Tag Archives: reading

What are 13-year-olds reading?

17 Jan

The YA community is always abuzz with news of trends and ‘big books’, so much so that it can be hard to follow what’s in and what’s out. As we know, a large part of this trade is driven by adult consumers, but we must remember that YA also includes the Y part of the equation!

At the moment I teach five ‘literacy’ lessons a week to different classes, which includes time for silent, individual reading. Now that I work in a girls’ school, the majority of the pupils really enjoy having the chance to choose and read their own books (in a mixed environment, this was more challenging – there were many boys who liked to read, but some others found it hard to settle and focus for extended periods, or to find something that suited their interests – I highly recommend the Guinness Book of Records for such occasions). There are still one or two in my current classes who are reluctant, but as I always say, you can’t possible ‘hate all books’ – you just haven’t found the right one yet!

Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to post a snapshot of what one class of 13-year-old girls were reading this week, to give some insight into how the younger teens are engaging with YA (or not, as the case may be – many of their books would be considered MG). The results are interesting, and may surprise some people – overall, they suggest that what kids really want is something familiar and comforting, and that new releases are not necessarily foremost in their minds.

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What I Read in 2014

20 Dec

I know the year isn’t over yet, but it’s around this time that I usually do my reading round-up post and I have to say, I’m pretty proud of myself. This year I managed 43 books! I know that’s nothing compared to some of you out there, but it’s five more than 2013 and 2012. A longer commute and part-time work are probably to thank! I also feel like I read some amazing things this year, with very few duds and quite a nice variety in genre. The number of YA books decreased somewhat, to make way for a few more Adult reads and even a few non-fictions. My absolute faves are bolded.

The List: What I Read in 2014

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Deathless by Catherynne M Valente (stunning Soviet fantasy – does for 20th century Russia what Pan’s Labyrinth did for the Spanish Civil War)

Dark Eden by Chris Beckett (thought-provoking and utterly absorbing sci-fi set on a distant planet without an external light source)

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Vicious by Victoria Schwab (super-powered antics with a pleasing lack of certainty over who is the true hero)

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YALC Round-up!

18 Jul

Last weekend saw the inaugural Young Adult Literature Convention, held as part of the London Film and Comic-Con at Earl’s Court. I ended up attending both days – and I had the *best* time.

Saturday was a little overwhelming. I arrived at Earl’s Court at 11am clutching my pre-paid Standard Entry ticket, only to find a mass of people and a host of different queues. By a stroke of luck, I managed to join a fairly fast-moving one and got into the building in about ten minutes. Inside it was a bit of a crush, but eventually I managed to make it to the Book Zone, which was a an oasis in the insanity!

Immediately, I was struck by the range of visitors. There were lots of older YA fans, like myself, but also a lot of actual teenagers (some visiting as part of the Siobhan Dowd Trust scheme). I even ran into a couple of ex-pupils in the Rainbow Rowell queue, which was so lovely.

Everyone was incredibly friendly – because I was there on my own, I decided to be brave and strike up conversations with the people around me. I made some great friends on both days, including book bloggers, authors and even a couple of dedicated mums helping their daughters collect signatures.

It took me a while on Saturday just to get my bearings, so I was a bit slow on the uptake for talk tickets, meaning I only managed to get one – for the Doctor Who panel featuring Malorie Blackman, Patrick Ness and Marcus Sedgwick amongst others. It was interesting to hear about how they approached the task of writing for such a popular show, especially their individual takes on each Doctor. I also took some time to gather a lot of book swag for my classroom display and chat to the publishers on their stands. It was also great to get some autographs and signed books from authors like Will Hill (of the Department 19 series), Natasha Ngan (The Elites) and Patrick Ness. Patrick’s queue was enormous (I think I was in it for an hour and fifteen minutes) but totally worth it – he’s so nice. In a little non-book detour, I met one of my favourite actors, Jamie Bamber from Battlestar Galactica. He was incredibly sweet and also very tanned!

