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Season 3, Episode 3

Reader Opinions

September 30, 2021

Hosts Breea and Charity share their own views on underrated and overrated kids and teen books. Book recommendations for Middle Grade and YA readers.

Titles Mentioned in This Episode

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Charity 0:02 Welcome to the Planet Book podcast. I'm your host Charity.

Breea 0:06 And I'm your host Breea.

Charity 0:07 And we are with the Springfield-Greene County Library District. On each episode you'll hear guests talking about their favorite tween and teen books. Thanks for joining us today. On this episode, Breea and I are going to be talking about overrated and underrated titles and or authors, and this could get a little sticky. I don't know what you're gonna share Breea.

Breea 0:30 Yeah, of course, this is all like, you know, opinion. Of course, it's not gonna be like, you might hear a title thrown out there and completely disagree with us. And that's totally cool.

Charity 0:42 Totally fine.

Breea 0:43 Differing opinions, it might hurt my feelings a little bit. But you know, it's all good. We get different strokes for different folks. So--

Charity 0:49 Exactly and this is what makes talking about books so interesting. So I'll just go ahead and throw this one out there, because it's one that I kind of have been ashamed about for a while. So last year, I, for the very first time, finally read Harry Potter.

Breea 1:03 Really? Wow.

Charity 1:07 So and as a youth librarian, when I had said that to people in the past I hadn't read Harry Potter, they would just look at me like I suddenly had sprouted three extra heads. And so I just stopped telling people because they just assumed that I had and, so I finally broke down and read it last year. I did the audiobook on it, which I have to say was enjoyable, because there was music, for sure. Maybe there were sound effects too, the voicing is really good. I don't know that I could have flipped through the book. But the audio was really good. That being said, my opinion after I was done, was like, eh, what was that hype about? What is this about?

Breea 1:43 We probably experienced this very differently and by probably I mean, we definitely. I grew up with Harry Potter. So Harry went to school the same time that I was going to school. So when he was 11, I was 11. Like we were right there. And so--

Charity 2:01 Okay.

Breea 2:02 It was so exciting to read the series and to grow up with these characters. And so when I got to the end of this series, I felt like I was saying goodbye to my actual classmates. I had grown up with these. And I had this community built around the books as well, like there was a shared community. Like, especially as someone who was an avid reader, who always wants to be sharing, like, their passion of books, there was one title, one series that I could rely on that would get people talking and it was the Harry Potter series. So that series ended up meaning a whole lot to me, like growing up and still does. But I think we probably are definitely contradicting myself, coming from just different places.

Charity 2:57 Well, and that's a really good point to make, too, that books hit you differently at different times. And so I totally can see if you were also 11, and in school that, yeah. Had I found this book when I was 11 I probably, too, would have been like, oh my gosh, but I didn't. So, and I tend not to jump on bandwagons. So I just resisted reading it for a really long time because it was so popular. And I was like, let me just wait until this hype dies down. And then it was like so much time had passed. I was like, well, I don't really need to read it. And then so, but I finally broke down and read it while we were in lockdown last year during the pandemic, and I'm glad that I read it. But I will also say I am just not a huge fan of fantasy.

Breea 3:40 Oh see, I'm a big fantasy junkie. Hand me fantasy, and I will eat it up.

Charity 3:47 No, see once you start getting into the magic and all the, I can't suspend belief, I guess, well enough to really get into that.

Breea 3:55 Charity, that's why we're gonna work so well together. Where you don't have that fantasy side, you have that more grounded side. I'm like, hooo, let me take you to a magical place.

Charity 4:04 Yes, and I'm like, let's come back to the real world, where are you? I don't even know. All right. So Breea, let's hear yours. Something that's overrated, underrated.

Breea 4:14 Okay, so for me, I am a huge fan of John Green, right? Like, I love his books. But I don't know, you might agree with this. We'll see. I love his stories. But I think a really overrated title of his is Paper Towns.

Charity 4:33 That's hilarious.

Breea 4:34 I feel like I'm looking at your face and I don't know what to make of it.

Charity 4:38 So for listeners, we are recording this over Zoom so we can see each other's face. You know, so we are sort of on different sides of this. And I was going to say, I wrote down John Green as one of my overrated authors.

Breea 4:54 Really.

Charity 4:55 Overrated. And The Fault in Our Stars is like one of my least favorite books. Like that made me not want to read YA. But Paper Towns, I liked that one.

Breea 5:06 Oh, are you kidding? That's really funny.

