Monday, January 7, 2013

Favourite Adult Books Read in 2012

Okay, as promised here is my top 10 list of books written for adults in 2012. I find the "Best Books of 2012" lists published in magazines, newspapers and online very frustrating when they only include adult books (if they actually read some YA or Middle Grade and decided they weren't good enough that would be one thing but you know they only mean books for adults)....So I make two lists - that lets me pick more books!

Not in order. Unlike with my YA choices I'm taking the easy route and am not adding descriptions.

1. The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
2. The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
3. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
4. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
5. At Home by Bill Bryson
6. How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
7. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
8. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
9. Y by Marjorie Celona
10. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

It's interesting to look at my list and see 7/10 are female authors. 2/10 are non-fiction. I definitely read women's book-club-type fiction - no Man Booker winners on my list!

I read 80 books this year - if anyone is interested in what else I read check out my profile on goodreads.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Really? I Never Ever Want to Hear the Term Sick-Lit Again.

Apparently everyone is reacting online to this article from the UK Daily Mail. I admit to being a fan of the Daily Mail - it's like the National Enquirer, but British. I don't take much of what they say seriously but it is good fun and a great site for keeping up to date with UK celebrity gossip.

So, as far as this article about "sick-lit" goes:

here's what I have to say:

Chill people. Kids and teens have been reading this kind of book FOREVER. It just seems that every once in a while people notice what kids or teens are reading and become morally outraged.  I worked for almost 7 years as a bookseller specializing in books for kids and teens - kids have always been drawn towards books where someone is suffering - cancer, the Holocaust, slavery, sudden blindness, suicide, kidnapping. One of my favourites as an 11 year old was called Five Were Missing by Lois Duncan (also published under the title Ransom) - it didn't cause me to be afraid of school buses or kidnapping or turn me into a kidnapper.

Reading books on these topics is away for kids to think "wow, how would I handle a situation like that?" or "I thought my life sucked, I guess it isn't so bad" - it isn't about being maudlin or having a death wish or glorifying suicide. Admittedly there have been girls who have used teen novels about anorexia as guide books - those are rare cases. People don't develop serious mental health issues from reading books. Parents if your kids suddenly starts cutting themselves after reading a book about cutting I'd say take a look closely at your family life - not just the books your kid is reading.

And let's be glad they're reading books. My kids barely read anything - disappointing to me as a person working in publishing, but it's true. So if all a teen reads wants to read is Lurlene McDaniel I say go for it, they'll eventually move on.

"Children's Book Expert" Amanda Craig refuses to review certain books, believes publishers have a cavalier attitude towards these issues, etc. I completely disagree with her. I've worked with many publishers over the years and I just think she's wrong. If she only wants to read books that teach a lesson or have a moral - good luck with that. I'm not talking about themes, I'm talking about morals and lessons. Don't even get me started.

Parents, talk to your kids about what they're reading. You'd be surprised how many parents bought their kids The Hunger Games or Twilight without knowing the basic plot lines. If a particular subject isn't right for your kid, pick another. Or consider that maybe you are wrong. Shocking but it might be true. Also consider just because someone is called a "Children's Book Expert" it doesn't mean that her opinions are relevant to your child.

As for The Fault in Our Stars - about Hazel who has cancer, mentioned in the original article from the Daily Mail. One of the best books I've ever read! I loved it, it has received I think 7 Starred Reviews and just recently my mom who is a retired school teacher (aged 77) read it and loved it. So eff off gatekeepers.