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Sunday, March 24, 2013

"New Adult" Fiction

There's been a lot of talk on Twitter about "New Adult" books. Novels about first jobs, life outside high school and beyond college are gaining popularity and their own marketing niche. And I just realized ---we were all new adults once.

Somewhere near grown-up, I imagined earning a degree in Library Science. I wondered what being a librarian was all about. I'd met quite a few (cool, diverse, tattooed) librarians, but wanted to get even more of a picture about normal library life. And it's funny, but movie and t.v. portrayals of librarians are not so realistic. Katharine Hepburn and Parker Posey aside, I was looking for some role models.

And that's when I turned to fiction. Looking through the OPAC, I searched for stories about life in the stacks, or in school libraries, or academia. And didn't find too much, I'm afraid. I was new to library studies; I wasn't such a great searcher. And there was no such thing as crowd sourcing on social media back then. Or even blogs. But I wanted to read it---not just cozy mysteries or kids' stories. I guess I was looking for New Adult fiction about starting a career. I wanted to put on the costume and wear it by reading a character’s version of the life. Or get a peek in the fiction window of a fun-loving children’s services specialist instead of a chick-lit designer shoe-wearing journalist. 

Honestly, I didn't get what I was looking for from Stones from the River; there was more to inspire me in strange libraries found in graphic novels. I kind of knew "Sandman" and Garth Nix characters didn't have realistic libraries, but still got something out of those books.

Nevertheless, here's my new insight; not all quests for information require non-fiction to fulfill that need. If a topic is of interest, a reader may enjoy narrative description and stories as well as facts. It’s even a learning experience in itself to determine whether a book is accurate and reliable in depicting the subject at hand. There are truths in fiction that you would never get from the facts. Non-fiction can create understanding, and fiction can create empathy; two important ways to know the world.

Just like I wanted to read a novel about exciting, young, fashionable, well-paid, new NYC librarians. 

That would have been, well…very enlightening and accurate indeed.

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