Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What Do I Read?

Once again, it's time to answer the Road Trip Wednesday question from my peeps over at YA Highway. They want to know: what are we reading aside from YA?

That question actually makes me chuckle since I am just now starting to read YA (of course, I read the Twilight series last year, but everyone was reading it so I didn't officially feel part of the club). In fact, the last novel I read was Elizabeth Scott's Living Dead Girl (three words: Oh. My. God. Stay posted for my review!). But before that, I usually read works from my favorite authors--Jodi Picoult, Stephen King, Brett Easton Ellis, and Tawni O'Dell.

When I started my MFA program this past August, I had to read novels to "annotate" (I won't go into details since the process is too painful for me to relay). The last two I read were Josh Bazell's Beat the Reaper and Larry Doyle's I Love You, Beth Cooper. Beat the Reaper kicked all kinds of ass: the concept was brilliant (a former hit man who enters the witness protection programs and is now a doctor), the dialogue was witty, and the characters were, oddly enough, relatable. I cannot wait to see what Bazell does next.

Beth Cooper is an interesting story because it could, in fact, be considered a YA novel. I mean, the main character was an awkward, smelly nerd who just graduated from high school. Doyle has this uncanny ability to enter the mind of adolescents without being condescending or preachy. He just gets them--as if he just finished high school himself. And I laughed out loud at so many parts that I'm sure my neighbors thought I was on something.

But what I think what makes Beth Cooper so cool is that I didn't "enter" the novel trying to define the genre--sort of like my writing. I just dive in and see where the characters take me. I think when you're not conscious of what you're reading (or writing), it makes the outcome so much more enjoyable. Kind of like an element of surprise. I hate roller coasters, but I'll take a literary thrill ride any day. And now I will return to wallow in my own geekiness.


Kristin Miller said...

Ohmygosh, annotating novels. Horror. :) Thanks for sharing your post! I'm interested in the books you mentioned now, especially the Bazell.

Michelle Schusterman said...

That's a great point about jumping into a novel without any preconcieved notions about the genre! Very cool

V said...

I wish I could do that-- start reading without being absolutely sure of the genre. My main problem is that I feel like I have to mentally prepare myself for something literary because it's like...brain gymnastics. But maybe I'll give that "diving in without preconceived notions" approach a try sometime. :-)

Also, I'm really glad you said the phrase "kicked all kinds of ass."

Kaitlin Ward said...

Great post.
Annotating novels sounds painful. I'm glad that's something I never had to do (of course, it's not a big requirement with science majors...)

Pam Harris said...

Great analogy of the "brain gymnastics," V. Don't you wish we could be placed on a Wheaties box for that?

M. Hockaday said...

Annotations really do resemble that one activity that I hate to do- what is it again? Oh yeah, going to the dentist. It is as excruciating, and annoying- but I will say that I watched the movie of I Love You, Beth Cooper and was informed by the wonderful writer of this blog that the book was way better than the movie-and the movie was not half bad. I will also vouch for the excitement that she experienced when reading the Bazell and Scott novels.