Guest Post: The Wonderful World of YA

Why do I love reading YA books? This is actually a question I get frequently because nearly 95 percent of the books I read are Young Adult books. The other 5 percent are a mixture of Middle Grade and New Adult books, with a dash of whatever my future Mother-in-Law throws my way. I’ve read a variety of other genres but nothing ever felt quite right, like they were lacking something. It’s almost like the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

My Start

When I was a freshman in high school I was pretty terrified due to the fact that I had been home schooled all of grade and middle school. When it came to my first week of freshman English we went to the library to pick out our own book to read for the month. I was familiar with my public library a few streets down from my house, but I never really enjoyed what I read. The class period was almost over and I still couldn’t find anything and all the other students had already found their books. My teacher pulled me aside and handed me Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. She pulled me into the small YA section of the library and simply said “I think you’ll like these books…” and gave me a warm smile. I took the book home that night and by the time I was in English the next day I had finished it. I begged my mom to take me to Borders that night and buy the second book in the series, Pretties. They’re still my favorite books to this day!

YA’s Unwarranted Criticism

People bash YA books quite a bit. It’s sad. I think regardless of the quality or genre of book a person is reading, at least they’re reading! Every genre has poorly written books. But there are some amazingly talented authors who write YA that can rival some of the most legendary authors out there. Libba Bray, Scott Westerfeld, Leigh Bardugo, Veronica Roth, Sarah J. Maas, Alexandra Bracken and the list goes on and on. Many of the books that are being adapted into movies are mostly YA! Divergent is phenomenal and The Hunger Games is spectacular. Then there’s John Green. The Fault in Our Stars. Looking For Alaska. Two adaptations in two years! Panic by Lauren Oliver was optioned for film and she’s writing the screenplay! Whether you’re a young adult yourself or you’re in your 40s, these books offer something for everyone. YA should not be viewed as a “lesser” genre than any other, because that’s just ridiculous.

The Appeal of YA

YA appeals to me for so many reasons. For one, a lot of the explicit language and material is cut out. It’s not necessary and the author just adds more adventure to the story. During this period the characters’ emotions are heightened. Everything is felt so intensely. This is a time in your life when you’re experiencing a lot of firsts. I think how these authors capture all of this, then throw in some crazy plot of the world being separated into factions and fighting each other to the death, is pretty amazing. When I first started reading YA a lot of the stories dealt with issues I was also dealing with, and they became a coping mechanism.

Now I’m a twenty-something, engaged, college student and daycare teacher. I read to escape from the stresses of  daily life, and YA is my primary escape. The books are fast paced and unlike a lot of people (I guess), I don’t want to read five pages about the description of a forest. I read because I enjoy reading, not because I want to give myself a headache. I read YA because I like it. Simple as that. Just like John enjoys reading crime novels. That’s what interests him. YA is what interests me!

Happy Reading!

Aly

ILikeBooksTooMuch

 

The Top Selling Book of 2014 was…

Honestly, if someone gave me all of three guesses I bet I could name three books out of the top ten best selling books of 2014. And I bet most of you could easily get at least one. Why? Because the YA trend is only continuing. Sure there was that ridiculous Slate article (that I won’t link to) that said YA shouldn’t be read by adults. Or something like that, I never got around to reading the whole thing. YA sells. And maybe it doesn’t make up as much of the total number of books as some might think, but when you’re talking mega bestsellers we all know they’re going to easily make those lists.

Now time for the guessing game. Which books do you think were amongst the ten best selling of the year? Come on. I’ll give you a minute to think it over.

LA LA LA

Me singing.

Okay. For the purposes of this list Nielsen only included print editions of books, and hardcovers and paperbacks count as distinct titles. Which is why the same title can appear multiple times within the top ten. Now I’m just going to show you the list.

