Sunday, August 18, 2013

Teentopia: Samuel

Teentopia is a monthly feature here on YAtopia where we ask real teens questions about what they like to read and how they choose the books they read. For more information and more Teentopia posts, click here.

This week, we're interviewing Samuel. Please tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Sam. I am a nineteen-year-old college sophomore and I like to surf the internet, read, and participate in campus activities for fun. I am a member of Student Senate, a religious life group, a local social fraternity, and a national service fraternity at my current college. I study education and am still exploring what it is that I want to do. I love to socialize and do all sorts of things. In fact, sometimes I’m that person that does a little too much in school.

How many books do you think you read in a year?

I read about five pleasure reading books a year because I take my time reading and I have a lot of academic reading to do. If I included all of my textbooks you could multiply the books I read by five or more. Since I haven’t taken an English class lately, these books aren’t often novels. However, It’s still reading.

What are some of your favorite recently-read books?

One of my favorite books that I have recently read is Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. It’s a real thriller and it includes old-timey photographs that give it a real flare. I love how he made an entire story around them. It’s like a thriller/adventure/fantasy that combines themes from X-Men, Harry Potter, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Percy Jackson in a way that makes it a world of its own. It’s a great book that I had a hard time putting down once I got going.

How do you find out about and choose books that aren't assigned in school?

I find out in a variety of ways. I go to bookstores and libraries and ask for suggestions, I look up reviews of books, and I even peruse the selections in my favorite areas and read the back sleeves of books. Some books are non-fiction and about history or language, most are YA novels, because I still cannot resist them. I also love classics. I just wish I had the time to read as much pleasure reading as I wanted to.

On a related note, do you read reviews before you decide to read a book? Where?

I do read reviews.  Look on Amazon, Barnes and, and sometimes I search Google if I’m not satisfied. But it’s not too hard to find decent book reviews if you look at the right places. Book stores’ websites tend to have great reviews because they are written by bookworms. ^^

Do you read author's blogs/facebooks/twitters? If yes: before you read their book or after - and what kind of content do you like to see?

I do read two authors’ social media pages/feeds. I read those of JK Rowling and John Green. The former is amazing and my childhood hero. I love to see what she is doing and what she’s up to next and her Twitter made me borrow a copy of The Casual Vacancy from a friend. The latter is entertaining and I love to read his twitter feed and watch his YouTube videos, however, I have been unable to make the time to read a book of his yet.

What kind of covers draw your attention?

To be honest, anything without a cheesy teenage couple on the cover attracts my attention. It makes me stop for a second and think, hmm, this may be worth my effort and time. But what really catches my eye is something with simplicity, but class and grace. I also get caught by covers that are abnormal, depict nature, or deserve some kind of explanation, which forces me to read the back. Not all of them really affect my attraction to the book, but ones that kind of give away that the genre is one I’m not really into make me not want to read them. I look more at titles and the back of book though. However, I feel like sometimes the covers do affect how seriously I take the books.

Do you feel like YA books accurately represent teen culture? How so?

I feel like it accurately represents different groups of teens. I feel that each genre can represent a different culture within “teen-dom”. But one group within teen culture may not agree with what represents them when compared to another. I think there are books for every teen out there, you just have to know where to look for them.

Is there anything (themes, character types, genres, time periods, etc) you'd like to see more of in YA books?

I would love to see more unique ideas. It gets tiresome seeing the same old thing over and over again. I like entering a whole new world. Some books that are good examples of how I’ve found that world are Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Percy Jackson Series , The Thirteenth Tale by Dianne Setterfield, and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

Anything you want to see less of?

Vampires, vampires, vampires. I am done with and not interested in paranormal romance. I hate seeing it crowd the shelves. It was never really good and now it irritates me when I go to Barnes and Nobel and see it covering the shelves.

How do you read books? (paper, e-reader, phone, audio, etc)

I read paper, audio, and e-reader books. I own a Kindle and use it just as much as paper books. I really appreciate all of the formats that a book can come in and sometimes audio books even help me focus on what I’m reading. So really I’m a proponent of all formats. I actually get really frustrated with people who limit themselves to one type out of a form of disdain for change or lack of change. I think many mediums offer many ways to receive books. Plus, e-books are cheaper, which is nice for my shallow college pockets. :)_

What do you think about all the YA books that have recently been made into movies?
It depends on the book. I loved the movie of The Lightning Thief. I really didn’t like Twilight as a book or movie. It depends on the movie and the quality of the literature, I guess.

What book have you read that you think deserves more attention?

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. It’s really good. Trust me.

What novel are you most looking forward to in the next year?

I never really know what’s coming out until it’s out, but I have a lot on my list. I am excited to read The Hunger Games next, but I know I’m behind by a lot.

Do you use any book-specific sites to keep track of what you've read?

Not really. At one point in time I used this site with shelves, but I stopped using it in high school.

What's the most important element to you: characters, plot, writing style?

To have a new world fold in front of my eyes and be able to journey with the character. I love the mystique and adventure of a world unique to a novel. The character needs to be relatable, though, and the plot and writing style need a flow that can draw you in with each step they take on their journey.

Have you ever seen a book trailer? If so, did it make you want to read the book? What do you think about them?

Yes. Actually, the book Witch and Wizard by James Patterson had an awesome trailer that made me read the book. I think they’re a pretty neat way to get YA’s involved in literature.

Thanks so much for your thoughtful answers, Sam!

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