Thursday, July 15, 2010

Flashback Friday: Flashback on What Teens Really Want to Read


Welcome to Week Thirteen of Flashback Fridays where the old and new collide on everything from books to movies to first loves to favorite vacations.

Oh, er, wow, can it really be Friday again? Eesh, it's snuck up on me, and I'm practically postless!

Man, how the times flies. I'd love to say it's been a very productive some ways it has. Next Tuesday I have thirty to forty people coming to my house for lunch. It's a real-life "flashback" because it's been a church tradition in my family since I was just a youngster. It used to be at my grandmother's, but now it's at mine. If you want a preview of what the lunch is like, it's kinda like the movie Soul Food with Vanessa Williams and Vivica Fox. In other words, pictures tables loaded down with good ol' Southern-bring your Tums-caloric intake in the thousands-food!!!

So, with that whined about, er, said, I broke into the OPWFT vault aka the Ghost of Posts Past to bring you this week's Flashback Friday. *cues the music to The Way We Were* This is kind of a sad post for me because I won't be at the school near year where I did this survey. I'm either going to take a position at another school, or I'll be putting my first degree, my English degree, to good use and striking out to new horizons.

Anyway, here's the set-up. I gave my freshman and juniors a survey on the first day of school last year. I've included some of the answers. So, once again, it's just the facts—the bear facts that is. My school mascot was a Grizzly, and when you entered the building, you came face to face with this giant Grizzly bear in a glass case. As one former student said, “Nothing says school spirit like dead bear!” But, I digress.

Question #1: What do you like to read?
“I really enjoy reading mysteries/murder stories. They give more intense and dramatic plots. They make you want to continue to read and push for the ending.”
“Romantic books. Books about the old times like Janette Oke books.”
“Historical fiction, adventure, some romance. And fantasy like Harry Potter, Twilight, Eragon, and Artemis Fowl.”
“I like to read books about adventure, but then have a part with the main character in love.”
“Tragic love stories”
“Books about addiction and how they deal with it and problem teens and historical books.”
“I like reading non-fiction. To me non-fiction has more action and is interesting.”
“I like reading books on relationships and love. I feel like I can relate better to it.”
“I like books that deal with history, especially the Civil War. I also like books that are funny.”
'I like to read books that have suspense in them. I also like reading books that send a chill up my spine.”
“Stuff on history or criminal/crime/ghost books.”

Question #2: What trend are you tired of seeing in YA literature?
“Pretty people is the worst. They think being scantily clad and wearing the latest clothes and the latest shoes is all people care about. I’m utterly disgusted by this genre, and I’m tired of YA literature portraying this.”
“I’m getting tired of hero books.”
“Vampires…Twilight was enough.”
“Faeries, dragons, and knights.”
“Emo teens and Vampires.”
“I’m not tired of seeing any trend because I like to keep an open mind when reading or choosing a book.”
“Clicks because they exclude everyone.”
“Extremely fake creatures and faeries.”
“I’m tired of reading the same action books that always result in the same ending.”
“Problematic home lives in books.”
“I’m sick of pretty, preppy, god-is-holy girl books. I like deep, dark, and depressing novels and foreign languages.”

Question #3: What would you like to see more of in Young Adult Literature?
“I would like to see more real world discussion books. More books that describe the real challenges of the world. More real life plots and situations besides the perfect bubble they think we live in.”
“I would like to see more of something real. Most teen relationship stuff is totally fake. Things like this can rarely be true. The shy girl doesn’t just man up and talk to the hot jock. She stands on the sidelines and watches and dreams he’ll find her.”
“I would like to see more reality. Everything is all fantasy and dealing with magic."
"Christianity…more kids having faith in Christ.”
“More morals and less sexuality”
“Books that are smarter…no more dumb tween stuff with dumb drama. I like books that use bigger words and have better plots and developed characters.
“More love stories.”
“I would like to read more about ghosts and mysteries.”
“I would like to see more funny things happen in YA literature.”
“I’d like to see a little more maturity. It’s annoying how people are so immature.”
“Authors feel like they can’t speak right because of younger kids…so let out the profanity!”
(So, let the F-Bombs roll, dammit!)

Question #4: How much does the cover of a book influence your decision to read?
“I don’t care about the cover. It’s more about the title that influences me.”
“Not that much. It makes me pick it up and read the back cover to see what the book is about.”
“It influences me a little. A flashy cover does attract, but it’s what it is about that matters.”
“It influences me a lot. I don’t pick it up to see if I like it unless it looks good.
Question #2 What point of view do you like to read the best?
“I like first person better. I like it because I enjoy reading the book from the character’s point of view. “
“I like third person mostly because I like an overview of the matter.”
“I mostly like third person because you get an outside outlook of what’s happening and different views of the plot/problem.

Question 5 (and one that has stumped parents and educators for generations)…Why do you not like to read?
“I can never find a book I can get into. I like books that start off good and there aren’t many books like that. I would be more motivated if I could get something out a book, like a life lesson.” "I don’t like to read because you are just sitting there and reading. It would be more fun being active.”
“Reading makes me tired and I’d rather be doing something outside and it would be better if there were more outside books.” "I don’t like reading because it’s not usually something I think of when I’m bored, but when I get caught up in a book, I can’t put it down.” -*“It’s boring because you have to sit there, and reading gives me a headache.
“I want more relationships because getting into high school, you want to see what its like having a teen relationship with a guy.”
“More serious conflicts instead of overexaggerated situations.”