Sunday was much calmer and I felt a bit more like I knew what I was doing! I went straight to the ticket table and picked up a docket for the last talk of the day, a conversation between Sally Gardner and Holly Black. It was awesome – both are very interesting ladies with a lot to say about fairy tales, mythology and the power of the oral tradition. I also signed up for the ‘Meet the Agents’ workshop and was lucky enough to get a place, meaning I got the chance to pitch my work. It may have gone pretty well…

The best thing about Sunday, however, was getting to meet Meg Rosoff, Sally Green, Sally Gardner and James Dawson. They were all lovely and wanted to know about my writing and were then very supportive. In turn, I was able to tell them how much I have enjoyed their books! I also took a quick celeb-spotting recce round the actual con, only to notice that Edward James Olmos (also from BSG) had no queue, so I nipped in to meet him and pretty much died when he blew me a kiss. I turned round to go and realised I was crying – didn’t know I was that much of a crazed fangirl, but obviously I am!

Overall, it was a fabulous weekend. It was wonderful to be sharing my love of books with so many other fans, and encouraging to see as much enthusiasm for authors as for the many film and tv stars at the con. I only hope there will be another edition next year.

The Age of Innocence

25 Apr

I’m reading Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence right now and loving it. I’ve seen the Scorsese movie and enjoyed it, but the book is even more delightful – playful, satirical and romantic all in one – even if Newland is a big sap.

What’s so great about it is the prose. For example, this quotation…man, this quotation:

“Don’t be afraid of me: you needn’t squeeze yourself back into your corner like that. A stolen kiss isn’t what I want. Look: I’m not even trying to touch the sleeve of your jacket. Don’t suppose that I don’t understand your reasons for not wanting to let this feeling between us dwindle into an ordinary hole-and-corner love-affair. I couldn’t have spoken like this yesterday, because when we’ve been apart, and I’m looking forward to seeing you,every thought is burnt up in a great flame. But then you come; and you’re so much more than I remembered, and what I want of you is so much more than an hour or two every now and then, with wastes of thirsty waiting between, that I can sit perfectly still beside you, like this, with that other vision in my mind, just quietly trusting to it to come true.”

Sigh.

2013 in Reading

22 Dec

Equalling last year’s score of 38 even though I’ve been slacking this month..I have really enjoyed almost everything I’ve read, with the exception of a few eye-rollers, but absolute favourite reads are in bold:

1. The Twelve by Justin Cronin

2. Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz (gay mermen ahoy)

3. The Last Dance by Victoria Hislop

4. Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner (short but ultra-dark and fascinating)

5. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens (typical Chas…long winded but ultimately good yarn)

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Holiday Reads

8 Sep

Today has been the first really autumnal day of the year and I have had to put my jacket on for the first time in months. Brr! September is in full swing and so is school, making the holidays seem like a distant dream.

I was lucky enough to tag along on my parents’ trip to the lovely Portugese resort of Sao Martinho, on the central ‘Silver Coast’. It was a very relaxing break where we pretty much just read, swam and ate delicious food like feijoada de gambas (bean stew with prawns) and grilled snapper.

I got through:

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A Year of Books

20 Dec

A few years ago, my mum bought me a cute little notebook designed for ‘book notes’. I’ve been noting down everything I’ve read since 2008. Yes, I know the cool kids are using Goodreads these days…but sometimes you can’t beat good old pen and paper!

Anyway, it’s fascinating to go back and look at what I’ve read over the years. This year I’ve racked up more than ever (well, since records began), mainly down to my Kindle, which has meant I’m never short of something to read, and I can take it on my commute. I’m definitely not one of those ‘anti e-reader’ bores (‘Oh, but I just love books! I couldn’t possibly abandon paper!’) – not to say you can’t prefer one over the other, but I’m tired of people telling me I don’t love books because I’ve got a Kindle. Words are words, and my shelves are very small!

The range of genres for this year is fairly broad, although kid-lit/YA is heavily represented, for obvious reasons.

1. The Dolphin People by Torsten Krol (one of the weirdest books I have ever read!)

2. A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford (everybody loves those emerald eyes)

3. Larkstorm by Dawn Rae Miller

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