Thursday, October 09, 2008


Lately I've been indulging myself in children's lit. Simon thought it was bad that I'd been reading YA, but I've regressed even further. I'm a sucker for STORY, man, give me some STORY, STORY is where it's at. Adult fiction writers generally go light on the story and heavy on the, ummm, introspection? Contemplation? Navel gazing? and when I finish the book I can't recognise whether I got the point or not. I do understand that one is meant to have a certain ambiguity there. It's meant to be art, something that you look at that fires the neurons and acts as fuel for thinking, and yet, sometimes I just want them to tell me what the hell it is they're trying to say.

I abandonded the family last night and went wandering in the stacks. It's a new library to me. Soon I'll be able to tell what row I'm in by the colors of the covers, but just now it's like a cross between a shopping spree and a reunion. Hi Orson Scott Card, see you're still using that tacky cover art. Howdy do, Mr Foer, the movie turned out well, didn't it. And who are you, my little pretty, with your Japanese name and a clockwork elephant on the cover... The truth is, when you're browsing the aisles all you have to go on is the title, name and cover art.

This time I found myself skipping entire shelves because I felt like I'd read one too many male names there. Nothing deep, I'm just in a mood. I want to read something by a woman that isn't, ummm, romantic? Soap Opery? Anything Renee Zelwiger would want to act in? I want an interesting story written by a woman, and it can't have dragons, corsets, political intrigue or hot breathy moments in it. It can't be about women falling for men who are cunning sleuths and fierce street fighters and grand master chess players and award winning chefs and geologists and lovers (I particularly loathe that kind of book...) I want a good story, lots of plot, heavy on the wit and clever, and a big dash of surprise. With a spoon. Gosh, if I could find some books like that I might need a bib.

So anyway, I started out in the adult fiction, grabbed some Pratchett in spite of myself, wandered through some nonfiction which brought me around the corner and back to YA, what the hell, so I grabbed some graphic novels. At least I didn't end up in the children's section.

Hey, I know several of you guys have youngsters of your own. If you're looking for a creepy Halloween read, might I suggest Coraline, Rosemary's Witch (Please ignore the atrocious cover art on the Amazon site, it's a good book in spite of that:) , and/or Well Witched . All of these are seriously spooky, so I think they should be read alouds for the 7-10 set, especially if they are of a sensitive nature. I'm especially fond of Rosemary's Witch. It's super creepy, yet there is a possibility of redemption in the story which you don't often see. Well Witched has that going for it too.

If you've got olders, say, 10/11 and up, I can recommend Baltimore. Very gruesome and scary. Boy loved it. The only complaint I have is that the three narrators are supposed to be very different people, but their voice is the same. The sailor who had no real education sounds the same as the dude who grew up posh. Ah well, no book is perfect.

I checked out The Graveyard Book, I'll fill you in on it the next time I write.

And with that, I'm off to wash dishes. If you've got some book recs for me, feel free to share. Not that I need to spend more time reading, but if I'm going to neglect the housework anyway, it's probably time I was doing it in the name of reading grownup books.

Heigh ho, heigh ho,


Rose said...

Blind Submission by Debra Ginsberg is intriguing and scary and has a plot and is written by the owner of a vagina. I'm not sure if Mischa Berlinski was a boy or a girl but I heard Fieldwork is good. I have read neither of these books but they're on my list. Also, um, another two I haven't read but want to are Lottery by Patricia Wood and The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond. Oh, and sometimes the Literature Map helps me find good stuff.

Jacqui said...

Oh, I was so hoping the part of this post that began "I want.." would end "and I found it!" and then you would tell us what it was.

I love the aisle-wandering, old friend greeting image.

And I do truly think YA is the best place to get a good yarn without the navel-watching.

Let me think on it...

Alwen said...

One of the perks of being a mom was that I rediscovered the YA shelves, and I now I surf them regularly.

I like Diana Wynne Jones and Barbara Hambly (although there are sometimes dragons in there, sorry).

Basically I'll read anything that isn't nailed shut, no matter who it was marketed towards.

Anonymous said...

The Shadow Children Series by Margaret Peterson Haddix was a lot of fun to read with my son. He's about the same age as yours. I always use him as my excuse to read YA!!

J. Thorp said...

I'm with you. I'm afraid I navel-gaze enough on my own without reading books that promote it!