Reading Judy Blume for the First Time

I somehow made it through adolescence without reading Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, or any other Judy Blume book, for that matter. I caught on pretty quickly to the idea that to be “girly” is to be vapid and shallow and not to be taken seriously, so I basically shunned any book that seemed remotely girly. I was into Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl and Alex Rider and Abhorsen and avoided books set in prep schools like the plague. I probably missed out on a lot of great books because of this. I certainly missed out on the pure gold that is Margaret, although, to be fair, I’m not sure it was really even on my radar in 2002.

And apparently I wasn’t the only one to survive middle school without having read Blume’s comforting words; a few weeks ago, when Kerry of Entomology of a Bookworm tweeted a confession that she had never read Judy Blume, a plethora of bloggers chimed in that they were ALSO Blume virgins. Thus, #BlumeAlong was born. Kerry invited bloggers to join her in reading Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret during the second half of June and The Summer Sisters during the first half of July. I probably never would have gotten around to reading Margaret on my own, and this was exactly the push I needed to finally read this coming-of-age classic.

You guys, I’m so glad I finally read this. I am totally kicking myself for neglecting to read this when I was 12. I loved the way it deals with everything from menstruation to friendships to religion, and I would definitely have related to the insecurities felt by Margaret and her friends. This book made my memories of confusion and excitement and bad information about reproductive processes come ROARING back.

I was also surprised by how fresh this book felt. Although it takes place 40 years before my own adolescence, it didn’t feel dated, aside from the specific feminine hygiene products mentioned. (However, I have to note that the version I read has been edited for modern times and doesn’t mention the belt, so I don’t know how much else has been changed.) Despite being young enough to have had the Internet (dial-up!) and AIM when I was in middle school, the social interactions between Margaret and her friends could have been mine (although the whole “you can’t wear socks the first day of school” thing was new to me).

My boyfriend’s sister is 12, and it’s fascinating to see the role social media plays in her life. (I am so incredibly thankful Instagram didn’t exist when I was her age.) I’m really curious about how she would relate to this book, and I might have to find an excuse to get her a copy! I’m sorry to have missed out on Margaret when I was 12, but it’s a book I’d love to share with young girls now that I’ve wised up.

Did you read Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret as a teen/pre-teen?

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Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow RowellFANGIRL
by Rainbow Rowell

Fiction; YA
St. Martin’s Press; Sept. 10, 2013
Hardcover; 438 pages
Source: Purchased

Cath and her twin sister, Wren, have always been close — which is why it’s such a shock when Wren tells Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates in college. When she arrives on campus on move-in day, shy, withdrawn Cath couldn’t be less pleased to meet her bold, unfriendly assigned roommate, Reagan — or Reagan’s relentlessly cheerful probably-boyfriend, Levi.

Although Cath is a social nobody in her external life, on the internet she’s kind of a star. Ever since they were children, she and Wren have been obsessed with the Simon Snow books, a wildly popular series about an orphaned wizard who goes away to a magical boarding school. (Sound familiar? Ha!) They take their fandom pretty seriously, writing fan fiction together. Wren, an outgoing social butterfly, grows away from the writing, but Cath makes a name for herself as one of the most popular writers in the fandom. And with the eight and final installation of the book about to come out, she’s determined to finish writing her alternate version of the story before the conclusive book’s release. Continue reading

Book Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy

Hey, I read The Hunger Games trilogy! Okay, by “read,” I mean, “partially read but mostly listened to on audiobook.” I know I’m totally behind the curve on this, but can I be a massive hipster and brag that I read the first book before it was popular? No?

Well anyway, I read the first book maybe a year after it came out, when I was on summer vacation after my first year of college. I enjoyed it but not enough to go out of my way to read the next two books when they came out. And then, a few years later, everyone went batshit over the series, and I was just too cool to jump on the trend. (Like I said, hipster.) Also, there were other things I wanted to read, you know? Continue reading

Teen Read Week: My Favorite YA Books

teen read week

This week (October 14 to 20) thousands of libraries, bookstores, and schools across the country are celebrating Teen Read Week, an initiative intended to encourage teens to read, just for the fun of it. According to Teen Read Week’s publicity materials, literacy rates for teenagers have been stagnating for the past 30 years, and the number of teens who are able to read but choose not to do so for fun is increasing. However, being able to read and process information is a vital skill in our data-driven society. As adults and role models to younger readers, it’s our job to encourage teens to read for pleasure, as daily reading for fun is instrumental in instilling reading habits for life.

To create a love of reading in teens, I think we need to recommend books that really are enjoyable for younger audiences to read — books that aren’t classics like the ones that often bore students in English classes, but that are interesting and relatable and unputdownable. Since my teenage years weren’t too long ago, I present to you my favorite books when I was a teenager (omitting Harry Potter because, I mean, duh). Continue reading