Fantasy becomes new trend among teen readership

Daphne Yu

These books are just one of many on the "new books" cart and shelves. Photo by Muhammad Al-Rawi
With the “March Madness” surrounding basketball just around the corner, Daniel Boone Regional Library has decided to march to the same beat with its own weekly competition, Thirty-two books, one champion.
The “March Madness” contest offers prizes of free books and gift cards to Barnes and Noble for those who vote in each round.
Books that made the “Sweet Sixteen” follow the fantasy trend media specialist Gwen Struchtemeyer sees in the teen population today, where fiction books like “Clockwork Angel,” “The Maze Runner” and “Brisingr” dominate the list.
“What I think it says that fantasy is a very popular reading genre,” Struchtemeyer said. “There’s quite a bit of a dystopian theme as well. Pretty harsh, dystopic scenarios where main characters are killed off is reflective that readers want something is thrilling – maybe a little shocking – and dark, but also, there’s possibility for redemption. [In] a lot of these books there’s the idea of the person who perseveres in situations.”
This year, Struchtemeyer spent more than half of the yearly budget – around $14,000 – on fiction books. The library now houses 901 new novels, which made their debut today, Monday, March 5 on the “new books” shelves. Along with acquiring some recent book releases, Stuchtemeyer also ordered newer versions of books that RBHS no longer owns.
“Books walk away or they get lost or damaged, and we have to replace things,” Struchtemeyer said. “But clearly, somebody wants them. I’m fine with doing that. I mean, nobody really wants books to walk away, but I tell myself someone really needs it for whatever reason.”
RBHS spends around $2,000 a year on buying lost or damaged books and durable book covers, and processing often cost $25 to $35 per novel. So Struchtemeyer is careful to purchase books students show interest in. She noticed the rise of fiction throughout the months when students approached her to ask why the library didn’t have certain books or why sequels of fiction trilogies were missing.
With student feedback in mind, she ordered new books for the school year last fall, leaning towards fantasy. She compared the escapism theme of the recent Great Recession to that of the Great Depression, where fiction films such as “The Wizard of Oz” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” were the box office hits.
Now, with plethora of new books in stock and a book competition hosted by Daniel Boone Regional Library, teen readers and non-readers have the chance to pick up books they’ve never read before and transport themselves from the present world into adventurous and dangerous universes.
“I think that during hard economic times, people are more open to fantasy,” Struchtemeyer said. “People want to escape the reality of hard times.”
By Daphne Yu