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

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…