Category Archives: Author

Jonathan Safran Foer: A Teen’s Take

20 Under 40I stumbled upon Jonathan Safran Foer by accident. See, my family was on vacation and I really, really needed a book. I was desperate enough to go for a—gasp—supernatural teen romance, but instead, was lucky enough to grab Twenty Under Forty, a New Yorker collection of short stories. This book changed my life, in a large part due to Foer’s addition, called “Here We Aren’t, So Quickly.”  His piece is short, only a few pages long, but it opened up what fiction could be for me. Stuck in the world of YA fiction, usually written in the first or third person with limited character development and plenty of action/romance, here was something revolutionary. Each sentence in the work starts with “You,” “I,” or “We,” and explains life married life through deceptively simple sentences. Strange? Completely. Transfixing? Absolutely. Here’s an excerpt:

You were terrible in emergencies. You were wonderful in “The Cherry Orchard.” I was always never complaining, because confrontation was death to me, and because everything was pretty much always pretty much O.K. with me. You were not able to approach the ocean at night. I didn’t know where my voice was between my phone and yours.

Everything is Illuminated

One would assume that as soon as I read that, I would go hunting for anything and everything else by Foer. I didn’t. I don’t know if I was worried that the rest of his work would ruin the perfection of that short story, or maybe I just didn’t want to know. Then, I walked into my English teacher’s classroom, and I spotted Foer’s first book, Everything is Illuminated. With only a little bit of begging, the book was mine for a week. Again, I was transfixed. It was brilliant, weaving generations of stories across its pages. It’s funny. It’s clever. It made me cry on the bus.

Extremely LoudI’m currently reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Thus far, I AM REALLY DISAPPOINTED. I LOVE FOER’S OTHER BOOKS AND THEN HE GOES AND WRITES THIS?!? I know, this may seem unfair, but let me explain. Foer is incredible in the other two works I mentioned. Then, you get Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, expecting the same quality. Instead, there is a nine-year-old boy that would have to be a genius in order to know and say what he does in the book, but there is no mention of his special abilities in the book itself. (The kid is reading A Brief History of Time, but attends school at an average grade level). If this were the only flaw, I could deal with that, I really could, but the rhythm feels “off.” Foer’s usual writing has a pulse, a steady beat that forms a backbone in his writing. This, however, feels forced, as if someone made him write the plot, and all the lines that would normally be poetic or would reveal something “deeper” about life just feel pretentious. The take away: read Everything is Illuminated. Hunt down “Here We Aren’t, So Quickly.” Don’t even look at Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It’s not worth your time.

-Teen Blogger

NBA Legend KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR READS @ Central Library; FEB. 19th!

Stealing the GameAuthor and former basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will read from his second book in the Streetball Crew series, Stealing the Game, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19 at The Seattle Public Library, Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Level 1, Microsoft Auditorium.

Library events and programs are free and open to the public. Tickets and reservations are not required. Parking is available in the Central Library garage for $6 after 5 p.m. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.

Stealing the Game is a fast-paced story for tweens (ages 8-12) about teamwork, friendship and dark secrets.  The book tackles issues like building self-esteem, celebrating one’s individuality and what it means to feel special.  “Stealing the Game” also features teenagers who act like teenagers by debating zombies and falling in love while watching classic French movies.

Abdul-Jabbar is a retired basketball player named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.  After his retirement, he wrote nine New York Times bestsellers on topics as varied as World War II, the Harlem Renaissance, and the impact of African-American inventors.  The first book in his Streetball Crew series is Sasquatch in the Paint.

Supporting this event:  The Seattle Public Library Foundation, media sponsor Seattle Times and presented in partnership with Elliott Bay Book Co.  Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Joss Whedon is a Modern-Day Shakespeare

shakespeare shadesMany people are familiar with the writer and director Joss Whedon.  And most of you have (hopefully) heard of poet and playwright William Shakespeare.  He is widely considered the greatest writer in history.  He is certainly widely studied in schools, and generally held as the paragon of not just theatre, but all written language.  However, during his time, his work was for the masses.  Poor and uneducated people paid one penny to come stand next to the stage and see his works performed.  Although now, because of the differences in dialect between the English of our time and that of his writings, his works are associated with a highly educated class, and are certainly not considered mainstream entertainment, this was clearly not always the case.

As I was reading King Lear, a tragedy of misplaced faith and dramatic irony, I thought about how if this was considered essentially “pop culture” then and is now studied in Universities, then surely there’s a modern counterpart.  It seems weird to think like this, but imagine high schoolers in 400 years dutifully opening a copy of a work from our century.  It would likely seem as strange to them as Shakespeare does to us, yet they would continue to study it because of its value which transcends time period.  Based on this, it is fun to think today about what works from today might fit that category.  It is tempting to consider more “literary” works of today, but remember that Shakespeare was not considered “high-class” or “inaccessible” in his time.

