This might become an ongoing thing and it might not, depending on the response I get (if it does, I’ll try to think of a cooler name than just “Books I’d Like to Read”, I promise). I know for a fact that I’m not the first person to come up with this idea, so I wouldn’t dare claim to be. I was inspired by the recent #RBWL (Reader/Blogger Wishlist) tag on Twitter (created by the wonderful Shae McDaniel), which I spent at least 5 hours of my Friday contributing to and it was brilliant. There are so many creative people on Twitter who are part of the book community and they all had so many good ideas that I felt honored just to be able to contribute to such a lively, diverse discussion. There were so many different viewpoints and interests, be it in the idea of genre conventions or adding more diversity to literature, especially YA (for anyone who doesn’t think diverse YA would sell, read the #RBWL tag and think again).
I am very much an idea type of person and when it comes to ideas for books I’d like to write or see written by other, talented human beings, I am at no shortage of ideas (both good and bad, super general and incredibly specific). This comes mostly from the fact that I want to read absolutely everything about every different type of person because I live vicariously through books and get most of my life experience through them because my depression and anxiety pack a 1-2 punch that makes it very difficult to get out of bed and actually experience life. But that’s a long story for another day and beside the point.
The goal of today’s blog post will be to present a few ideas for books that I wish existed in the world as both a reader and aspiring writer of books. It is also a way for me to keep track of ideas I’ve had for books.
I know that some of these books already exist in some way, shape or form and if you have more ideas and recommendations, feel free to leave them in the comments. I am always looking for new books to read.
1. A Book with a Less-than-Willing-to-be-Chosen “Chosen One” – Why does every single chosen one have to be ready to take on the responsibility of being chosen, especially in a dangerous fantasy world? I mean, I know for a fact that there are a number of people who are more like me and don’t really want to save the world. There are very few “chosen one” characters that have just been like, “You know what? I don’t know about this, you should probably pick another person for this job because being chosen sounds like a lot of pressure and pressure like that gives me a panic attack.” Sometimes the person who chooses chooses incorrectly. It happens. Maybe take some time for the chosen one to adjust to all of this. I mean, it is a lot and 90% of you wouldn’t be ready to save a whole kingdom, let alone a whole planet, I just know it. That doesn’t mean a more reluctant chosen one would be boring, in fact, I think it would be fun to see what it would be like to have to adjust to all of this new responsibility as opposed to just being born ready even though you had no idea that this was going to happen. So yeah, gimme some reluctance or some hesitance of some kind when it comes to literally having to put your life on the line constantly. You’re the chosen one, so you’re probably not going to die (or if you do, you probably won’t stay dead, I mean, come on), but at least act like it.
2. A Book Where Regular Teens Try to be Superheroes – I love superheroes so much. Like, more than I love most things and one of the first contacts I had with superheroes was Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans tv show. The idea of teenagers being superheroes was the most fascinating thing to me as a kid, because I may not have been able to be Batman at 8 years old, but I could definitely be Raven. I love superheroes because I think that they inspire people to be better and so I want to read a book where superheroes exist and save the world, but they also inspire regular people to do the same, including regular teenagers (some with “powers”, some with nothing except their wits and/or strength). It’d be sort of like Kick-Ass where most of their villains might not have superpowers, but for one reason or another these teens want to help fight crime. I was also thinking that it could be a sort of Watchmen type story where superheroes aren’t as prevalent as they once were and it’s up to this group of teenagers to fight crime. Teenage superheroes are fun because they keep all of the important aspects of being a teenager with the fun twist of also balancing being a crimefighter. I know there are books that are sort of like this, but there could always be more and I want more teen superhero books, please and thank you.
3. Books that utilize different storytelling techniques – This isn’t going to be as popular as a lot of my other ideas, but I love books where there is a story but the real story exists outside of the main part. Think of it as JJ Abrams’ or House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, among others, but for YA. I love stories that use other methods to supplement the story, especially footnotes, which I think are super interesting (although they don’t typically work in e-books as well) and fun or annotations. I really love the way thatS uses a conversation between two people as a way to tell an intriguing and different kind of story and it is the text itself that supplements the story within those annotations. Footnotes, annotations, scripts, letters, etc., etc. There are so many possibilities that I wish more authors would use them as there are so many different ways that they can be incorporated. I love regular books, don’t get me wrong, but you can’t tell me that Illuminae would be the same if it were just written as a regular novel. I know that alternate format books aren’t for everyone, but I think that this is a risk that would payoff, at least in my opinion and I hope some wonderful author agrees.
4. Books with more realistic portrayals of mental illness/mental health – As I mentioned earlier in the post, I happen to deal with mental illness, specifically depression, anxiety and PTSD. I am still learning how to get those things to have less of an impact on my daily life and a lot of that involves medications (some of which are more helpful than others) and therapy. Those are mechanisms that I (and many others) use to help me get through my everyday life without it having as much of an impact on me. There are days when I can get through things like anyone else, but there are days where I cannot get out of bed. People cannot touch me or sneak up behind me without me reacting negatively towards it. Those are the bad days. One thing I would love books to do is show that part of mental illness, the part where it has its good days and bad, where therapy is normal and a part of coping with mental illness. Something I want less of are YA books that tell me that my mental illness can be “cured” if I just get a significant other. I tried that and personally, it just made things worse, because the underlying parts of my mental illness were still there and made the relationship difficult. Relationships, healthy ones, are very important to helping me have a good day, but that could be any relationship from a parental one to a friendship. It does not have to be a romantic relationship. No one needs to be saved and it’s so irritating that that is so prevalent in YA, especially, because to me it says that if I’m still having panic attacks or can’t get out of bed, even if I’m in a relationship, that’s my fault and I’m just not trying hard enough. I’m not saying that people with a mental illness can’t have successful relationships at all, but I am saying that it’s difficult and I wish that that was something that was more acknowledged. Lauren DeStefano said it best when she said that mental illness should not be a catalyst for romance.
Note: Apparently Paula Stokes’ Girl Against the Universe does a good job of portraying mental illness and therapy but I haven’t read that book so I can’t really speak for it at the moment. I am also looking forward to Karen Fortunati’s The Weight of Zero. Hopefully these books are just a few that begin a better depiction of mental illness in YA novels.
5. YA Detective Stories – I am absolutely obsessed with true crime and detective stories and anything like that. I love Forensic Files, anything on Investigation Discovery, CSI, Criminal Minds, the My Favorite Murder podcast, the list goes on and on. I also really love stories where teenagers solve disappearances and murders and stuff like that. Don’t ask why I think that teenagers make the best detectives because in real life, I wouldn’t trust them, but YA true crime type stories are fun. Maybe it’s because I read a lot of Nancy Drew and Cam Jansen and books like that as a kid but the continuation of YA would be incredibly fun. Bonus points if they deal in the supernatural or paranormal, as that’s definitely more fun. Also, unreliable narrators and multiple POVs are an asset to this genre, so I love lots of those. I am very much looking forward to Sara Shepard’s The Amateurs because it sounds like it fits right into this.