Matt de la Pena,the NYT, darkness in YA, Clive Cussler, and why I read

Forgive my refusal to engage in complete sentences today.  Scattershot list of things inspiring today’s post:

1.  Kerfuffle on Twitter and Blogosphere about darkness in YA (I’m not even going to link to it) and a call for ratings on books (again… google yourself if you want such silliness).

2.  Being too tired to read much after writing so hard.

3.  Fifty Shades of Grey and a recent Clive Cussler novel dominate the NYT bestseller lists this week.

4.  Great essay in the New York Times by YA author Matt de la Pena (follow the links!) about reading solely for escape.  And while I insist you read the whole essay, this quote knocked me on my ass:

If there’s such a thing as emotional gravity, it’s the invisible force that continually pulls humans back down to their natural resting state of melancholy. Life is sad, man.

5.  A friend’s recent comment that she reads for “hope.”

6. Kristen Stewart’s recent rant about Twilight, criticism, and fame in Vanity Fair.

If you are wondering where I am going with all of this… so am I.  If I were Chuck Wendig, I’d thrown in a lot of expletives here.  But I’m not so I’ll go for a few semi-coherent thoughts.

The YA that I read (and write) is both weighty and hopeful.  I don’t read much wish-fulfillment YA (like Twilight) because it makes me feel yucky the way glossy fashion mags make me feel yucky.  It makes me feel that I am insufficient and my life is not worth much.  I don’t read much literary adult fiction because there’s so much soul-breaking and so little hope.  I don’t read mass market adult fiction because it’s dumb.

I don’t throw stones at reading for escape.  I do that too, but I insist that the world I escape to be fully-realized, compelling, and touch me in some meaningful way.  I don’t mind if it is brutal or “dark” (gasp), but I like it best when there’s hope.  I want to emerge thinking that I am sufficient to the challenges of life.

So there you go… ramble on!