there are no issues with extra sounds or mike pickups. Additionally, we do consider the music that you hear at the beginning, end, or in between the tracks–does it match the story?  Is it effective in heightening the story? If it is, then it just adds more quality to the production.

So, where should you start if you have never listened to an audiobook before?  Well, some great awards and lists are put out every year: the Odyssey Award, the Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults annual list, and the Audies are a few places to start.  Below I have compiled some of my favorites, that I think will be a great first listen for all of you who are new to audiobooks and want to give them a try.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, read by Jeff Woodman.  Brilliance Audio: 7 hours. (2008 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)

http://youtu.be/qKVa5d9iE4E

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Is This Just Fantasy?: Fantastic Adult Fiction For The Voracious YA Fantasy Fan

Just Fantasy crossover 1.jpgI love sharing, discussing, and contemplating fantasy fiction–especially with fellow fans and readers. Happily, opportunities for such conversations happen on an almost daily basis for me.  Many of the most voracious readers among my students are fantasy fans; even as their tastes expand, these readers return again and again to this genre.  So where’s an ardent fantasy reader to turn when she exhausts her local library’s supply of young adult fantasy? One solution is to expand the search area–into the  world of adult fantasy fiction.

ocean at the end of the laneFor some, the easiest entry into a new area of fiction is through an author. For example, Neil Gaiman writes highly imaginative fiction imbued with dark beauty and twisted humor; his adult fiction is highly popular with teens at my library. Fans of unusual fairytale retellings might start with delightful Stardust (2000 Alex Award) while urban and offbeat high fantasy readers should investigate American Gods or Neverwhere.   And frankly, all fantasy readers should read his most recent release, the enchanting The Ocean At The End of The Lane.   Continue reading Is This Just Fantasy?: Fantastic Adult Fiction For The Voracious YA Fantasy Fan