Ask anyone who's been around YALSA for a while and they'll confirm the rumor: Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults is the most fun you'll ever have on a YALSA committee. PPYA's job is to put together themed lists of paperbacks, i.e., a list of sports books, nonfiction, horror, etc. Besides making new friends, I have to say that I'm most grateful for the opportunity to read books I might have missed in the past. This year, I'm reading for the "Death and Dying" and "Fame and Fortune" lists, so I wanted to share some of my new favorites, books I wouldn't have read if they hadn't been nominated (but I'm glad they were):
Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt. If you've worked a YA desk longer than a week, you've probably encountered some theme and variations on mother-daughter reader's advisory, where the daughter wants true love and hot guys and the mother wants a female main character who can be a role model for her daughter. Keturah and Lord Death is the book they can compromise on. Keturah, lost in the forest, makes a deal with Death: He'll spare her if she can find her one true love in a very short, very specific period of time.
Knights of the Hill Country by Tim Tharp. You all know how much I adored The Spectacular Now. This is Tharp's first offering, about a group of promising football stars from a Friday Night Lights town. Just like in Spectacular, Tharp has created a unique voice and shows that the biggest consequences can come from the smallest towns.
The Luxe by Anna Godberson. Interesting characters, a fascinating look at high-society New York in 1899, and a cover that pretty much sells itself. This is great for readers who want romance and scandal in ballgowns.
Deathnote Vol. 1 by Tsughumi Ohba. It is a fair thing to say I'm not a fan of manga. I'm glad it's there for those who want to read it but I'm generally not much into it. Until Deathnote. Concept: a Japanese boy comes into possession of a notebook. If the notebook's owner writes a name in the book, that person dies. But what kind of people does a generally upstanding if very curious boy kill?
If you want to hear Popular Paperbacks discuss these books and more in Denver, our meetings are open to all conference attendees. We'll be at the Westin Tabor Center, Lawrence Room. Business meeting on Saturday and book discussions all day on Sunday. Our favorites are the people who bring the coffee and donuts.
(Please note that none of this entry in any way expresses the opinion of Popular Paperbacks committee members other than myself.)