What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
As superhero movies grow in popularity, we see a correlated spike in interest in superhero comics as well as the quality YA superhero novels that both DC and Marvel are putting out (like Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo and Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds).
Contemporary realistic fiction remains popular with the teen readers in my community. Many of our teen patrons participate in online fandom culture and have been excited to see the increasing number of books that focus on teens in online fandoms (such as Ship It by Britta Lundin, Chaotic Goodby Whitney Gardner, and Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde). I think that as time goes on, we’ll see more published authors who have truly grown up with these online fandoms and are able to represent them in fiction.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
I’m always looking for realistic graphic novels that are appropriate for tweens—I’d especially love to see some Raina Telgemeier read-alikes from #OwnVoices authors, like El Deafo by Cece Bell. I’m frequently asked for read-alikes for Wonder by R.J. Palacio and I’d love to have more #OwnVoices books by disabled authors to suggest—I often recommend Robert Hoge’s memoir, Ugly, but would like to have more fiction titles on hand.
The teens I work with are always looking for books that are in multibook series—still trying to find the next Harry Potter or Percy Jackson. Some of them won’t pick up a book if there’s only one out. I know it’s next to impossible for publishers/writers to put out a whole series at once, but that’s what a lot of our readers would want.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
I definitely believe that every book has its reader, and I think that any topic or trope can be fresh in the hands of the right author. That said, I’d love to bypass anything written about marginalized communities that comes from a place of stereotypes or misinformation.
What would you like to change about the publishing industry?
As a librarian, I’m not necessarily privy to all the ins and outs of the publishing industry, and I know there are people working within the publishing industry who want the best for readers and writers of color. I do know that, like librarianship, the publishing industry is very white, and it would benefit everyone to have more diverse perspectives represented in both of our professions. I’d love to see more focus given to #OwnVoices work, written by people other than straight, cisgender white people.
Anything else you’d like to add?
As someone who reads a lot of “bad” books, I overall believe that readers, especially young readers, should read whatever they like without feeling like they are guilty pleasures. However, I also think that as librarians we have an obligation to promote and provide books that thoughtfully and inclusively represent the world. I don’t necessarily worry about a teen who only wants to read books about vampires, but I do worry that someone who only reads books written by straight, cisgender white men is going to have an unfortunately limited perspective (and miss out on a ton of great books!).
Renata Sancken is a teen services librarian at Memorial Hall Library in Andover, Massachusetts. She is a member of the American Library Association and the Young Adult Library Services Association. She is also the co-host of the readers’ advisory podcast The Worst Bestsellers and a content editor for the graphic-novel review website No Flying No Tights.