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  • Jenny Kawecki 7:09 pm on 2016/10/05 Permalink
    Tags: , gateway reads, , , , , , , stacey lee, , ,   

    8 Books to Convert a YA Naysayer into a YA Fanatic 

    We’ve all got that friend who thinks that, just because they’re an adult, they can’t be seen cracking the cover of a young adult book. Maybe they’re snobby about it, maybe they just don’t think YA could be their thing, but either way you’ve got a mission: help that friend find the right book, thus opening their eyes to a marvelous, ever-expanding category of fabulous reads. Here are 8 YA books that will entice even the most selective reader.

    I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
    Dodie Smith’s old-school YA I Capture the Castle is a good place to start; it’s usually shelved with the adult books, so you may be able to recommend it with nary an eyebrow raised. Seventeen-year-old Cassandra lives in a broken-down castle with her crazy family and no money, waiting for the day when her famous novelist father overcomes his writer’s block. When they get a handsome new landlord—one who might actually expect them to pay rent—things around the castle start to change. Narrated in Cassandra’s clever, engaging voice, I Capture the Castle is the perfect gateway YA read.

    Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell
    This book is like a sucker punch to your emotions: full of beautiful, lovable teenage moments, but heartbreaking as hell. Eleanor and Park meet on the bus. Eleanor, red-haired and strange, is the new bully magnet; Park has been always stayed successfully under the radar. Slowly they fall in love over comic books and music. As they face struggles with other kids, their families, and each other, they both know it’ll never last—the only question is what will tear them apart in the end.

    Wolf by Wolf, by Ryan Graudin
    Fast-paced and wonderfully original, Wolf by Wolf will quell a lot of non-YA readers bad assumptions about YA stereotypes. Yael lives in an alternate post-WWII world in which the Axis powers won. After surviving torture and experimentation in a death camp, she’s determined to get revenge for the loved ones she lost. Her plan? Win the annual motorcycle race held to commemorate the Axis victory, gain an audience with Hitler, and kill him. Sounds foolproof, right?

    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Junior has spent 14 years on the Spokane Indian Reservation, watching the people around him live hard and die young, and he wants out. So he uses his smarts to gain a transfer to the local all-white high school off the res. Building a new life for himself isn’t easy: his new classmates stereotype him, his old friends think he’s abandoned them, and on top of it all, he usually has to hitchhike to school. Funny, heart-wrenching, and beloved, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is basically irresistible.

    I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson
    I’ll Give You the Sun tells the story of Jude and Noah, twins who used to be inseparable. At thirteen, they complete each other. At sixteen, they barely speak. What happened in between? Told in alternating perspectives, with Jude narrating the later years and Noah narrating the early years, the story slowly pieces itself together. Full of family, grief, first love, and what comes after, this book will make your YA-reluctant friend cry and swoon in equal measures.

    An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir
    If you know someone who thinks YA novels can’t include complex, well-built worlds, this book will prove them wrong. Laia and Elias are on opposite sides of an ancient Rome-esque world: Laia’s people have been conquered, and Elias is training to lead the conquerors. As Laia embeds herself as a slave in order to gather intel from the military academy Elias is training at, Elias enters into a deadly competition he wants nothing to do with. Dark, detailed, and action-packed, An Ember in the Ashes is a standout.

    Outrun the Moon, by Stacey Lee
    Looking for an excellent young adult historical fiction novel to recommend? Outrun the Moon is it. It’s 1906 in San Francisco, and Mercy Wong is determined to go to a posh private school so she can become a businesswoman. The problem? She’s Chinese, and the school is open only to white students. But Mercy is stubborn, and through a combination of bribery and blackmail, she gets in. Cue a massive earthquake that tears apart the city, leaving Mercy stranded among her less-than-friendly classmates.

    Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo
    What could be better than a heist novel full of six lovably damaged characters, a gritty backstory, and a touch of magic? Kaz Brekker is notorious for his criminal skill, so when he’s offered the job of a lifetime, he can’t turn it down. But the only thing more impossible than the task ahead is getting his team of talented misfits to get along long enough to pull it off. Full of twists and distinct, well-developed characters, Six of Crows will make anyone fall in love with YA.

    The post 8 Books to Convert a YA Naysayer into a YA Fanatic appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jenny Shank 6:30 pm on 2015/10/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , gateway reads, , , song of solomon, , ,   

    Where to Start Guide: Toni Morrison 

    The incomparable Toni Morrison looms large in American literature. She’s the only living American novelist who has won the Nobel Prize in literature, and only the second American female writer to ever win it. Other honors for her 11 novels include the Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Morrison’s reputation for genius can make her work seem unapproachable if you’ve never read her before, but it would be a shame to miss out on this singular storyteller, whose lyrical prose feels like it has a live current of electricity running through it. If you’ve never read Morrison, or are looking to explore more of her work, try these five can’t-miss books.

    The Bluest Eye
    Morrison was born in Lorain, Ohio, in 1931, and her first novel, set in her hometown, might offer first-time readers the best entry to her world. “Quiet as it’s kept,” Morrison writes, “there were no marigolds in the fall of 1941. We thought, at the time, that it was because Pecola was having her father’s baby that the marigolds did not grow.” The story of 11-year-old Pecola Breedlove, a confused, mistreated African American girl who wishes for eyes as blue as Shirley Temple’s, was revolutionary when it hit bookstores in 1970, and remains startling for the depth of its revelations.

