What are you reading?


“What are you reading? …”

I asked my teenage daughter this recently, pleased that, curled atop her bed, she had her face intently riveted on a book.

When she answered, “It’s called Love Cajun Style,” I checked myself from rolling my eyes back at the sound of the title, but I’m sure my face made an “oh no, I don’t believe it” expression.

“That sounds like a dumb teen romance novel,” I told her.

Her comeback was, “It’s not what it sounds. It’s good.”

I noticed the paperback book didn’t appear to have any library-type labeling so I asked, “Is that one your teacher had?”

“Yes,” her brief reply rang annoyance at my continued interruption.

Wondering whether her teacher’s choices should automatically be granted my approval, I let my prejudice to the title get the better of me. “Why would she give you a dumb teen book like that?” I spouted off in ignorance.

“Maybe because she has ‘dumb teens’ in her class,” Kathie said forcefully. “Now, leave me alone so I can be a dumb teen and read my book.”

There’s nothing like being put in your place by the teen you poke fun at for having a 16-going-on- 30 attitude when her grown-up savvy comes through in flying colors.

I still persisted, “Why don’t you read something more classic?”

“Because those are classically boring.” she said with a deadpan of half attention as she tried to keep reading.

“Lloyd Alexander isn’t boring,” I retaliated. I’ve wanted her to read his Prydain Chronicles (which include The Black Caldron) for years. I couldn’t put them down until I’d read all five.

“I tried to read The Book of Three (the first volume) and I don’t like it,” she stated.

I walked away from her doorway where I’d been standing and gave up.

It would have been timely for me to run this column during National Library Week in April, but it’s always appropriate for me to promote reading since it’s one of the things I do best. I am known for letting everything fall to ruin around me due to the distraction of a good book … and there are so many good books.

My talk with Kathie made me wonder what teens should be reading these days. The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) website promotes this list I offer in case you have any teens you’d like to influence (or read these yourself):

2008 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults

Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. Illus. by Ellen Forney. Little, Brown, 2007.

Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Sarah Crichton, 2007.

Downham, Jenny. Before I Die. Random House/David Fickling, 2007.

Hemphill, Stephanie. Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath. Random House/Alfred A. Knopf, 2007.

Jones, Lloyd. Mister Pip. Dell Publishing/Dial Press, 2007.

Landy, Derek. Skulduggery Pleasant. HarperCollins, 2007.

Peet, Mal. Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal. Candlewick, 2007.

Polly, Matthew. American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China. Penguin Group USA/Gotham Books, 2007.

Selznick, Brian. The Invention of Hugo Cabret: A Novel. Illus. by Brain Selznick. Scholastic, 2007.

Tan, Shaun. The Arrival. Illus. by Shaun Tan. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, 2007.

Happy Reading!

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