Which you've probably figured out already since I don't post anything ever, am generally more elusive than nargles, and because this blog is more hiatus-filled than post-filled.
I'm now in college, and it's not as if I don't have free time--I do. I've just found that I can't read right now or talk about books in an interesting way.
It's hard to explain. I think I'm going through one of those periods where the way I think is changing. And this time, this feeling of WHAT DO I THINK? WHY DO I THINK IT? WHO AM IIIII? includes the reading and writing portions of my brain.
Hence, the hiatus.
Readers, thank you so much for looking at my posts and resisting the urge to gouge your eyes out while doing so. And for those of you who have left me comments-- I don't even know how to express my gratitude. I've gotten some comments on this blog that are really, seriously, the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. No one would say such things to me IRL, so it's encouraging that some of you have occasionally enjoyed what I have to say/ think my blog is worthwhile enough to read.
And some of you think I'm funny! (occasionally). No one in IRL thinks I'm funny!
I really can't say when I'll start posting here again, it could be soon-ish or a long time from now. In the meanwhile, I don't check my email for this blog or twitter or goodreads very often, though I do on occasion. I reblog things on tumblr, but it has very little to do with YA and basically no original material other than my incessant whining about life. If you'd like my url or just want to talk (though I'm a slow replier, I'll warn you!) you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meanwhile, I hope your life is considerably more chocolate-filled and book-filled and puppy-filled than mine.
(Young Adult Literature Ingnoramus)
1) a person who has read little to no YA books but still insists on discussing them in a authoritative way. (ie: "I've read Twilight and the whole YA genre is terrible.")
2) Often can be found spewing the following: "YA is badly written," "YA is not seriously written," "Everything in YA is lacking in complexity," "Adult fiction is so much better than YA," etc.
3) someone who complains about YA's content, usually for the purpose of saying (hysterically) that innocent young children are being corrupted by YA authors.
4) a person who can somehow make the phrase, "Oh, you read YA?" equivalent to, "You are an unintelligent and immature human being, and also I don't like you."
5) someone who finishes off a negative review of a YA book with "But what can you expect? It's YA."
I think we've all encountered a YA ignoramus, in real life, on the interwebs, or both. Unfortunately, they are not one whit like nargles, as they're quite real, quite common and seem to crop up everywhere. Also, they are generally unpleasant individuals, quite vocal in their complete disdain for YA, and usually argumentative when you jump in to protest that YA is not at all as terrible as they think.
My response to YA ignoramuses has always been to chirp in with something along the lines of "But YA is really a very diverse genre that is not easily dismissed and categorized. Of course there are some bad books, just as there are bad books in every genre. YA doesn't make much sense as a genre anyhow, there's mystery books rubbing shoulder with romances and literary books and everything you could possibly find in one contained area in a bookstore. People who write YA aren't always in agreement with what it is, other than it should (mostly) have coming of age themes. Don't you see how silly it is to say all YA is bad?"
I might as well be speaking in another language when I say the above.
Lately, if I encounter a YA ignoramus on the internet, I try to point them to this article (Are You Reading YA Lit? You Should Be), since it is far more articulate than I am. I don't know if it's working, not because the article isn't great, but because it seems like YA ignoramuses are content to be willfully ignorant.
I find the whole cycle baffling:
Most of these people haven't read any YA. Or very, very little of it. They read Twilight (or even hear of it, secondhand, the information regarding YA blurred and distorted as it would be in the game Telephone) and suddenly they're educated enough, experts even, and feel the intense need to discuss YA and make broad, often misinformed generalizations about the whole genre. They're qualified to write ridiculous posts on the internet. Or worse yet, articles (and yes, this did happen a while ago, but I have a feeling it will happen again due to YA's increased popularity) in places like the Wall Street Journal or Slate.
It's not that I'm against discussing YA in a critical manner. I've written some discussion posts that do point out things I wish there were more of/ less of in YA (ie one on YA romance, YA high school dynamics, and older YA protagonists), but I don't mean those posts as a definitive statement on all of YA, and I certainly believe that YA harbors some of the most wonderfully written and communicative and fully emotional books being published today. Of course there are duds. YA is a genre, not a gurantee of quality.
So I wanted to ask you all, what do you do when you encounter a YA ignoramus?
The YA community, when united, is capable of responding in a vociferous and wonderful manner via tweets and blog posts, as in the "YA too dark" debacle. But when you encounter a YA ignoramus individually, how should you respond?
In an ideal world, I would get every YA ignoramus to read some of the best YA books out there, such as Jellicoe Road or Looking for Alaska. I would like them to come back to me after reading maybe a hundred YA books currently being published (not just the ones published 5-10 years ago) and say that they still believe all YA is inferior to adult literature [insert other silly comments here].
