Sunday, December 21, 2008

Reading more

So thanks for all the wonderful links and comments to my post (below) responding to the recent New Yorker article about the YA market. There have been some excellent posts around the blogosphere and I really enjoyed the discussion on all levels.

But there is something else it's made me think about as well. I think it's clear that YA novels can be just as deep, complicated, complex and challenging as adult novels. And I also think it's time that people stopped assuming that just because a book is classified as young adult that it's some-how lesser than. However, I felt like one of the comments that popped up a lot on various blogs was that sure there's a lot of great YA out there, but just like any other genre or section of the bookstore there's a lot of cr@p as well.

Here's the thing I'm coming to realize: I'm tired of placing ANY kind of judgment on books. Or rather, I'm tired of placing judgment on people based on what kind of books they read. Because you know what? We need all the readers we can get. And if people want to read what you might think of as cr@p, that's okay! At least they're reading! Reading ANYTHING is great!

And so even when I'm defending that YA can be just as complex and deep as adult books I'm also wondering what the point is -- who cares if it's deep or complex so long as it's being read? Yes, books that make you think and explore and question are wonderful, but I argue that almost any book can make you think and explore and question. Every book is a glimpse into another life, another world, another way to approach decisions. It's a way to expand what we know.

I guess I really started thinking about this the other day when I realized the number of people who will go to a movie versus the number of people who will buy and read a book. An announced print run of 100k or higher for a book is excellent and is usually reserved for the bigger books in a season. Now think about the number of people who have gone to the bigger movies this season! I'm guessing WAY more than 100k. Think of how many people watch any television program. We're talking millions in one night. Compared to other forms of entertainment, books aren't ranking that high. Even though these days a movie ticket is about the same price as a book (and the book usually lasts longer!)

Why aren't we reading more? Why are we so wrapped up in reading the "right kind of books" rather than any books?

I think there are a lot of barriers that we throw up making it harder to read and I'll save those for another post. But I do think that one of the things that we should be thinking about is how to make it easier to read more. Encouraging reading of any kind. Maybe taking the emphasis off judging what kind of books we pick up, we should just focus on the fact that at least we *are*picking up books.

PS: I might be blogging little more irregularly over the holidays as I travel home. Happy Holidays!!


Elise Murphy said...

I couldn't agree more. I was just having this conversation with someone the other day about a YA series that I would not classify as "high art." My friend asked if she should discourage her teen reader from pursuing the rest of the series and I said, "No!" This is not a girl that's ever been a reader and she has found something that engages her. Leave her alone! Lucky for us authors, good fiction is subjective.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, Carrie. I was starting to worry about my 2009 TBR List, because there are so many "classics" I haven't read. I want to challenge myself a couple of times, but not so that I give up all of the genre I enjoy.

Brit said...

Very good points! I saw where a group of ladies online were discussing the books they had just read. Several prefaced their selection by saying, "I know this if mindless fluff" or "Brain candy" as if to deem it unimportant than some grand novel where we must stop, be philosophical and think for ten months on the theme.

Excellent points! And I tagged your blog for an I Heart Your Blog Award. I love this blog.