I can’t resist a good book. I love to read. Always have. This passion for reading was instilled early in me by my parents. They filled our house with books and always encouraged me to read. Louis L’Amour was one of their favorites. They were huge fans of westerns, both television shows and novels. I never much cared for that particular genre of fiction. However, I did pick up from my parents the ease of losing myself in a book—transporting myself into another world and becoming the character within its pages.
For me, the power of a good book is such that it can grab me and absorb my attention until I’ve read the very last word on the very last page. This is true whether it’s a short 200-page read or an epic 800-page tale. Once I’m under the book’s thrall, it’s as if a force field erects itself around me through which all external stimuli gets distorted and repelled. It takes nigh upon an emergency or an act of God (which probably qualifies as an emergency) to penetrate that shield and yank me back to the real world. This can be quite the challenge when normal, everyday life requires my attention. You know, those pesky clothes that need washing, dishes that require cleaning, children that clamor for attention . . . well, mostly, meals and a chauffeur.
Boys + Good Book? Does not Compute
Unfortunately, my two boys didn’t inherit my love of reading. In fact, based on his reaction whenever I suggest he read for a while, one seems to think the word “book” is a forbidden, four-letter word. I wheedle and cajole and tempt them to read by promising that words paint worlds in their minds and they can travel to fabulous places without ever leaving the house. It never works. They just blink and look at me like I’ve lost my mind. They’d rather be outside playing ball, upstairs playing on the X-box, or cozied up on the couch watching the latest CW superhero show.
No matter how I try to dress up the art of reading a good book, it doesn’t compute for them. That sound you hear is me beating my forehead against the wall. Over and over again!
Thankfully, my daughter does love to read. She’s obsessed with The Warriors series by Erin Hunter. This, undoubtedly, is due to the fact that it’s all about cats, their clans, and their lives in the wild, and my daughter adores cats. The problem is I can’t get her to branch beyond The Warriors series. She reads and re-reads those books like they’re about to be confiscated by the reading police. But I’m not complaining. At least she’s reading and shows no sign of stopping.
Genre, Genre, Genre
All of this leads me to my larger point. When I started writing my first novel, I had to decide on the genre for the book. I surveyed the books I’d most recently read and realized the majority had been young adult (YA) fantasy books. I guess this was due to my affinity for books of a series, which generally start with a young protagonist who ages through the course of the series and grows into his or her destiny. Still, the age of the protagonist remains relatively young, considering.
The genre is classified YA because of the age of the protagonist(s) and/or other main characters. It doesn’t mean adults won’t also find the book appealing or meaningful. In fact, some of the best books and authors I’ve read lately are in the YA Fantasy genre. Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series has blown me away, and I’ve been a huge fan of Leigh Bardugo and her Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows series. I loved Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series. Ditto for Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes series, Amy Bartol’s Premonition & Secondborn series, and Joelle Charbonneau’s The Testing trilogy.
YA All the Way
The novels in the YA fiction genre are not low brow stuff. They can be high concept, deftly written, and intricately detailed with multiple subplots, elaborate worlds, and well-defined characters. They can range from fabulous, escapist fiction to pointed political satire to blunt social commentary or to emotionally wringing prose, or they can contain a mix of any or all of the above. Because the novels have main characters with whom youth can relate and identify, hence the YA designation, they have the added bonus of appealing to young people.
YA fiction is something I like to read, and it’s something that, hopefully, will lure the youth of today to the power of a good book. I have three such youth growing up in my own household, two of which need strong encouragement to crack open a book. Aha! This was a no-brainer!
That’s how I decided YA fiction was what I’d write. In my writing, I tend to gravitate to YA fantasy and YA speculative fiction with Christian themes, but YA is wide open to all other sub-genres, like romance, suspense, thriller, and horror, among others. Who knows, maybe I’ll try those, too, someday.
Other Favorite Authors and Books
While I love YA, I’m an avid reader of all fiction and nonfiction . . . pretty much any good book. Some other favorite fiction authors are Patrick Weekes, Rogues of the Republic series (Fantasy); anything by James Rollins (Thriller and Suspense); Patrick W. Carr, The Staff and the Sword series and The Darkwater Saga series (Christian Speculative Fiction); anything by Vince Flynn (Political Thriller and Suspense); Pierce Brown, Red Rising series (Science Fiction & Fantasy); Jay Kristoff, Nevernight Chronicle series (Fantasy & Steampunk); Michael J. Sullivan, The Riyria Revelations series (Fantasy); and Patrick Rothfuss, The Kingkiller Chronicle series (Fantasy).
What about you? What are your favorite types of books to read? What good book have you read lately?