Shortform Reads: You’re Never Too Old for a YA Novel

Which genre does Hannah find to be cringey? What childhood experience sparked her love of YA fantasy?

Hannah’s the lead editor for the SEO team here at Shortform—she edits and writes copy for the blog. She’s from New Hampshire but has a passion for visiting other countries around the world.

Our Interview With Hannah

Here’s what Hannah had to say about some of her favorite books, genres, and more.

What’s your favorite book and why?

I always struggle with questions like these, because I can never pick a “favorite” anything. But, if I think back to all the books that I’ve read in the last 10 years, one that stands out is The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. It’s one of the lesser-known books from his Angels and Demons series—probably because it didn’t get a Tom Hanks movie adaptation. But, in my opinion, it was the best in the series.

Another would be the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman. I read it once when I was younger and once after college, and I found even more meaning in the books as I got older.

What are you reading these days?

I recently re-read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Back in high school, it was the only book I was forced to read that I devoured in one night, so I was interested in reading it more than 12 years later to see if it hit the same. I’m pleased to say that it resonated even more this time.

I’m currently in the middle of reading Vagabonding by Rolf Potts and so far I’m loving it. It’s actually the book that inspired Tim Ferriss to travel the world for 18 months and then write The 4-Hour Workweek.

As for what’s next on my reading list, I’m not quite sure yet. I did recently pick up a copy of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma that I started and need to finish.

If you could have a dinner party with any three authors—dead or alive—who would they be and why?

To be completely honest, I don’t think I’d want to meet any of my favorite authors. Sometimes my enjoyment of a book can be ruined when I learn too much about the author, the process of writing it, and the inspiration behind certain things. It’s like having a magician reveal the secrets behind their magic tricks.

What’s your favorite genre? Why does it intrigue you?

I like adventure and fantasy novels, particularly YA. I love being sucked into a world that doesn’t exist, especially when the author is an amazing world-builder.

On the other side of the spectrum, I love reading true travel stories. They inspire me to travel to countries I wouldn’t have thought of before.

Are there any book genres or tropes that you dislike or refuse to read?

I find romance novels extremely cringey. I’ve actually never read a strictly romance novel, but I cringe even when authors try to force too much romance in any story. I’m sure there’s a book out there somewhere where it’s done well, but I haven’t read that book yet, and all the romance I’ve read has been forced and uncomfortable.

What’s your favorite way to read a book?

I will always love physical books the best—especially the way older books smell. I spent my childhood and teenage years plugged into my iPod with a book in hand. These days, though, I find myself too busy to dedicate time to reading, so I listen to Audible when I’m cooking, driving, painting, and every night in bed.

Was there a specific book that sparked your love of reading?

My dad used to read me the Harry Potter series every night before bed when I was in elementary school. That was the highlight of my day—although it drove me crazy that he couldn’t pronounce “Hermione” properly.

What’s an interesting fact that you learned from a book recently?

I most recently read No Rules Rules, which is a book about how Netflix is run. Random fact I picked up—Netflix will fire employees even if they haven’t done anything wrong because they believe in treating their business like a sports team. Like, if they happen to find someone better, they’ll replace you. I get how that makes sense from a business standpoint, to only want the best, but it’d be scary to work there.

What are your favorite book adaptations and why?

Of course, I’m going to say the Harry Potter series. But if you want me to be a bit more creative, then I’d have to say Game of Thrones (minus the last season, obviously).

Are there any lesser-known books that you’ve read that you want others to know exist?

Even for people who don’t read manga or graphic novels, I highly suggest In This Corner of the World by Fumiyo Kouno. It’s a very unique take on World War II in Japan. Rather than focusing on the politics or the war, it focuses on the life of one person and how her quiet life was affected personally. Not to mention the art style is beautiful.

At Shortform, how do you go about working on a book that has viewpoints you don’t agree with?

The same as I work on any other book, objectively. My job isn’t to spread my own, biased opinion—it’s to help share different viewpoints so people can become more well-rounded and form their own opinions. For example, I may not practice Taoism, but I found blogging for the Tao Te Ching really interesting. I like learning about different ways of living and thinking.

Are there any books you had to read for Shortform that you thought you wouldn’t like and ended up loving?

Personally, I’m not a big biography/autobiography person. So, when I went into The Ride of a Lifetime by Bob Iger, I didn’t have high expectations. But I ended up really enjoying the book and found his life super interesting.

What are your favorite books in the Shortform library?

I haven’t read every book in the library, but I’ve blogged for somewhere around 80 or 90 of them at this point. I can’t say I have a “favorite,” but I enjoyed Radical Acceptance because of the unique way that Tara Brach combined psychology and Buddhism.

What have been your favorite books to work on so far?

I really enjoy blogging for books that teach me about myself or the psychology behind why I do or think certain things. Books like Attached, Predictably Irrational, The Willpower Instinct, and the Paradox of Choice were really interesting reads.

  • The His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman
  • The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
  • The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
  • In This Corner of the World by Fumiyo Kouno
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • Vagabonding by Rolf Potts

About the Series

Here at Shortform, we want to give our employees names and faces so you can get to know the people who make the magic happen. That’s why we’re doing this series where we interview our employees and share their thoughts and opinions. You can check out more employee interviews here.

Shortform Reads: You’re Never Too Old for a YA Novel

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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