“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read”
This, one of my favorite quotes, hangs in my classroom as inspiration. Books are an obvious passion of mine. Get me into a book store or library and you can just call me, Veruca Salt, y’all, because I. Want. Them. All. So, I’ll present you with my latest frustration in a hypothetical form.
I was reading on my shiny new tablet waiting for a friend for coffee.
“What are you playing?” She asked upon arrival.
“Oh, I’m reading! It’s the new Gillian Flynn novel. Have you read any of her books?”
“Yeah, I’m not a reader,” she says with disdain. Like reading is so passé it’s something she does on very rare occasions. Or, heaven forbid, when she is forced to.
“It’s such a good book! Seriously, I couldn’t put it down.”
“I just don’t have time to sit and read!” she says. Subject. Closed.
“I don’t read.” They say this with a chuckle. Not as a confession or even a grudging admission. They are proud non-readers. And they truly believe that this, my friends, is cool. I imagine these proud nonreaders as they begrudgingly read a street sign, but only if they must. I’m sorry, Officer. Did that say stop?! I just don’t like to read.
“I just don’t have time to read” is my other favorite refrain. You’re correct. That six hour marathon of Say Yes to the Dress is imperative to your well being. Really, reality TV doesn’t just watch itself. They’ll read their Facebook feed for two hours (That doesn’t count! I like reading about my-sort-of-used-to-know-her-in-high-school’s sorority sister’s wedding in St. Louis) but concentrate on a great story line? Don’t even try.
What happened to reading? What happened to liking reading? I’ve read countless articles and books on the topic, so I won’t bore you with discussion. I want to pose a solution. Let’s find something you (well, they. You, my dear readers, are probably sitting in the choir, aren’t you?) are interested in!
I’m going to do for y’all what I do for my students. I always ask: What was the last thing you read that you really liked? Or, what TV show/movie can you just-not-get-enough-of? What kind of movie do you like to watch?
From there it’s like a matching game.
If you say: I like Indiana Jones! Action and Adventure all the way–try “City of the Beasts” by Isabelle Allende
This action and adventure young adult novel is set in the rainforest of the Amazon. 15-year-old Alex is on a search for the mysterious beasts along with his quirky grandmother, an “International Geographic” reporter, and various other members of the expedition. Just like any good Jones flick you’ve got poison darts, strange people in the mysterious wild, and ancient artifacts. It’s got that science fiction flair that the Jones stories are known for in Allende’s style of magical realism.
Quote: “My father says that fear is good; it’s the body’s alarm system, it warns us of danger. But sometimes danger can’t be avoided, and then you have to forget about being afraid.”
If you say: “Boy Meets World” and TGIF was my jam! — try Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo.
It will crack you up and make you go ooey gooey over the heartache. It features a 15 year old girl who is desperately in love with the cool college guy at her summer job and that same guy who is desperately in love with a girl who doesn’t want him. Two very unique voices and a great plot. There were great references to Great Expectations, unrequited love, and two great characters struggling to find themselves. It’s earnest and a bit awkward, but in a really well written way… an intentional awkwardness. Also, it’s set in Australia!
Quote: “You’re very passionate about your unhappiness aren’t you, Chris?’ I responded with, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.”
If you say: Dexter/Mr. Brooks/Se7en I need some dark and twisty! Suspense, subplots, and crazy twists. None of that love stuff– try authors Ellen Hopkins or Gillian Flynn
. Ms. Flynn has more of a mystery/thriller feel. All three of her books are great, but “Sharp Objects” really stuck with me. In a shiver-down-your-spine-please-get-out-of-my-head-way. The book is about Camille, a writer, who is forced to return to her hometown to investigate the murders of two preteen girls. Through the investigation she finds herself eerily connecting to the victims. So much so that she must unravel her past to get to the truth.
Quote: “People got such a charge from seeing their names in print. Proof of existence. I could picture a squabble of ghosts ripping through piles of newspapers. Pointing at a name on the page. See, there I am. I told you I lived. I told you I was.”
On the other hand, Ellen Hopkins is a young adult author with some serious adult themes. “Identical” was also about two sisters in a shockingly scandalous story. Two identical sisters in a seriously dysfunctional family. After reading, if you don’t bug your eyes out, put your hands in the air, and say “holy crap!!!!” at least once, you may be a sick puppy (just kidding! you’re probably just partially a sick puppy. A stuffy nose puppy, if you will).
Quote: “They think old people are lame. But they’re not. They’re awesome, & I know exactly why I think so. It’s because they’ve lived entire lifetimes. Loved. Laughed. Surrendered. Stumbled. Weathered, beaten, still they don’t crumble, not even as they inch toward death.”
My apologies for the hiatus, faithful readers! The transition to the world of the full-time-big-girl-job left me rather strapped for free time to write and read about non-teacher things. But, I digress. Summer is here, and that means it’s time for your dose of Book Bites! I have some delectable book treats for you this summer. So fire up those Kindles. And shoot me a comment/message: What kind of books would you like to read but simply cannot find? I’ll do some sleuthing for you.