Friday, March 30, 2012

For the Joy of Reading

I think reading for the joy of reading has taken a lot of hits this week.  There have been several articles (which I've decided not to link anymore so they don't get anymore page views because of me) that have stated that we should be reading to learn and we can only be learning from adult literary fiction and classics.  I disagree wholeheartedly, both that anyone should be telling anyone what they SHOULD be reading and that there isn't a great deal to be learned from Children's, YA, and Genre fiction.  So, I've decided to celebrate some books that have given me joy despite their genre or intended age group.
The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket - Labeled as Children's fiction, I don't think anyone should miss these books because Daniel Handler "Snicket" is a master of the voicey, character narrator.  I think these are gems of literature.  Also not to be missed by Snicket are his holiday books, "The Latke Who couldn't Stop Screaming" and "The Lump of Coal" because they are some of the best satires on holidays out there.
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series by Jeff Kinney.  These were actually meant to be books for adults but were turned into children's books and became phenomenons.  As an adult, however, I really enjoy the satire of middle school, a hated grade for nearly every one of us.  Kinney's indictment of lock-ins is a particular favorite of mine, as I hate lock-ins and always have.
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier - This one is shelved in the YA section with good reason, it is a brilliant indictment of bullying.  I think every kid should read it just to see how mob mentality is born and how it is manipulated.  It shows just how cruel we can be to each other even when we're schoolmates.  This book is also a frequently banned book, so between some telling you not to read YA because you are an adult and some telling you not to read it as a teen because of it's violent and sexual content, it seems there is never a right age to read this book, and that's a damned shame.
Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier.  I picked up this book because I knew it would be fun, and it was indeed.  It's full of a Who's Who of the best YA writers out there right now.  There's social commentary, dark and adult themes in each story.  There's also a good helping of fun.
So there you have it.  Books that brought me joy and learning outside of the literary fiction world. I've been inspired by classics and awed by the language in literary fiction, but there are gems in all writing that you can find when you read for the joy of it.  Anyone else?