But this doesn't happen often, as far as I've experienced. I link articles or suggest books, and I don't really see any evidence of change.
Would it be more productive to simply ignore them?
I've considered this, but not getting involved is a hard thing to do when you witness a YA ignoramus facilitating a discussion in YA on an online forum and disseminating their silly ideas to other people.
I guess there are several options:
a) ignore them completely
b) jump in and argue with them
c) jump in and smother them with book recommendations and/or informative articles
I feel like c) is the most positive response.
Actually, I think I'll ramp it up more. I'll troll the next "YA is awful" online discussion and post a flurry of moving passages/quotes from great YA books, positive reviews, and shout I LOVE YA on top of my lungs.
Yes, I'll try that next.
In the meanwhile:
What are your thoughts? What do you do when you come across a YA ignoramus? Please share.
I am writing solely out a desire to post something, anything. But mind has been too scattered lately to write a post that focuses on one thing only. Actually, to write at all, but the topic of frozen/vanishing words I think I should save for another post entirely.
To be honest, I haven't been reading much at all for the last few weeks, not because I'm a college kid and don't have time, but because I feel somehow disconnected from books. So I can't really talk about YA and yes I'm a sad excuse for a reader/reading blogger and really I don't blame you if you don't very much care for this blog anymore and I am surprised and deeply grateful that anyone at all still reads this blog (I DON'T KNOW WHY YOU WOULD) but I appreciate it <3
I've been wanting to keep track of things that I'm currently inspired by or things on which my thoughts are turning round and round, sort of in a loop (restlessly) and share it with whoever deems it worth their time to stop by.
IN TERMS OF MUSIC:
Chopin is currently my favorite person in all of time and space. I think it's pretty accurate that he's been termed the "poet of piano." You listen to him and it's just lovely complex heartfelt melancholiness, profound snippets of meaning and intense emotion sounding in your ear and guh I can not even explain to you how beautiful his compositions are I can't even--
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary."
-Atwood, Variations on the Word Love
My eyes were such that literally they
-Nabokov, Pale Fire
-Plath, Morning Song
“Dancing to a frenzied drum,
Out of the murderous innocence of the sea. ”
What are some things you're currently in love with/obsessed with/ newly acquainted with?
I would like to read about teenagers out in the world struggling to transition because I find it laughable and weird that anyone would think transitioning into an adult would be easy or uninteresting or not meaningful material for a book.
It would be much easier to tell this story if it were all about a chaste and perfect love between Two Children Against the World at an Extreme Time in History. But let's face it, that would be crap.
Daisy is sent from New York to England to spend a summer with cousins she has never met. They are Isaac, Edmond, Osbert and Piper. And two dogs and a goat. She's never met anyone quite like them before - and, as a dreamy English summer progresses, Daisy finds herself caught in a timeless bubble. It seems like the perfect summer. But their lives are about to explode.
Falling in love is just the start of it. War breaks out - a war none of them understands, or really cares about, until it lands on their doorstep. The family is separated. The perfect summer is blown apart. Daisy's life is changed forever - and the world is too.
"Early the next morning I was strolling around as usual in my unpleasantly populated subconscious..."
-HOW I LIVE NOW (Ch 5, p. 17)
"I was wandering around as usual, in my unpleasantly populated subconscious..."
— Dodie Smith (I CAPTURE THE CASTLE)
I do hope Rosoff is paying homage to Smith's brilliant I CAPTURE THE CASTLE here. I'd like to think so, because HOW I LIVE NOW otherwise possesses a thoroughly original voice. If I really tried, I could summon up the similarities between these two novels: I CAPTURE THE CASTLE and HOW I LIVE NOW both have main characters whose voice renders them completely real as people, perhaps more than real. Both novels bring the English countryside (a la run down castle/manor) to life with glorious, ecstatic prose and touch on first love, albiet with rather unconventional love interests (bearded older man in love with sister/ cousin).
I first read HOW I LIVE NOW more than a year ago, when it was recommended to me by a friend (thanks, Vee!). I don't know what I was doing at the time, but for some reason, I didn't connect with the book. I barely remember reading it, though I do remember vaguely thinking "this is pretty good."
When I reread it yesterday, the aliveness and the vividness and the connection was there. As if this book had waited for me, patiently, resting in my bookshelf until the day I could pick it up in the right frame of mind and really appreciate it.
I appreciate it now.
HOW I LIVE NOW is one of the voice-iest YA novels I've ever read. The main character Daisy is humorous and LOUD and uninhibited and insightful. She narrates with run on sentences breathless with wit and CAPITALIZED WORDS to emphasize a point. There's not much dialogue, and the book is mostly her telling us what happened and what she thinks, but it works. It more than works.
