I've been thinking the past week about how much my reading habits have changed since I was a teen. It used to be that I would finish everything I started, no matter how little I liked it, and I could only read one thing at a time. And never while I was writing.
Now, I put down books regularly if they aren't gripping me 'round the neck, I read several books at a time, depending on my mood, and if I get stuck in my writing, it's a surefire sign I haven't been reading enough. I'm gonna say I think this is because of time crunch and solidifying my own style and subject matter.
Anyway, at the moment I'm reading a couple of things -- SISTERS RED, by Jackson Pearce (it's an ARC), SO BRAVE, YOUNG, AND HANDSOME, by Leif Enger, and of course, the Italian version of SHIVER ("Lasciami in pace, Ulrik, okay? Lasciami in pace.")(I still can't read Italian).
I came to the Enger book by way of his first one, PEACE LIKE A RIVER, which I love with the fire of one hundred suns. And I came to PEACE LIKE A RIVER by way of the Alex Awards. I'm usually not a big fan of lists -- tis the season for lists, like Amazon's Top Ten Teen Books for 2009 and Publishers Weekly Best Children's Books of 2009, both of which have SHIVER on them, so I say too much -- simply because my tastes are not the most mainstream of tastes and lists often don't help me. Like . . . I like paranormal, but not mainstream genre paranormal for the most part, so lists of werewolf books leave me high and dry, for instance.
But then I stumbled across ALA's Alex Awards. I didn't even know what they were for at first, I just knew that they had three books that I'd loved on the list. Adult books, which is odd for me, because I tend to live in the YA section. So thrilled with finding a list with so many Maggie books on it, I began madly requesting other books on the list from my library to see if I had finally, finally found a Maggie List.
And I had.
Even though I don't always love all the Alex Award winners with the fierce affection of PEACE LIKE A RIVER or THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE or CROW LAKE, I can still see why they're on the list, and I can finish them (which these days is pretty impressive for my gnat-like attention span). They all have a certain produndity to them (is that a real word? I don't care. I'm using it) and they are all told stylishly, with powerful, memorable characters. They tend to be slow, whimsical, unfurling plots set in rich settings. And did I mention character-driven and pretty prose? Oh, yes, the hot buttons of Maggie were being punched, and I didn't even know what the award was for.
Well, recently I bothered to actually read the mission statement and found out that "The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18." Well, this particular YA author is nothing if not predictable.
Anyway, suddenly, I understand lists. Because I would have never picked up the books on this list in a thousand years -- the descriptions of some just don't pull me in -- but my faith that they would be told in the same way as the other Alex books I'd read made me buy them. And they are always worth it. (So thanks, ALA!)
So do you guys have lists that work for you? Awards you always pay attention to?