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September 13, 2013

Teen Board: A Book Hipster’s Guide, Part One

Every year, it seems that a new series takes teenagers by storm. Everyone’s reading it, everyone’s talking about it, and --- surprise! --- they’re making a movie out of it. The series paraphernalia is strung up all over the mall, and it seems you can’t escape the endless cycle of movie trailers on TV.

So you decide to give the book a try. Within the first 10 pages, a sinking feeling pulls at your heart (and sometimes your wallet). As your eyes pass over each word, you start to realize that you hate the protagonist. You spot plot holes big enough to drive a truck through. And is that a grammatical error on page 54?!
With growing irritation, you realize that you hate one of the most popular series of the year. Which is perfectly fine --- you can’t possibly love every book that becomes a New York Times bestseller. But what happens when you hate nearly every book that has become a New York Times bestseller?

Do not fret, beloved reader. Though I own the entire Hunger Games series and half of the Mortal Instruments series, I do admit to being an unabashedly picky and critical person, especially with YA novels. I’ve found that I hardly like most of the books that my fellow teens fan over and that I almost always can’t stand the protagonist. Does that make me a bit unlikable? Probably. Does that make wading the waters of book discussions difficult? Yes, yes it does.

So I’ve devised a simple, three-step guide to coping with this debilitating state of hipsterness. Hopefully it will aide you, beloved reader, in all of your literary conquests as it has mine.

Step One: Read the popular book of the year and see what all the fuss is about. If you’re lucky, you might fall in love with whatever’s popular, like I did with the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Remember, it’s not wrong to like what’s hip. Oftentimes, something’s popular for a reason. Heck, it might even give you what you’ve been searching for all along. If it weren’t for Katniss, I would’ve given up hope for popular, strong, female leads. And if you don’t like it? Well, that leads us to step two.

Step Two: Analyze it. I don’t want this to sound like your freshman English class, but it’s true --- sometimes you've got to take a magnifying glass to the books you read. It’s always good to have an answer to the inevitable “why?” when you tell someone that you dislike a book. There are times, however, when you don’t like something just because, and that’s perfectly okay, too. I didn’t like GRACELING by Kristin Cashore just because, even though Katsa was a totally awesome protagonist.

Step Three: Accept your feelings. When I was a freshman, I would always feel bad about not liking a book that everyone else liked. I thought there was something that I was missing and too obtuse to see. But, of course, that wasn’t true. I just had a different taste in books than my friends did and eventually came to accept that. The only downside to being a picky reader is being left out of conversations. If you’re ever stuck, you could always casually mention your own literary vice and get your friends interested in the same genres as you are. That’s how I managed to get my bff to read YOUTH IN REVOLT by C.D. Payne.

So there you have it. A very simple, step-by-step guide to being a book hipster. Though there are many facets to us and many different forms of book hipster (I’m looking at you, literature snobs), we can all hopefully try to stick together and survive the next treacherous year of not liking popular things.