Let's Talk: Issue Books

Friday, August 31, 2012

Let's Talk is a new weekly feature here at i swim for oceans. I think it's important that we all have our say, and there's something to be said for raising our voices. Simply put, here on the little old blog, I like to host some of my very own discussion posts because, well, I like to converse with you all.

And so, Let's Talk will feature questions or prompts, which I will answer, too. Love it or hate it, weigh in or don't, it's my hope that Let's Talk will at least get you thinking...and maybe even get you discussing with the rest of us!
Question: Do you like issue books? Why, or why not?

When I first started blogging, I don't think I even had the first clue what a real issue-based book was. I mean, I knew that there was contemporary fiction, and I knew that I didn't enjoy it for the most part. I found it to be riddled with cliches and, frankly, lacking any true semblance of human emotion. That, in a nutshell, made it impossible for me to make any sort of connection with the characters. It wasn't until I started actually reviewing books that I began to understand the difference between straight contemps and issue-based books.

Over time, I've come to love a good issue book, and my reasons are pretty simple. If I want to read about real life, I want it to be really real. I mean, I want to feel something when I read a book. I don't want to see some glossy and pristine little image that paints a picture nobody really knows. If I decide to pick up a book about a real issue like abuse, I want to actually be able to put myself in the shoes of the character because if I can't, then the issue misses the mark.

I realize that issue books aren't for everyone. I love a good sci-fi, fantasy or paranormal novel as much as the next person, but I'll admit that I have a very big soft spot for issue books. I think, when done really well, they have the ability to reach a reader on a much deeper level, and I envy that raw, intimate writing style. It's definitely a gift. So, in the spirit of sharing, below are my top four issue books.

Bitter End by Jennifer Brown...The Right & The Real by Joelle Anthony

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson...Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar


  1. I love issue books as well! I have to be in a certain kind of mood to really WANT to read them but normally once I get started, I'm fine. There's just a way that they grab you and reach you on such a close, personal level... I love it. Feeling that depth of emotion isn't something I get in all contemps (or books, period) but I really appreciate them in these kinds of books.

    Also, I've only read Wintergirls from your list. I'll definitely have to check the others out! Thanks for sharing <3

  2. Such great points you've made. I actually just read Raw Blue and I totally agree with what you said in terms of that book. I definitely experienced Carly's emotions and FELT her journey. I'll have to look for the other ones. This is my second week joining you! I love the concept of Let's Talk Fridays and I hope you do more of them!

  3. I usually read for an escape from reality but I can appreciate the importance of books like these.

  4. If an issue book is well done (with a realistic portrayal, in most cases), I truly enjoy it. Just finished Wintergirls recently, and man, oh man, did it make me feel emotionally charged.

  5. I don't do them. But I'm glad they are out there for the right people.

  6. I just wanted to say I was curious when I found this meme if you will. I have a feature on my blog "Let's Talk Friday" as well. I promise I didn't know there was this feature existing already. Anyways, hi :)

  7. When I first started blogging I never read contemporary or issue books. I've gotten into them lately and there's some great stuff out there! It doesn't all have to be fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi. Although, I would never give up those kinds of books, but issue books are important for teens...well everyone! It's nice to have variety. Great post.

  8. I used to be pretty anti-issue book because they can be so uncomfortable - but as time goes by, I've started looking for that more. Like you - if I read a book I want to FEEL something.

  9. I need to read Winter Girls and Raw Blue! I will. I will read them.

    Great post, Melissa.

  10. I don't like 'issue books' because they make me too sad. When I read books I want to escape from all the BS so I tend to avoid books that I know will get me down.


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