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Beyond the Buzz: Overactive Imaginations

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This week I have a couple last posts in the Beyond the (Latest) Buzz series, where I’m asking YA & kidlit librarians as well as book bloggers to share books they think deserve more attention. Here’s a different take on this question from librarian Amber Couch… 


Guest post by Amber Couch

AmberCrouchMy name is Amber Couch, and I’m a middle school and high school librarian in rural, southwest Virginia. My students are always asking me if I’ve read all the books in the library. Not even close! But I have read a lot, and that made the task of choosing just a few books for this blog post a real challenge. As I walked around my library, I kept saying, “Oooo! I love that book. Wait, no, this one!” Even as I’ve written this post, I’ve changed my mind a few times.

One thing I noticed about all the books was that they really targeted my overactive imagination. In all of them, the author was able to write in such a way that I was transported into the world of the characters. I wish I could live there forever.

AnneofGreenSo, of course, my first book I want to share is Anne of Green Gables. Anne Shirley is the epitome of overactive imaginations, and I was sure she was my absolute bosom friend. Lucy Maud Montgomery set the bar for how I measured all future best friends, and no boy would ever be as wonderful as Gilbert Blythe. Anne and her world made such an impression on me that college papers would be written about her, my best friends had red hair, and even my cat is named after her. Anne lived life with such joy and saw the world as magical. I try to embrace that every day. When students say they want something lighthearted, maybe some adventure or comedy, this is the first book I direct them to.

PreyWhen I got to high school, I started reading a lot of Michael Crichton novels. My biology teacher read Jurassic Park aloud to us when we were learning about genetics, and I was hooked. Michael Crichton scares me! And again, that’s because of my overactive imagination. His books (hopefully) couldn’t actually happen, but they are grounded in enough scientific fact that it makes you wonder. His scariest book, and my favorite, is Prey. This is a story about little nanobots that fly around in swarms and can get under your skin and possess you. The whole time I was reading it there was a buzzing in my ears and my skin was crawling. I would see a swarm of gnats and start wondering if there were actually microscopic robots coming to attack me. It didn’t help that the story took place within a few hours of where I lived. Michael Crichton was able to make the impossible seem almost plausible, which terrified me. When students ask for horror books, I always try to steer them towards his shelf.

FinnikinRecently I read Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta. This is the type of book I wish I could write—fantasy, complete with wizards, magical beasts, sword fights, and princesses never really in distress. It reminded me so much of the books I kept hidden in high school for fear I would be too much of a nerd. Books like The Belgariad by David Eddings, The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. To this day I want to believe that somewhere there really is a world where magic is possible, dragons soar through the skies, and knights ride in to save the day. Finnikin is the perfect hero and Melina’s book does a wonderful job of writing action scenes that get your blood pumping and tender scenes to warm your heart. I cry every time I read the ending and fall completely in love with Finnikin. I’m so excited that she has written a sequel, and I can’t wait to start reading my library’s copy. When students want fantasy adventures, this is right where I direct them.

One thing I’ve noticed about the books that get overlooked in my library is that they generally are older. Students want the books with the shiny covers that came out yesterday. If I tell a student that a book was one of my favorites when I was their age, they will generally put it back. The Fudge books by Judy Blume were my life in 4th grade and are still incredibly relevant. But, students don’t seem to be as interested anymore. So, my advice when trying to find a good book is don’t forget about those books that are older. Just because they were written before you were born does not mean they are a boring book. There’s a reason we call them classics, and I think it’s time to start giving that title to more amazing books.

If you have an older book recommendation for me, I would love to hear it. You can find me on twitter: @acouchwriter.


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Want more in the Beyond the (Latest) Buzz series?

Here are the posts in the series so far:

  • YA/middle-school librarian Jennifer Hubert Swan recommends Better Than Running at Night and Every Time a Rainbow Dies
  • YA librarian Kelly Jensen recommends a whole host of books including Sorta Like a Rock StarFirst Day on EarthFrost, and more
  • Youth services librarian Liz Burns recommends The President’s Daughter, Flora Segunda, and All Unquiet Things
  • YA librarian Angie Manfredi recommends Rats Saw God
  • YA librarian Abby Johnson recommends the top five books she read this year: The Berlin Boxing Club; Blizzard of Glass; Dogtag Summer; Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have; and A Girl Named Faithful Plum 
  • Book blogger Kari Olson from A Good Addiction recommends books including Freefall, I Swear, Like Mandarin, and more
  • Book blogger Wendy Darling from The Midnight Garden recommends UltravioletA Certain Slant of Light, and The Reapers Are the Angels
  • Book blogger Nicole from WORD for Teens recommends The Lost Years of Merlin
  • Librarian and children’s literature professor Laura Lutz from Pinot and Prose recommends New York City novels Kiki Strike, Better Nate Than Ever, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, The Night Tourist, Suite Scarlett, and Undertown
  • Book blogger and children’s literature MFA student Mackenzi Lee recommends Millions
  • Book columnist and reviewer Colleen Mondor recommends For Liberty
  • Book blogger Kellie at the Re-Shelf recommends Andromeda Klein, The Door in the Hedge, Dramarama, Leverage, I Do, Kill Me Softly, Secret Society Girl, and The Wicked and the Just 
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2 thoughts on “Beyond the Buzz: Overactive Imaginations

  1. I love, love, love Anne of Green Gables + the rest of the books. It’s one of my favorite series, and I felt much the same way about Anne. (And Gilbert too, of course!). I really am wanting to read this series again, and I hope I get around to it :)

    And I just recently read Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles – and both are EXCELLENT. I absolutely cannot wait to partake of Quintana of Charyn, because I just need to know how this series goes on!

    Hooray for bringing attention to older books :)

  2. I also love Anne of Green Gables–that whole series actually. And I LOVE Finnikin of the Rock–really any book by Melina Marchetta. I’m always amazed when people say, “Never heard of her.”

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