Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I get it, really.

When I was young, my mother always told me that there were no books for girls to read. She used to say that when she walked into the library, she was shown neatly over to the Nancy Drew books, and that was that. The 60's were a cruel time, apparently.

But those days have most decidedly ended. Walk through our YA section upstairs and you will find scores of brightly colored books, most directed at teen girls. It's marketing, really. Make a book bright enough, and countless readers will look at it. Chick lit is a big deal now, and so the world is laden with bright pink, purple, blue, even green books meant to make a girl say, "Oooh...what's this?"

Interspaced between them, camoflaged sometimes, are the multitudes of great books we have for guys to read.

Have you all read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams? It's a nice book, all friendly looking, with the words "Don't Panic" encouragingly printed across the cover.

How about Airborn by Kenneth Oppel? It's the first in a series, set in an imagined past where giant airships are the mode of travel. The protagonist, Matt Cruse, is a cabin boy on the Aurora, a 900 foot luxury airship. He fearlessly rescues a man from a failing hot air ballon, and as the old man dies, he tells Matt about strange creatures dwelling above the clouds. Later, when Matt crosses paths with Kate, the two of them decide to prove if the creatures are real.

Also, there is Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. This book is set in our not-so-distant future, and our cyber-punk hero, Marcus, decides to cut school (evading facial and gait recognition software as well as tracking devices in library books--ick) in order to get a head start on his favorite game, Harajuku Fun Madness.

Unfortunately, the book takes him to the wrong place at the wrong time (with a group of equally unfortunate friends) and Marcus ends up bound, gagged, and taken into custody after a terrorist attack rocks the area he and his friends were in. The government's behavior, made legal by the Patriot Act, makes it just peachy for their officers to torture, starve, and interrogate the teens.

When the group finally is released (after being told they will be under constant surveillance) they discover their homeland has become a police state with civil rights suspended until such a time as the government decides it's safe to give them back.

And Marcus, along with other hackers from throughout the city, decides to take a stand.

Also, grab our copy of Paper Towns by John Green. I've become a John Green junkie since reading that book. He's a fantastic author, and once you've read one of his books, you won't be able to help reading them all. If you want to know more about that novel, look here.

And sometimes it seems hard to find books, but what you're really My advice: don't judge a book by its cover. Sometimes novels look like they are too girly for words--and they aren't. Authors don't always get a say in what their book's cover looks like. Since they don't get to decide what their book looks like, the cover doesn't always accurately represent what lies inside.

Paper Towns is a great example. Here are the two hardcover editions. The blue-toned one with the depressed girl is edition one. The yellow background with the happy girl (so not Margo) is edition two. Both say very, very different things about the book. Girl A looks chronicly depressed, hopeless even. Girl B is happy, she has no misery in her life, and she's not about to run away from her family after leaving whole fish on the doorsteps of several former friends.

I like this cover, the upcoming paperback edition.

See what I mean? Totally different. The only way to know for certain if a book is something you will like is to do what my dad always told me to do. Read the first chapter, then open up the novel somewhere in the middle and read another few pages. If you are not bored, disgusted, etc, then it isn't all that bad. If you're interested in finding out more: buy/check out the book!

Picking a good book can be luck, sometimes. But I think of it as a finely honed skill. It would be so much easier if salespeople weren't trying to market to us all the time.

If you want a more in-depth view at fiction just for you, look at Guys Lit Wire. They've got a great selection of titles just for guys, including manga.

And if you're interested in something I don't have on the shelf (yet) make sure to let me know!

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