I recently revealed to my thesis adviser that I have a deep dark secret–I love genre fiction. I love it so much, I want to write genre stories rather than those in the literary style that most of my peers focus on. I was expecting judgement and a few head shakes, I mean–what am I doing in grad school and not wanting to write straight up literature? Well, as it turns out, my program and thesis director are even more awesome than I previously thought. Not only was my director extremely supportive of my love affair with genre, but he insisted that I work it into my thesis (which, let’s be honest, was headed that way anyway).
Since my thesis is basically about three high school girl being horrible to each other, involving a murder plot using a peanut allergy over school rankings, scholarship and boys (and what isn’t YA about that), my adviser suggested I look into adding some YA titled to me reading list. This thrills me–I get to add some trashy, albeit “research related” YA fiction to my reading list.
So I have decided to add at least two YA fiction novels to the “Personal Choice” portion of my reading list:
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern
While reading the summaries from these books, I couldn’t help but cringe a little. They sound cliche, awkward and a little to young for me. But they deal with some key issues that I’ll be working through in my own thesis. It’s sparked sort of a mixture of feelings. Excitement about the fact that I get to read genre fiction for my reading list, (which is supposed to be work!), but still some concern with how good these books will actually be. But my reading list isn’t final yet, so if anyone has any suggestions on some good and insightful YA fiction I should read, please let me know! Now that it’s winter bread, I am gonna get a running start on my reading list and the sooner I finalize it, the better!
The take-away from all this is that research is important for any piece of writing, even if it’s just reading within the the genre or style that you are working in. Agents want to know how your work fits in the market and if it will even stand out in a sea of like-minded books. Is your writing different or innovative? How will it take a different approach to an otherwise well-worked concept? These are questions I actually have to answer in my Thesis Rationale (which is submitted along with my finalized reading list). Basically I will be explaining everything I mentioned above in addition to why the books on my reading list will help me in my thesis-writing pursuits. This is something to consider if you’re writing your own thesis, or even if you’re just writing a story that you plan on sending out soon. Knowing where you stand in the market and knowing how to sell your work in a way that demonstrates how it is innovative is important.
But seriously, any suggestions for my reading list? :)