Amanda and Jenn discuss Samoan literature, evil kids, contemporary YA, and more in this week’s episode of Get Booked.
1. One of my best friends just got accepted to volunteer with the Peace Corps in Samoa. For her birthday, I want to give her a book that will get her (extra) hyped about the experience; she’s already done a ton of research so I’m not necessarily looking for something informative so much as something that’s just fun!
I would love something focused on Samoa/South Pacific (that should probably skip the stranded-on-a-tropical-island trope because we’re trying to be excited here). I was thinking of something more contemporary than Margaret Mead or Robert Louis Stevenson–maybe even something Own Voices but doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t necessarily have to relate to Peace Corps/volunteering/etc., but that would be cool too.
She reads mostly fiction and some memoir but not a lot of straight non-fiction. Recently, she’s been reading and enjoying books like “The Bees” by Laline Paull, “Less” by Andrew Sean Greer, and “Young Jane Young” by Gabrielle Zevin. Some of her forever favorites are “Don’t Let’s Go To the Dogs Tonight” by Alexandra Fuller, “The Girls from Corona Del Mar” by Rufi Thorpe, “Egg and Spoon” by Gregory Maguire, and anything Tom Robbins.
2. I’ve always had depression, so at this point it seems like old hat, but recently I’ve been suffering with massive amounts of anxiety. Like, heart palpitating, ears rushing, feel dizzy and panicking over literally nothing. I am doing yoga, and I stopped eating meat, I journal every day, and I’ve read the self help books but honestly sometimes nothing helps except to distract myself until it goes away.
What I’m looking for is basically a great audiobook (maybe a mystery?) with little to no real conflict that is fun. I like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Lumberjanes, Steven Universe, and Adventure Time…
I’m looking for something that is a sweet and fun romp but in no way causes the “are they gonna survive/are they sad that their families are dead” sort of anxiety that is both illogical and sadly my new reality. I loved Anne of Green Gables, but even that was kind of too much post- the first book.
Note: I’ve read Hyperbole and a Half, Furiously Happy, The Year of Yes, and a lot of the other popular “self help” style books, but really what I’m looking for is good fun distraction.
Please help my poor crazy brain,
I’m looking for fiction about evil children.
One of my all-time favorite books is ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ by Lionel Shriver. I had an intense, visceral reaction to the title character in this novel, and the ending absolutely ripped my heart out. It made me want to read all I could about evil kids, but I wasn’t able to find much. I read ‘The Bad Seed’ and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, and although those could both be classified as Horror, I was much more horrified by Kevin. I’m also hoping for something more contemporary.
Do you guys have anything in mind that will fill my need for bad babies? Thank you!
4. Hi there-
I work in a bookstore and conduct a YA bookclub. We’ve read and loved books of multiple different genres. While we mostly stick to YA, we’ve recently started venturing into Sci-fi and Fantasy picks.
Some of our past favorites have been Mosquitoland, Eleanor and Park, The Kids of Appetite, Cinder, Scorpio Races, House of the Scorpion, The Martian and Ready Player One. We’ve also read lots of Historical YA fiction like The Book Thief, Chains and Under a Painted Sky. While we’ve thoroughly enjoyed most of these books, we keep bumping into two problems with YA picks:
1. We enjoy the heavier themes of some contemporary and historical fic YA, like examinations on race, mental illness, and troubling family dynamics. But we’ve read too many that have described sexual violence (often familial) in very graphic detail.
2. Sometimes wading through the YA section, it’s difficult to find books that are written well and don’t follow the typical YA tropes. We’re very tired of love triangles- especially in the fantasy and dystopian genres.
Do you have any suggestions for a group of 15-16 year olds who love YA and Sci-fi/Fantasy but are tired of these particular topics? Bonus points for Fantasy picks.
5. Hi Jenn and Amanda!
I have recently started a book club at my local non-profit for our volunteers. I work for Voices for Children (CASA), which assigns volunteers to look out for the best interests of children in foster care. So far we have read The Glass Castle, Evicted, and My Name is Leon. We have future picks of The Hate U Give, Dreamland, The Language of Flowers, and Lost Children of Wilder. Any suggestions for books about children in foster care/or any topics that deal with social justice/welfare (non-fiction/or fiction) would be great!
6. Hello! I am a devote reader of literary fiction but want to get into contemporary YA. Where’s a girl to start? For guidance, some of my favourite reads of the past year include Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series; What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky; Goodbye, Vitamin; The Secret History; A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing; and The Lonely Hearts Hotel. And though I haven’t read much, my favourite YAs include This One Summer and Another Brooklyn. Help!
7. Hey ladies!
Recently, I have experienced some love life turmoil and being a big fan of book therapy, I was wondering if you knew of any books about unrequited crushes, or the friends to lover trope not working out. I prefer contemporary over fantasy if possible. Thank you!
Welcome Home, edited by Eric Smith
Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger
Sons for the Return Home by Albert Wendt
Where We Once Belonged by Sia Figiel (tw: domestic violence)
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Cabin Pressure by John Finnemore (rec by Nita)
N0s4A2 by Joe Hill
The Dinner by Herman Koch, translated by Sam Garrett
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson
Peas and Carrots by Tanita S. Davis
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L Sánchez (tw: self harm and suicide)
Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel (tw: child abuse)