Monday, May 19, 2014

Sometimes, I read adult books.

I don't avoid adult books. Really. But the books on my radar, the books I get asked about all the time, the books I get into long conversations about, the ones on most of the blogs I read, the ones I feel the greatest need to keep up-to-date on, are nearly all kids' or YA books. I'm aware of adult titles that customers are constantly asking for, but in my own reading life, I sometimes forget, or run out of time, to discover new adult books.

Enter the Alex Awards. When the Newberys, Caldecotts, and other awards for kids' and YA books are announced, so are ten awards for adult books that are likely to appeal to teens. While I'm making a to-read list out of Printz and Stonewall and Coretta Scott King winners and honors, I add a couple of Alex books. In my case, it's practical as a children's bookseller to know of a few adult books that I can recommend to young adult as well as adult-adult customers. But nefarious ulterior motives or no nefarious ulterior motives, the Alex Awards have helped me discover some great books.
If you've asked me for a light or distracting adult read in the past year or so, I've probably handed you Where'd You Go, Bernadette. It's easy to see why this novel, framed as a preteen's search for her missing mother through emails and other documents, would connect with young readers. But the content of those documents, which reveal a slightly unhinged mother in a Seattle community where everyone is trying to impress everyone else, is hilarious no matter who you are  - quite a few booksellers here have read and loved WYGB. (Disclaimer: I have never been to Seattle and have no opinion as to the accuracy of the book's portrayal.)

Another Alex winner with an obvious connection to young readers is the graphic memoir Relish. Foodie Lucy Knisley tells the story of her life so far through a series of vignettes relating to food at home and around the world. Bring a snack. Trust me on this.

A much darker read, made easier to take and often even funny by its five-year-old narrator, is Room by Emma Donohue. This is what dramatic irony is all about.

If you're a bookstore fan, and I'm guessing you are, don't miss Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan. Bonus: The cover glows in the dark!

And if (like me) you think you're not a big sci-fi person, try The Lives of Tao, by Wesley Chu. It's the kind of sci-fi that's really about its characters, many of whom are hilarious.

...And now back to my regularly scheduled extended childhood.
More on this one soon...

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