I know it’s a little late in the year to be posting about last year’s books but I’m gonna do it anyway!
I read several books on YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list for 2012. Here are the ones I absolutely loved:
- The Diviners by Libba Bray
- Every Day by David Levithan
- Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick
These books I also liked but didn’t quite blow me away like the first 3 did:
- Croak by Gina Damico (recommended to me by a teen)
- The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison
- The Fault in our Stars by John Green
- Chomp by Carl Hiaasen (listened to the audio read by James van der Beek)
- Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
I started these books but never finished (usually because some other book was screaming “Read me NOW!):
- The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
- The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour (would like to try again with this one!)
- Boy21 by Matthew Quick
- The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman (currently reading)
Books on my MUST READ list:
- Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
- The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
- The Brides of Rollock Island by Margo Lanagan
- I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
- Cinder by Marissa Meyer
- Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Wish me luck in getting around to the rest of these books!
This morning, a patron called wanting to know how to protect his identity from being stolen by hackers on the Internet. He mentioned a service that could protect you through the use of one password. I wasn’t aware of a service like that but a quick online search will show you that they do exist. Lifelock is one such website.
But should you have to pay that much to be protected from hackers stealing your identity? I don’t think so. There are free alternatives that anyone can use and everyone should know about. Including me… As a librarian in the digital age, I must know this stuff like the back of my hand. It’s called financial literacy–just another form of literacy that libraries need to actively promote. The Public Library Association agrees.
Here are the best online resources I’ve found on identity theft:
And don’t forget the 3 credit reporting agencies (your new BFFs):
You’d think getting people books or information about animals would be easy. But it’s deceptively difficult. Here’s a few examples:
A woman and her teenaged son came in asking for a book on black panthers. I had to ask, “As in Black Panther Party or animal?” So animal it was. I thought black panthers were their own species of big cat. Looking through books turned up nothing. Then I checked the indexes of animal encyclopedias and still was confused. Where are the Black Panthers, YO? I finally found an entry that confused me even more. It said that black panthers were really black leopards or black jaguars. It wasn’t until I read the Wikipedia article on black panthers that I got the gist of it. They aren’t their own species. It’s just what we call a big cat that has a gene which causes its fur to be black from excess melanin. They sometimes still have spots like their jaguar or leopard mommies and daddies. So “black panther” is more of a nickname than a real scientific classification.
AWWW! So cute! But when one is living under your porch and eating all your plants and vegetables and you are pulling your hair out trying to make it scram, then you come to the library for answers. “What do groundhogs eat,” she wants to know, “because we’re gonna try to trap him.” Again, I can’t find any books on groundhogs on the shelf, and the encyclopedia index says “SEE woodchuck”. So they are called woodchucks, whistle-pigs, land-beavers. They are part of the marmot family and they love to eat fruits and veggies and other green things. (How is this guy so fat?) The best answer I got, including techniques on how to trap one, was from the Internet. I avoided the Internet at first because she said she wanted a book. But she was happy with the information anyway. Good luck to her! I hope the groundhog didn’t ruin the foundation of her home! (Something else I learned they are capable of…)
I feel sad to even put this guy on the same page with that cute groundhog… But a boy was doing a report on the pill bug and needed to use at least 2 books for writing his report. It’s nice to know that some teachers are still requiring books to be used for research, not just the Internet. But again, is Pill Bug its “true” name? I was stumped by the books, and the Internet was also confusing. Did he want the pill bug aka woodlice aka Armadillidiidae (Arma-Dilla-Dee-Day-Ding-Dong)? Or was it really the pill millipede which looks very similar but has no other relation? I gave him the info on the woodlice variety, but geez, did it really have to be that hard?
Lessons learned? Do a quick online search before you hit the books, just to make sure if your animal of choice goes by another name or has any confusing varieties or is even really an animal! Then look it up in the books.
I’ve started a teen book club at my library. The Teen Advisory Board suggested it. At our first meeting in February, we read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. That was a pretty heavy book about suicide, blame, bullying, and depression. When I asked the group what they wanted to read next, they wanted something completely different than Thirteen Reasons Why. “Science fiction! Mystery! Anything not about suicide!” And I thought people would be dying to read a realistic tome about high school horribleness.
Non-realistic genres are very popular now in YA lit and popular with our teens as well. Fantasy, science fiction, and action/adventure books are always circulating. I read these genres as a way to take a break from the problems of the real world. I can see why teens like them too. Adolescence is not the most peaceful or stress-free time of one’s life. Reading fantasy or science fiction can give teens an entertaining mental break from exams, packed schedules, and social navigating.
For our next book club in April, I chose Divergent by Veronica Roth. A popular trilogy often compared to The Hunger Games, I think Divergent will prove to be a bigger, better choice for book club than Thirteen Reasons Why. While TRW had plenty of tough subjects to discuss, Divergent will appeal to teens’ desire for action, suspense, and pure entertainment. Let’s face it. Divergent will be more fun to read than a book about suicide. Now I don’t mean to discredit choosing a more serious book for a teen book club. We had an excellent discussion with multiple points-of-view and opinions about Hannah Baker’s decision to end her life. But I understand the need to mix it up and lighten the mood.
Divergent is not without its themes – issues of identity, belonging, difficult choices, questioning authority. We will talk about all those things and more at the book club. I also have an idea for a fun activity involving the book’s 5 factions of society. This fan website describes the factions really well. I want to find a way of testing the teens to see which faction they would belong to, and then see if they would change the recommendation and choose a completely different faction, just like Tris does in the book. We get to pretend we are in Tris’s world and also ask ourselves questions about our identities. Can we really be pinned down to one category or are we all “divergent?”
How graphic is too graphic? A library director in Greenville, SC has taken a graphic novel, “Neonomicon” by award-winning author Alan Moore, off the shelves after a patron complained about its “offensive” content. The library went through its formal process of review by a committee who recommended that it stay in the library’s collection. But the library director has the final say: she opposed the committee’s recommendation and chose to “de-select” the book.
Is this library director right? Should she go against the committee’s well-thought-out and well-researched decision to keep the book? Having the book on the shelf is not the same as reading it. There are many controversial books in libraries, ie. Fifty Shades of Grey, that patrons can make their own decisions about. I believe that libraries have a duty to their patrons to provide stories that are from all areas of life, whether or not they may be offensive to some groups of people. Now that I am working in a public library and on the front lines of service, I see that it may be very tricky to decide on objections to the collection. For example, should we keep books that are about Neo-Nazis and their beliefs? On the one hand, it could be a very objective look at Neo-Nazism for people who may be doing a research report or project on hate groups in America. On the other hand, the book may be seen as subversively promoting Neo-Nazi values which I suspect many people would object to. Where’s the line? It’s hard to tell.
Click on the pic above to see the word cloud I created showing the most read Young Adult authors in my library in 2012. The bigger the name, the more popular the author. I pulled this information from the top 50 circulating YA titles last year. I’d like to print this out and put it up somewhere in the YA area to promote the collection and also let teens see what authors are hot right now.
Top 10 YA Titles of 2012 at Abington Free Library
- Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
- Son of Neptune – Rick Riordan
- Divergent – Veronica Roth
- Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero – Rick Riordan
- What Happened to Goodbye – Sarah Dessen
- The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
- Clockwork Prince – Cassandra Clare
- Legend – Marie Lu (and my personal favorite!)
- Scorch Trials – James Dashner
- Matched – Ally Condie