Season 3, Episode 9
We Love Books
November 11, 2021
Charity and Breea chat about the things they love most as readers. Book recommendations for Middle Grade and YA readers.
Titles Mentioned in This Episode
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Charity 0:01 Welcome to the Planet Book podcast. I'm your host Charity.
Breea 0:05 And I'm your host Breea.
Charity 0:07 And we're with the Springfield-Greene County Library District. On each episode, you'll hear us talking about our favorite tween and teen books. Thanks for joining us today. On this episode, we're talking about reader favorites. So a while back we had done an episode where we talked about our reader pet peeves, and so we thought just to be fair, we'll balance that out by talking about things that we really love and enjoy as readers.
Breea 0:34 Otherwise, people are just gonna think we're bitter.
Charity 0:36 They're gonna think we are so negative.
Breea 0:39 We love books, but oh my gosh.
Charity 0:42 We really do. We really do love books. So I've got my list of things that I could share. But Breea, do you want to go ahead and start us off?
Breea 0:51 Yeah, sure. So, I want to start off with talking about some of my favorite types of characters that I find in books. I love me a good, old-fashioned, morally gray character. A character that you don't know if they're going to be the good guy, if they're going to be the villain, and honestly, they don't know either. They're just kind of like, you know, always balancing that fine line. And sometimes morally gray characters also are part of our protagonists team. They're good people but they just have chaotic tendencies. One of my favorite examples of that is Ronan from the Raven Boys series. Such a morally gray character, but like, has a really, you know, underneath his hardened surface, has this great heart and ended up getting his own spin off book, which I absolutely love, Call Down the Hawk. So these characters usually have pretty dark humor, which I enjoy, and they have an even darker past to them. So I just love me a good, old, morally gray character.
Charity 2:05 That is so interesting. I'm totally torn on that. I don't know what I'd say about that.
Breea 2:10 I just feel like it gives people something to talk about. It's a fun conversation to, like, discuss a character and some people will be so split on it. It'd be like, oh, I hate this character because of this decision. But in the same conversation can say I loved this character because of this decision they made.
Charity 2:30 Well, and they're usually kind of more complex characters, which just makes for more interesting reading. So I totally get that. Well, I was looking at some of my favorite books. And I just, I guess I tend to like books that have some, I'm gonna say heartbreak in them in some way. I like--
Breea 2:55 Gosh, and you don't like John Green?
Charity 2:57 Well his is like, I don't know, Hallmark movie heartbreak. But like, a lot of my favorite books are--at least in YA, which is kind of how I looked at them--like, and when it comes to YA books, I like my stories a little dark. I want someone to be grieving, if they've got a terminal illness--
Breea 3:17 Oh my gosh.
Charity 3:19 I don't know; I just have read a lot of those books. One of the ones I read not too long ago is called The House at 758. And that's the story of a girl who is grieving the loss of someone. And it's kind of a dark, almost sinister feel to it. But really, it comes from a place of her being sad and feeling loss. And those stories are just--they're so multi-layered. I guess that's what I like about them. They're not just straightforward. You're not quite sure how they're gonna pan out. And you get to see that character work through all of those emotions. And I just can really delve into those kinds of stories. So I like my dark, sad stories. Those are my favorites.
Breea 4:00 I have to be in a good place mentally in order to--and then when I read them, I'm not in a good place mentally because it does take a lot out of you to enjoy those types of books
Charity 4:13 For sure.
Breea 4:14 The one thing that I would like--that I would say about novels like that is that I hate when they just kind of use trauma or grief as a plot device and a plot device only. So I like to see it flushed out very well where we are using a character's grief as like a learning situation. For example, it's kind of like the Disney mindset where it's like, and we kill off the parents, but now we get to go on this adventure. So we got them out of the way. We don't have to think about them anymore, and go. And so I like to, you know, actually take the time to, like, explore the emotions and the heartbreak that goes behind situations that are traumatic and scary and sad.
Charity 5:04 Yeah. And you definitely have to have your feel good story ready to go after that.
Breea 5:08 Oh, yeah.
Charity 5:09 Because you don't want to read two of those books in a row. So--
Breea 5:10 Oh yeah. So bouncing off of yours, Charity. One of my favorite things in books is when a story makes you feel bad for laughing. So what I mean by that is at the beginning of the book, it's like a dramedy. That's what they call them. At the beginning of the book, you are just, you're laughing, you're having a good time, like, bam, all of a sudden, it hits you out of nowhere, like the impact of the story, like what the moral of the story is. What we're supposed to take away from this. It wasn't just supposed to be for fun and games. It was actually like this huge emotional impact attached to the story. And you're like, dang, I was like, what, a few chapters ago, I was having a great time and now I'm sad. Like, how did that happen? I just think that's such great writing. I love it so much.
Charity 6:05 Well, to piggyback off of that, I really enjoy those stories that have unreliable narrators.
Breea 6:13 Oh, yeah.
Charity 6:14 And those are books with narrators that maybe you really can't quite trust. Like maybe, they're telling the truth and maybe they're not. Maybe they're good, but maybe they're secretly the bad guy. There's something about those stories I just can not get enough of.
Breea 6:31 Yeah.
Charity 6:32 You see them in YA quite a bit and in adult fiction, of course. But oh, man, are they so enjoyable. Like those characters are just delicious. I'll read just about anything if it's got an unreliable narrator.
Breea 6:43 Absolutely. Those are so fun.
Charity 6:46 So fun.
