Thursday, January 19, 2012

Discussion: Audience

I was recently invited to be part of a group that chooses the required summer reading for my school. After discussing with the group during our first meeting what we should be generally looking for, I realized that I should be looking to nominate not necessarily my favorite books, but the books that would appeal to the audience we were choosing for - namely, teenagers, many of whom have not picked up a book for pleasure in years.

I run into this issue with surprising frequency. One of my best friends, as fun as he is, is not a reader. (We make fun of each other for reading too much, or not enough, all the time.) I've been on a quest to find a book for him for some time. For him in particular, I decided I need to find a graphic novel to pique his interest.

But back to the matter of the summer reading book. Whereas with my non-reader friend, I know that he could love a graphic novel if I could find him the perfect one, it's a little more difficult with a required reading book for a large audience. Much as I'd like to require everyone to read Rapunzel's Revenge, that doesn't seem like the right choice. With a large group of people, we have to figure out what the largest audience will enjoy.

I figure for this kind of audience, the book would need:
  • Action
  • Romance (but not too much!)
  • Good writing
  • Thought-provoking
  • Appeals to both boys and girls
  • Not too long
  • Fast read (not too dense)
  • Accessible (in terms of connecting with characters, etc.)
  • Both students and teachers can enjoy

The question is now, what kind of book has all of these things?

I came up with... dystopia. It has action, social commentary, usually romance, character development, good writing and appeal to both girls and boys.
What's not to like?

I know I left a couple of fantastic dystopians out (Shatter Me, Wither, etc.) but here are some of the choices I thought the largest percentage of people would enjoy.

What do you think?
What kind of books will be enjoyable to the largest audience? What are some of your recommend-to-everyone books? What books have I left out that I should be considering? Leave your thoughts in the comments section!


Ray said...

My issue with dystopia is that it is often very violent and I find them upsetting to read. It brings up troubling issues that I struggle with - a reason I still haven't read Divergent and disliked the Hunger Games so much. You can never please everyone, finding a book for the majority is a lucky choice. Chances are, most kids won't read the book so part of me says "Why choose a book for them that they won't read?" but at the same time I understand why we have to. I say pick something new and exciting that way no one can be biased about it. A lot of the books on that table looked interesting but very much the same. I want something new and different, not the monotonous plots trying to please everyone. If pleasing everyone gets you nowhere in life, why do the same with writing? However I honor your opinions and know that they reflect the ideals of our school and the rest of the committee.

Small Review said...

I can't not mention Waterfall :) It's on the longer side and it's part one of a trilogy, but it's about in line lengthwise with the other books you mentioned.

It has a TON of action. Almost non-stop. There's romance, but it's clean and it doesn't overpower the plot at all. I think the writing is good but definitely accessible to people of various reading levels.

It also brings up a bunch of different points and various situations can be discussed. While the main character is a girl, I can see guys enjoying the series too because of all the action. I've also seen teens and adults enjoy it. I adore the characters too. :)

Small Review said...

Oh, by Waterfall I meant this Waterfall :)

Pica said...

Ray - Great points. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Small- Great idea! Waterfall seems like a fantastic book to suggest to the committee. (And thanks for reminding me of the series - I really need to read it!)

Does anyone else have any other ideas? What would you recommend to all your friends? Librarians, what do you give to all your patrons?


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