Tag Archives: young adult literature

I Have a Newborn…and So Much Time to Read YA!

Karnes November 2017 (20 of 23)

Jane Elizabeth arrived on November 13! (See how much she sleeps?!

Ahhh, the second kid. The kid where you can take advantage of just how much a newborn sleeps, just how much free time your maternity leave affords you, and just how tired you can be. Way too tired to create anything sensible (sorry, NaNoWriMo), but definitely not too tired to consume something interesting.

Enter young adult literature.

(Well, re-enter, actually.)

I left the high school classroom about a year and a half ago, and since then I’ve only read a few YA novels. My purpose for reading YA used to be to inform my students about the latest and greatest in high-interest lit, but now it’s shifted. I’m as distracted as any perpetually tired, academically overwhelmed, hormonally imbalanced teenager, so now I’m the perfect audience for all the best YA.

Here are a few of my recent late-night, early-morning, even-while-in-the-hospital YA reads that I think you and your students will love, too!

30653853The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli – I so loved this book. I enjoyed everything about it asI read it in chunks at 2 am while feeding the baby. I loved the narrator’s voice, the hilarity of the supporting characters (whose ethnic, sexual, and gender “diversity” weren’t the main points of the story, but just a normal part of the fabric of the narrative, which I really appreciated), and the writing itself. If you or your students enjoyed the twins in Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun, the frank discussion of body image in Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’, or the awkwardness of Colin in John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines, definitely give this one a try.

51nDUibFLjL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Made You Up by Francesca Zappia – I chose this one strictly based on cover appeal–because it’s really a gorgeous cover–and ended up reading it throughout labor, finishing the last 20 pages a few hours after Jane was born. I was sucked in immediately by the plight of Alex, who’s seventeen and schizophrenic and never quite sure what’s real or made up in her everyday life. Every character, object, or experience had my skepticism as I read, and my wariness was heightened as I grew more and more attached to each development, worrying that it’d turn out to be fake. There are twists and turns worthy of Gone Girl in this book, but ultimately, it’s a fantastic YA read that’s more coming-of-age than suspense or mystery genre.

John_Green_Turtles_All_The_Way_Down_Book_CoverTurtles All the Way Down by John Green – Have you read this book yet? If you haven’t, is it at least pretty high on your TBR list? If it isn’t, have you been living under a rock!? John Green’s newest book–and his first release since The Fault in Our Stars–did not disappoint me. I purposely avoided reading anything about the book before I got my hands on it, and I was glad that I hadn’t been spoiled by spoilers. Its plot is driven by a typically slightly unbelievable Green-esque set of characters, circumstances, and adventures, but I’m always willing to suspend my disbelief for the likes of John Green, so I was undeterred. I quickly empathized with narrator Aza, who struggles with OCD, and appreciated Green’s sensitive exploration of mental health in the teen landscape.

61d6DhRCBSL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Jackie told me about this book years ago, and I’ve been meaning to read it ever since–and it was worth the wait. A true YA classic, it blends a dystopian reality with the sinister machinations of a true supervillain (in this case, an entire corporation) and unlikely heroes and plot twists throughout. If you like The Matrix, the 80s, video games, or any of the above, you’ll like this book. It’s a great piece of fiction, and I appreciated Cline’s restraint in not turning it into a trilogy or series. I loved it as a stand-alone book full of everything I like in a page-turner.

32930819The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn – This isn’t YA, but it’ll definitely be of interest to any of my fellow Jane Austen lovers out there (and if you are one, then you’ll notice my aptly-named newborn daughter, above). In the not-too-distant future, time travel is a reality and true Austen fangirl Dr. Rachel Katzman has been selected to visit 1815 and Jane herself. Her mission is to retrieve a lost Austen manuscript, diagnose the mysterious illness that ended Jane’s life far too early, and try not to alter history too drastically along the way. I loved this book for its historical accuracy, its constant allusions to Jane’s works, and the depth of emotion I felt from every character.

And, because all good readers have a plan, here’s what’s next on my library holds list:

  • Refugee by Alan Gratz
  • Artemis by Andy Weir
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  • A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck
  • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  • What She Ate by Laura Shapiro

What do you recommend for my next high-interest read? Please comment with some titles that will keep me awake through late-night feedings, a teething toddler, and my exhausted 8:00 bedtime!

Shana Karnes is now mom to TWO beautiful baby girls–Ruth and Jane–wife to a very patient husband, and teacher of thoughtful preservice educators at West Virginia University. She’s enjoying new mom-of-two life and surviving it thanks to the twin distractions of reading her students’ work and reading YA lit. Find Shana on Twitter at @litreader.


#FridayReads: 14 Titles My Students Always Re-Read

NCLast week, Dylan looked at me with utter dismay when I told him that I still didn’t have the third book in the Maze Runner series.  Then, he brightened.  “I was actually kind of confused about some things that happened in The Scorch Trials.  Can I re-read it while I’m waiting for the third book to get returned?”

“Of course,” I agreed.  Musing, I jotted down some titles in my notebook that I wanted to re-read–my usual favorites, of course, but also books I’d only read once and had just loved–The Night Circus, Station Eleven, Zeitoun.  It made me wonder about what other books students wanted to re-read, so this past week, I asked them about it during conferences.  Lots of titles emerged, and I soon saw a pattern emerge–there were four reasons why they wanted to read particular books again and again.

HPSeries.  It quickly became apparent that if a new book in a series was coming out, re-reads were necessary.  “I’ve read the whole Harry Potter series three or four times,” Ryan told me.  “I understood all the hidden references and more about the characters the second and third times.”  Olivia agreed: “Those books are so complex there’s no way to understand everything in them the first time you read them.”

Anna read the whole Percy Jackson series twice “because I was in middle school and the struggle was real in finding books I enjoyed.  So I just re-read ones I knew I enjoyed!”

Shailyn read the Twilight series twice, and is reading it again now for the third time since the 10th anniversary editions were just released.  “I just loved the story,” she said.

Books that were being made into movies.  Mylana was adamant about this category: “I had to re-read Paper Towns really quick before the movie came out so I could tear it apart with how it didn’t compare to the book.”

Kaylee laughed and agreed: “I re-read The Fault in Our Stars for the same reason!!”

EPReally gripping stories.  “American Sniper was tough to re-read, but I did, because the story was so powerful.  I just wanted to experience it again,” Ryan said.

Eleanor and Park was the most beautiful love story I’ve ever read,” Olivia said, “so I’ve read it three times!”

“I re-read All the Bright Places, because it was probably the best book I’ve ever read,” Shailyn said.

“I read The Giver and The Help twice because I wanted to pay more attention to the moral story line and internal struggle in all of us that was portrayed so candidly in those books,” Anna said.

AFBooks they were assigned in school.  Mockingbird was popular in this category: “I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird numerous times because it’s my favorite, it’s a classic, and because I discover new details about the trial and Boo and Atticus each time I re-read it,” Olivia said decisively.

“I re-read The Diary of Anne Frank because I read it first as an assignment, but then re-read for fun because I wanted to think more about her time period vs. ours,” Mylana said.

“I had to re-read The Book Thief after it was assigned to me because I just wanted to focus on the storytelling the second time through,” Jonathan agreed.

What titles do your students (and you) love to re-read?  Share in the comments!

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