I’ll jump right in with the latest in sweeping generalizations about young adult literature, this time in the shape of an outcry about anti-feminism. In an article for the New Statesman, writer T.I. Burton calls upon her “insider’s perspective” of ghostwriting YA romances to label the entire YA genre (and more specifically, the entire YA romance genre) anti-feminist, saying in part that YA romances encourage girls to see the entirety of their self-worth as something earned by “romantic desirability.”
It’s not like I don’t agree with her, in part, about some YA romances. The key word there being: SOME. Just as in every single other genre, young adult has its examples of books featuring unhealthy relationships. However, I think it is incredibly short-sighted to condemn an entire genre based on some of the books within that genre. And I think it’s also incredibly far-reaching to assume that these fictional relationships will encourage any behavior in young girls. As a scientist, I say: where’s the data? I read a lot of crap as a teenager. I’ve read a lot of crap as an adult. And yet, I’ve somehow avoided letting these books inform my entire personality. How did I do that?!
My guess is that this author has not spent a lot of time exploring the young adult genre, and so is not aware of the huge number of great books that are out there – a guess which is supported by her labeling of New Adult as “YA’s more explicit cousin” at the end of the article. Sigh.
John Green responds to this kind of article much better than I ever could this week in an interview with The Guardian. In response to yet another article that made sweeping generalizations about YA and its possible negative effects on teenagers, he said:
“The thing that bothered me about it… was that it was a bit condescending to teenagers. I'm tired of adults telling teenagers that they aren't smart, that they can't read critically, that they aren't thoughtful, and I feel like that article made those arguments."
Indeed, John Green. Indeed.
Salon had a very interesting article last week about DRM and the potential changes that could result from the suit brought against Amazon and the big six publishers last week. However, author Cory Doctorow pointed out that the indie publishers who brought the suit actually confused the terms “open source” and “DRM-free,” saying in part, “Grossly misusing technical terms (and demanding a remedy that no customer wants -- there's no market for DRM among book-buyers) makes you look like fools and bodes poorly for the suit.”
The Wall Street Journal reported last week on a new book marketing practice: buying a spot on the best-seller lists. Apparently, some authors are now hiring marketing firms to buy up large numbers of their books during the first week of publication, resulting in a very temporary spot on a best-seller list. Personally, I think that with the rise in widespread communication between readers, customer reviews, and self-publishing, that the best-seller lists are slated to become more and more irrelevant. Perhaps this practice will accelerate that eventual decline?
I stumbled across this older article last week, but I wanted to share it because I think it’s great advice: 7 Signs You Are Ready To Self-Publish (A Checklist). Anyone contemplating self-publishing a novel should read this list.
Our friend Reynje wrote a lovely post about likability, and whether or not it’s important.
In fun news:
- Remember when I posted about Frances Hardinge (again) last week? Well, you can read the first chapter for free over at The Guardian.
- The cover for Isla And The Happily Ever After was revealed, along with new matching covers for her sister novels.
- Little, Brown Books For Young Readers is going to publish a new novel from Readventurer favorite A.S. King, titled “Glory O'Brien's History of the Future, in which a graduating senior struggles with growing apart from her two best friends as all three of them begin having strange and powerful visions of divergent, infinite futures.” (Check out the news for Sarah Ockler fans in there as well!)
- This one will only be fun for the super-nerds among us: a whole bunch of pretty data and graphs about children’s ebook-reading habits from Publisher’s Weekly. (Nerds4Ever!)
- And finally, a group of Canadian authors is going "nude" for a 2014 calendar that will be sold to raise money for charity. Margaret Atwood isn’t on the list yet but there’s still time…*crosses fingers.*