Dec 12

We explore the new category of New Adult, and give you 12 ways to break out of your reading slump. Plus, we recommend The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis, and Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel.

Congratulations to Melissa R. who won our giveaway of Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman!

What the Heck is New Adult?

A recent writing contest by St. Martins gave the name “New Adult” to a genre of stories featuring protagonists in their late teens and early twenties. Here are our questions: do we need a new category for this type of story? should these books have their own section in a bookstore? A few books that might fall into this category are Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld, Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close and Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan. The blog NA Alley has a list of recommended New Adult books. We’d love to hear what all of you think about this categorization of books and what titles you think might fit.

How to Break a Reading Slump (9:10)

There are many reasons you might end up in a reading slump, including finishing a book you love so much that books that follow it pale by comparison. (Ann is currently reading On Sal Mal Lane by Ru Freeman and she knows the next book she reads will have a lot to live up to!) Whatever the reason, we hope these 12 suggestions can break you out of your slump!

Reread a favorite book  Sometimes revisiting characters and settings that you love will let you fall back into the reading habit.

Switch genres  If you’re a mystery fan, try reading some fantasy. If you love fiction, try a book of narrative nonfiction. After all, we get tired of eating the same thing day after day; the same happens with reading.

Find a book that is hugely popular  Blockbuster bestsellers usually have a strong element of story telling that an capture even some of the most reluctant readers. It might capture you, too.

Shop your own shelves  If you’re an avid book lover, chances are that you have at least a few books that you’ve purchased but haven’t yet read. If you’re anything like us, you have piles of them. Buried in one of those stacks is a book that may just get you out of your reading slump!

Don’t read — listen  Take an audiobook with you to the grocery store, or listen while cleaning the house, walking the dog, gardening … a well-chosen audiobook with a great narrator will sweep you up into the story.

Let someone else tell you what to read  Put your reading fate into someone else’s hands. Before asking for a recommendation, promise yourself that you will take the suggestion. Then seek out a bookseller, librarian, or book-loving friend to tell you what to read next.

Read with a friend  Have an impromptu book club! Choose a friend and a book, and commit to reading together. The knowledge that your friend is also reading the same book may keep you going, and you can look forward to a fun discussion after.

Go for the quick fix — read some short stories or essays  Short pieces work really well as “palate cleansers.” Reading a short story may be just what you need before moving on to another big novel or work of nonfiction.

Try YA  Young adult novels tend to be more tightly written and action-packed than many adult novels, and so may be more likely to keep you engrossed in the story. There are young adult novels in every genre, so if you love mystery, pick up a mystery YA.

Peruse the Reviews  Make it a project: read book reviews until you find something that grabs you. The New York Times Book Review, Entertainment Weekly, reviews on Goodreads are all great places to see what people are saying about the newer books that are out in stores.

Seek out fan fiction  If your slump is caused by the end of a beloved series, chance are that someone is writing fan fiction with the same characters in the same world. Some fan fiction is good, others not so much, but it’s a fun way to stay in your favorite series just a little bit longer. Check here to see if your favorite books have fan fiction.

Step away from the books  Sometimes it’s OK to take a break from reading. Whether you attend to the details of your life, or spend your free time watching television or movies, a little distance can be a good thing. If you are truly a reader, you’ll get back to the books when you’re ready.

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (23:43)

Oprah has stolen Ann’s thunder. Several months ago Ann read The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis, a book originally scheduled for January. Well, Oprah chose it for her Book Club, and the publisher secretly rushed it out a month early. In any case, it’s out now, and Ann loves this novel which follows one family and their experiences during the Great Migration.

Sailor Twain, written and illustrated by Mark Siegel, is an atmospheric graphic novel set on the Hudson River in 1887. Blending the lore of mermaids with the era of steamships, this tale tells the story of a lonely captain, the ship’s rakish owner and the sea creature whose beauty and song connect them.

  • The ALA has an award that is similar to “new adult,” it’s called the Alex Award. “The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.” And yes, Ready Player One is on there!

  • Carol Kubala

    When you started describing what “new adult” is, all I could think of is those college kids still eligible to be on their parent’s insurance. I tried to think of a different moniker to call this type of book. You know you’ve got those tween books, the in-between childhood and adolescence. The problem for me lies in deciding just the age these genres cover. Should we have a category for middle-age readers? You ask if we should start a senior citizen genre. I would qualify as senior but what does that really mean. I don’t think you can pigeon-hole readers by age necessarily. There may be very good reasons to break-out children’s and young adults materials but even these have wide age span appeal and appropriateness. My initial reaction is to pass on “new adult” and yet there is a bit of curiosity to see what books are suggested for this group.

