The Popularity of YA Fiction

You can read an interesting “Room for Debate” multi-viewpoint piece on YA fiction at the New York Times, prompted in part by the ridiculous success of the Hunger Games trilogy.

The Power of Young Adult Fiction

There’s a range of opinions expressed, so give it a few moments while your book trailer is rendering 🙂

Why Teens Should Read ‘Adult’ Fiction

Hey team,

Thought I’d pass along this funny opinion piece. In it, Canadian hipster author supreme, Sheila Heti, argues that teens should read raunchy, experimental and/or challenging fiction because they’re raunchy, challenging little experimenters. In turn, Heti suggests that adults should/do read ‘The Hunger Games’ (et al.) because they’re (we’re) exhausted and beaten down by life and, thus, in need of escape.

Check it:

shared experiences and narrative indicators

I just read a blog post by the artist Nina Paley about a talk she gave to some teens and what they felt was the best way to support artists (when they had money some day). I thought it was an interesting post, not only because of the copyright ideas (Nina Paley isn’t a big fan of how copyright in the States works) but because of what the teens want. The most interesting facet (and why I bring it up here) was this:

Live Shared Experiences, including ballet, museum exhibits, and concerts. The event aspect was important; they wanted to be able to say, “Remember that one time when that awesome show was here…” They agreed seeing things in person is a more powerful experience than seeing things online, and worth spending more on. One said she would buy CD at a live show because “it reminds you of the show.”

I think that live shared experience is something we can do for teens in libraries. And I think that was what bothered me about the objectives and indicators we were talking about in class on Friday. I realize that administration wants something measurable because that’s easier to justify to everyone. But if our goals are more nebulous, like “creating positive relationships with our members” (which I maintain is a legitimate goal), the indicators are going to be more story-like, more “Remember that one time…”

Now, the scenarios we were working with in class were more service-based and could have those measurable indicators, which is fine, but I think even in those kinds of situations one of our indicators should be stories you can tell your administration, even if those stories don’t correlate perfectly with something that can go on a spreadsheet.

I guess I’m saying we should probably take a mixed approach to assessing our programs using both hard numbers and narratives, because then we’re doing a better job of satisfying our superiors and the people we’re there for. Does that make sense to anyone else? Or was that already part of what we were talking about and I overlooked it in my worrying about giving so much privilege to numbers?

Issues of Christianity in Harry Potter

For those interested, I thought I’d provide two authors who can shed more light on the Christian content of the Harry Potter series so you can see what I was talking about in class. Even though I’m not very religious, I met both Connie Neal and John Granger at both of the Harry Potter conventions that I’ve been to, and their lectures were amazing to attend. John Granger in particular is a delight! Both are considered the BEST scholars on the Christian content of HP, especially John Granger. Here are links to their websites:

Connie Neal’s:

John Granger’s:

Additional Resources for Book Talks & Trailers

Hey class,
Here are a few additional resources for the next two assignments.


Links to booktalk/booktalking resources

Book trailers:

Links to resources on developing book trailers

Writing a book review – Via Caroline Adderson

This morning I had the pleasure of attending a presentation to West Vancouver Memorial Library staff on writing book reviews presented by author and Globe and Mail book reviewer Caroline Adderson. I thought I would re-cap some of her presentation for this class. Most of the points below start with the text from Caroline’s slides and are followed by my notes and responses to what she said to the group.

The general gist of the presentation was that reviews can be tricky things to write and that finding your personal style can take time. Getting your points across in a succinct manner is also a real challenge given the decrease in word length of many review publications.

The responsibilities of the book reviewer.

1. To the reader of the review: you must be engaging and entertaining.

2. To the publisher of the review: you must follow their rules and their format.

3. To the author of the book: you must be honest but say nothing that you would not say to their face.

The steps to creating a book review.

1. Read the book carefully. Make annotations, notes, take out quotes.

2. Start writing the review while you’re reading the book. Record what you’re thinking about, capture the emotion and your response. This will avoid having to stare at a blank screen when you’re done the book. It also helps to get a flavour of the authors writing style into your review.

3. Use the book. Quotations will give proof to the points you’re making and justify your idea(s) about the book.

4. Review the book as it is. Don’t criticize it for something it doesn’t attempt to do.

5. Write more than a plot summary.

6. Your ideas about the book are more interesting than your opinion. Is there something topical that gives the book context in the real world. This could also be something historical, something about the authors complete works, or a personal anecdote.

7. Don’t nitpick the flaws. The pleasures of the book should outweigh the minor problems. Talking about problems can give them more weight then they are due.

8. Rewrite your review. Many times. Draft – put it aside – read and rewrite. Repeat 4 or 5 times. Also you will likely start long and edit down to right length.

Good resources for short reviews (WVML staff write 75 word reviews for staff picks so the  focus was on brevity)

The New Yorker – Briefly Noted.

Geist – End Notes.

Globe and Mail – Mini Reviews.