A Pleasant Surprise

I’m not always the biggest fan of literary adaptations, although there are definitely exceptions. Yesterday afternoon I opened up Netflix to see if there was any documentary I might be interested in watching. Before I even browsed the documentaries I came across something else. Thirteen Reasons Why.

I may be mistaken, but I think this book is assigned in some schools in my area. I’ve never read it but I know it’s still popular a decade after publication. I had no idea what the book was about. Then I watched the first episode.

What I’ve watched so far (6 episodes) reminds me of Looking for Alaska. There’s a death. And everyone is trying to piece together what happened.

I’ve enjoyed the series. I’ll always enjoy a book that hits on relevant topics. Suicide prevention and bullying will always be important topics to stay informed about, and those two things are at the forefront of this book.

Have you read the book or watched the Netflix series? Thoughts?

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John Green Does it Again

I’ve now read three of the popular author’s books. I’ve noticed a pattern with the stories and characters I can’t ignore. John Green is an immensely popular author, but are his characters and stories actually any good? My thoughts:

Have you read any of his books? Did you notice anything similar about them?

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?

The Top Ten Books of 2014…on Twitter

BookVibe has compiled a list of books most mentioned on Twitter in 2014. Might as well just get into the list because I’m sure you’re more interested in the ten books than any preceding comments I have.

10. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

I suppose it would be unwise to think that a list like this wouldn’t include some classics, right? I mean, don’t high school kids have to read this? Maybe?

9. 1984 – George Orwell

I don’t know if high schoolers are reading this, but I’m not particularly surprised by it.

8. Jurassic Park – Michael Crichton

Hey. This is a definite surprise to me. It’s obvious that this made the list because of the new movie coming out next summer, but it is still nice to see people talking about it (even though we’re coming up on movie four and there are only two books.) But I read this in high school and then read the second one. Enjoyed both.

7. Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell

Haven’t read this one, but I know it’s popular. My only question is if her real name is really Rainbow. And I actually know the titles of all of her books even though I haven’t read any of them. That’s cool.

6. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

When a book is adapted into a major movie that immediately gets some awards buzz going, well it’s hard to imagine a world in which Twitter isn’t right on board with that. Still haven’t read this, though I’m about 90 percent sure I know what happens. Eh.

5. Hannibal – Thomans Harris

Okay.

4. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Obviously an American classic, but wasn’t this book just released as an e-book for the first time this year? Maybe that helped?

3. Looking for Alaska – John Green

I would have to go back and take a look at my banned books post, but I think this made the list. Cause I know it was published a few years ago and I figured that two of his other books would make this list over this one. Hm. What do I know?

2. A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin

There is absolutely nothing for me to say about this. Who wouldn’t expect this?

1. The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

Well it sure looks like John Green is right at the top of the literary world at the moment. Heck, this is the only book on the list I read in 2014. And he has another movie coming out next June. And is there anyone out there who doesn’t think his other works will be adapted at some point? Doubt it. I still would just like to mention that I have the same initials as John Green. Cause that somehow matters. This book actually had more than double the mentions on Twitter as the second book on the list. Sheesh.

So that’s it! The top ten books of 2014 on Twitter. Any surprises?

Read a Banned Book This Week

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Photo Credit: EventKeeper

I think Banned Books Week actually began yesterday, but I was too busy writing about candlelight to remember that I wanted to write a post about it. Whoops.

So, it’s officially Banned Books Week 2014. Don’t you think this week should be a bit more celebrated than it is? I mean, I would be willing to put a whole lot of money on the fact that no one in my family even knows about it. I wish someone would give me that opportunity so I could become an instant millionaire. But no, no one has asked me to bet any money. It’s an unfortunate occurrence. But now you get to hear about it from me.

Each year the American Library Association releases its annual list of most challenged books. These challenges are not astronomical numbers, but they do happen and come from religious groups, parents, and sometimes even teachers. Don’t be misled by the name of the annual list or by the name of the week itself. These books aren’t banned, just challenged. Well I guess technically some books are actually banned in other parts of the world where banned books is a real thing, but that has nothing to do with what I’m writing here.

