My Dirty Little YA Secret

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A couple of years back I gushed a little bit about how much I enjoyed many of the books that were on my high school’s required reading list. I have to confess, though, that there’s a little more to that story than I originally let on.

See, the thing you have to understand about me is that I read pretty much everything if it a) sparks my interest or b) someone else tells me it it’s good. When I was younger, that sometimes meant diving into books that were maybe a little age inappropriate. Now that I’m a little (ahem) older, my reading choices still don’t always match my age.

Ok, so maybe young adult fiction isn’t your thing. Authors like Jaclyn Moriarty (Feeling Sorry for Celia, The Year of Secret Assignments) and Jerry Spinelli (Star Girl), though, might change your mind- both are sharp, witty, and write books with characters who seem mature beyond their years. (Can we talk about Jaclyn Moriarty for a second, though? For me, she brought the epistolary novel into the current century. Feeling Sorry for Celia, for example, is told through notes that Celia’s friend and her mother leave for each other on the refrigerator door.)

Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle and the His Dark Materials trilogy (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass) by Philip Pullman also feature characters (and subject matters) that stretch far beyond the teenage years, despite the fact that they’re more commonly marketed to adolescents. (Please watch the film version of I Capture the Castle with a super-young Henry Cavill and Rose Byrne. Also, did I mention Henry Cavill?)

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YA fiction is also the only place where fantasy, action and the contemporary world combine seamlessly- series like Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay) and the Lorien Legacy series (which starts with I Am Number Four and spans five more titles) feature way more action and suspense than a lot of fiction I’ve read that’s intended for older audiences. The fact that they’re willing to get creative with fantastical and science fiction elements doesn’t hurt, either. The Divergent series (Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant) by Veronica Roth is actually one of the more intelligent science fiction series you’ll come across, and I had to include Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series (which totals six books including the first, City of Bones) because it’s such a flipping good romance. (Shout-out to all the others who got their hearts broken when they found out Shadowhunters was cancelled on Netflix.)

What are some of the YA titles you’ve read and loved but were kind of afraid to confess to reading up until now? I’m thirty-something and I spilled; I’d love to hear your suggestions too! Comment below or drop me a line at keepingbusyb@gmail.com. We can keep your dirty YA secret just between you and I.

Psst- wanna see which books have previously graced my bookshelves? Click here. Want even more fun reading recommendations? I’ve got some for you here. Don’t forget to find me on Goodreads so we can snoop each other’s bookshelves and dish about our favourites.

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Pride and Prejudice and Endless Possibilities

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As voracious a reader as I am, I don’t often re-read books because I’m always onto the next thing. This has changed mostly since I’ve gotten busier (and older); I don’t have the luxury of revisiting my favorites the way I used to when I was a kid. Hanging out with those books was like hanging out with old friends- they brought me joy and were always a constant, even during the moments when my life was changing very rapidly around me.

In that sense, picking my favorite book is kind of like picking my favorite friend. If I had to choose one, though, it would be Pride and Prejudice. It’s certainly one of my oldest friends- I first read it when I was a whopping eleven years of age. I loved it so much that it was enough to turn me into a full-fledged Austenite. I read all of her books, and then I read P&P again. I’ve read it three more times since then, making it the book I have re-read those most out of all of the ones I have read.

You may think my choice is cliché, or that Austen herself is, but I hate to break it to you- she’s pretty unavoidable. P&P (as well as all of her other work) has been re-published, re-packaged and re-purposed hundreds of times over. Her writing is cliché because she’s the one who wrote it to begin with.

Here are some recent examples: ever heard of Bridget Jones’s Diary? Author Helen Fielding didn’t even bother to disguise the allegory and kept the name Mr. Darcy for one of the main characters in her popular series. And Curtis Sittenfeld’s latest, Eligible, is openly marketed as a modern day re-telling of the classic novel.

Seth Grahame-Smith actually cut and pasted from the actual text of P&P to create his own horror story, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, featuring the Bennett sisters as a troupe of corset-wearing, weapon-slinging zombie hunters trying to balance romance and saving the world. You know, the usual girl stuff. I got kind of a kick out of watching the female characters kick some serious zombie butt, but some of the original storyline gets lost in translation- for example, Elizabeth Bennett’s social status (or lack thereof) hardly seems to be an issue because she’s such a badass- but it was still a lot of fun to read. Apparently others thought so as well- the book’s rise to fame brought a slew of other copycat titles along with it, including another adaptation of Austen’s work, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

If your weapons of choice are more of whip and handcuff variety, you might enjoy Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife, author Linda Berdoll’s erotic envisioning of what happens after the original Pride and Prejudice ends. He’s not Christian Grey, exactly, but this version of Mr. Darcy seems a lot less uptight than Austen’s version and Elizabeth Bennett is a lot more…shall we say submissive? Drama, babies, battles, heaving bosoms- this version has it all, and is perfect for die-hard romance fans.

More recently, I picked up a copy of Longbourn by Jo Baker, a re-telling of Pride and Prejudice through the eyes of the servants who scurry the halls of the Bennett family house.

 

KBwB-BFlower-50Psst- wanna see which books have previously graced my bookshelves? Click here. Want even more fun reading recommendations? I’ve got some for you here. Don’t forget to find me on Goodreads so we can snoop each other’s bookshelves and dish about our favourites.

Proof that Great Books Can Make Great Movies

As we enter the season of the summer blockbuster I thought it would be fun to reflect on how many of the books that have been featured on my blog have also been made into movies. It seems that movie and TV show adaptations of books are becoming increasingly popular.

Some of these movies and TV shows listed below have been ones that I have seen and enjoyed; in some cases, seeing the movie first has prompted me to read the book just for comparison’s sake.

Have you seen or read any of the movies or books from my list? I’d love to hear your thoughts but I also want to know which ones I’m missing or you think I should read. What’s your favorite movie adaptation of a book?

Fiction

Non-Fiction

Kid Lit/YA Fiction

Graphic Novels

Psst- wanna see which books have previously graced my bookshelves? Click here. Want even more fun reading recommendations? I’ve got some for you here. Don’t forget to find me on Goodreads so we can snoop each other’s bookshelves and dish about our favourites.