I’m Y.A. and I’m O.K.

July 20, 2008 at 10:11 am (General, Young Adult)

There’s an article in the NY Times today called “I’m Y.A. and I’m O.K.” talking about the hazards of having a book labeled as Young Adult. As many of you know, I write YA reviews for the Paperspine blog. I sometimes have a difficult time deciding what is and what is not YA fiction. Some books that are considered YA, I read it and think “That was only YA if you’re thinking of ‘young’ adults as in an adult who is younger, like 18 – 22 or something.” Some “adult fiction” I wonder “Wait… why wasn’t this listed as YA?” Authors are afraid to be listed as YA because it hurts sales but, as mentioned in the NY Times article:

Many adults don’t realize how much the Y.A. genre has changed since their days of reading teenage romances and formulaic novels. “A lot of people have no idea that right now Y.A. is the Garden of Eden of literature,” said Sherman Alexie, whose first Y.A. novel, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” won the National Book Award for young people’s literature last year. Even the prestige of that award didn’t make him impervious to the stigma. “Some acquaintances felt I was dumbing down,” Alexie said in a phone interview. “One person asked me, ‘Wouldn’t you have rather won the National Book Award for an adult, serious work?’ I thought I’d been condescended to as an Indian — that was nothing compared to the condescension for writing Y.A.”

I have to say that some of the BEST books I’ve read have been YA books. In fact, some of the more popular books amongst book bloggers – and even non-book-blogging adults are YA – see also the Harry Potter books, the Twilight books, even The Book Thief.

I understand why they separate these books out as YA… sort of. But, it does sometimes make for a frustrating experience when I’m looking for a book – on two counts, actually. The first frustration is trying to figure out where my book might be. These things aren’t really “advertised” as young adult, so sometimes I’m in the “adult” section, get frustrated, go to some sort of “help desk” only to be told that the book is YA. The second frustration comes from the fact that, in a bookstore, I am a browser. I want all my fiction books to be in one place. Apparently, I’m an anomaly because most bookstores and libraries are set up with “romance” sections, “sci-fi” sections, “mystery” sections, and, yes, “young adult” sections. Very frustrating.

But, mostly, I’m curious about why there’s such a negative perception STILL about YA? And how do you define what IS and what ISN’T YA?


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Booking Through Thursday: Vacation Spots

July 17, 2008 at 12:15 pm (Booking Through Thursday, Memes) (, , )

btt2Today’s Booking Through Thursday questions:

Do you buy books while on vacation/holiday?

Do you have favorite bookstores that you only get to visit while away on a trip?

What/Where are they?

I actually don’t really go on vacation. To date, my husband and I have never been on a vacation together. I’m working on it, but it could be a while yet.

I do sometimes go visit my mother who lives, actually, not that far from us. We’re in Seattle, she’s in the suburbs. By car it is about half an hour. Because my hubby and I don’t own a car, we have to bus out there and usually bus back (though sometimes she or my sister, Danielle, will drive us back). The bus trip can take up to two and a half hours, depending on the day and the time. Generally, though, it only takes about an hour and a half to get to the transit center out there, where they pick us up (otherwise, it would take MUCH longer to get there – I’ve done it before and thanks, but no thanks). Still, if it is a holiday, or a day my mother is working the night shift, we often end up spending the night. This is usually decided last minute… so I always bring a book in my bag. Sometimes two. Or three. You can never have too many with you.

Don’t forget to get your entries in for my giveaway (a three-month membership to Paperspine).

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In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

July 16, 2008 at 9:44 pm (Book Reviews)

I was surfing around the bookblogosphere today and came upon a review of In Defense of Food. I actually got this book a few months ago and read through it right away. This was back when I wasn’t “counting” non-fiction, so you won’t see it on my list during that time, though it’ll be there now. I have been reading it again because I keep being drawn back to this book.

The premise, simplified, is: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. 

Eat food. The author’s definition of food is basically “foods your grandparents would recognize” although, as mentioned in the Both Eyes review, most people now know what edamame is – but my mother’s grandmother would not have, so that definition doesn’t really work. I have to dispute that by saying that while my great grandmother may not have known that it was a soybean, she would have looked at it and thought “bean” as opposed to, say, Pop Rocks, which would have left her… confused. But it goes even deeper than that – nothing is quite what it used to be. For instance, “bread” may now be “healthy, whole grain, additive-free bread” or “baked pile of white chemicals”.

Not too much. A lot of Americans Westerners people have problems with this. Americans especially, I think. We’ve been taught to eat the biggest portion possible. Upsize for only fifty cents. An empty plate, not a satisfied stomach, means we’re done. And, generally, we eat as quickly as possible.

