Talking YA fiction with a teen librarian (it’s not just for young adults!)

Robin Brenner says it's OK to read what you like.
Robin Brenner says it’s OK to read what you like.

Robin Brenner might have a cooler job than you. She works as the teen librarian at the Public Library of Brookline, meaning she’s paid to read two to three young adult novels a week. She also runs a graphic novel review website called No Flying No Tights (a reference to the efforts of the TV show “Smallville” to differentiate itself from other Superman incarnations). Plus, she gets to organize events like the library’s recent “Welcome to Night Vale” podcast listening night which 50 participants attended, many dressed up in character, to listen to a few episodes of the wildly popular podcast. As she puts it, “I kind of lucked into the right profession, and I have been happy there ever since.”

As evidenced by the number of grown women (and men) spotted with copies of “Twilight,” “The Hunger Games” and the like, YA fiction is not just for young adults anymore. If you’re one of them, there’s no reason to feel self-conscious, or tuck your copy of “Twilight” into a more mature book, Brenner says. At this point, calling books young adult is “more a marketing label than anything else.” The number of books being published with that label has increased hugely in the last couple of years, something Brenner attributes to books that might have been published as adult or children’s books only a few years ago now being categorized as “teen” lit.

Moreover, says Brenner, you have absolutely no reason to be ashamed of your fandom. “I personally think no one should ever feel ashamed of anything they read, but I think it’s become an OK thing to do,” she says. “You’re allowed to read and enjoy teen literature now in a way that you felt more embarrassed about before, especially now that we have a lot more literary teen books as well.”

Of course, as is the case with all literature, some YA novels are better than others. In the best young adult fiction, she says, “you want books to be either mirrors or windows. Mirrors should show you yourself in some way, and windows should show you other people so that you can see what it’s like to not be you, and that’s where the empathy starts to grow in terms of reading fiction.”

Though the breadth of what YA lit covers has certainly expanded and evolved, Brenner would still like to see some changes in young adult literature. “I would like an increase in diversity of the characters — and I mean that in all ways — but specifically racial diversity, diversity in sexuality, diversity in economic class — all the things one would hope to reflect the world.”

That’s where those mirrors and windows factor in. “I think both need to happen, and I think we’re a little behind in showing the mirrors to everybody that’s out there,” says Brenner.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.