Friday Friends: Booklovers: M. B. Lee

Happy #FridayFriends!  We are doing something different today and featuring Booklovers!  I’m delighted to introduce you to my friend M. B. Lee who is a teacher and an avid reader.  I have been most impressed with her book selections and her words about them. She uses Goodreads, and really uses it well- updates and reviews and recommendations.  Let’s talk books! Hi, M.B.!


Mary Beth Lee

I should preface all of these answers by first stating that I mostly read YA (Young Adult). I am a teacher but that is not the only reason. In fact a lot of the YA I read is too mature for my middle school students. I love teen characters because it is such a time of discovery and growth. With any reading, I am 100% character driven. I often say I don’t need a plot, of course I do – but it is secondary. If I can’t connect with the characters, I’m not into the book.

1. What are you reading right now?
I am currently reading Three Day Summer by Sarvenaz Tash. It is a duel narrative YA (On the older side of YA – college age) romance set during Woodstock in 1969. So far I don’t know if is very good yet. I think it will be an easy summer read.

2. What did you read last?
This summer had been a great summer for reading so I’m going to gush about my favorite recent book. Everyone should read The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. It is a beautiful poignant coming of age story that will wreck you in all the right ways. I don’t want to tell too much because going in blind gave me a pure reading experience. I loved these characters, I wanted to know them and wanted them to exist in real life. I hope this becomes one of these books that everyone reads not just teens, like The Fault in Our Stars. I thought it was even better than The Fault in Our Stars.

3. What book has most influenced you?
Professionally, The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller changed and inspired the way we do literature at school. The key to creating life long readers and improving reading is independent reading, and student choice is crucial because the more they read the better they will read. It was such a confirmation of what I already believed and backed up by research. If you are a teacher, it is a must read.

I have started writing my own fiction recently and the writings of Rainbow Rowell, Gayle Forman, and other YA authors have influenced me.

4. How many books did you read last year?
40+ books

5. What book would you recommend for your younger self?
I wish so many of the books I’ve read over the last few years were around when I was young. I would recommend anything by Rainbow Rowell but especially Fangirl; every girl should read this book before she goes to college. I would also recommend the following books:
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
The Stoker Holmes Series by Colleen Gleason
The Legend Series by Marie Lu
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys (Not 50 Shades – This is YA historical fiction)
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
A Mad Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
Almost everything by Gayle Forman
Oh I could go on and on!

6. What book have you disliked?
In high school the book I really hated was Tess by Thomas Hardy. (Spoiler Alert) I remember thinking could she have just died in the first chapter and saved us all the torture.
I have very strong opinions about YA literature. In realistic YA fiction, I am trouble by many books that focus around narcissistic female characters who emotionally torture the male characters who practically worship them. I think the following books fall in this category:
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (In my opinion, this horrible book also dealt flippantly with teen suicide.)
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Paper Towns by John Green
The Haters by Jesse Andrews
(But I will always give John Green a chance because of The Fault in Our Stars and Jesse Andrews for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl which were wonderful.)

7. Do you prefer a genre?
I love all the different genres that are out there for YA.
I didn’t use to like fantasy but dystopian books like Divergent & The Hunger Games where my gateway drug into fantasy and now I love a lot of YA fantasy including the Graceling Series by Kristen Cashore and all those Shadowhunter books by Cassandra Clare.
I also love realistic fiction and historical fiction and romance.

8. A popular book is becoming a film. Do you read the book first, or see the movie first?
It depends. Yes if it’s the type of book or genre that I think I would be interested in any way; if it seems like my kind of story. For example, I read Me Before You by Jojo Moyes because I knew I wanted to see the movie and had been planning on reading the book based on a friend’s recommendation. But I didn’t read Gone Girl, (yes I am the one person in America) because that is not really my type of story, but I really like the actors who were in the movie and wanted to see it before the Oscars. If I see the movie, I don’t usually go back and read the book.

9. What would be the title of your life story?

Ooh hard question! I always tell my students who are struggling for a title to wait to end because it is often in that final clincher. So perhaps To Be Continued

10. What is one thing you have learned from books?
I think one of the most important things we learn from reading is empathy. In literature, I get to meet people wouldn’t necessarily meet in my real life and care for them and their stories.

11. Is there anything you would like to add?
As usual I was very wordy, but I am open to further questions and discussions.

You can find my friend M. B. on Goodreads!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Leave us a comment!



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