Question # 6: Do you read books because of the hype?
“I read books that are interesting to me, not because of the hype.”
“Whenever I decide to read a book, my decision is more based on the first sentences. If it drives me to read more or if it is a downer.
“Most of the time I read books because I hear that they are good from other people.”
“I usually read the book description before I pick up the book. If I have no interest, I won’t read it."
“I usually read books based on their summaries and also because of familiar authors.”
“I don’t care as long as they’re good books.”

So what do you guys think? Do you agree or disagree with some of the comments?

**********LATE BREAKING BOOK GIVEAWAY****************************

Next month, the GotYA gals will be reviewing The Summer of Skinny Dipping. How would you like your own copy? To be entered, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post. The winner will be announced next Friday!!!

Here's a bit about The Summer of Skinny Dipping!!!

"Sometimes I still wake up shivering in the early hours of the morning, drowning in dreams of being out there in the ocean that summer, of lookin...more "Sometimes I still wake up shivering in the early hours of the morning, drowning in dreams of being out there in the ocean that summer, of looking up at the moon and feeling as invisible and free as a fish. But I'm jumping ahead, and to tell the story right I have to go back to the very beginning. To a place called Indigo Beach. To a boy with pale skin that glowed against the dark waves. To the start of something neither of us could have predicted, and which would mark us forever, making everything that came after and before seem like it belonged to another life.
My name is Mia Gordon: I was sixteen years old, and I remember everything...."

After getting dumped by her boyfriend, Mia is looking forward to spending a relaxing summer in the Hamptons with her glamorous cousins. But when she arrives she find her cousins distant, moody, and caught up with a fast crowd. Mia finds herself lonelier than ever, until she meets her next-door-neighbor, Simon Ross. And from the very first time he encourages her to go skinny dipping, she's caught in a current impossible to resist.


Angie said...

Very interesting - not sure if I agree or disagree with any of it because I can see people having very different opinions. Yet, it makes me wonder - if kids are really that interested in reading "real life" stuff then why are all the paranormal books and vampire books so darn popular and why do they get all the attention? There are a lot of very good, real life books out there as we speak, yet it seems like kids either don't know of them or they're ignoring them.

Blythe said...

These comments made me think there might be readers for my book. (I'm not going to be all spammy, but if you want to know about my book, The Freak Observer will be out on August 1.)

“I would like to see more of something real. Most teen relationship stuff is totally fake. Things like this can rarely be true...."

“Authors feel like they can’t speak right because of younger kids…so let out the profanity!”
(So, let the F-Bombs roll, dammit!)"

“I would like to see more funny things happen in YA literature.”

"I like deep, dark, and depressing novels and foreign languages.”

Becca said...

I'm actually impressed with a lot of those comments. I was starting to lose faith in future readers, but it seems there are kids out there wanting to read deeper stuff.

I agree with a lot of it too. It's funny. I said practically the same things.

Serenissima said...

These comments are interesting, and make me wonder if we'll be seeing a shift from paranormal to more realistic teen fiction anytime soon.

Lia Victoria said...

Huh. I guess it just goes to show that every book has a chance -- if it's written well and has interesting characters and plots, there will be an audience waiting for it!

Krista Ashe said...

Blythe, don't feel spammy! There's nothing wrong with doing a plug for your book, and just by your comments, your book sounds awesome. I'll definetly check it out and hope others do to!

Snort, I was the one that added the "let the fbombs roll, dammit!" But yeah, I think they're used to language on tv so why not see it in books as well.

Krista Ashe said...

Angie, I have no idea why paranormal is so huge...when I was searching for an agent, all I heard was how agents were tired of seeing fantasy(which I had been querying, but it was actually a contemp that landed me an agent). But if you look at PM's YA deals, it's a lot of paranormal and UF. I don't know so much if it's the kids are ignoring them, or if it's that a lot of the publishers are backing their paranormals so a lot of publicity goes towards them.

Krista Ashe said...

Becca, it's funny, just when you want to totally discredit teens, they up and surprise you, lol. Glad you enjoyed the survey.

Seren, I think as long as pubs are still interested in paranormal, it might take awhile...and since I have both Contemporary and Paranormal, I'm good with either one!! LOL Thanks for commenting.

Lia, I totally agree about a well written book will always have an audience...may not be a huge one, but it will always be appreciated!! Thanks for commenting.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I think covers are important when browsing...because the interesting/good ones are the type that jump out.

I do agree about having more realistic novels and not being afraid of using profanity or being true to the characters/ aren't going to scare everyone off!


p.s. no need to enter me in the giveaway. :) I have a copy.

Crystal said...

I was really heartened to read that teens are looking for more realistic novels. I write contemporary YA with a strong romantic element, but it seems that I keep getting rejection letters that claim that they are not right for the current market. I love a good supernatural/paranormal storyline myself, but I am hopeless at writing that genre. I appreciate your post, it gives me some hope.

Meadow said...

This survey is brilliant! Knowing what the teen readers really want is priceless and I think this is a type of survey that needs to happen often.

Thanks so much for sharing this!

J.S. Wood said...

Ah Krista, let the f-bombs roll? Lol, I knew you added that. I put one well-meaning f-bomb in everything I write, only one :) Guess I'll have to change if I write a MG.

Julie Musil said...

I thought this was very interesting! Some surprises there that were encouraging.