Charity 5:10 I liked that one.

Breea 5:11 I don't really like super sad books that make me super emotional. So Fault in Our Stars I read it in a day to get it over with, because I knew it was so hyped, so I had to be in on it. And I did cry. I cried all the way through it. I thought it was beautiful. But I will never read it again. But for Paper Towns, so for people who aren't familiar with it, I believe Q is the protagonist of that--

Charity 5:43 I can't remember.

Breea 5:44 His neighbor and childhood crush goes missing, and basically he takes it upon himself to find this girl. And I have to admit the characters in this are a lot of fun. There's this epic road trip that I won't get into. I would encourage you to still check it out if you really are interested in John Green's voice and his type of narration because there's some really fun moments in this. But this is why I had messaged Charity earlier and I was like, can I give away endings in our podcast? Because that's where this really unravels for me. And I'm not going to go into it. It's funny because my brother, he's not like as big a reader as I am. And so he watched the movie because there was a movie of it. And he said the same thing about the ending. He was like, I did not care for that ending. And I feel like for me, it just completely unravels the rest of the story. So and I'm like, led up to that, I don't know.

Charity 6:46 Well, it's been so long since I've read that. So honestly, I don't even, right now sitting here, remember the ending because I've slept since then. But I will say when I read it, it was not too long after I read Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli. And I don't know if you've read that one. It's probably one of my favorite YA titles of all time. And one of my favorite books, I went out and bought it. I think it's two books. And so it felt, Paper Towns, felt similar, I guess I think in feeling and tone to that book. And so I appreciated that aspect of it. And so I liked that. But I tried to read several other John Green books, and I did read Fault in Our Stars. I just, I don't get his style. I don't like his voice. I work with people who love John Green and think he's amazing and they give him five stars. He's just not for me.

Breea 7:36 Now, I would have recommended Hank Green's writing to you except for you just admitted that you don't like fantasy as much. And Hank Green has a, I mean, he's more, I won't dwell on this too long because he writes more for adults. But he definitely, like, has a different voice than his brother where he goes into science fiction. I think it's fun to read them like side by side. Because you know, John Green gets so serious and talks about such complex situations and Hank Green is like science fiction. And it's a lot of fun, like he builds upon worlds that still have really good stories attached to them, really good themes. There we go. That's what I was trying to think of, themes.

Charity 8:23 I need to try him out. I don't think I've read any of Hank Green, but it sounds like he's a little more up my alley than John Green. So I'm going to segue. We just talked about some teen titles and authors. So I'm going to segue into middle grade and I'm just gonna throw this out here.

Breea 8:39 Okay.

Charity 8:40 I think Newbery winners, just overall, are overrated.

Breea 8:44 Really?

Charity 8:45 Yes.

Breea 8:46 I guess it depends. It's hard for me to group them all together, because some of them can be so different.

Charity 8:51 You know, there are some good ones that came out. You know, I've read some, for a while I tried to read all of them. And I think mostly I've read like most of them. There are some in the really early days that I liked. And there are some in like the late 90s, the early aughts. I feel like the last several years, the books that they choose are books that I can't recommend to kids, because I don't have any idea who they're for. And they're just like these slow, slow moving, like coming of age, nothing really happens, they're not that interesting kind of books. And so, and no one ever asks for them either. Like, they're not the books that kids are reading.

Breea 9:30 Yeah.

Charity 9:31 Most of them I'm just like, eh, which I feel bad about. That's like blasphemy as a youth librarian. But, this is subjective.

Breea 9:38 I think my favorite award book that I've read just in the past couple years has been Wishtree.

Charity 9:44 I read that one. I thought that one was okay.

Breea 9:46 It's cozy. It's not like mind blowing, like, my whole perspective on life has changed or anything. But it was just like, if you just want something that you can get through quickly, that's you like want to curl up with a blanket and a cup of hot cocoa on a rainy day and just read something that's like comfort food. I feel like Wishtree is like the ultimate comfort food story.

Charity 10:11 Yes, I like that one. I guess I just wish once in a while, and I know it's not about reader popularity, but just once I want that Newbery winner to be a book that kids are going to be like, Oh, my gosh, I really want to read that one. Kind of like they are with the Mark Twain's or--

Breea 10:26 Or even like, I've already read that one because I loved it so much.

Charity 10:28 Yes, yes, exactly.

Breea 10:30 Because a lot of those award books are like, the kids are like, what? Like, where did that come from?