    The 12 Ways to Cure a Reading Slump segment covered this topic quite well and should give all of us who find ourselves in this predicament a means to get over it. Trying one, or choosing a combination of your ideas could do the trick. Sometimes, I’m just too tired to read and this causes my slump. I find at these times, catching up on magazines may be better than jumping into something where my concentration will falter. It’s nice to know that most reading slumps are short-lived for those of us who love to read.

    And as for the recommendation of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, I’d take Ann’s recommendation over Oprah’s (sorry Oprah), anyday. It’s on my list.

    As always thanks for a thought provoking podcast.

  • Annette

    Just want to add my best tip for breaking a reading slump: listen to BOTNS! 😉

    • Anonymous

      Awe, thanks Annette!

  • Some really good advice to beat those slumps. Thanks guys! I really try to vary the kinds of books I read continuously, bouncing between all kinds of stuff. I found with reading a lot of early review books, I have to break them up with “sure bets” because the quality of early review books can get pretty bad sometimes.

  • Teresa

    Love your suggestions for getting out of a slump. I’ve applied a few of those in past slumps and they tend to work pretty well.

    Not really a fan of the “NA” genre name because I thought that YA WAS people from 18-23 or so, not a teenager. Wouldn’t teen books be under the genre of Teen? Seems like YA doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone else that it means to me. I don’t think of teens as “young adults”, I think of them as teenagers who will be young (and new) adults around the age of 18/19. I don’t know, it just seems kind of redundant to have the NA genre as described in the articles you’ve shared. I mean, i get it, the need some may feel for the actual NA genre but I don’t see the difference between YA and NA if the book is about an 18-year-old who is embarking on “new/young” adulthood, you know? I’m sure I’m in the minority but I just don’t see the distinction or need for one, but that’s okay, my genre interests are more geared by “type”, such as mystery, paranormal, romance, etc. I don’t feel like I need to put qualifiers in front of those things in order for myself to seek or enjoy books. That being said, the NA Alley is a pretty neat site!

    Now that I think about it, I guess what I really feel is that NA feels more like it should mean “new adult, fresh from teenhood” and YA should mean “young adult, around the ages of 20-25 who are figuring out what they want from life.” Maybe that’s my problem with NA, after all. NA and YA need their “definitions” flipped.

  • ElizabethG

    regarding Ann’s comment about a slump caused by reading a great book: when this happens to me, I seek out a Really Bad Book on purpose, to use as a “palate cleanser.” Once I read a bad book, even a sort of good one feels enticing. Note: you don’t have to get all the way through a Really Bad Book for it to be effective! Life’s too short!

  • ElizabethG

    re New Adult books:
    when I graduated from college, I realized for the first time that no one was assigning me anything to read–I had complete freedom to read Whatever I Liked. And I didn’t have to write a paper about it! So I decided to read classics that were never assigned to me that I might have missed out on. The first? Pride and Prejudice. I was instantly in love with books all over again, from classics to moderns.
    So, do we need New Adult? It makes me sad to think that we might. It suggests that people 18-25 are not quite adults yet. As a society, we keep postponing adulthood. And is that good? I tend to think not. If someone is old enough to vote, serve in the military, drink, get married, whatever… then they are old enough to read a book found in the regular fiction section of the bookstore. There’s plenty there that would be appealing to a person under 30. I certainly thought so.

  • ElizabethG

    A comment re reading slumps:
    When I’m in mourning for a really great book that I’ve recently finished reading, I will sometimes read a Really Bad Book (RBB) as kind of a palate cleanser. I find that I need only get through half of it before I’m ready to pick up something else. Life’s too short to read RBB’s!

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  • Julie C.

    First, I just have to say how happy I am that I found your podcast! It is one of my top five that I listen to each week without fail (It even keeps me entertained enough to get through my long runs!). I love reading and am a 6th grade teacher. I like how you said to try a YA novel for the reason that it is more tightly written. I also talk about reading “slumps” with my students and tell them that they need a break from the epic 500 page books that they like to read and tote around to look cool. It is okay to read an easier book for a “break” from the longer books. I have really seen this help students get excited about reading again.

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