    Beloved
    Morrison’s riveting 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner is the novel that shows off the most of her gifts at once: her poetic prose that almost seems as though it’s meant to be sung, her fierce storytelling instincts, her ability to channel folklore and history into a tale all her own, and her knack for creating an unconventional structure that underscores the impact of the story. This harrowing novel, set after the Civil War, concerns a ghost named Beloved who haunts her mother, Sethe, a woman who killed her child rather than let her be taken into captivity by a posse seeking runaway slaves in 1856.

    Song of Solomon
    Next to Beloved, Song of Solomon is probably Morrison’s most lauded book, winning the National Book Critics Circle award and a boost from Oprah’s Book Club decades after its publication. This novel is one of Morrison’s only books to feature a male protagonist, the unforgettable Macon “Milkman” Dead III, so named because he kept breastfeeding long past babyhood and was teased for it. In this coming-of-age story set in Michigan, Macon must navigate the complications of growing up as a black man in America, including a rift between his parents and a young woman’s obsessive, unrequited love for him.

    Jazz
    Morrison’s Jazz hasn’t gotten as much attention as some of her other books, but it’s a favorite of mine, in part because of its fascinating setting: Harlem in the 1920s. Morrison incorporates rhythms of African American music into the book’s structure. It opens with its narrator discussing a bit of neighborhood gossip, the sad tale of doomed love at the novel’s heart: “He fell for an eighteen-year-old girl with one of those deepdown, spooky loves that made him so sad and happy he shot her just to keep the feeling going.” The language in Jazz is as sensuous as the passions are unbridled.

    God Help The Child
    The 84-year-old Morrison isn’t ready to retire to the literary hall of fame just yet. She remains a working writer publishing accomplished novels just as frequently in the ninth decade of her life as she did during the stunning beginning of her career. God Help The Child tells the story of Bride, a woman whose light-skinned mother rejected her because she was born “midnight black, Sudanese black.” Bride tries to attract her mother’s attention any way she can, and ends up accusing an innocent person of a crime. When Bride grows up, she tries to make amends for her lie, drives off her lover with a revelation, and then sets out to regain him. Morrison’s writing feels loose and fresh in this novel, as she delves into magical realism. “What you do to children matters,” Morrison writes, underscoring a theme to be found in many of her novels, “And they might never forget.”

     
  • Jenny Shank 6:30 pm on 2015/10/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , gateway reads, , , , ,   

    Where to Start Guide: Toni Morrison 

    The incomparable Toni Morrison looms large in American literature. She’s the only living American novelist who has won the Nobel Prize in literature, and only the second American female writer to ever win it. Other honors for her 11 novels include the Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Morrison’s reputation for genius can make her work seem unapproachable if you’ve never read her before, but it would be a shame to miss out on this singular storyteller, whose lyrical prose feels like it has a live current of electricity running through it. If you’ve never read Morrison, or are looking to explore more of her work, try these five can’t-miss books.

    The Bluest Eye
    Morrison was born in Lorain, Ohio, in 1931, and her first novel, set in her hometown, might offer first-time readers the best entry to her world. “Quiet as it’s kept,” Morrison writes, “there were no marigolds in the fall of 1941. We thought, at the time, that it was because Pecola was having her father’s baby that the marigolds did not grow.” The story of 11-year-old Pecola Breedlove, a confused, mistreated African American girl who wishes for eyes as blue as Shirley Temple’s, was revolutionary when it hit bookstores in 1970, and remains startling for the depth of its revelations.

    Beloved
    Morrison’s riveting 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner is the novel that shows off the most of her gifts at once: her poetic prose that almost seems as though it’s meant to be sung, her fierce storytelling instincts, her ability to channel folklore and history into a tale all her own, and her knack for creating an unconventional structure that underscores the impact of the story. This harrowing novel, set after the Civil War, concerns a ghost named Beloved who haunts her mother, Sethe, a woman who killed her child rather than let her be taken into captivity by a posse seeking runaway slaves in 1856.

    Song of Solomon
    Next to Beloved, Song of Solomon is probably Morrison’s most lauded book, winning the National Book Critics Circle award and a boost from Oprah’s Book Club decades after its publication. This novel is one of Morrison’s only books to feature a male protagonist, the unforgettable Macon “Milkman” Dead III, so named because he kept breastfeeding long past babyhood and was teased for it. In this coming-of-age story set in Michigan, Macon must navigate the complications of growing up as a black man in America, including a rift between his parents and a young woman’s obsessive, unrequited love for him.

    Jazz
    Morrison’s Jazz hasn’t gotten as much attention as some of her other books, but it’s a favorite of mine, in part because of its fascinating setting: Harlem in the 1920s. Morrison incorporates rhythms of African American music into the book’s structure. It opens with its narrator discussing a bit of neighborhood gossip, the sad tale of doomed love at the novel’s heart: “He fell for an eighteen-year-old girl with one of those deepdown, spooky loves that made him so sad and happy he shot her just to keep the feeling going.” The language in Jazz is as sensuous as the passions are unbridled.

    God Help The Child
    The 84-year-old Morrison isn’t ready to retire to the literary hall of fame just yet. She remains a working writer publishing accomplished novels just as frequently in the ninth decade of her life as she did during the stunning beginning of her career. God Help The Child tells the story of Bride, a woman whose light-skinned mother rejected her because she was born “midnight black, Sudanese black.” Bride tries to attract her mother’s attention any way she can, and ends up accusing an innocent person of a crime. When Bride grows up, she tries to make amends for her lie, drives off her lover with a revelation, and then sets out to regain him. Morrison’s writing feels loose and fresh in this novel, as she delves into magical realism. “What you do to children matters,” Morrison writes, underscoring a theme to be found in many of her novels, “And they might never forget.”

     
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