Reading Something Other Than YA


Young Adult fiction is overtaking the industry. If I could be so bold, I might say that YA is our literary movement. There are just so many that it takes a very dedicated bookworm to keep up with them all. I, myself, am no where near that level of commitment.

However, looking back on this blog, I realize that I talk a lot about fiction, especially Young Adult fiction. Which is great. YA is awesome. However, as Joyce Carol Oates said, "Fiction is wonderful, but it's only one room in the mansion of literature." And this understanding of literature can also be applied to YA. Sometimes I get so caught up in the easy fiction of the Young Adult genre that I forget about the significance and power of other genres.

We have hundreds and hundreds of years of history each with their own take on literature. I would know, and other English majors would know, because of the abundance of literary history classes that we have to take.

As big of a reader as I pretend to be, I try really hard to read in other genres as well. In all honesty, you just can't claim the title of bookworm unless you really do worm through all the genres.

That being said, yesterday was the centennial anniversary of the publication of James Joyce's Dubliners collection. If you haven't read these yet, I highly recommend it.

If you need more persuasion, The New York Times published a short article honoring the anniversary and you can read it here.

When You're Trying to Read...

This might be something that only professional booknerds will experience on a regular basis but if you've ever been so hooked on a book that you just, literally, can't put it down then you'll probably understand as well.

<-- Voila.
The unfortunate dilemma of binge reading.

There's nothing quite like curling up in bed or in the corner of your couch with your nose in a novel. The rain drumming against your window or the softer snow muting the distracting noises. But then, you read for, what amateurs would say is, too long. And soon, your bed is no longer comfortable. Your body is numb.

And your eyes begin to hurt because of inadequate lighting and you start thinking, 'I should get out of bed and do something with my life.'

Fortunately, I count reading as being productive (even if you're using it to procrastinate homework). It's just the staying in bed all day that makes you feel so groggy. Unfortunately, Provo is notorious for its hormonal weather, especially in the Fall, Winter, and Spring seasons that all sort of blend together into one long Winter.

This is my first summer staying in Provo. So, I have high hopes. And happily, it's finally warm enough to read outside. On campus, we have some pretty amazing nooks and crannies that you can hide in and sit in the shade and read. Or if you need to get out of the BYU bubble, there are a lot of nice parks around town that provide ample room to read with the fresh, warmer, air of Summer.

Diagnosed as a Closet Fantasy Fan

If there were such a diagnosis, I could probably be identified as a closet fantasy fan. No, I don’t mean Harry Potter. There are no judgments placed upon the HP fans that make up 95% of the population. J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series and The Hobbit are also exempt due to a mainstream fan-ship. However, once the reader ventures into Tolkien’s expansive works, such as The Silmarillion, new labels are frequented more and more, “nerd” and “geek” being the most common. I, myself, have often avoided the self-termed “heavy” fantasy and elongated sagas. Yet, Brandon Sanderson has breached my attempts to eschew the genre. Indeed, after reading Elantris and The Mistborn Trilogy, I have been magnificently drawn into his Stormlight Archive, including The Way of Kings and newly released Words of Radiance.

Admittedly, the Stormlight Archive is, or is to be, lengthy, to say the least, but Sanderson has shown his ability to provide just enough crumbs to keep the reader searching, but also withhold enough of the story to prevent any indulging. Frustrating? Sure. Artistic? I suppose. Working? Yes.
With the emergence of Sanderson, I have come out of the metaphorical “fantasy closet.” I read really long books full of magic, mystery, adventure, and intrigue. Additionally, I plan on reading eight more 1,000 page novels in order to tie all the strings together, but that is what we Fantasy lovers do. We read and we don’t care.
Do yourself a favor and discover the brilliance in Brandon Sanderson’s storytelling by reading one of his nationally acclaimed books during your excess time this summer.

- Luke

The House of the Scorpion - Nancy Farmer

In all honesty, I picked up this one because of the abundance of shiny stickers on the front cover. I did the same thing as a little kid and thought that I just had an impeccable taste in books; it took me a little while before I realized that I was just reading all the books that had been granted awards. Still, I am a sucker for shiny stickers. This probably isn't the best way to go about picking the next book you're going to read but in all honesty, it can't hurt.

The House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer, is a post-apocalyptic YA novel about a clone named Matteo Alacran. And not just any clone but the clone of El Patron, the most powerful and influential drug lord who rules the empire of Opium, a country situated between Mexico (now Aztlan) and the United States. Matteo stands out in that he is the only clone whose mind is not destroyed when he was initially harvested.

I know, it seems as if the post-apocalyptic genre is worn out and overdone but this book didn't win all these awards for no reason. So give it a shot, and read it because of the shiny stickers.

What Should I Read Next?

You know that feeling when you've just read a really long series, or a really good stand alone, and you are so caught up in that world of writing that you just have no idea what to do with your life? This happens to me way too often. And either one of three things happens:

  1. I want something similar to read. Something that keeps me in the same sort of mindset.
  2. OR I get really antsy to try something new and want to read something on an entirely different plane of thought.
  3. OR I don't read; which is bad.

And as insignificant as it may be, it is always a difficult choice to make. What should I read next? And the whole time your considering options, you are totally ignoring the list of to-read books you have hidden somewhere. Those are the books that you do want to read eventually but try as you might, you're just not in the mood for any of those that you've previously picked out.

Well, I have a couple of solutions for you.

  • If you're in the mood for something similar as the book you just finished, there is this great website that is literally called whatshouldireadnext.com. All you have to do is type in the name of an author or a book and it gives you a inexhaustible list of books to read.
  • Another option, is to force yourself to sit down and read those books that you have on your shelf but just haven't read yet. I'm always initially apprehensive to do this myself, but as soon as I do, I get lost in the writing and voila, problem solved.
  • If you try all this options and still no luck, well, I have this nifty and obnoxiously long infographic for you here. And one slightly less obnoxiously long one here: