Books You Should Be Reading this Summer

“If you don’t like to read you haven’t found the right book.”
                                                                                – J.K. Rowling

Whether or not you are an avid reader, you are familiar with J.K. Rowling and her very, very popular Harry Potter series. One book turned into a series that seduced millions of hearts around the world. I know Harry Potter, you know Harry Potter, and that goldfish over there knows about Harry Potter.  We all know about Harry Potter, but I don’t think you know what Harry Potter did…it got millions of people to read.

If you like to read, you are nodding in agreement. If you disagree with the words on this paper, then you are someone who has not found the right book yet. The one that grabs your attention and pulls your mind into a completely new world. You need to find that one book that has you thinking about it long after the last page has been turned. And this article is here to help.

Summer: vacations, beaches, and parties. It’s the season to relax and to just be carefree. Summer is also the season where most people have the most free time, and what better way to spend your free time with a really amazing book?

From cute, summer romances to fantastic adventures, overcoming hardships and getting swept up in the paranormal, here are just a few (out of many) young adult novels you should be checking out this summer.

Summer = Free time = More books to read!

Summer Fling Novels:
– Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
– The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
– Falling in Love with English Boys by Melissa Jensen

Contemporary:
– The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
– The D.U.F.F. by Kody Keplinger
– Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown

Dystopian:
– Divergent by Veronica Roth
– Wither by Lauren DeStefano
– Legend by Marie Lu

Other Good Books:
– The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder
– Everyday by David Levithan
– Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

 

A Pretty Awesome Place

Even though I have prepared myself for what is to come, it still hits me; nothing is better than walking through two plain-old doors to be met with rows upon rows of books. Just books. Oh, and I cannot forget about that wonderful, delightful smell coming from said books that is a mixture of ink, paper, and the infinite possibilities. I bet you have a specific image in mind. Although it sounds like I’m explaining a favorite book store, I am in fact talking about a library.

Oh yes, the library.

Have you been to one? Please say yes. If you have not, I suggest you pull up a map on the internet or ask the people you know if there is one in the general area of your house. If you are not visiting a library at least once every couple of months then I’m sure you are missing out.

Let’s list some great things every library offers:

  • You can borrow books for free. Free. All you have to do is sign up for a library card and BAM! Think of all the worlds you can get sucked into…
  • You can also browse through a bunch of magazines. All the libraries I’ve been to are subscribed to popular magazines. Now you can check out your favorite celeb’s interview or the latest recipe without spending the four-something bcuks.
  • Various machines you may or may not have at home. Libraries offer computers, printers, internet and copiers. I know the majority of the population has these things at home, but you never know when something decides not to break…
  • A quiet place. When I want to study or get some homework done, I prefer silence so I can keep my concentration.

Here are some other things libraries can offer:

  • Events

During different times of the year, the libraries around me offer events for certain groups of people to get together. They’ve had movie nights, game nights, and writing clubs. Most of these things are free too, so you don’t have to worry about spending money.

  • Tutoring

Because a library is a popular place, some people may offer their tutoring services. Last year, I noticed that someone was offering four classes to help prep for the math section of the SAT. I only noticed because I had been preparing for the SAT and never knew! Again, this class was free; take the chance while you can!

  • Summer Reading

Every summer, each library branch has a summer reading program. (Usually, it’s broken up by different age groups.) You record the amount of books or pages you read over your summer break and get little incentives for reaching certain goals. At the end, there is also a little party (with food!) where all the participants get together and celebrate.

I bet the library is looking a little more convincing now. Guess what? I actually don’t visit my public library on a regular basis either. I think I’m a different story, though, because I have a bunch of books in my room that already need to be read. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy going!

Also, please note that schools also have libraries. They might not offer or have the same opportunities that your public library does, but it’s still a reliable place. I also volunteer in my school’s library. Schools have few librarians, even ones that have to go back and forth between schools in the district due to budget cuts. I help my librarian out by helping sort books, re-shelve them and tidy things up. I’m also able to choose what books the school buys! [How awesome is that?!] I enjoy my time in the library, and I’m earning community service hours for it.

I’m gonna give you a second to take that all in.

