b2ap3_thumbnail_johngreen_20140613-181938_1.jpgRecently, Slate columnist Ruth Graham suggested that we adults who read young adult literature ought to be embarrassed for doing so. She shamed us grown-ups who enjoyed John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars for stooping to read this simplistic, immature and maudlin piece of escapist tripe. And, apparently because she didn’t enjoy TFIOS, she extends her condemnation to include any adult who reads any YA. According to Graham, YA “books consistently indulge in the kind of endings that teenagers want to see, but which adult readers ought to reject as far too simple ... These endings are for readers who prefer things to be wrapped up neatly, our heroes married or dead or happily grasping hands, looking to the future.” Wow.

Ms. Graham does not mention any other YA titles she might have read recently, so I have to assume that her actual experience reading YA literature is limited to what her own adult friends are talking about. To Graham’s annoyance, many of them are enjoying YA books and she thought we all needed to be scolded and set right.  I am going to suggest that there are several very good reasons for adults to read YA literature these days -- including Ms. Graham.

b2ap3_thumbnail_judyblumesm_20140613-182348_1.jpgFirst, a definition and a clarification. YA literature is comprised of those books written specifically for teens between the ages of 12 and 17 and is a relatively new marketing category. Judy Blume is the acknowledged godmother of this form and her groundbreaking novel Forever, which deals openly with teen sexuality and pregnancy, was first published in 1975. YA is NOT a genre, like mystery, romance or science fiction are genres. YA contains all genres, including sci fi, fantasy, mystery, thriller, horror and romance. YA literature has become widely known since Harry Potter and even more popular since the Twilight and Divergent series. Recently TFIOS has taken off and there will be more to come as many adult authors jump on the YA bandwagon.

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Last week marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the massive Allied invasion of Normandy during WWII, which liberated France and helped turn the tide of the war against Germany.  The human toll resulting from the largest sea-borne invasion in history was staggering, with casualties among Allied forces exceeding 10,000, and over 4,400 confirmed dead.

 

LongestDay200How better to commemorate the anniversary of D-Day than by showcasing both the book and movie versions of The Longest Day.  Author Cornelius Ryan's bestselling, narrative account of the first day of the historic invasion of Normandy was published in 1959 to critical acclaim, and remains an authoritative work on the subject today.  Producer Darryl F. Zannuck was determined to bring Ryan's work to the screen, and in 1962 he succeeded in creating what is still considered one of the best movies ever made about the historic battle.  John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Richard Burton, and Sean Connery are among the many stars of the classic film, which chronicles the events leading up to and following the invasion from both the Allied and German points of view.  Both the book and the movie are available at the library.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_rainbowrowell.jpgIf you want to know about some of the best new books that librarians love, check out LibraryReads. Once a month librarians across the country vote for their favorite books, and only 10 make the list.

The July list has just been announced, and we are so excited because our own Andrea Larson’s review was picked for the number one book! Andrea recommended the novel Landline by Rainbow Rowell, who is a favorite among librarians for her young adult novels Eleanor & Park and Fangirl. Landline is Rowell’s first adult novel. Andrea wrote that “Landline explores the delicate balance women make between work and family, considering the tradeoffs and pain. Rowell has a special gift for offering incredible insights into ordinary life. Never heavy-handed, Rowell’s writing is delivered with humor and grace. I finish all of her books wanting to laugh and cry at the same time–they are that moving. Landline captured my heart.”

b2ap3_thumbnail_loriraderday.pngWe also are thrilled because The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day is one the top 10 books picked for July. Rader-Day is coming to Cook Library to talk about her terrific debut mystery at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 15. The Black Hour also has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist, and was listed by Chicago Magazine as one of six great summer reads by local authors. We are so proud to host this talented author, and hope you can join us. Register here.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_elockhart.jpgCady, Johnny, Mirren and Gat -- the Liars -- were four inseparable teens who spent every idyllic summer together since they were 8 on Grandpa Sinclair’s private island off Cape Cod. Each family had a separate home and dinners were served every evening after cocktails by their grandparents’ cook at the big house. Cady is the beloved granddaughter of the proud and wealthy patriarch and she is reminded regularly to maintain a stiff upper lip because she is one of ‘the’ Sinclairs, whose ancestors were some of the first settlers in New England. World travel and the Ivy League are assumed to follow high school. Life was good.

Yet, two summers earlier, known to the family as Summer 15, Cady had been found one evening
b2ap3_thumbnail_wewereliarsbig.jpgfloating in her underwear on one of the island’s private beaches, and is still unable to remember why she had been there in the first place. A traumatic brain injury is the cause of her memory loss and of her debilitating migraine headaches, according to the myriad of  doctors Cady has seen since. As much as she tries, Cady cannot remember anything about Summer 15 or what had caused her accident. Now it’s Summer 17 and Cady will be going back to the island, hoping that being there again with the rest of the Liars will help her
remember her accident and perhaps help her heal.

The story of Cady and her family is full of twists and turns, unreliable narrators and is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Cady is a strong yet wounded character and the reader goes along for the ride as she describes the summers her family spent together and feels Cady’s frustrations as she tries so hard to remember what caused her accident. She tries to get answers from others who were there, but her extended family is having serious problems of their own, and so she withdraws into her pain and continues to puzzle over the events of Summer 15. As Cady begins to remember bits and pieces, the reader also begins to realize what really happened that night.

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I’m not sure why, but most major book awards are announced either in the spring or fall. The last big award of this season, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize), was announced Wednesday.

Here is a roundup of all the spring awards, in case you missed the announcements.

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