Friday, February 24, 2012


A couple weeks ago I felt like going to the bookstore.  I love bookstores but don't go to often because A) I already have a huge pile of books to read, B) end up spending too much money...and books are often cheaper online, C) end up spending a lot of time there, and D) I am trying to read more on my Kindle to keep my home a little less cluttered.  However, the bookstore shopping experience cannot be replicated online.  Browsing the covers, picking up a book and flipping through it, staff recommendations, just seeing the shelves and shelves of books.  It's a much more rich and satisfying experience than shopping for books online.  To me, it is all pretty glorious, I had a wonderful evening checking out books.

I have previously mentioned my like of young adult literature here.  Walking into a bookstore and seeing the huge space for young adult literature makes me really happy on the inside.  I am envious of the kids that get to grow up with such an array of seemed in my day it was Judy Bloom, the Hardy Boys, a handful of classics like Tom Sawyer or Treasure Island and that was about it.  I know there was more - I got into Lloyd Alexander and the Three Investigators books to name a few...but it was no where near the amount that is available today.  There seemed to be a big jump, you books for young kids and then you had books for high school age, but this middle school years 4th-8th grade level books had pretty slim pickings.  I remember going to a bookstores and them having one, maybe two shelves of young adult lit...and there was nothing over 250 pages, even 200 pages was hard to find.  I am envious that kids now get sweeping seven book sagas where they get thicker each volume, the final volume ending up being nearly 800 pages.  That would have been so awesome to me back then.

Still when I go into a bookstore, I am awed by the immensity of the young adult section...bookcase after bookcase, shelf after shelf.  It is all great...except for this:

Now, I don't hate this in and of itself...I just hate how big of a chunk of the young adult section that it actually takes up. 4 and a half bookcases worth.  I understand why - Twilight was huge and people want to cash in on some of that.  And just like the horrible romance novels for adults, these romance novels exist for teens.  But it disturbs me that it has to be paranormal romance.  A few are fine, but it disturbs me a that there are so many more paranormal versus regular romance tales for young adults.  I know not every girl is going to have unrealistic expectations because of these, but I am sure some will.  How will they every be happy if they don't find their vegetarian vampire, werewolf with a heart of gold, or angel that gives it all up for love?  And what about for guys...some have to feel some pressure to live up to an imaginary standard (similar to how girls feel pressured by society super skinny or super beautiful.  Sure it is all in there minds, but that type of thing could sure mess with you if you had low self-esteem.  I myself had enough problems comparing myself to knights and war heroes...and they were just people.  I know it was all in my mind now, but when I was younger there were times when I just didn't feel good enough for whatever girl I happened to like, because I hadn't done anything special.  At least my goals of being special were humanly possible.

Admittedly, I haven't read these books, so I could be mistaken...and I doubt most kids and teens take them seriously, but still that can sink into your subconscious.  I'm just saying, step out of the paranormal romance section once in a while, try some normal fiction or romance - don't dream of something that doesn't exist.

I also found this hilarious.  The paranormal romance bookcase is right next to the non-fiction bookcase...the only problem is that the romance spills over an covers 3/4 of the non-fiction.  2 measly shelves for non-fiction.

I'm glad the kids and teens of today have this great selection of books.  I found it sad that I couldn't find most of the books that I enjoyed as a kid.  There were a few scattered about and it made me smile to see them, but they seemed almost quaint next to the modern teen books...books that can be amazing and dark.  Darkness didn't much exist in the majority of books for young adults when I was in the age bracket (which is probably why I started reading Stephen King so young).  Hunger Games, with kids killing and dying all over the place?  There is no way that would have existed 20 years ago.  It is nice to see the gritty worlds that authors have now come up with.  I look forward to reading through more of you in the near future.


Lax Guy said...

"Hunger Games, with kids killing and dying all over the place? There is no way that would have existed 20 years ago."
Twenty years ago, "Hunger Games" was in the adult horror section in most stores. It featured adult characters. Back then it was called "The Running Man." And no, the Arnold movie is not an accurate representation of the book (as I'm sure you are aware, being a King reader).
For the life of me, I cannot figure out why my adult friends over 30 are psyched about "The Hunger Games" since King published his version nearly three decades ago.
My wife saw a clip from the upcoming movie, then turned to me and said "Is that a remake of The Running Man?" Seriously.

kelly said...

I do believe though that tackling things like Stephen King, the LoTR series, and other such fare back when we were 10-11 did more than its share to challenge and expand our tender young minds and make reading as important as it has been. Just working to keep all those names and places and detailed history straight, looking up and figuring out what all those words meant, I don't know that some of the more modern shallower stuff would've sufficed. It's nice to turn your brain off and enjoy reading fluff now and then but I get more satisfaction from books and authors that require some thought and stretch beyond just a simple dumped down plot.

Lax Guy said...

Kelly, I agree wholeheartedly. We had no choice but to read adult stuff when we were younger. I started reading King in 5th grade. Maybe that is why I excelled in English compared to my peers that read adolescent fiction (what little there was) in jr high...
Having read the Twilight series (per my wife's "request"), Harry Potter, and a few other popular series, I can say that I was reading above that level in third grade. Maybe it was because we did not have as much available. Maybe it was because we had editors that really cared about content and story telling more than cashing in on a trend or franchise. Then again, we had licensed properties churning out mediocre reading, but my school's library did not stock those the way they now have the hot books.
In fourth grade, I was reading HG Wells. My sister-in-law (now in 6th grade) read Twilight. At the same school! A school that has always had a reputation for excellent reading and writing programs and is often regarded as the best public elementary in the city. When I went to her VIP day (what used to be grandparents day), my jaw dropped at the garbage in the library.

Michael said...

Unfortunately, I think this is the age where a lot of kids stop reading or never learn to love reading...books were too easy, but adult books (that we three transferred to) were too difficult or there just wasn't anything that they found interesting. The current books provide a more middle ground of difficulty.
I do find it weird that Hunger Games was classified as young adult fiction, because all I can think of is that "The characters are kids, it must be for kids!" type thinking. But then again, I guess it doesn't have sex, and our society has always been more lenient with violence than sex for kids.
I love the variety that kids have that I didn't...I hope it instills a love for reading into a higher percentage of kids. Even if a lot of it is crap, hopefully it will encourage children to read more.

Allen Walker said...
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