At the beginning of school year back in September, I gave myself permission to read. On one hand, I was disappointed with the number of books I had read – a measly 6 at the end of the summer. I missed reading for pleasure so much. On the other hand, I’m in library school; while my heavy course load provides me with a myriad of excuses not to read, professionally, it’s a really really good idea for me to read and read consistently so I have a greater awareness of what’s out there and what people might like. However, keeping in mind that heavy course load, I narrowed my reading for the school year, focusing primarily on children’s and young adult novels. I need books that won’t require too much mental attention, while still being good. On top of that I want to make sure that, if I actually manage to find a job at the end of this semester, it won’t take me too long to figure out what’s good and wonderful in the world of kids and teens.
From September to the end of the Christmas holidays, I managed to double my book count for the year. Twelve books is still the least number of books I’ve ever read in a year, but, as a good friend reminded me, it can be hard to read with a toddler running around and I really need to give myself a break.
The books I did read this past year were pretty decent. I can’t decide on a favourite; there’s a tie between Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge and Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. Both are fantasy: Cuckoo Song is contemporary, set in post-World War I Britain; The Queen of the Tearling is high fantasy – or possibly dystopian, depending on how you want to look at it - set in an incredible world that Johansen has poured a myriad of beautiful – and not so beautiful – details into.
On the bottom of my list of favourites sit two books that have so much undeserved hype surrounding them, so I’m sorry if you totally you disagree with my judgement. Paper Towns by John Green was good but it really wasn’t great. It was entertaining, but throughout, I felt like it took itself too seriously. I’ve heard that Green’s books are really formulaic, so I’m not sure I’ll trying another one. And then there was Divergent by Veronica Roth. Oh world. Why do you love this book so much? The world building is weak, so weak that I couldn’t appreciate the story itself. I know it’s supposed to be fantasy, but the idea that the world would decide that everyone should be sorted into categories based on their most dominant personality trait – of which only four exist – is beyond absurd, I just couldn’t. I will admit that it was an easy, light read, but it left me with such a bad taste in my mouth that I won’t be reading any of its sequels, and I’ll make no effort to see the movie. There are better page-turners out there.
So, now on to 2016. Over this last semester of school I hope to continue reading as much as I can, but I’m already looking forward to the remaining 8 months of the year. Knowing that I’m soon done with course assignments, I’ve set myself a goal of 20 books for the year, fiercely hoping that I’ll be able to surpass it. I won’t limit myself to YA completely, but I do love books that are targeted to children and teenagers, and I look forward to reading more. But, more importantly, I hope to fill my reading with a greater diversity of voices. During the course of my last semester of school, I became acutely and painfully aware of the lack of diversity in all things books – publishing, writing, and yes, librarianship. I don’t know how to help fix it except by listening listening listening, so I will fill my head with the words of women and men from different backgrounds than myself, people with disabilities, the young and old from socioeconomic positions that I am unfamiliar with. Words are for more than just entertainment: I want to be mindful of that this year in a way I have never been before.