Doug's Blog

Reading Matters

Doug Wilhelm is a full-time writer and an independent publisher in Weybridge, Vemont. His newest book is the novel STREET OF STORYTELLERS (Rootstock, 2019). His 15 previous novels for young adults include THE REVEALERS (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003), which has been the focus of reading-and-discussion projects in well over 1,000 middle schools.

What are the most useful YA book blogs?

The book-publishing business is exploding into all kinds of independent new facets — and so is the world of book reviewing. You can stick to the old reliables, the Times Book Review, Booklist, SLJ, etc. ... but these days you don’t have to. There’s a broad, happy scatter of blogs that are devoted to discovering the best new YA books and boosting interest in this field — and if you appreciate independent voices, and/or reviews from readers who are very close to the YA world, you can get a lot from the book blogs that would speak best to you.

But how to find those? Here’s a first stab at helping. I’ve been going through some of the best-known YA book-review blogs, and here are quick sketches of the first four that are worth passing along:

 

Teens Read Toowww.teensreadtoo.com — is the best-known and possibly the richest of the YA review sites. The site is aimed at teens — at informing, inspiring, and empowering their reading — and owner Jennifer Wardrip has amassed 69 (!) reviewers. You can look at the site’s most recent reviews; you can search by title, by author; or, if you come to like and trust a particular reviewer, you can look up what she (or he, but in most cases it’s a she) has been reading. TRT also features author interviews, links to recent best-book lists, and a page of helpful links (including a list of crisis hotlines) for teenagers. The site is a little too diffuse to have a central theme, unless it’s that there are a whole lot of YA books out there, and we’re really into letting you know about them! They do, too.

With just seven reviewers, all of them twenty-something females, Forever Young Adultwww.foreveryoungadult.com — definitely has personality, plus sharp clarity of design and lots of good content that’s easy to navigate. But I wouldn’t steer an actual teen reader to the site: Each of its contributors is photographed reading a YA title while enjoying a cocktail, and this ... is ... kind of, oddly, the theme. Here is how site proprietor Sarah introduces it all: “I realized that I’m not the only ‘adult’ (I really can’t use that word without quotes) on the planet who adores drinking martinis while reading books about high school crushes, teenage angst and that whole 'coming of age' thing. So, I made this site to serve as a home for people like me ...” Pretty unique, a lot of fun — and nice to have a YA blog aimed at adults. Okay, "adults."

Goddess Librarian — goddesslibrarian.blogspot.com — was identified by Onlineuniversities.com (whatever that is) as one of “100 Book Blogs You Need to Read.” This very approachable site is all written by Jen McIntosh, a former librarian who’s now a “proud mom” (not that these are mutually exclusive!). Jen’s reviews are clear and concise. They tend, as do those in the two sites above, toward girl-oriented books (can anyone suggest a YA book blog compiled by and for males??) — and she doesn’t appear to have posted anything since last December. I do hope Goddess Librarian is still active, as it’s a nice site, easy to check in with.

This last is one I really like: Librarina — librarina.wordpress.com — is a clean, readable blog entirely by Chrissie Greenwood, “tween and teen librarian” at the East Greenbush (NY) Community Library. Her site is just Chrissie’s book reviews — which are pretty reliably positive, it appears, but which also are thoughtful and interesting. Here’s part of her recent take on John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars: “What I appreciated most about this novel was the presence of a true love story.  Lots of times, novels will contain only the fairy tale version ... readers will not soon forget this story and will almost surely walk away with a new appreciation for the miracles of life and love.”

Those are my first four favorite finds. Have you got any favorite YA-oriented book blogs that you find yourself reading often? If so, please let me know! This coming Monday I’ll explore four more.
More of the most useful YA book blogs
In an e-distracted age, why we'll keep coming back...
 

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Monday, 10 August 2020

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