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (paperback)

2. Divergent by Veronica Roth (paperback)

3. Insurgent by Veronica Roth (paperback)

4. Allegiant by Veronica Roth (paperback)

5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney (hardcover)

6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (movie tie in, paperback)

7. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (paperback)

8. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (hardcover)

9. Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General by Bill O’Reilly (hardcover)

10. Looking for Alaska by John Green (paperback)

When I look at the list I see the same thing I saw on the Twitter list of the year’s most mentioned books. I see John Green on top of the literary world at the moment. And I see Veronica Roth trying to take his title. Want to know what I don’t see? I don’t see any surprises. No random self published book. No unknown author miraculously making the list. It was a good year for book sales, and it was a good year for YA mega bestsellers.

What do you think of the best selling books of 2014? Surprised by any of these?

Here They Come

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Photo Credit

The title of this post could literally mean any one of a hundred different things. I bet if I gave you the chance to guess before I get into what this post is actually about you’d be wrong. Go ahead. Guess.

Now you have something in your head that I am quite certain is incorrect. So let me tell you what is right. Every year Hollywood adapts a million books into movies. We know this. It’s not a new trend. This fall has quite a few new movie releases that are adapted from books. I mean, we know the big ones. Mockingjay. The Hobbit. Gone Girl. And there are more. This comes during a year in which we’ve already seen a number of adaptations released. Divergent. The Fault in Our Stars. The Giver. It appears that Hollywood is fast searching for the next phenomenon, but studios have recently been hit or miss when it comes to literary adaptations. Mostly miss. And the two wildly successful series (THG & The Hobbit) will be over this year and next, so the search will continue.

This article from USA Today lists their ten highlighted adaptations of the fall. Which movie adapted from a book are you most looking forward to? You know the answer for me. Mockingjay Part 1 cannot get here fast enough.

Books I Will NEVER Read

Photo Credit: Book Snobbery

I’m not a fan of bashing authors, but I’m not bashing authors really, I’m bashing their books. There’s a difference!

Okay, so I know most avid readers like myself have a number of books that will not ever be read for any reason. Not even if there’s a zombie apocalypse taking place and I’m the lone survivor with just the one book thrown on the floor in front of me. They are to remain off-limits forever and a day. Let me just give you the list.

1. Fifty Shades of anything

If you’re a fan of EL James, great. I’m not and never will be. I’ve known the very basic concept of the book for a long time now, but I just read a little of the Wikipedia page that made me want to slap someone. The first book sounds absolutely horrible. I mean, if you want to read about that stuff then partake in it yourself. Or go watch a movie. Or find a website. Do something. Don’t read about it. Makes me think you’re kind of gross. Don’t get angry at me for saying that. It’s my blog.

2. Twilight

I know Stephenie Meyer has been heavily criticized for her writing skills and the way she portrays Bella. Those are pretty much the two reasons why I won’t be reading any of the books in the series. Let me be clear, though, I would read this entire series 100 times before ever reading the first book from the above mentioned series. My reasoning for not reading these books is mostly because they don’t seem like they’d be interesting reads to me. Sure the writing may not be great and Bella isn’t the most memorable literary character of all-time, but the only book I’ve ever read about vampires was Dracula. Yes, I loved it.

3. Divergent

I think some of you may be thinking how I’m putting this series of books in with the other two. What I’ve read and heard about this series of books has mostly been that the first two books were pretty good and the last one was disappointing. I could be wrong, but that’s what I’ve read. Those have nothing to do with my decision not to read this series. There’s only one reason why I won’t read these books. It’s going to sound crazy, but oh well. I won’t read them because of all the comparisons they get to The Hunger Games. THG is my adult obsession. I LOVE those books. LOVE them. You’ll recall that I named the trilogy my favorite series ever in a previous post. Well, it’s because of the very slim off chance that I like Divergent more than THG that I won’t read them. I’m in love with Jennifer Lawrence and Katniss and Effie and Prim. I don’t want that to be overshadowed by Veronica Roth.

