On Research

Posted on April 17, 2010. Filed under: Books, Historical Fiction, Teen Fiction | Tags: , , , , |

I’m reading a few books recently that I picked up for the sole purpose of doing research. I’ll be honest. These are books that interest me on a simple reading level, but they’re also books that are apparently by authors who do very well in the Young Adult audience.

So what books am I reading? Well I’ll tell you.

I’ve finished reading two of the four that I have. The first book I picked up was titled The Luxe by Anna Godbersen. I have plans to do a separate post about this book because I want to analyze it a little more thoroughly. Godbersen’s series has four books, all of which detail life in early 20th century, rich Manhattan. Her characters are mainly young women whose lives seem charmed on the surface, but of course, there are facets to these women that can only be explored by reading the rest of the story.

Godbersen is touted as being on the New York Times bestseller list for her works, so I was looking forward to a treat. I wasn’t disappointed. With my love of historical fiction, hers was a perfect YA series to get into.

The second author I looked into was Sarah Dessen, another popular YA writer. I picked up two of her books and finished reading Just Listen a few days ago. Dessen writes contemporary fiction about girls who have problems. Simple enough, but Dessen’s writing style and the stories she weaves are full of controversy and intrigue enough to make even the youngest of readers sink their teeth into the novels.

I’ve actually really enjoyed Dessen’s stories even if I’m not in the target audience for them. She’s an excellent author.

So why do I tell you this?

Because I’m doing research for my own story. No, I didn’t pick up my genre. No, I’m not planning to find a good fantasy story for young adults to read anytime soon. The reason I’m not doing that is because I want to get a feel for my audience and not my genre.

I know it sounds weird, but bear with me. My purpose is simply to find out what it is young adults are reading. I want to see how writers to this audience change their tones or POVs to appeal to their readers. I want to read between the lines of the story and see the development of plot, the style, and the language that makes these books bestsellers.

If I were to pick up a YA fantasy novel, I know I’d end up focusing on the fantasy aspects and not on the language and other items that brand the story as targeted to younger readers. So I thought this would be a step in the right direction for me. I also picked up a how-to book on writing young adult fiction that sells.

What do you think? Overkill or heading in the right direction? I’m actually learning quite a bit as I enjoy these stories. It’s been an interesting journey in research.

All right, well, I’ve got to get ready for work now, so I’ll have to end this. I hope you’re all doing well, and I have news to report before I finish: I didn’t get the Target job. I’m still up in the air on Amazon, and I heard back about a South Korean ESL teaching position that would, in theory, begin on May 10. I’m not entirely sure how that’s going to work, but I’ll keep you updated!

I hope you all have wonderful Saturdays, and I am going to go out tonight and enjoy some well-deserved sushi with a coworker. What are your weekend plans?



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3 Responses to “On Research”

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Hi Rae,

I’m glad to see you make your triumphant return. I’m happy hear everything is going well with work.

Don’t worry if you’re not reading books in your demo, that’s actually a good habit to form. It’s good to know what’s making it to market…so to speak.

Anyway, glad you’re back and I hope you have fun eating your sushi tonight.


Sounds like a good idea just to become acquianted with the YA market in general. I’ve never read the Luxe books, but their covers are gorgeous. Writer/blogger Alyssa Goodnight has blogged about those books a few times and it always piques my curiosity.

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