Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Books for the YA Genre

As much as the New Generation is averse to reading, thanks to the distractions of Television, Online Gaming and Smart Phone Apps, what little they read cannot be a favorite of the older generation. While the children who learn to love reading grow up with Roald Dahl, The Chronicles of Narnia and the Series of Unfortunate Events, after a specific age, they turn to popular YA books to satisfy their literary needs.

While some books in the YA age group genre are celebrated as true literature, such as the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogy, even the Harry Potter Series to some extent, others are generally peer pressure books, highlighted mainly by movie or TV adaptations. Examples could be the Twilight Saga, or the Vampire Diaries Series. While these books are not generally deemed real literature by critics, they are none-the-less, turning a large population of youngsters towards reading.

Although the term Young Adult genre suggests that the books are written and marketed for the adolescents and teenagers, studies show than more than 55% of the reader group consists of 18+ years of age. In order to connect to the mixed group of ‘neither a child nor an adult’, these books are generally focused on a variety of magical or not-human creatures. This is where the new obsession of vampires, werewolves and other such creatures come in from.

Popular YA series such as the ‘Vampire Diaries Series’ by L. J. Smith or the ‘Twilight Saga’ by Stephanie Meyer gave rise to the new genre of vampires and were-wolves, with a mixture of adventure, action and romance. These books gave rise to the idea that these supernatural creatures living among human being are attractive and romantic.

On the other hand, books such as The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogy by J. R. Tolkien are based on larger-than-life situations of saving the world and combat. These books are more adventure and action based rather than the general preference of romance of this age group genre, and has a completely different reader population.

Again, the Percy Jackson series and the ‘His Dark Materials’ series take the readers to a fantasy world of adventure, with mythological creatures and the mysterious ‘Dust’. Series such as ‘The Princess Diaries’ and ‘The Gallagher Girls’ are generally directed towards the female reader population of the same age genre.

Series like the ‘Hunger Games’ series by Suzanna Collins and the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ books by George R. R. Martin, despite the amount of violence is a favorite of both boys and girls.

Perhaps the most popular and most read YA literature might be the Harry Potter series by British author J.K. Rowling. According to the polls, this 7-book series are the most famous of this genre and has gathered the most readerships than any other series of the Young Adult genre.

However, if a part of the reader population wants to look back at the classics, there is a number of Classic literatures available to read also. As a series, the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ and the ‘Emily of New Moon’ Series by L. M. Montgomery are a favorite of many. Looking farther back reveals the books by Louisa May Alcott and Mark Twain. Individual books, other than popular series of adventures, include books like ‘The Catcher in the Rye’, ‘Heidi’, ‘Anne Frank’ and ‘The Secret Garden’.   

Before vampires and mythological Gods began making their appearance in books meant for the Young Adult genres, detectives and investigators were the most popular superheroes. The characters of Sherlock Holmes created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Ms. Marple and Monsieur Hercule Poirot of Agatha Christie were as hip and popular at one time as Harry Potter himself. These books, classics as they are, still appeal to millions.

Each genre of books has a variety of readerships, and each reader has a favorite. The most important part is that after thousands of years, people still read, no matter how much the plots and characters have changed. 


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Website review: Bought on Credit

After Christmas, the doldrums of winter set in, and I've been doing research on credit cards and how people are in debt. I came across an interesting website called Bought on Credit. It features listings of buy now pay later sites and catalogs. The site's name is apt in our generation.

It does not list a lot of these websites but lists a lot of Bill Me Later ones. These sites are a little different that the whole "buy now because I'm broke" mentality.

I expected the site to be scammy, trying to turn a quick dollar -- especially with this title: Buy Now Pay Later Catalogs - Instant Credit Approval - Even in 2014!

Honestly, that referenced title listed buy now pay later catalogs that offered that service. I've seen other sites that somehow skirt the issue. Their titles says one thing about the articles say another or doesn't have any examples.

I can think of an example article on about 2nd chance checking accounts. It lists less than 25 banks that offer these but there are way more.

There are literally hundreds of these second chance banks that don't use Chexsystems, according to Bought on Credit.

See, now that's what I'm talking about. If you're going to make a list, make that sucker count!

The content is good on the site, but the theme sucks. It's this white and light blue setup.

When I did a check, there were almost 100 articles, so the site is pretty big.

This site reminds me to share a good video ...

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Timeless Avonlea in 'Anne of Green Gables'

For someone who is stepping into the wonderful world of reading, the ‘Anne of green Gables’ series is second to none for one reason and one reason only – the sheer wonderful energy of the central character, Anne Shirley of Avonlea.