So the ALA releases its list relatively early in the year and then celebrates Banned Books Week a little later on. Now I know what you’re wondering. How can you celebrate? Simple, read a book from the list. Or two. Or the top ten. Here’s a refresher of the current list of the most banned books.

1. Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey

2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian bu Sherman Alexie

4. Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

6.  A Bad Boy can be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

7. Looking for Alaska by John Green

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

9. Bless me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

10. Bone (series) by Jeff Smith

So there you have the top ten. And if you’re in a celebratory mood and feel like reading one of the books listed, then I’d suggest tackling #5. But that’s just me.

How are you celebrating Banned Books Week?

Also, if you’re interested in my thoughts about each book on the list, check out this post from earlier this year in which I discuss each book.

And the Most Banned Book of 2013 is…

ImagePhoto Credit: AbeBooks

Actually, I’m not sure if this list is 2013 or 2014, but let’s just say 2013. Eh. Before we delve into the list let me first say that I see no point in banning books at all. Actually, I do have one exception. I apologize beforehand if you happen to be a fan of this author or her writing, but there’s an author on WordPress who writes a series of stories that follow a stepbrother and stepsister who are involved with each other. Sexually. Yeah, ban that. Ban it here. On Amazon. Everywhere. And the titles of the books are so horrible. Ugh. I’m leaving it alone. Other than that, I’d say most everything else is fair game.

10. Bone (series) by Jeff Smith

I honestly have never heard of this series of books. But the reasons listed for its placement on this list were political viewpoint, racism, and violence. I won’t comment because I simply am unaware. I will say that the cover shown in the article I’m referencing looks to be aimed at children. I think it would be understandable for a book aimed toward a younger audience to be included on this list if it has racism and violence.

9. Bless me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

Another book I’m unfamiliar with. The reasons given were Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, and sexually explicit. Hmm. Okay.

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I haven’t read the book, but I have seen the movie. I thought it was great. But I also find its placement on this understandable. I mean, this is geared toward teens, right? Well the nature and things discussed in the book are definitely serious in nature. The reasons given were drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Can’t say I disagree with any of those. Though this is a book I want to read at some point since I’ve seen the movie.

7. Looking for Alaska by John Green

Hasn’t John Green become something of a superstar recently? I’ve never read his books but I hear his name all the time and see blog posts about him just as often. I assume this is a YA book? The reasons given were drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. And here I thought YA was all about vampires and paranormal romances. Guess not. But then again I have no earthly idea what this about.

6. A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

I’m starting to see a patten here. The reasons given were drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, explicit language, sexually explicit. Never read this. Never will. Moving on.

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

WHAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTT?! Last I checked Katniss isn’t running around having sex with everyone or drinking or smoking or anything besides trying to stay alive! This is stupid. Do I agree with this making the list? No. Do I understand it making the list? No. Do I want to find someone who helped come up with the list and punch them in the face? Yes. The reasons given were religious viewpoint and unsuited to age group. Shut up. Before I get angry.

4. Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James

I can honestly say that there was not single tidbit of surprise in me when I saw this book made the list. I mean, it doesn’t get any more self-explanatory than this, right? I’m not going to list the reasons given because you all know them already. If you don’t, good. Stay away from the internet!

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Never read, Reasons given were drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. I’m assuming that this is another YA book or geared toward even younger audiences because that seems to always be the case when you see “unsuited to age group.”

2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

I thought Toni Morrison was one of those authors who everyone loves today? I’ve never read her books, but I swear I’ve read plenty about her. Hm. Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence. What’s with all the sex and drugs in these books? I guess someone’s got to write about it all, right?

1. Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey

Ha. Seriously, this just tells me what a joke this list is. I mean, most of the books are so understandable that explanations aren’t necessary when you see the content you’re dealing with. But this? Really? I remember EVERYONE reading these books when I was in elementary school. I never read one, but everyone else did. Because they were pretty funny, I assume. Reasons: offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence. I’m done. This is no longer relevant. To find this book on the same list as some of the other titles. And I’m seeing here that it’s not the first time it’s made it. Oh well.

So there you have the most banned books of 2013. What do you think? If you’re anything like me, about a third of the list is a laughing stock.

You can read an article about the list on The Huffington Post here.