books and reading · pop culture

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

Without preamble, these are the things I’m reading and thinking about this week:

Books/Reading:

The Ultimate Backseat Bookshelf: 100 Books for Kids 9-14 (NPR)

NPR’s list of 100 books for readers between the ages of 9-14 is interesting not only because of some of the books they chose to include (and not include, as the case may be), but also because the age bracket spans such a wide gap.  There are lots of things that some 14 year olds are ready to read that others are not.  While I realize this is true of YA fiction as well, this age different seems pronounced.  At any rate, it’s an interesting list worth perusing if you’re a fan of middle grade fiction, books, or lists in general.

And I’ll never stop laughing at the pretentious commenter who suggested Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” as being perfect for this age group.  I see what you’re trying to do, but it doesn’t work.  For middle graders?  Come on.

What the Bechdel Test Can Add to YA (Christina Reads YA)

I’m a big fan of the feminism test that can be applied to all sorts of media named after brilliant graphic novelist Alison Bechdel.  The test asks several questions about any given work, be it book, movie, television series, or other format:

1. There must be at least two female characters

2. who talk to each other

3. about something other than a man.

You’d be amazed how often this does not happen.  And this really interesting blog post applies the Bechdel test to YA, and let me tell you, it comes up lacking.

The New York Review of Books Has a Woman Problem (Salon)

I’m not sure there’s anything new here, but it’s an interesting read about The New York Review of books and how few women are represented there.  Shocker, I know.

Movies/TV:

What Does Film Distribution Tell Us About Race? (Salon)

Another Salon article, and one well worth reading or at least skimming.  It’s all about who decides what movies get released where and why, and the answers lie in racial demographics.  Fascinating and kind of awful, when you really think about it.

The O.C. 10th Anniversary (Vulture)

This one is just a lot of fun.  It’s been ten years since The O.C. premiered, and Vulture’s got all sorts of coverage about the show and its cast.  One of the standouts is the quiz you can take about your O.C. knowledge.  I scored embarrassingly high.  I love the first season of that show–it’s damn near perfect entertainment television.

Other/Miscellany:

Diamonds are Bullshit (Huffington Post)

There’s been a lot of wedding stuff happening in my friends group this week, with engagements and whatnot, so this article came at the exact right time for me.  I have really conflicted feelings about wedding culture and the spectacle that goes along with it (elaborate proposals, bizarre expectations, blown-up reactions to what the engagement ring looks like, etc), but I stand pretty firmly on the line that diamonds are generally awful and totally boring.

This article takes a fairly in-depth look at why, exactly diamonds and the cultural values surrounding them are total bullshit.  No matter what your stance on the matter, there’s some interesting stuff to unpack here.

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