Mostly plants. Even in and amongst all of the diets and nutrition fads out there, most of them agree that plants are good for you. Especially leafy greens. (Personally, I LOVE fruit. Veggies are… okay. I like some of them but have me choose between, say, a salad or a pineapple and I will almost always choose the pineapple. Mmm. Pineapple…)

This book goes into so much more than that. It discusses how we arrived at the age of nutritionism and why eating based on nutrients may be misguided. How we’re no longer told “eat an orange” but “have vitamin C”.

By far, the most “controversial” statement in this book is that we should stop eating processed foods. Most people believe we should, as well, but this is a hard edict to follow. It’s more expensive to eat this way. When I went grocery shopping last weekend, I was trying to find cottage cheese that didn’t have anything added – no high fructose corn syrup, no gums of any sort, etc. It was quite difficult. And I live smack dab in the middle of the city.

Could you follow the advice of this book? Do you eat food, not too much, and mostly plants? If so, is it a struggle? If not, would you like to? How could you go about doing this?

This book really makes me think.

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Giving away a three-month subscription to Paperspine!

July 10, 2008 at 7:18 pm (Contests)

<cancelled due to lack of entries>

I did, however, want to leave this post up because of Dewey’s comments.

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42 Challenge

July 8, 2008 at 9:28 pm (42 Challenge) (, )

Becky has come up with a challenge that I am REALLY excited about. And since she says we can unofficially start now if we want, I will. What’s the challenge?

Your mission–if you choose to accept it–is to read, watch, listen, and review 42 sci-fi related items. (Items isn’t the best word, but how else would you define all that this challenge could involve). What’s acceptable? Practically everything: short stories, poetry (???), novellas, novels, episodes of TV shows, episodes of radio shows, movies, comic books, graphic novels, audio books, essays or articles about science fiction or science fiction writers, biographies of science fiction authors.


This appeals to my not-so-inner geek. I have “geek girl” written all over me (possibly, read also: “sci-fi geek”). Seriously. My Netflix membership helps out with that – I watch TONS of episodes of sci-fi shows on DVD. I just finished watching all 10 seasons of SG-1 (this was after watching all of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Stargate: Atlantis). I’m currently running through Battlestar Galactica. When I was little, I used to sneak out of bed at night to watch Star Trek: TNG. I’ve even been known to write fanfic. I am, in fact, so geeky that I even “lust after” the sci-fi guys and gals more than non-sci-fi people. Within even those constraints, I tend to go for the smarter, more geeky ones (with just a few exceptions).

And the new SGA (Stargate: Atlantis) season starts this coming Friday!! I’ve already got DVR set-up, though I’ll probably watch it “live” anyway. (Commercials do frustrate me, now that I’m used to just fast forwarding through them. Or, even better yet, watching the DVD version with NO commercials!!)

At any rate, this is a challenge that appeals to me on so many levels.

On that note, I’m off to my bedroom, where I will be watching more Battlestar Galactica.


Keeping Track:

1.  Battlestar Galactica, Season 2 (Resistance): Cylon or no, I feel really bad for Boomer. She got the short end of the stick, I think. I’ve wondered what it would be like to know that you’re a machine and that there are some things you can’t control, but to still be able to feel like a human does. In addition, I really hate Tigh’s wife. I think this episode is an important one: we find out how many cylons are hidden within the fleet, thanks to Gaius and Boomer.

2. Stargate Atlantis, Season 5, Episode 1: I’m so glad Atlantis is back!! But… I’m really, really tired of the Teyla-baby storyline. There were parts in this episode that were so very, very touching. You can tell that the four main characters really care for each other. Since this is new, I don’t want to say too much, but… it’s good to have SGA back.

3. Hellboy 2: Good movie. I thought the tooth-fairies were cute. But again with all the baby crap. I did, however, really like the Elemental. The elves were interesting… and pretty. I’d say more, but again, since this is new, I’m trying to avoid spoilers.

4. I Was A Teenage Popsicle by Bev Katz Rosenbaum. I’ve posted a review at the Paperspine Blog.

5. Battlestar Galactica, Season 2 (The Farm): This has been one of the creepiest and most unsettling episodes for me. Though it explains a fair bit about Starbuck’s background, it hurt just to watch it.  And “The Farm” itself? Pretty scary. I could imagine something like that actually happening in the future – forced by the government, of course, not cylons.

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Two Giveaways

July 5, 2008 at 11:04 pm (Contests)

The Kool-aid Mom is giving away a Borders Gift Card on her blog, In the Shadow of Mt. TBR.

Dewey is giving away five future books on her blog The Hidden Side of a Leaf.

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Wrap-up for June 2008

July 2, 2008 at 5:15 pm (Monthly Wrap-up)

Number of books read in June 2008: 15

Books that I reviewed on Paperspine in June 2008: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, I Capture the Castle, The Face on the Milk Carton, and Whatever Happened to Janie?.

Running total number of books read in 2008: 53 Check out my list here.

Favorite book read this month: The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer by Neal Stephenson

Least favorite book read this month: Baby Proof by Emily Giffin

And, of course, there was the 24-hour-read-a-thon.

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