I’m kind of confused on why NPR is rating children’s literature, but rate they did. They came out with a “scientific” list of the top 100 young adult books of all time. I’m still scratching my head. Shouldn’t they be broadcasting the European debt crisis on BBC and pondering the makings of a gunman on All Things Considered? Whatevs.
Then all the book writers had something to bitch say about it. The Atlantic applauds the NPR list for being dominated by female authors and protagonists but manages to put down the reasons why we all love the genre so much. (It’s not that simplistic, and we’re not “adverse to nuance.”) The Guardian ponders why Diana Wynne Jones is all the way down at number 36. And one of my favorite websites, Forever Young Adult, complained that there was’t enough Meg Cabot while John Green got five nods–and why did NPR think Lord of the Rings is YA?
Best-of lists always stir controversy, and that’s probably what NPR intended. They got a lot of attention, and who doesn’t love getting some of that? But my point is that NPR’s opinion is this week’s big book story, and I’m not complaining. I’m always thrilled to see people–adults no less–obsess over young adult literature.
So, how many of the 100 have you read? I checked off 36.
Below, see NPR’s Top Ten YA Novels of all time (with links to Forever YA’s book reviews):
Emily Giffin, at left, blazed onto the book scene with her quirky, emotional and unpredictable novel called Something Borrowed in 2004. The story–about a 30-year-old who falls in love with her best friend’s fiance–became a bestseller and a movie with Kate Hudson. It also brought hot, smart, sexy Dex into the fictional world.
Since then, Giffin has written five more fun, popular chick lit books. The latest one, Where We Belongcomes out today. In it, a 30-something woman has a great career and boyfriend when her 18-year-old daughter–a secret no one knows about–shows up at her front door. As we all know, keeping secrets can get very complicated.
I have a lot in common with Giffin. We both lived and loved in New York City before we got married; we have twins plus a younger kid around the same ages; and we’re both writers. See, we’re just alike! Except somehow I missed my name on the bestseller list–I’m still working on that.
I had the chance to email Giffin questions about how she manages her busy life. Newsflash: She hasn’t finished her daughter’s baby book either. She’s human like the rest of us.
Me: Where We Belong is a touching book about secrets, love found and lost, and of course, family ties. What inspired you to write it?
EG: At its heart, the book is about secrets and what happens to us and those closest to us when we keep them. I’ve always been intrigued by the power of secrets and the questions surrounding them. When is it justifiable to keep them from the ones we love? And does keeping them irrevocably change who we are? Adoption (under the secretive circumstances inWhere We Belong) seemed to be a great way to explore some of these broader themes.
Me: You’re a busy, famous writer these days–and you deserve every accolade. But when things get hectic, what’s your favorite way to relax and unwind?
EG: It’s a funny thing–when I’m crazed with work, spending time with my children relaxes me. Yet, at the end of a long weekend with them, the very thing I need to relax is a little work and time away from them! I think it’s important to try to be present with whatever it is you’re doing. And if you can’t be present, take a break. For true downtime, I enjoy going for light runs, having drinks with friends and going to the movies with my husband.
Me: Parents readers, like me, have so many big dreams and plans (in addition to being the best moms we can be). We have books we want to write, projects we’d like to see through and business we’d love to start. What is your advice for getting started on a dream project and–gulp–finishing it?
EG: Just take it one step, one day at a time. Often I feel that projects overwhelm us when we look at how many hours are involved until completion. But just getting started is usually not that difficult. And yet … I still haven’t begun my daughter Harriet’s baby book and she is five!
Finally! After 20 years, Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling Outlander series has a good chance of hitting the screen. What’s Outlander you say? Only the book you must pick up now if you never have. Forget that it’s 21 years old; it’s required reading for bookworms. It’s a wondrous swirl of history, romance, time travel, hot men, passion, deception, war, witchcraft, intrigue and more. This book does it all in 688 sharply written pages. I picked it up last summer and wished it would never end. Luckily, the series contains seven books with an eighth, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, due out early next year.
Outlander is about a plucky nurse, Claire, who’s reconnecting with her doting husband after World World II in 1947. They visit Scotland on a romantic trip when she finds herself accidentally swept through a stone circle and sent back to 1743. The Highland Scots, embroiled in a bitter battle with the British, take Claire in. Then she meets on of the best male characters ever created: James Fraser. She is forced to marry him, and their fight to stay alive begins. The biggest question is, will she go back to 1947 when she has the chance? Oh, it’s delicious.
So yesterday Sony Pictures TV closed a deal for the rights to the series. Battlestar Galactica executive producer Ron Moore will write the adaptation, according to Deadline. The team will take the project to cable television networks this week.
This could be great. Who will play Claire? Jamie? And the evil Jack Randall? I hope the producers and writers can make this happen and do the series justice. They have taken on a daunting and magical task. This TV show could be fantastic–I’m not even going to think about the word flop.
In the meantime, seriously read the book. Here’s a fan-made trailer to give you a sneak peak into author Diana Gabaldon’s brilliant and fascinating Outlander world.
I heard it first on this morning’s Today Show. And gossip king Perez Hilton reports the same breaking news. While The Hunger Games books are a trilogy, the story will be transformed into four movies. The last book, Mockingjay, will be broken into parts one and two. Smart move to stretch out this killer series as long as possible. We get more Katniss, Peeta, Gale and Finnick! (If they’re alive, that is. I don’t want to spoil anything.) Really, can anyone ever have enough Katniss Everdeen?
As you know, Twilight filmmakers did the same with the twin movies Breaking Dawn and Breaking Dawn Part 2. (Bella vamps up on November 16.) I’m sure it’s a money-grubbing issue, but I don’t mind. I get really into these angsty teen flicks, and I’m thrilled to drag my long-suffering husband to yet another one.
In other Hunger Game news, the character of Johanna Mason, the axe-wielding tribute from District 7, has been cast for the second movie Catching Fire. The girl who tells Katniss, “Go ahead. Try it. I don’t care if you are knocked up I’ll rip your throat out!” will be played by Jena Malone. (Sorry, Kristen Bell.) Sulky, scary Malone, best known as Gretchen from Donnie Darko, is actually kind of perfect for the part. But I’ve read a lot of blogs on the topic, and not everyone agrees.
It will be awhile before we see Malone and Jennifer Lawrence (aka Katniss) scheming in the next installment. Word is, they’ll start filming Catching Fire soon. But Finnick still hasn’t been cast! Who’s your pick for the hunky tribute? I’d kill to see Hunter Parrish go into the ring.