Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It's Meet-a-blogger Day!

As part of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I've had the pleasure of interviewing Katie, a twenty-five year old YA librarian from the Chicago area, who blogs at Read What You Know. Katie has only been blogging since June, so obviously this is her first BBAW--she hopes that participating in BBAW will help her cement her book blogging and make new blogging friends. Katie says, "When I'm not blogging, reading, or being a librarian, I can be found in any of the local Chicago theatres, watching Broadway musicals. I just love them." Read on to get to know more about Katie. And, if all goes well, there will be an interview with me on Katie's blog at some point today. Seeing as I spaced on sending her the answers to her questions until, er (:::Ali checks her watch:::) 14 minutes ago, we'll allow her some slack, shall we?

Edited: Katie got my interview posted in an astounding 23 minutes! You rock, Katie!

What's the highlight of your job as a YA librarian?

That's an easy one -- sharing books with teens. My day is made when I have a teen come into the library just to chat about a book they've been reading. Or if they come into the library to talk about school and then ask me what's new in the section.

Do you have an opinion about adults who blog about teen books, just because we like them?

I think that teen books need adults just as much as they need teens. Adults are the ones who control a lot of the book industry. Adults choose the books to be published, choose the books sent to libraries and bookstores, and choose to read these books of course! Anyone who loves books should be happy that people are reading books, no matter how old the reader or the intended book audience.

Have there been any books you've thought teens would love, that they surprised you by not generally liking them as much as you thought?

The "Blue Bloods" series didn't go over like I thought it would. When I heard about the books, I thought they were genius -- marrying the "Gossip Girl" and "Twilight" population in one series. But I think the book wound up being too melded. Not enough gossip and drama, not enough blood-sucking fiends and love triangles. But it has found it's own audience, it just wasn't who I expected to check it out.

How about books teens love that you just don't see the appeal of?

I see the appeal of horror and zombies, but I have a hard time getting into them personally. I've had "The Forest of Hands and Teeth" checked out for nearly two weeks at this point (our checkout time is three) and I keep putting it off. I'm scared of the possible gore!

Are there blogs or other sources you routinely turn to for reviews of YA books when deciding what to read/order?

Absolutely. I read a *bunch* of YA review blogs, both professional and non-professional. I try to read across a wide variety of ages too. So, yes, I read teen blogs and adult blogs. I love using the amazing resources that YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) puts out every year, including the BBYA (Best Books for Young Adults) committee's work and other booklists. I also read VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates) -- a special review journal/magazine that only reviews young adult books. I also let my teens do a fair amount of selection. They know that they can always request a book and I'll do my best to get it in the collection.

I'm curious about the population of teens you serve--is it pretty diverse? What sorts of things do you do to meet the needs of teens of varied backgrounds?

I serve an incredibly diverse population. At the 2000 census, my community was 54% Hispanic/Latino. We are predicting that the number is actually closer to 75% for the 2010 census. The rest of the community is split about half and half between African-Americans and Caucasians.

I have the benefit of being raised in this community my whole life, so it's easy for me to relate to my teens because they know I went to their high school and they see me around the neighborhood, eating out at the local pizza place and shopping. (Like Target. Every time I go, I run into someone from the library!)

One of the things that I really try my hardest to do is to listen to what teens want. Some of my teens really take to reading Hispanic authors like Isabel Allende, Sandra Cisneros, and René Saldaña. Some of my teens don't want to read Hispanic authors. What I try to do is to present options to them. So, I stock a little bit of everything and make sure to let them know that whatever their reading choice is, it's fine by me.

Do you ever take the time to read books that aren't YA?

Yes! Occasionally, heh. I actually made a New Year's Resolution to try and read a bit more out of YA. It hasn't gone so well... Right now, I'm reading "Columbine" by Dave Cullen. I have "Julie and Julia" by Julie Powell (43 holds), "The Lost Symbol" by Dan Brown (somewhere around 558 holds), and "Her Fearful Symmetry" by Audrey Niffenegger (71 holds) all on hold at the library. Mostly popular reads.

How about a favorite book (or top 2-3) of the year?

Yikes. I think this is the hardest question yet. I loved "Jellicoe Road" by Melina Marchetta (this year's Printz Award winner) and refused to read another book for about a week after I finished it. "Hate List" by Jennifer Brown ripped my heart out, stomped on it, and mended it all under 420 pages. And of course, I read both "The Hunger Games" and "Catching Fire" and spoiler-free, cannot wait until the third book comes out. "Fire" by Kristin Cashore was also beautiful. I can't wait until it's out in the world. It's been a great year for YA.

It's been great getting to know you, Katie, and I hope BBAW turns out to be all you had hoped it would be!


  1. Thanks, Ali. It's been a great BBAW so far!

  2. good interview and now i'll go check out her blog...

  3. Enjoyed! Ali, glad you interviewed Katie, otherwise I might not have learned about her. You know I'll be visiting her blog.

    Nice to meet you Katie.

  4. Great interview! It's so nice to know there are passionate librarians out there.

  5. I've had to really push myself to read some non-YA this year because YA is just sooo awesome lately.

  6. That was great. Loved Jellicoe Road. Now I will really make room for Hate List. Katie made it sound so good. I'll be visiting are blog as well.

    And Welcome Back, Ali

  7. Thank you, Doret! I think you'd like Hate List.

  8. Great interview! I enjoy "meeting" new-to-me book bloggers through these interviews!

  9. Great interview! Now I'm off to read about YOU.

  10. what an influence you can have on the teens in your area! that's fantastic.