Based on this, I have thought about Joss Whedon as a modern-day Shakespeare.

movies-joss-whedon-whedonverse

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Brandon Sanderson @ Central tomorrow!

brandon-sandersonBrandon Sanderson reads from Firefight

Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015, 7 – 8:30 p.m.

Acclaimed fantasy author Brandon Sanderson will be reading from his new teen fantasy novel, Firefight, the second in “The Reckoners” trilogy.

In the futuristic world of Brandon Sanderson’s “The Reckoners” trilogy, supervillains known as Epics rule the world like despots. But after exacting vengeance for his father’s death and proving that Epics have weaknesses, teenage David is left wondering what he’s fighting for now. To find answers, he heads to the even more oppressed Babylon Restored (formerly Manhattan) to face several of the most powerful Epics there are. Can’t wait to find out what David will discover as the second book in the series unfolds?

Brandon Sanderson is the author of the #1 NYT bestseller Steelheart, the first book in “The Reckoners” series, and the internationally bestselling books in The Stormlight Archive and The Mistborn series. He was also chosen to complete Robert Jordan‘s Wheel of Time series. His books have been published in more than twenty-five languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide.

You can visit him at brandonsanderson.com and follow @BrandSanderson on Twitter.

Books will be available for purchase and signing.

For more info, call Central Library @ 206-386-4636 or Ask a Librarian!

Wintersmith – unnecessary romance, well written as usual

WintersmithTitle: Wintersmith

Author: Terry Pratchett

Summary: In the 3rd book in the Tiffany Aching mini-series, a young witch makes a mistake and causes an imbalance of seasons.

Gut reaction: I love Terry Pratchett, unnecessary romance, well written as usual.

Why: Terry Pratchett’s humor is wonderful, perfect for sarcasm and parodies. Tiffany is as strong a character as ever, and all of the other characters work out well. The setting is superb, being Discworld. My main problem with this book is the needless romance between Tiffany and Roland, who at least became a likeable character, but I still don’t really want to read about their love and whatnot. Lucky for me and unlucky for all you romance fans, it’s not the main focus of the story and is actually pretty out of the way. I loved the character of the Wintersmith, who was written perfectly. I really have nothing but praises.

Who would like this book: Pratchett fans of any sort, humor fans, parody fans, sarcasm fans, magic fans, adventure fans, mythology/folklore fans, all people in general.

–Lexie, 16, West Seattle

WTS

Perks of Being a Wallflower: fall in love with characters & their friendship

perksWallflowerTitle:  The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author:  Stephen Chbosky

Summary:  Charlie, a shy and naive 15-year-old, is trying to come to terms with the suicide of his best friend and cope with his own mental illness.  About to begin high school and unsure of how to feel, Charlie starts to write letters to a stranger he heard is nice.  In these letters we follow Charlie through the ups and downs of high school as he learns about love, friendship, and stepping out of your comfort zone.

How many stars would you give this book and why?  I would rate this book 10/10 stars. The letter format is intriguing and the story flows beautifully.  Each letter is like a chapter.  All of the characters are well-developed and I feel like I know each of them personally.

I started reading it because… I loved the title of the book, as well as the cover page…

I kept reading because… I fell in love with the characters and their friendship.

What you loved/hated/couldn’t get enough of… I loved Patrick (one of Charlie’s friends).  He is one of the funniest characters I have ever come across and his presence in the book makes it a million times better.

Anything else we should know… The Perks of Being a Wallflower is now a major motion picture. Released in 2012 the author (Stephen Chbosky) also directed the movie. The film and its soundtrack are both incredible.

Websites of Interest: Here’s a link to the movie trailer.

–Laura, 16, Greenwood

GWD

Editor’s Note:  Perks is one of those books that just keeps drawing people in!  Check out our other reviews of this title!  Many different contexts, but all love all the time.  🙂

Malinda Lo at Lake City Branch!

Please join us at the Lake City Branch on Wednesday, October 15th at 6 pm to hear critically acclaimed young adult author Malinda Lo speak!

 

Loflyer1Lo is the well-regarded and nationally-known author of four thrilling fantasy and sci-fi novels for teens featuring GLBTQ characters and themes (including Adaptation and her latest, Inheritance). In her first book, Ash, she offers a twist in her modern retelling of the traditional fairy tale: “In this variation on the Cinderella story, Ash…must choose between a handsome fairy cursed to love her and the King’s Huntress whom she loves.”   Along with Cindy Pon she is the co-founder of Diversity in YA, a project that celebrates diversity in young adult books.

 

Light refreshments will be served, and the University Bookstore will provide the author’s books for purchase and signing.

 

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear the author speak at her only public appearance during this visit to Seattle!