Monday Miscellany

Why teens should read ‘adult’ fiction – and vice-versa

Sheila Heti doesn’t understand why so many adults are reading YA (young adult) literature such as The Hunger Games:

What surprises me most about YA books is not that adults are reading them in mass numbers (as with Hunger Games appearing on bestseller lists everywhere); it’s that they’re being marketed primarily to teens. Adults, it seems, are these books’ rightful audience; working adults are people who want, and maybe ought, to be diverted from their lives. It makes perfect sense for someone who has been in a repetitive job for decades, or whose home life is a series of responsibilities, to immerse themselves in other lands.

Young adults, on the other hand, are typically interested in the stuff of so-called adult fiction:

But teenagers – at least the teenagers I knew and know, and the teenager I happened to be – are not so world-weary. They’re still trying to figure out this place, this land, and to assimilate all the sensations that come with being a new sort of creature: suddenly not a child. When I started reading fiction like Kafka’s Metamorphosis (and who but a teenager is the perfect audience for Gregor’s alienation from his body and his family, waking up suddenly a bug?); or Kurt Vonnegut’s novels, with their subtle heartbreak and humour; or Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, with its haunting amorality and self-torture – I finally felt understood: These writers became my closest friends, able to articulate life and feelings in ways I was needing to, but could not. . . . Teenagers shouldn’t read “great” literature because it’s good for them, but because it’s like them. So why isn’t it being marketed to them? Why doesn’t the publisher of Herman Hesse’s Siddartha, for instance, package it for teens, and advertise the book on subways? It just doesn’t make sense.

For good measure, Heti asks several writers what adult books they read when they were young. It’s quite an assorted list.

An Absolutely Beautiful Video Game All Book Lovers Should Play

From Gabe Habash, a Publishers Weekly blogger:

I realize I’m talking to a book crowd here, and books are, you know, good for your brain etc. But for the 1% of you reading this who own a Playstation 3, I’m going to recommend that you go home and download a beautiful little game called Journey.

Journey is “about taking your breath away, which it will do, many times, if you have any sort of halfway decent nervous system.” And why is it a game for book lovers?

This is a video game, yes, but it’s also an emotional investment in the way that the books we love are emotional investments. It latches onto your brain and heart in the way that your favorite books do. And, most importantly, as your journey reaches its end, you feel like you’ve gone somewhere along with the characters, like their experience has become a little part of your own.

Books best left off screen

The Lord of the Rings, the Harry Potter series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and now The Hunger Games—all of these books have been adapted to monster blockbuster films. But here, Ken Dusold, assistant editor of the Truman State University [Missouri] Index explains why the following books should never have been adapted for the big screen:

  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  • almost anything by Dr. Seuss
  • Catch-22
  • Dances with Wolves
  • Oliver Twist

However, not everyone is following Dusold’s recommendations. Here’s news from Paramount Looking to Reinvent Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn:

In an age where Sherlock Holmes and Snow White are getting contemporary film treatments, why not delve into literature even deeper right? That’s Paramount Pictures’ thoughts as Heat Vision reports the studio is looking to give Mark Twain‘s classic literary characters Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn a makeover by following the duo as adults dealing with supernatural elements. As of now no plot details have been unveiled, but insiders say Huck and Tom will be similar in tone to that of Snow White and the Huntsman, a gritty, more mature themed tellin of classic literature.

10 Fantastic Novels with Disappointing Endings

is there anything less satisfying than turning the final page of a book you’ve loved and being thoroughly dissatisfied with its conclusion? This only happens rarely, and while a weak ending usually won’t completely ruin a great novel, it can certainly leave the reader feeling frustrated. We’ve round up books both classic and contemporary that have had us hooked all the way through, only to leave us wanting more (and not in a good way).

Warning: spoilers abound.

Yes, beware of spoilers as editors of The Atlantic explain why they found these books disappointing.