Now think about it again.

The library is a pretty awesome place, don’tcha think?

Using YA Lit in School

Oh hey, you like to read, right?

And you may or not be in school, right?

If you answered ‘yes’ to the two questions above, then this post is for you!

I’ve been a fan of reading for as long as I’m able to remember. I read picture books, then chapter books, then middle grade, and now I’m finally at young adult. I do have to say that adult books have been thrown in here and there, so I’ve technically gone out of order of my ‘age level’ of reading (but that’s beside the point). As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to incorporate the books I read more and more into my school work. Although education is important to me, it can be grueling sometimes; why not bring some fun into by connecting it to YA lit?

In 8th grade, I wrote my research paper on Stephenie Meyer and her influence on the vampire myth. As a freshman, I started my book blog. In my sophomore year, I made a speech about my disagreement with book censorship after the #speakloudly explosion. This year, I’ve used multiple YA book examples in my essays on the HSPAs, the SATs and even my AP test.

For the most part, I read for fun. And even though I read for fun, that doesn’t mean I can’t get anything out of the books I read. You don’t have to read closely to notice the character development, the self-discovery and the hero’s journey. A lot of YA novels are full of irony, foreshadowing and symbolism. In Literature /Language Arts class, kids learn to look more closely into the author’s words because there is always more than meets the eye; YA literature is full of all of that.

I’ve heard that the YA genre is a joke to a lot of ‘professionals.’ What professionals? People need to realize that young adult has A LOT of substance to it if they just gave it a try. These novels are not only wonderful stories; they also have important themes and motifs. They are also filled with plenty of literary devices and vocabulary words. (I’ve learned a lot of definitions by having to look up words I didn’t know-like ostentatious and copious -which saved me from learning them for the SATs.)

I don’t believe that a lot of people look down at YA, and if they do, they should change their perspective. I received a decent score on the essay I wrote for the SAT I took back in March (which was a 9 if you were wondering) by using the protagonists from How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr and Delirium by Lauren Oliver as examples. If the examples you are using fit the question you have to answer, I say use anything that comes to mind as long as you can incorporate it well.

I use YA in my school work because it’s important in my life. I’ve learned a lot through this genre of literature and it reflects through the work I hand in. If you are an avid reader like me, I suggest you begin using YA examples in school too! It’s something you and I are familiar with; the closer you are to something, the better you will most likely do.

Making Goals

In the beginning of the year I made a goal to read 100 books by the end of 2011. I had set the goal for myself last year and didn’t reach it. I honestly thought I would reach the goal this year because I was on a roll in the first half of the year. Now, I doubt I’m going to reach that goal seeing that I’ve only read 79 books.

So far, reading 100 books is really the only goal I’ve set and attempted to accomplish. Yes, I had said that my goal was to update more and such. The difference between those goals was that I was serious about one; I just wanted the other to happen. It’s good to set goals for yourself but you are only going to reach them if you strive for them.

As a blogger, I have found that I get more things accomplished when I set goals for myself. Each month I get a few books to review and recently I haven’t had time to read. I have tons of books I would like to read but I have told myself that the books for review must be finished first. I’ve been able to finish each book before I get the next one which, right now, is good for me.

Setting goals for yourself shows you want change (for the better). This advice is for anyone, but it works if you are a reader and a blogger. A few of my friends write down the list of books they have to read and then check it off as they go along. Personally, I think this is smart idea. I mentally make lists but end up forgetting half of the books on it by the next month.

With new novels coming out each month, I know that you can get a little behind on keeping up with it all. Especially when you have to throw work, school, clubs, etc. into the equation, things can get hectic. Setting goals for yourself helps you manage your time and who doesn’t like having time? I think you guys should try it… (:

(Check out my managing time post here.)

Keep an Open Mind

Take a moment and think of all the books you have read. Now think of all the books that have been recommended to you / you have picked up to read the summaries. How many of those books have you turned down because it didn’t seem like your ‘type’? Or because it was too long or too short? Or because it didn’t have a cool cover?