Charity 10:36 Exactly. I think it just flies over the head of a lot of those middle grade readers, so they don't really do anything for me. But this is just between us. So--

Breea 10:44 Right, absolutely. No else is going to listen to this. Are you kidding? Who else? Okay, so I'm going to switch into underrated series real quick.

Charity 10:50 Okay.

Breea 10:51 And I'm going to switch back, we're going to come back to our young adult books real quick, because I want to talk about Giant Days, the graphic novel series. Have you read that?

Charity 11:03 I have not. I've kind of flipped through it. I have not actually read it, though.

Breea 11:07 They are so good. So the premise, I think why people usually look it over is because it is like a very basic premise of like three girls who have graduated high school. They're going into university. I think it's more of a British graphic novel. They have to survive college years together and they're just three unlikely group of friends. But these characters and the writing is wonderful. They get themselves in such hilarious situations, that it's just, it's so fun to follow. So just quickly, talking about the three characters in here that really make this series shine. The first is Susan, she's like this brooding, anger-prone type, but she has a very soft spot too for her friends will do anything for them. Like, you know, who hurt you, I'm gonna go attack them. And her ex is on campus too, and she hates him, but he's also just really handsome. So you know, she has that tension between them. And then there's Daisy. And she's like, a ray of sunshine, wants to help everyone. She's bubbly. She's bright, she's optimistic. And she's such a people pleaser. And that gets herself into trouble. It's like her greatest strength, but also her greatest weakness, because she wants to please everyone. And then there's Esther, and she's like the goth and aspiring writer of the group, and very much a big flirt. And she's also just a big sweetheart, as well, all three of these girls are so charming. So even though they have their flaws, they also have these different paths in life that you can at least relate to bits and pieces of each of them and their journeys. And they come across these really fun characters along the way, as well. And not only are their situations really fun, but there were definitely a few times in this series that I was tearing up. It was relatable. It made you realize that in that situation of like transitioning from high school into college, and then just trying to figure out who you are in the midst of this is such a relatable and endearing storyline. And it just makes you feel a little bit less alone through that process. Because you're having so much fun with these characters and then all of a sudden, you're realizing that I relate with these characters. Oh, my gosh. And so I just think it's a graphic novel series that everyone should at least try once, pick up, read through really quickly. I think there's 13 volumes. I was really sad when it ended, but I think it ended really well. So

Charity 13:43 I'm intrigued by those characters that you described. So I'll bump this one further up on my to-read list.

Breea 13:49 You really should. It's a lot of fun. I know it's been a while since both of us have been in the college scene.

Charity 13:55 It's been a minute.

Breea 13:56 You still flashback and you're like, Oh yeah, I'm still trying to figure out my way in this world.

Charity 14:01 For sure. Absolutely.

Breea 14:03 I still haven't figured things out. So you know.

Charity 14:05 Well, for underrated, I'm just going to go again with kind of a broad category. And I want to make the case for stand alone books. Series are so popular. I feel like that's all I get asked for. And it's like there are some great just stand-alone books that don't get as much attention because they're not part of this big series. But those are great. They should be read. So don't be afraid to break out of a series.

Breea 14:32 I think what happens with people is that they find their comfort characters or they find like, oh my goodness, I've bonded with this group of characters and looky here, they're in another book. And so you want that group to like, it's like watching, like binge watching a show on Netflix.

Charity 14:46 Yeah, absolutely.

Breea 14:48 I want the same cast and I want them in a different scenario and I want to just keep going. And so when you read a stand-alone, even though I love those, some of my favorite books are stand alones as well, I totally agree with you. But after you end that book, you're like, oh, that's it. They're gone.

Charity 15:08 That's a great comparison you made, though, that it's like bingeing a show. And you do want to follow the arc of those characters. That's a great point. Well, Breea, this has been another lively conversation. And I love that we have some reading similarities, but we also like are on opposite ends, kind of and this makes for a great conversation.

Breea 15:30 I think it's really fun because we're both in this, like, children's and young adult realm. Like we're definitely like, yes, in it. I want to read all of it. But we also have very different spectrums as to what our favorite kind of stories are or our least favorite.

Charity 15:47 Those are always great conversations to have when you've got different points of view. So Breea, thanks for being on with me today.

Breea 15:54 And thank you.

Charity 15:56 Thanks for joining us for another episode of the Planet Book podcast. Check out the library's website at the for these and other great book recommendations. And follow us on Facebook for the latest news and events. This has been a production of the Springfield-Greene County Library District. Thanks for listening.

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