At first, HOW I LIVE NOW has this sense of peacefulness (although mediated with Daisy's loudness) emanating through the pages. Her cousins, who she comes to live with in England, possess gifts that are related to us in a matter-of-fact tone but are actually quietly magical: Isaac and little Piper talk to animals, and Edmond can feel Daisy's thoughts. There's this light touch of magical realism when it comes to Daisy's interactions with her family, making everything feel sort of strange, but lovelily strange.
Later, Daisy falls in love with cousin Edmond, and though she acknowledges it's wrong, she talks of it as if it's inevitable and natural and effortless. I don't know if I really understood the Edmond/Daisy relationship. Was it just two alone souls reaching across to each other, yearning for love during a time of war? Was it lust? If Daisy is to be believed, this is love, though of an unorthodox kind.
Daisy and cousins spend a few golden months living without parental supervision (thanks to her Dear Aunt being stranded in Norway). They fish and swim and play and it's generally a bit like The Garden of Eden. War interrupts eventually, as it has a habit of doing. Daisy has hinted at it since the beginning. The enemy is unnamed, the public is confused, cites are bombed, people are dying. When war finally catches up, Daisy and her cousins are separated. There's death and violence, without sense or cause, graphic and mindless and sickening to read about. Daisy and her cousin Piper stick together, attempt to survive it all. It's here that Daisy comes into her own, and when I wanted to stand up and APPLAUD because she's so damn strong.
Really, the only problem I had with this book was the ending, and then the six-year jump that acted as an epilogue. The precursor to the time jump was abrupt and Rosoff, for whatever reason, had Daisy tell us about it only after it happened, which was disorienting to me. The six year-jump was interesting, especially since Rosoff matured Daisy's voice beautifully. But the ending almost felt almost like Rosoff laughing at us and saying "hey, these really cool and fascinating things happened, and sorry that you missed it, but here's this situation and ending that will hopefully tie things up for you."
Still, I really liked HOW I LOVE NOW. It's one of those books that's left an impression on me, one that I'll return to reread. Most notably, its narrator managed to escape its pages and become a part of me. I think that's when you know you've read a good book; when you can feel the edges of a character and the dimensions of his/her voice, and they've set up shop in your brain and they're as complete and solid to you as a person you might've talked to in real life.
Yes, I'm glad I reread HOW I LIVE NOW.
RECOMMENDATION: Highly recommended. It's a Printz winner, so I'm not the only one who thinks it's great.
FALL FOR ANYTHING
I am leaving this here solely because I would like this beautiful cover on my blog first-thing, not some depressing post about a hiatus.
Also, hello (:
Chloe's older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes left floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby.
But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns to town two years later, deadly surprises await. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.
With palpable drama and delicious craft, Nova Ren Suma bursts onto the YA scene with the story that everyone will be talking about
I just finished IMAGINARY GIRLS. Literally--I turned the last page a moment ago. It's normally a bad idea for me to write reviews without a breathing period, where my thoughts can take shape, my reaction stabilize. And I haven't written a review for a long time, have purposefully not written reviews for months. But I want to write this so I can think about this book more. I'm not sure what I feel about this book and why. I need this space to decide.
In some ways, this book was everything I could ever want out of a novel. In glittering, shining moments of the narrative, when a particular line uncurled itself from the page, came alive, just stood there and said hello to me, I felt it. When an arresting image appeared in front of my eyes, vivid and real enough to touch or breathe or live briefly in, I felt it. It's that thrilling feeling you get sometimes, when you're reading something that will become important to you. It's like a tickle in the gut. This was THE BOOK, I thought. My newest soul-book.
But for some reason, as the last page lies read on my nightstand, I realize IMAGINARY GIRLS never quite arrived there. What I'm left with is more a fleeting impression of a novel; several alive scenes, restless segments of language stuck in my head, a recollection of dialogue. At this moment, at least, IMAGINARY GIRLS is not quite substantial enough for me. Not quite enough.
It's not because of the prose, because the writing is beautiful. Suma writes with such grace. Her sentences flow ceaselessly on the page, undulating into and out of themselves, connecting with each other in moments of wonderful rhythm. Her imagery is precise--the details, small actions and appearances of characters focused on with microscopic intensity render sometimes surreal, sometimes poignant scenes.
It's not the premise. Magical realism or surrealism are currently my favorite things to read. I want more of it in YA; I'm hungry for it. And I want more stories like this in YA, that leave questions in your mind,
that are perhaps a bit strange but singularly unique, that make you think. Though the slow-moving events and the sometimes lack of a plot won't win as many teen readers over, I didn't mind too much, although I'll admit my attention sometimes waned during long paragraphs of internal monologue. Or perhaps it is the plot--how do I explain? It doesn't feel entirely like a linked story, this book. More a collection of compelling, surreal images. There's more atmosphere than happening, more prose than character.