This timeless character, through her unique sense of imagination and uninhibited freedom of speech, is a character everybody loves throughout a series of six books.

L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables is the story of one extraordinary girl’s journey through womanhood and comprehension of life. An orphan, Anne, or Miss Anne Shirley of is adopted by a kind brother and sister who began to love this queer but interesting girl full of love and appreciation for everything in life. Though the conservative neighborhood of Avonlea, Prince Edwards Island is, in the author’s own words, scandalized with this girl who is different from all others, no one can but love her ways.

What is interesting about the Anne of Green Gables Series is, though it was written more than a 100 years ago, the characters are still extremely relatable and fresh. In Anne, we can always see the jumping, hopping 12-year-old next door who just wouldn’t stop talking. Her fresh and bright approach to life is as inspiring today as it was in the early 1900s.

Another interesting aspect of Anne’s character is her fascination with life and appreciation of everything and anything in it. Her love for nature and birds and trees and lakes and flowers – basically everything in nature is a fresh approach in today’s practical world, where no one has the time to look outside their window. Anne’s preoccupation with the beauties of the world makes us want to put down our latest gadgets and gizmos and take a stroll along a green pasture with a soothing summer breeze.

An orphan, Anne was never used to the fancier things in life.  Her love and appreciation for all things beautiful is precious and rare in the commercialized lives we live today.

As Anne grows up, from the eager-to-please, talkative, extremely imaginative 12 year old into a woman throughout the series, we cannot help but love the understanding, mature grown-up she becomes; though a more settled being than her previous rowdy days, there is still the almost impish and original hint of a personality now and then that makes Anne, Anne – Anne with an ‘E’.

Love comes to Anne gradually and without a bang. When the whole world today is used to ‘love-at-first-sight-versus-lust-at-first-sight’ and hasty affairs and even hastier break-ups, Anne’s love story of a school buddy (previous school nemesis) converting slowly into her soul mate is possibly one of the most charming love stories of all time. 

Anne is meddlesome, but in a good way. She seeks out other’s people sadness and tales of owe and does her best to help them, sometimes going overboard in the way. But it is her cheerfulness, her honesty, and her genuine eagerness to do good that things turn out to be good, despite how hopeless the situation seems in the beginning.

In Anne’s neighbors and schoolmates, we find examples of people we’ve known all our lives, the kind and caring parent, the guardians who are strict with disciplines, the best friend, the nemesis in school who turn out to be a friend later, the flirts, the simple-minded good ones, the admirers, the critics, the elders with a twinkle in their eyes. It’s fascinating how a series of novels written in the early 1900s resemble our lives so much in this day and age.

Anne Shirley is the perfect model in our adolescent years. She is a person who is not afraid to make mistakes, not one to keep her mouth shut when words are important, not one to stay back when help is needed. To combine it all, she is someone who knows how to live and laugh, and in the end, it is Anne who says it all,

“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive –“
- Anne Of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery, 1908
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Monday, January 13, 2014

