books and reading · pop culture

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the things I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.

Libraries are not a “Netflix for Books” (Book Riot)

Kelly Jensen is right: libraries are not a Netflix for books by definition of what libraries do:

Libraries — at least public libraries in the U.S. and Canada — are not private companies. Their goals are not on profit and not built upon those who can afford to pay for the services. Rather, public libraries are one of the few institutions where any and all citizens, regardless of their income or abilities to pay, may receive equitable access and service.

So yes, go read this and think about it, please.

I’m Sorry For Coining the Term Manic Pixie Dreamgirl (Salon)

Rabin is the man who actually coined the ubiquitous term, and this essay, which is really thoughtful and illuminating, talks about how that term has been completely overtaken by culture writers and no longer stands for what it should stand for.  My gut reaction, before reading the full article, was to be like, “NO YOU SHOULDN’T APOLOGIZE FOR GIVING A NAME TO A SEXIST, AWFUL TROPE” but then I actually read the article (that helps, yeah?) and realized that what he’s saying is true and real and that we need to move away from using the phrase as a crutch and instead focus on writing more fully-realized female characters, always.

So I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to pop culture: I’m sorry for creating this unstoppable monster…Let’s all try to write better, more nuanced and multidimensional female characters: women with rich inner lives and complicated emotions and total autonomy, who might strum ukuleles or dance in the rain even when there are no men around to marvel at their free-spiritedness.

The only part we might disagree on is when he lauds John Green, but we know I’m biased.  Because, blech.

Why Nathan Rabin Shouldn’t Apologize for the Manic Pixie Dream Girl Trope (Bibliodaze)

And now, for something completely different!  This article (smart and thoughtful, too) points out that just by getting rid of the term doesn’t mean we get rid of the sexist, lazy writing that creates these limp female characters:

If we were to eliminate every word or term used for incorrectly by ignorant readers or just those trying to make a faulty point then nobody would ever write anything new. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope will continue on as long as lazy writers continue to use familiar crutches to tell their stories. Maybe we can retire the term when film, TV, literature and everything else moves beyond it. Then we can perhaps get on with wiping out the other terrible stereotypes.

What Wisconsin Girls Think About the Slenderman Stabbings (Vice)

Last week, I linked to a moving essay that Kathleen Hale wrote for Random House Canada, and today I’m linking to an essay she wrote for Vice about the Slenderman stabbings in Wisconsin (I kind of love her non-fiction writing in a way I didn’t love her debut novel).  It’s not a very long article, and it’s definitely worth your time whether you’re following the case or not, because it also examines girl culture and how hard it is to be a teen/preteen girl in America these days.

Well worth your time.  Depressing, but important.

What got you reading and thinking this week?


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