Recently, a lot of my friends have been asking to borrow books from me. I explain the summary of the book and they would tell me if they’re interested or not. Yes, I know you only read certain things. Yes, I know you are sick of the same themes. I’m writing this post to remind everyone to keep an open mind.

Earlier in the year I heard about this book called Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. It’s a book where a brother and sister fall in love. I didn’t want to read this the first time I read the summary. Half a year later and now I desperately want to read this book all because of Simon and Schuster’s tweet. I don’t remember exactly what it said. The tweet was along the lines of how forbidden romances were in and how falling in love with a family member was a forbidden romance. That doesn’t sound like much but I promise you I had a mind-opening experiencing just from reading that tweet.

At the Diversity in YA tour event the authors talked about how some people wouldn’t pick up his/her book because of the protagonist’s race. I also know people who won’t read a book that deals with drugs or because it is a series. I understand if the summary doesn’t sound interesting to you. What I don’t understand is how someone can turn away a book because it isn’t his/her ‘type’ of book.

I’m not telling you to go and read everything you are not interested in. Next time if a teacher recommends a classic to you I suggest you check it out. If a friend says a certain book is refreshing in a genre that’s getting old, check it out. It doesn’t hurt to read the first few pages. If you don’t like it, put it down. You never know, that book you wouldn’t have touched could become your next new favorite…

School Reads

In middle and high school students are required to read certain novels for the curriculum. High school is really the time where teens are exposed to the classics and more ‘famous’ novels. I don’t know about any of you, but I know that my school lessons/curriculum has changed the way I view a novel. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad. Does it happen to you? Did it happen to you?

Well, try not to let school influence your opinion on said book.

Really I’m trying to say that school shouldn’t ruin a novel for you. Certain books like Of Mice and Men and The Odyssey are probably not on your hurry-to-read list but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be read. A lot of teens groan when their teacher says it’s time to read a new book. I have. It’s not that I don’t want to read it; I just hate the never ending analyzing that comes with it. Even my current English teacher told us how much she loved a certain novel in grade school but can no longer read it because of the school work she had to do for it.

Of course analyzing and understand the text is good but next time try and not let it ruin the book for you. Instead of looking at work for that novel negatively, tell yourself that it will help you comprehend the book overall. I can tell you that things I have learned in English have helped me interpret a lot of stories better.

Has this happened to you?! Thoughts?! Leave your comments below!

Keeping Books in Good Condition

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m just a *little* anal about how my books look. I own a good amount of books, which means all of my friends borrow them like there is no tomorrow. We have an agreement which is that if you ruin a book you borrow, you buy it. We’re all cool with it. By ‘breaking’ we mean it literally killing it. For example, ripped cover page is a pretty good example. But still when I borrow books, I do my best to not toss it around. When it comes to my friends, they do their best.

Question: Do you care about the condition your books are in?!

I do. I totally flip out. I don’t even try to, it just bothers me. In a paperback book, if the spine has those white creases from bending it too far bothers me. Bent pages or covers bother me. So does worn edges. I know I sound high maintenance but it’s the truth. So here are some tips to keep your book in pristine condition:

  • Don’t place books in your bags.

In school, my friends and I will tend to put books in our bags since we’re carrying textbooks. If you can, try and avoid doing so. The edges of the books tend to bend a certain way that stays unless you flatten them out. I’ve also bent cover pages without even knowing they are being bent because I don’t check.

  • Keep books dry.

I bet you’re looking at me with a no-duh face. Of course you don’t intentionally get things wet. When it rains, put a book in a plastic bag. If you read during school or work, don’t leave books near cups that can accidently spill. Which also means don’t leave books on the counter in the kitchen. I know you think you’ll be careful, but really accidents happen. Also, don’t read in the bathtub. If your hands accidently slip, then your novel will be waterlogged.

  • Take off jacket covers.

If you let people borrow your books, then I suggest taking off jacket covers. I’m not saying they’ll ruin it, but it’s just easier. A lot of people are actually annoyed with them. Not only that, but if the jacket cover is just sitting there it’s not getting read around. Even if your book isn’t in the greatest condition, at least it will look like it is when you put it back on.

I’ll post more suggestions when I get them! So tell me, does this advice help you at all? Got any advice of your own?!