Genre Shaming or Who Gives a F*%$K What You Think

Oh Good God.  A Slate writer wrote an article on why adults should be embarrassed to read YA novels.   Her essay is filled with faulty arguments that make little sense.  For every “But crucially, YA books present the teenage perspective in a fundamentally uncritical way.” she claims, I can think of a handful of books that would refute it.  It’s hard to take someone seriously who argues that a person who reads John Green’s latest is a person who is missing out on reading “literary” adult fiction.  There are so many things wrong with her thinking; but, here’s the short list, from my perspective

  • I’m going to guess most people who are readers don’t read anything exclusively.  They may read heavily in YA; but, then read a biography or adult novel.
  • There is nothing wrong with escapist literature (not saying all YA is escapist).
  • We should be encouraging reading.  I once saw a teen boy on the subway reading one of those super “trashy” urban romances and I thought:  good for you kid!  That is one cool kid: not embarrassed to be seen reading or reading a “girl book.”
  • Seriously, when is READING ever embarrassing or something to feel ashamed about?
  • For the amount of time a person carries around Robert Bolano’s 2666 (“real literature”) and doesn’t read it, I can read a dozen YA novels and yes, gain pleasure from them (which is somehow wrong according to her argument).
  • I defy anyone to read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and find it unworthy in any way.

I could go on; but, I guess I’ll pause for a moment to say that all of this irks me in a global kind of way.  I’m tired of all the rules.  I’m tired of snark.  I’m tired of inconsiderate people.  I’m tired of arbitrary rules about reading, about what people can wear, listen to, watch, spend their time doing, etc.

Here’s my advice:  Try to be a good person.  We all know what that is.  It’s easier to be a good person when you do things that do not harm others and you find pleasurable.  If that means spending a weekend in bed with a stack of tear jerking YA novels, then so be it.  Some folks are in their basements building model railroad sets.  Some people are biking on rail trails.  Some people are protesting something.  Some people are in houses of worship.  Some people are practicing the piano.  Some people are reading Ulysses.  Some people are reading comic books.  Some people are not reading at all.  I heard a mom on the street the other day tell her child, “The world doesn’t revolve around you.  We are all here together.”  I repeat:  We are all here together.