My Vote for Classic Literature

A Tale of two Cities, Wuthering Heights, North and South, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – these are but names to most of the kids these days; maybe the titles of a few movie remakes, or the names printed in hardcover books in their parents’ bookshelves. It’s a wonder why these timeless classics that have entertained children and adults worldwide for years and years don’t hold any interest for today’s kids.
The reason is actually understandable, and very real. Kids today lack the attention span needed to read these serious and long books. When everything needed is just a click and a webpage away, kids these days simply do not have the time for heavy 500-paged books anymore. The books today are getting thinner, the movies getting shorter – really all to suit the short attention span of this generation.
The language barrier is a huge factor too. Classic books such as the ones mentioned above are mostly all written in the old and formal version of English, the one which is not in use today. It is a bit difficult for someone who is not used to this format of English to read the books without faltering at almost every step. Today’s youth is used to a more informal, easy-going and conversational form of English which is becoming easier day by day. This English is especially hard for the non-English speaking countries too.
The subject matters of these classic tales are unable to relate to the lifestyles of kids today as well. These days, life is fast, complicated and multi-dimensional for today’s youth; whereas, the topics of the classic novels deal with very simple concepts: livelihood, marriage, poverty, and such. It is indeed hard for a teen-age girl to understand all the dilemmas regarding a marriage proposal or a single love interest in an Austen or Bronte classic where the matter is discussed with extreme importance in the books. Similarly, the excitements in a Stevenson adventure holds little thrill for a teen-age boy as he is used to a 1000 times more adventurous objects and events in his regular life, through 3D movies and PC games and such. The adventures of Treasure Island or the mischievous actions of Huckleberry Finn are nothing to them compared to today’s Captain Jack Sparrows and Wolverines.
Although most teen-agers do not read now-a-days, some of them are actually still avid readers and enjoy a vast variety of contemporary literature. The popular literature selection these days are focused on a number of concepts that dull the concepts of classic literature to a great extent. It is easy these days to choose the exciting Wizarding World over the woes of Oliver Twist, even though both feature a lonely orphan boy. In the same way, it is pretty easy to be torn over a Vampire-versus-Werewolf romance than on a normal dilemma regarding an ordinary marriage proposal between ordinary humans.
Contemporary literature offers a variety of not only exciting plots and concepts for the young generation, but also some exotic new ‘creatures’ living among our ordinary lives. From the hidden world of Wizards and Witches, to Elves and Hobbits and exotic games of Survivals, teenage romance between Werewolves and Vampires – life cannot get any more exciting than this.
Another reason for these books to gain popularity is probably the movie adaptations of the books. While the big screen adaptations for these books are probably more exciting than the books, movie adaptation of classics like Persuasion or David Copperfield would seen slow and unexciting to the same audience.
It is just the trend of the generation, and classic literature is the unwilling victim here. Until we find a new way to bring back classic literature in an exciting way to this generation, there is a chance these timeless sagas won’t survive this era.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Generaton Harry Potter, Really?

Source: Anders.Bachman | CC BY 2.0 | Flickr
It wouldn’t be too dramatic if we call this generation the Harry Potter Generation. Most of the Young-Adult Age genre, sometimes even the adults passed that genre, has been besotted by the Harry Potter Series, either by the books or the movies. But has the HP Series pushed a generation of children and young adults towards a make-believe world of Magic, Wizardry and Magical creatures, or is there more to it?

The Harry Potter Series teaches us much more than the power of imagination of one woman; in the make believe world of Magic and Fantasy, it teaches us the valuable lesson of love, friendship, loyalty, bravery and duty, above other virtues. The sheer bravery of a class of students, aged seventeen, especially the main three characters of the series, fails to move us all.

The power of a mother’s love, having the courage to stand up against your enemies, honor and duty – these are concepts that might have been hidden somewhere at the back of the minds of Young Adults of every generation, but make a startling appearance in the books. What a fun-filled loving family means to an orphan who has never had the taste of it before, the feeling of being wanted and appreciated and needed, the importance of true friendship to a lonely boy - these are concepts that are as important and as magical as the actual wand-waving itself.

Joanna K. Rowling is undoubtedly one of the biggest Fantasy writers of all ages, turning an aloof generation towards reading again. Her biggest achievements with the Harry Potter Books is not only limited to her vivid imagination of a magical world beyond our, but rather spread across her wonderful penmanship and creation of some vibrant characters that will live on for generations.

J.K. Rowling, in her Harry Potter Series, created some memorable characters that seem larger-than-life and relatable at the same time. With characters such as Harry Potter himself, Ronald Weasley, Hermione Granger, Lord Voldemort, Albus Dumbledore - not only do we find a recipe for a sure success, but also some unforgettable characters that will be remembered for a long time.  Some of the lesser important characters, on whom the readers didn’t concentrate that well till the very last, also managed to make us laugh and cry through their one minute of stardom. 

Even the young adults and teen-agers who thought they were past the age to be fascinated with the childish concepts of Magic and Wizardry are sucked into a world where trolls, dragons, goblins and Basilisks are just as important as the people. Half giants, wizards and witches live side by side and learn about wand-waving and magical concoctions and the history of Goblin Rebellions – all these were made almost believable to the most sceptical of all.  

But even in this magical world, the main concept of the books was the simplest ones - loyalty and duty, bravery and courage, love and friendship. Out of duty and honor, we see three youngsters not more than seventeen take on a perilous journey to battle a dangerous villain who, if true, was enough to scare anybody. Out of love and friendship, we see them risk their lives to save their family and friends. Beyond magic and spells, what the Harry Potter Books teach us are these very simple yet the most important of human aspects.

In the end, it is love that conquers the evil, and conquers the heart of millions, if not billions, or readers across the globe; and that is probably what J.K. Rowling had tried to tell us through her books at all times, that in the end, it is these humane natures in us that define everything.

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