Reading at Random

by Lara Killian

18 February 2008

 

Taking a position at a local high school/middle school library in the fall of 2007 held unexpected benefits. Sure, I thought being surrounded by books would be great, but arriving in time to check in books returned before school starts each day allows me a glimpse into the literary life of the teens here: I have the advantage of seeing which books go out over and over again. And I can grab them the next time they come through—if the kids are reading them and telling their friends, chances are that the story is well written. Attention spans are short in high school these days. And take out those earbuds, if you please.

Of course I try to be somewhat discriminating, and have managed to avoid the lure of Meg Cabot (The Princess Diaries, Queen of Babble) and Megan McCafferty’s novels, wittily titled things like Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings, which appeal heavily to our older teen girls. Meanwhile I was glad I’d already read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy as with the first movie coming out in December the resident copies have been in high demand. I was quickly alerted to Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse) about high-school-attending vampires and werewolves in perpetually rainy Forks, Washington (now in movie production) and tore through the first three novels. Although the premise may sound a bit dicey, the characters are totally compelling and the dialogue in particular is genius. I’m now pining for the fourth (Breaking Dawn), currently being written and due to be released in August 2008. Meanwhile I received a tip that led to my discovery of Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy, an account of late 19th century English boarding school girls dabbling in the occult, and whizzed through the first two novels. The third, The Sweet Far Thing, was just released in December 2007, and I was in a good position to lobby the head librarian to add the final chapter of Gemma’s adventures to our most recent order of books.

Having the opportunity to discover a whole new generation of page turners is just the thing for a jaded English major who remembers plodding through Dickens and Nabokov (excluding The Defense or Invitation to a Beheading, naturally). Sometimes a little light reading is enough to re-invigorate an appetite for the pure pleasure of fast-paced fiction. What are you reading this week?

 

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