There's an ever growing pile of books I want to read…
So… I’m back!
A while ago, I gave myself too many deadlines. It’s easily enough done. I thought to myself ‘I can definitely make time for all these things! I’m like Wonder Woman crossed with a ninja crossed with a leopard! I can do EVERYTHING!”
Then what happened was that I tried to work a 60 hour week, study for my degree, keep up with my blog and still make time for my relationships with friends and family.
And I fell apart a bit at the edges. Things started to slip through the cracks, the way they do when you’re juggling 13 commitments and you can really only handle 8 or 9 of them.
But I’m back and I’ve got a brand new job that doesn’t require me to work a 60 hour week, never take a break and spend a couple of hours a day commuting. I have so much extra time and energy that’s it’s just plain ridiculous. Plus, I can actually enjoy spending time in bookstores now that I don’t have to worry about how well they’re merchandised, how much money they’re making and how to make a perfect cappuccino.
And now that I’m no longer surrounded by books (this is a lie, my flat is FULL of books), one of my priorities is to make sure I keep reading, stay on top of what’s out there and tell everyone I know about the books that I enjoy.
Anyway, enough about me. Let’s talk about the real reason we’re here. Let’s talk about how amazing Kody Keplinger is!
If you think you haven’t heard of Kody Keplinger, you’re probably wrong. She’s the author of The DUFF, which was just made into a movie starring Mae Whitman. I watched this a few days ago and it was pretty good. Not as good as the book. (They never are. Actually, sometimes they are. Maybe I can write about that in another blog post sometime.)
The DUFF was the first Kody Keplinger book I ever read and it was recommended to me at a party by my friend Nicole (before we were friends). She actually did such a good job selling it to me, that I picked up a copy that evening and started it on the train on the way home.
DUFF stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend – the girl to talk to at parties to make yourself look good in front of her better looking friends, the least attractive girl in a group of friends, the girl you don’t want to date.
Bianca, the heroine of The DUFF, is horrified when an attractive (but obnoxious) guy tells her that’s what she is. She throws her drink over him and leaves. The trouble is that the idea that she might be ugly, fat and generally unappealing makes her feel that way. She loses her confidence and starts to see herself that way too. And then she makes some bad choices.
The thing about this book that really made me fall for Kody Keplinger as an author is that the book doesn’t judge Bianca. Although there is sex in this book, there isn’t slut shaming. It also takes a long hard look at how teenage girls are seen only in terms of how attractive they are.
The second Kody Keplinger book that I picked up was A Midsummer’s Nightmare. I got this one free from Books With Bite and I didn’t read it for a long time. It took me a weirdly long time to realise that it was written by the author of The DUFF. I didn’t make the connection until I’d almost finished it. And then it made sense.
A Midsummer’s Nightmare is a perfect book to read on the beach in the sun, or curled up in a chair indoors whilst it pours with rain outside, whichever kind of summer you happen to be having.
Whitley is ANGRY about her dad’s perfect new life with his perfect new family in their perfect town. She’s the kind of angry that turns a person self-destructive and makes them say things that they don’t really mean. And she’s especially angry that the guy she just had a one-night-stand with is actually her new stepbrother.
This is a really well crafted story that makes you like and empathise with Whitley, even as she’s horrible to everyone around her. You’ll find yourself really wanting things to get better for her. (Don’t worry, they do!)
Shut Out was a book I picked up specifically because it was by Kody Keplinger and I knew that she wouldn’t let me down. It’s a sex positive story about what happens when the girls of Hamilton High unite to end a feud between the (American) football team and the (soccer) football team – by depriving their boyfriends of sex until the feud is over.
Like The Duff, there’s no room for slut shaming in this story. Some characters try it and they get shut down. This is a story about teenage girls really finding a way to understand one another. Some of the characters are virgins, some are not, some like sex a lot, some… don’t. And that’s all okay, the way it should be in real life.
And if you’re thinking that I’ve made all these books sound a bit too issue-focused, don’t worry! They all have excellent romance plots running through them as well. Excellent romance plots where guys take off their shirts and have feelings.
They’re just about other things too. And that’s great.
In my last week as the manager of a bookshop, I spend over £100 on books (and yes, that was after my staff discount was applied). One of the books I bought was the new Kody Keplinger book, Lying Out Loud. I know it’s going to be awesome so I’m saving it for a rainy day when I need a body-positive, sex-positive, teenage-girl positive romance. I’m sure the day will come. And I’ll be ready. Do you need a book like that in your life too?