4. Anything written by a celebrity

I fully realize that most celebrities who ‘write’ books don’t actually write them. They have the help of a journalist or author or someone who actually writes the book for them. It’s not that I think the books are poorly written, it’s that the books are generally bad. For instance, I don’t have any interest reading about the whole rags to riches stories that so many athletes claim. It’s great that you went from food stamps when you were little to millions of dollars a year in salary, truly, BUT you won’t find me reading about it. I’m not including former presidents in this group. I think their books would be rather interesting to read. I look forward to reading George W. Bush’s book at some point. Not necessarily because I’m a supporter of his, but because his presidency was the first of my life that I actually understood a little about what was going on.

5. Anything with seductive people on the cover

I mean, come on. What’s the point? I work in a store that carries a very selective section of books. You’ll pretty much only find the major bestselling authors there. The ones I can name off the top of my head who I can recall seeing this past weekend are James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Tom Clancy, and Stephen King. BUT half of the books that I don’t recognize the author names have half-naked people on the front. It’s annoying. Won’t ever be reading those books. Not a one.

This would be my reaction to reading any book on the list.

Photo Credit: BuzzFeed

Okay, so I know my list wasn’t exactly a list of particular books so much as it was a list of types of books I won’t read. But that’s it. Do you have any books that you’ll never find yourself reading? Tell me why.

In other news, I just passed 500 WordPress followers less than a month after reaching 200! You guys seriously make me happy.

Has Hollywood run out of Ideas?

peg1-stars-hollywood-signI can’t say whether it’s a growing trend or if I am just now realizing it, but every year it seems that Hollywood adapts more and more books into major movies. That isn’t to say that the best movies are adapted from books, but sometimes that can be the case. Let’s look at recent theatrical releases.

We all know about the Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Twilight movies, so those won’t be discussed. There have been a number of recent releases that many may not even know come from books. The Wolf of Wall Street, which is a major Oscar contender was adapted from the book written by Jordan Belfort. Lone Survivor, a movie nominated for two Oscars is also adapted from the bestselling book of the same name. These are two examples that I myself didn’t initially realize had been adapted from books. These also both happen to be true stories, but that isn’t always the case. The second movie in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy was just released last December and World War Z was released last summer.

You see, the number of literary adaptations released each year may beg the question, “Has Hollywood run out of ideas?” We already get countless sequels to successful movies anyway, just think any movie starring a comic book character, but studios are relying heavily on authors to bring their books to the big screen in order to cash in. I don’t hate that this is happening because I am of the opinion that authors are the most creative people around, but I’m just wondering at what’s currently happening.

As we look at the number of successful adaptations, we must also look at the number of box office bombs from 2013. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones ended its theatrical run with just over $31 million. Ender’s Game has made just $61 million on a budget of $110 million.  The Book Thief made just $21 million. The Host ended its run with just $26 million. And Beautiful Creatures came out with a horrendous $19 million. Suffice it to say that for every major literary adaptation success, there are several that don’t quite make it.

But let’s not forget that the highest grossing movie of 2013 was The Hunger Games: Catching Fire with $421 million to date.

Just off the top of my head I can think of a couple of literary adaptations that are expected to make studios a lot of money in 2014. Mockingjay Part 1 and The Hobbit: There and Back Again. But there are also a number of films that will be adapted that we have no idea how successful they will be. Both The Monuments Men and Vampire Academy will be adapted and released this week, Divergent will be released in March, Fault in Our Stars will be released in June, Gone Girl will be released in October, and then at the end of the year we’ll have the third installments of The Hunger Games and The Hobbit series. We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars that have already been spent on these projects that may or may not pan out at the box office.

Quite frankly, the answer to the title of this post is that Hollywood hasn’t run out of ideas because the box office in America continues to thrive. But it is worth asking if their dependence upon bestselling authors is growing. I don’t have the answer to that  and maybe no one does.