Sometimes people say things that make no sense. Like comparing the work of two authors who have no business being compared. I think it’s a little ridiculous to say that genres limit creativity by placing labels on one’s work.
No one is saying that certain genres need very specific stories or characters. I mean, just look at young adult. Sure we have an expectation of what to expect when starting a new young adult book, but that doesn’t mean every book is the same. Which goes for every genre.
The fact is (to me) that we need genres. Let me make a comparison here. Imagine if we didn’t have genres in music. Then we wouldn’t have radio stations genre-specific. And maybe that’d be interesting to some, but not to me. Imagine a Madonna song followed by Kendrick Lamar and then Blake Shelton. It would be odd.
Now let’s get back to books. Imagine going into a bookstore and there is not a single label or sign anywhere in the store to tell you which section you’re in. Why? No genres. So the entire store is alphabetized by author. The store is one big blob of books. Business books. Young adult. Mystery. History. Art. All shelved together with no “label”.
Think about this. How many times have you read a book, series, or author and immediately wondered what to read next? I haven’t done it much recently, but I have done it. So you play around on Amazon or Google or maybe even on the author’s website trying to find similar works. That’s what genres help with. I once randomly grabbed a book at Barnes and Noble by Robert B. Parker. I’d never read any detective fiction before. In subsequent years I found Spenser, Elvis Cole, Alex McKnight, Charlie Hood, Alex Cross, and Harry Bosch. These characters are not the same and they’re not directly influential of one another, but they do fall under the same umbrella of detective fiction.
There’s nothing limiting about genres. If you want to write something that blends several different genres together in the pages of a single book, then go ahead. But newsflash, it’s already been done plenty before you and those books are all categorized somewhere.
Do you think genres are important? Or are they just stupid labels to you?
No. It’s a simple answer to a dumb question.
Imagine if Barnes and Noble (online) or Amazon asked you prior to checkout if you’re a man or woman. Or if you went to your local bookstore and they took one look at you and said the book you’re trying to buy is only to be bought by someone who looks different. It’s crazy talk. And you probably read this as if it’s somehow funny. It isn’t.
Remember that article (even though everyone knows it was clickbait) about adults reading YA? And the big fuss that arose from it? When someone says that any book should only be read by a specific reader, they are embracing the same stupidity present in that article. Imagine if Harry Potter could only be read by young boys. No girls. No men. No women. Or if The Hunger Games could only be read by teen girls. The list could go on and on.
Most genres have a target audience, but any popular book will transcend that audience and be read by just about any reader. So if a guy wants to read YA or erotica or any genre generally perceived as female, then who’s to tell him he shouldn’t? I’d make the same case for girls reading “male” genres, but I’m not sure which genres fall into that particular group.
What do you think?
On this day in 2014 I published A Literary Tattoo? I think Yes!.
Why do I love reading YA books? This is actually a question I get frequently because nearly 95 percent of the books I read are Young Adult books. The other 5 percent are a mixture of Middle Grade and New Adult books, with a dash of whatever my future Mother-in-Law throws my way. I’ve read a variety of other genres but nothing ever felt quite right, like they were lacking something. It’s almost like the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
When I was a freshman in high school I was pretty terrified due to the fact that I had been home schooled all of grade and middle school. When it came to my first week of freshman English we went to the library to pick out our own book to read for the month. I was familiar with my public library a few streets down from my house, but I never really enjoyed what I read. The class period was almost over and I still couldn’t find anything and all the other students had already found their books. My teacher pulled me aside and handed me Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. She pulled me into the small YA section of the library and simply said “I think you’ll like these books…” and gave me a warm smile. I took the book home that night and by the time I was in English the next day I had finished it. I begged my mom to take me to Borders that night and buy the second book in the series, Pretties. They’re still my favorite books to this day!
YA’s Unwarranted Criticism
People bash YA books quite a bit. It’s sad. I think regardless of the quality or genre of book a person is reading, at least they’re reading! Every genre has poorly written books. But there are some amazingly talented authors who write YA that can rival some of the most legendary authors out there. Libba Bray, Scott Westerfeld, Leigh Bardugo, Veronica Roth, Sarah J. Maas, Alexandra Bracken and the list goes on and on. Many of the books that are being adapted into movies are mostly YA! Divergent is phenomenal and The Hunger Games is spectacular. Then there’s John Green. The Fault in Our Stars. Looking For Alaska. Two adaptations in two years! Panic by Lauren Oliver was optioned for film and she’s writing the screenplay! Whether you’re a young adult yourself or you’re in your 40s, these books offer something for everyone. YA should not be viewed as a “lesser” genre than any other, because that’s just ridiculous.
The Appeal of YA
YA appeals to me for so many reasons. For one, a lot of the explicit language and material is cut out. It’s not necessary and the author just adds more adventure to the story. During this period the characters’ emotions are heightened. Everything is felt so intensely. This is a time in your life when you’re experiencing a lot of firsts. I think how these authors capture all of this, then throw in some crazy plot of the world being separated into factions and fighting each other to the death, is pretty amazing. When I first started reading YA a lot of the stories dealt with issues I was also dealing with, and they became a coping mechanism.
Now I’m a twenty-something, engaged, college student and daycare teacher. I read to escape from the stresses of daily life, and YA is my primary escape. The books are fast paced and unlike a lot of people (I guess), I don’t want to read five pages about the description of a forest. I read because I enjoy reading, not because I want to give myself a headache. I read YA because I like it. Simple as that. Just like John enjoys reading crime novels. That’s what interests him. YA is what interests me!
Amazon keeps rolling out the book-related programs. I think Kindle First was launched late last year, I think. Anyway, have you heard of it? I randomly received an email some time ago that told me a little about the program and I jotted down a few words on my list of topics to blog.
What happens is the Amazon editors pick four books each month to have in the program. The books become available a month before the public has access. Rather than pre-ordering and waiting for release day, the price of each Kindle book is $1.99 for non-Prime members. Prime members can read two of the four books for free. The books are from four different genres. Thriller. Romance. Mystery. Historical Fiction. I’m not sure if the genres change or not. But that’s it. The books count as purchases and remain in your Kindle library. Everyone is limited to two of the four books each month.
What do you think? Want to read some books that you probably haven’t heard of a month before they’re released? I’m a Prime member, so I just might download two of the January books to see if I can make using the program a regular thing.
One last note, all four January books are in the top 30 in the Kindle store. One of them has over a thousand reviews already and its release day is February 1. Hmm.
You can get more information about the program and the January titles here.