Breea 6:47 Especially in, like, a mystery where you can't even trust the narrator, when you're trying to figure things out--
Charity 6:52 When you can't trust them, oh, that's the best.
Breea 6:55 We talked about for our last podcast the book--
Charity 6:58 One of Us is Lying?
Breea 6:59 Thank you. I couldn't think of it.
Charity 7:00 Yeah, that's a good example of that.
Breea 7:02 Yeah. And I think every time you switch protagonists, and you get their point of view, you still don't know if you can trust those characters. Especially when you start learning more and more about their past. So that's--yeah, I love a mystery with an unreliable narrator. Because it adds a whole new layer--
Charity 7:20 It does.
Breea 7:21 Where you're playing along with them. You're like, I don't know. Are you fooling me? Can I trust you?
Charity 7:26 But you're right there on the edge of your seat--
Breea 7:28 Oh yeah.
Charity 7:29 Because you want to find out exactly who they are.
Breea 7:32 I've got another one for you.
Charity 7:34 Okay.
Breea 7:35 So I love a really good callback.
Charity 7:36 Okay.
Breea 7:37 So when something--back when I was in school, for creative writing, we called it the gun on the mantelpiece. And so you pick like a plot device, or like a saying, or maybe an item, and you like, mention it. And it's something that's so subtle, that's added to the beginning, maybe every now and then mentioned in the middle of the book. But, bam, it comes back as like a punch line at the end, where you have that, ah, okay. There's a manga that I've been reading that just did that, but it's not young adult. But it--I just, I keep thinking about that. Those are the moments that I just keep thinking about over and over again. The manga mentioned a candy, a certain candy in it. And, I didn't even like think about the candy. It was just something that was like very subtle, mentioned in passing. And then it came back when there was a time of grieving with the characters. And that candy triggered a memory. At the very beginning, that was like a pleasant, not necessarily a pleasant, but just like a memory of when they first tried this candy out, basically. And something like, all of a sudden hits you where you're like, I didn't realize that was a detail I was supposed to be paying attention to. But I'm so glad you brought it back up, because I still remember it. Like, it's not subtle enough that you forget about it. But it's just subtle enough that you're like, wow, good eye author, like fantastic callback.
Charity 9:12 Don't you find yourself when you--like flipping back to that first, like the first time it's mentioned in the story? And you're like, okay, wait, what did they say about it back then?
Breea 9:21 Yes!
Charity 9:22 I have those moments too. It's like it puts a whole new perspective on it for you.
Breea 9:26 Absolutely. It makes a read throughs like--I know that neither one of us likes to reread a book, but it does make read throughs, rereads a lot more powerful because you're like, ah, I see it now. I see that. It's like you have insider information.
Charity 9:45 Yes. Oh, yeah, that's a really good one. Well, one of the things that I like about just reading in general, it doesn't matter what kind of story, is a great setting, where that book takes place. And kind of the dirtier and the grittier it is, the more I like it.
Breea 10:05 I'm glad you said that because I was about to say, why don't you like fantasy novels then because those are like--setting is the character in those but as soon as you said gritty, dirty, I'm like, oh.
Charity 10:16 That's almost too much. Fantasy is like--but what I think of Karen Cushman, who she wrote books kind of back in like the 90s. She won a Newbery. But she writes, she wrote historical fiction. And those settings are so gritty, and like, I feel like you can feel the dirt on you as you're walking through a village or something. And I love when an author can make you feel like you are right there, like walking behind the main character, whatever. Like you're right there in that place, whatever it is.
Breea 10:49 Okay, last one for me.
Charity 10:48 Okay.
Breea 10:49 This one is just, I think everyone can agree with. It's that new book smell. It has nothing to do with the characters or the plot or the setting. It's just I love new book smell. It's my favorite. You just crack it open in the bookstore, and you just make sure that no one's looking at you because you're going to be really weird. You're going to open it up, and you're just going to take a, you're gonna take a huge whiff of that book and be like, yes, this is the one. I have to take it home so that my library smells like new books.
Charity 11:20 You know, I have to say, this is, you know, we both love libraries and we're an advocate for libraries. But that moment when you walk into Barnes and Noble--
Breea 11:27 Oh yeah.
Charity 11:28 And that first whiff, it smells like coffee and new books.
Breea 11:31 Ah yes.
Charity 11:32 And it is so good.
Breea 11:34 I think it's always triggered like, pleasant memories for me. Like, being able to find new stories that I've grown to love. You know, so when I smell those new books, I'm like, ah, back to childhood with my mom and dad were like pick up a new book for me or tell me to pick something up off the shelf, and then we go home, we'd start reading it. And it was exciting, because it was new, and it was fresh. And yeah, call me weird if you want to, but I don't think it's as quirky as people might think it might be. Because I think a lot of people, actually a lot of readers, kind of agree, very much agree.
Charity 12:11 Yes, I think probably any avid reader can relate to that moment when you open up a new book for the first time and you get that whiff of the new pages and everything.
Breea 12:19 Oh yeah.
Charity 12:20 There's just almost nothing like that.
Breea 12:21 Oh yeah.
Charity 12:22 Like a new book is like opening up a present like you just don't know what's going to happen.
Breea 12:26 Right?
Charity 12:27 And it's wonderful. I feel like that is a perfect note to end this episode on.
Breea 12:31 Yeah.
Charity 12:32 So thanks, Breea.
Breea 12:33 Yeah, thank you!
Charity 12:34 Well, thanks for joining us for another episode of the Planet Book podcast. Check out the library's website at the library.org 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.
Breea 12:51 Thank you.