Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Expanding Your Reading

    For a long, long time, I read children's books, then middle grade books, and then YA books in segments. I have blocks of my life where I only read that specific genre. In high school (until senior year), I thought it was ridiculous for me to read a middle grade book while I was 16. I was obviously much too mature to read something for a ten year old, and I didn't think I was mature enough to read to Adult books (apart from the classics that were assigned to me in school).
    Over the past three years, my view on this has changed. My senior year of high school when I interned for Audrey Press/ Jump Into a Book, my job was to read children's books and Middle grade fiction. I had to read these books with a critical eye, looking at the different aspects of the books and coming up with crafts. And I love them. Children's books are absolutely beautiful. I don't know when the last time was that you read a picture book, but man! Some of those pictures are just fabulous, and the stories are heart warming.
     Some of my favorite books are Middle Grade books: Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan, Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan, Holes by Louis Sachar, The Bridge to Terebithia by Katherine Paterson, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, and the list goes on. Yes, the language is younger, but the themes and issues discussed in Middle grade fiction are universal, something we've all been through or can relate to. And the language can also be very beautiful.
      I've heard recently, since publishing a YA book, that adults think they shouldn't read YA books, that the topics are young, the writing's young, the ideas are below their mental level. But this isn't true: there are some absolutely amazing writers in YA world right now. Adults were once young adults; they can relate to the issues being discussed and maybe can find a character and say "man, I wish I'd been like this as a kid." Even though we mature, every aspect of our lives carry with us to define who we are. We just don't let go of our adolescent mindset. It's still there, just not at the forefront.
       In the past year, I've ventured into the adult genre. My first novel was Life after Life by Kate Atkinson, which I listened to driving back and forth between Maryville and Chattanooga. And it was fabulous. The narrative style is so interesting, and the characters are incredibly compelling. This summer, I experienced Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel. I don't normally go for the post-apocolyptic novels, but Station 11 was spectacular. There are so many strings that all connect at the end, and it's just mind-blowing. When I got the end, I just sat there thinking "Woah!"
     So I guess the point of this book ramble is to not lock yourself into a reading box. It's very easy for me to just stay in my little YA world, especially because there are so many amazing YA books coming out right now to try and fail to keep up with. But try and make an effort to expand your reading circle. If you need any recommendations, I'm HAPPY to give some out. Just let me know.

And if you want to start in YA, Ascension is a great jumping in book :D

Happy Reading,

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