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Top 5 Things I Wish I Didn’t Hear in My Bookstore

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Yash Kesanakurthy

Staff Writer

Somewhere between starting her schooling in Saudi Arabia and finishing high school in Singapore, Yash Kesanakurthy realized that she disliked school. It was the fateful move to Vancouver, Canada for a BA in Economics (which, surprise, didn't pan out) that led her to the MA program in Children's Literature at UBC. She had fun immersing herself into the academia of children's literature but nothing beat the joy of writing for The Book Wars, being able to set aside classics and pay attention to the culture of contemporary YA. And now, everything is PB/MG/YA and nothing hurts. Well, some things hurt but nothing her bookshelf can't fix. Currently, she is working on her own YA fantasy novel and an all-ages picturebook. Her life goals include: getting a pet dog, getting published, and presenting you dear readers and Rioters with posts that engage and entertain. (Maybe not in that order?) Blog: The Book Wars Twitter: @SeeYashTweet

I mean, there are a lot of things that I overhear at my bookstore that make me want to channel my inner Bernard Black, but I have (painstakingly) picked the top five things that can probably be fixed with book recommendations.

1. You’re Too Old For Comics

march book one john lewisFirst, let your kid read what they want. Second, you are never too old for comics. Just like you never outgrow storytelling or art or empathy or fun. Comics can be all of these things and more, if you’d only just give them a chance. Comics also provide a form of storytelling that just agrees better with some people’s eyes and minds. And from my experience, it can be a great tool for people whose first language isn’t English. They are also as vast and varied as any other format of story. You just need to give them a chance. New to comics? Why don’t you start with the recent Eisner winning trilogy March and learn just how powerful the medium can be in the right hands.

2. Aren’t You Ready For Something Better Than YA?

laurinda alice pungI’m not saying YA is the end-all, be-all of literature, but I am saying that grownup works aren’t the end-all, be-all of everything high and literary. Besides, I am sick of the idea that reading should not be light or fun or pleasing. Or, conversely, that YA is only ever light/fun/pleasing. There are many books I’d recommend for adults who are ignorant of how awesome a range YA can have, but since September has come around already, I’d ask for every parent-child book club to pick up Laurinda by Alice Pung. It is funny, smart, and a good mix of light and complex. It is also a timely read, addressing issues of immigration and cultural assimilation with nuance. It’d make for great conversations, no matter your age.

3. Science Fiction Isn’t For Me

I mean, I get it. It wasn’t for me for the longest time. But this is where novellas come in handy. You can dip your toes into the best kind of sci-fi waters and choose if you want to get all the way wet. For me, it was Binti by Nnedi Okorafor that made me realize how interesting and diverse the genre can be. I’m not saying Binti is for everyone, but hey, this is what exchange policies are for.

4. I Don’t Want To Give Her Any Ideas (About Her Sexual Orientation)

you know me wellThis was one of the weirder conversations I had with a parent who was trying to pick a book for his teenaged daughter. He’d mentioned that she had liked Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon, had already picked up The Sun Is Also A Star, and was looking for another contemporary YA fiction. I’d suggested You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, but apparently the inclusion of a gay relationship would be akin to him “suggesting” something to her? I’m not sure what he was saying and I didn’t know how to carry the conversation on, but I wish I did. Dear parent, if you’ve hidden your daughter in some kind of metaphorical hetero prison, please let her out. Please just let her be herself, let her love the people in her life, whoever they are, and let her read the damn book.

5. Do You Have Tr*mp’s Book?

how to be a bawseI actually snorted when someone asked about his business book that he probably didn’t even write. I then had to pretend like I’d read something funny on the special order form I was filling out. Look, we can order pretty much anything for you, but unless you’re researching the black hole shaped person, might I suggest books like #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso and How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life by Lilly Singh instead? They may technically be categorized as memoir, but I have no doubt that these are the far more inspiring and insightful picks.

Remember, a bookstore doesn’t have to only be the place where you make the same old choices; it can also be a place you go to broaden your shelves and selves. Revel in the possibilities.