And it's the characters, I've begun to think, that makes this book one star less for me. They're not quite enough. It's the fact that I can't sense them. They didn't come alive, in the way the setting and the descriptions did. I can't think of a character trait for the main character Chloe other than her obsessive love for her sister Ruby, her yearning. Ruby is easier, I suppose. She's cruel and beautiful and powerful. But Chloe? She's an empty vessel for the story. She narrates. She tells of enigmatic, wonderful Ruby, and that is all. But do I have a right to complain about her, when I love THE GREAT GATSBY so? Shouldn't I think something more reasonable, like Chloe's lack of substance is a reflection of Ruby's power to ensorcell, to captivate everyone and everything, so even a book about her younger sister focuses on her while her "echo" of a sister dissipates?
I don't know. I am left feeling strange by this book. It's not the more unusual turn of events, which I found refreshing and lovely. It's the feeling of having missed something, lost something. Maybe if I'd read this earlier in my life (or later--I'm not sure which) it would have meant more to me. It's the fact that it doesn't--for whatever reason--the characters, I suppose--that makes me feel unsettled, more than the threatening, oil black surface of Chloe's reservoir ever did.
RECOMMENDATION: Highly Recommended. One of the better YA books I've read, though the mystery of why I don't strongly love it (only really like it) is why I wrote this review.
SOME CHOICE QUOTES:
"I was an echo of her."
"In reality I was a pencil drawing of a photocopy of a Polaroid of my sister--you could see the resemblance in a certain light, if you were seeking it out because I told you first, if you were being nice."
"my boots miss your feet
my head misses your hairbrush"
"She locked her eyes on mine. (The whites of her eyes staring up at the half moon.)
She cracked a smile. (Her lips drained of color.)"
For anyone who's followed in which a girl reads from the very beginning, or at least a time where I was actually blogging regularly, it's pretty obvious that my blog currently lacks luster. New posts are rare. My comments and reading of other blogs is almost nonexistent. I'm just--to put in plainly--not here anymore.
I've expressed a certain sadness at this withdrawal from the blogosphere before, and at this realization, also expressed a desire to revitalize a blog quickly disintegrating. I tried--and I think we can conclude, as of now, I've failed. Miserably.
I could blog if I wanted to. But that want just isn't there any more.
The thing is, I'm different from the starry-eyed fifteen year old that accidentally began blogging almost two years ago. I read different books. I think different thoughts. I have different priorities.
This is reflected in my blog. I don't know what to post anymore; I'm deeply unsatisfied with my reviews of late, and feel that they've lost a lot of their meaning. I think my impressions when reading have lost a lot of their weight with the general reading audience. And I rarely read YA anymore. What books I do read, I read differently; slowlyslowlyslowly, ponderously, with a different purpose.
Last year, I went on a month-long hiatus to study for AP tests. As I look into my future months, I see the best thing to do is to go on hiatus at the present time.
In April I have:
1) AP death studying
2) the biggest decision of my life yet: I have to decide (oh no, oh no) where I'll attend college, and this decision is literally occupying my mind day and night.
In May I have
1) AP testing
This isn't too much, but throughout summer I'll have limited internet access. In fall, I'll be starting college. Throughout this all I have scholarships to do, family and friends to spend time with, a book to write, new worlds to explore.
I've concluded I'd like to spend my time in the next three months (at least) in venues other than blogging. And really, I think dragging things out--pretending unfairly to myself and to readers that I can dedicate myself to blogging at this present time--isn't the right thing to do.
I don't want to call this a goodbye post--it's definitely not that--but a hiatus post. I will be taking a break from blogging, at least for a few months. I hope to come back one day.
If you'd still like to contact me in the next few months, please email me at email@example.com
I'd love to hear from you. Any of you: lovely commenters, lurkers, people that would like to chat about books or chocolate or want college advice or anything. Hopefully I won't be as awful at corresponding as I usually am.
And lastly, thank you for reading in which a girl reads, and for making my blogging experience thus far so much more wonderful.
Diana Wynne Jones is and always will be my favorite author. She's the reason I read. Her books are what made me believe in fantasy, in writing, in reading, in the world.
I want to write so many things about DWJ; paragraphs about every book I loved by her, sentences about the sense of wonder she instilled in me, lines about those countless hours I spent re-reading every word she ever published. I want to somehow capture what she means to me as an author. I'd like to express how much the news devastated me.
I wept when I heard. I haven't ever met her, but her books--oh, they're just everything to me.
Diana Wynne Jones is prolific and wonderful. She needs to be known and read. The best way to honor her is to love her works.
I hope I am honoring her. I wish I had more words in me for this post, but today, they've failed me. I know I can say with certainty that my life would not have been the same without her books--it would not have quite as much magic in it, quite as much hope.
Thank you for that, Diana Wynne Jones. I will never stop reading your books, and I will never stop loving them.