books and reading

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

Time for some links to the things I’m thinking about this week.  I’m also pretty active on Tumblr for the time being, and I’m linking to and reblogging other stuff there.

Expectations for Girls in YA Fiction, Misleading Reviews, and Female Sexuality (Stacked)

It’s unlikely that I’ll ever stop linking to posts by Kelly Jensen, because she’s kind of my librarian hero, but she’s also writing some pretty amazing things right now.  This post about girls in YA fiction is thought-provoking, important, and touches on a lot of the things I think about all the time when it comes to YA fiction (and, I would argue fictional stories in general, whether they’re in books or movies or TV).

At any rate, Jensen talks about some reviews she’s read about the upcoming book The F-it List by Julie Halpern, and how concerning some of the language within those reviews was.

Although I could dive into the notion that Alex performs the items on the f-it list out of guilt — an idea I disagree with entirely, as Alex begins to really embrace this as a commitment to her relationship with Becca — what I find fascinating is this line: “Both girls have casual, unprotected sex with all of their boyfriends without any thoughts of taking precautions.”

Like me, Jensen has some pretty clear thoughts about this:

This line presumes a few things in it.  The first is that it’s the responsibility of the girls to think about and carry out the actions necessary for protection during sex. While print space is limited and words have to be carefully selected in a trade review, the way this particular line is phrased, in conjunction with the line before it, casts a judgment upon the female characters in the story. They’re crass, with limited vocabulary, and they’re not taking responsibility for their own actions. These are the kinds of girls you don’t want to be role models for readers, since they’re not being “good girls.” They don’t arouse sympathy because what happens to them is all a matter of consequences and choices they make. They weren’t smart enough or thinking through things enough to protect themselves.

But what is worse in this line is that it’s factually incorrect.

I could probably quote her entire article, because it’s that good, but the quoted stuff here is what’s so important.  Jensen takes issue with the review she read not only because the language is loaded and shows the reader’s bias, but because the review got factual information about the book wrong.  What’s so alarming here is that in a review that’s only a paragraph long, the reviewer felt it was important to mention the stuff about sex and consequences but didn’t even bother to get it right.

Jensen ends her post with this thought:

I can’t help wonder, too, whether books that do similar things as Halpern’s but feature a male main character undergo the same scrutiny and character judgment.

I’m Not a Feminist, But… (Beth Revis)

I tweeted out a link to this post very late last week, but I wanted to post it here and talk about it a little, too, because I think what Beth Revis writes about in her post is super important.  Capitalizing on the commonly used, “I’m not a feminist, but…” statement that many women (and some men) make, Revis breaks down exactly what’s wrong with that statement and the thinking that goes along with it:

First, it’s wrong for me to couch my opinions with a disclaimer. Saying something like, “I’m not a feminist, but I feel like women deserve the same rights as men,” belittles not just the idea of feminism, but also the idea that what I’m saying matters. I’m dismissing my own words before I even speak them. I’m giving an excuse for why I should be allowed to say the words following the phrase, as if the only reason I would say those words is if I had such an excuse.

The second thing wrong about that phrase is the fact that it exists.

Revis’s whole post is great and won’t take you more than a few minutes to read, but the takeaway is that the more we recognize that feminism is wanting equal treatment and respect, pure and simple, the closer we’ll get to the day where that’s possible.

The Quiet Radicalism of All That (The Atlantic)

Pretty much the best thing I read all week, this article talks about how radical–and awesome–Nickelodeon’s All That was when it was on TV in the 90s.  Take this, for example:

The original cast included four girls (Denberg and Reyes, with Angelique Bates and Katrina Johnson) and three boys (Kenan Thompson, Kel Mitchell, and Josh Server); three white performers, and four performers of color. Compare that to the concurrently running Season 20 of Saturday Night Live (1994-95), which featured a cast of 17. Only four were women, and only two were of color….Furthermore, the kids of All That were refreshingly normal-looking. Some were traditionally attractive, sure. Others were still growing into their features. Absent were the hyperactive, over-costumed Disney Channel tweens (Lizzie Maguire, et al), or the pouty, brooding 26-year-olds playing 16 on The WB (like the weirdly grown-up high schoolers of Dawson’s Creek or Popular). The cast of All That reflected the nature of its audience: They were growing up—lanky limbs, zits, and all.

So, where is a show like that today?  Where?

So You’ve Decided to Go to Library School (The Toast)

This humorous and incredibly uncomfortably spot-on essay about what library school is like probably won’t work for you if you’re not connected to the field.  But it’s worth a look at, just because the site it’s on–The Toast–is pretty awesome, run by women (who don’t work for or answer to men), and is already profitable less than a year into its run.

At any rate, this hit close to home:

Librarians have to do something with their hands while they’re bingeing on pop culture, so you should probably develop a craft. Knitting and crochet are acceptable, but cross-stitch works too. But what do you eat while you’re watching all that tv? Hopefully you’ve baked some Sorting Hat cupcakes for your Harry Potter marathon. Baking is preferable, but home-brewing is an acceptable substitute. At the very least you should love to eat.

The absolute best thing about library school is your peers. You will all have a Leslie Knope-ian intensity about something. It may be Star Wars, hockey, astrophysics, or that damn rock wall, but everyone brings some kind of obsession to the table. There is sure to be someone who will be a little too into board games. People will regularly discuss Weasleycest and Tami Taylor’s hair at parties, because if there’s one thing librarians get, it’s an enthusiast. We are all punk-ass book jockeys, and we want you to read our favorite book. And then maybe we’ll break down the Library of Congress Subject Headings afterwards.


What got you reading and thinking this week?



What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

It’s time for my weekly link roundup, where I talk about the articles that got me thinking. It varies week to week, but this week definitely had some stuff that got me thinking.

As always, I’d love to hear your opinions on these articles.  Whether or not you agree with me or the article in question, all points of view are welcome.

Two gold rings - reflected candlesAu Contraire, Marriage Is For You (Philly Mag)

If you’re on social media at all, chances are good that you saw that incendiary article by a (Mormon) blogger entitled “Marriage Isn’t For You.”  In it, he makes the claim that marriage isn’t for you because marriage is about your spouse–and making them happy.  It’s received a lot of attention, and, you know, whatever.  He clearly wrote it with the intention of having it go viral.  Whether or not you agree with him isn’t really the point, though I do believe he gets a lot of stuff wrong.

What I’m more interested in is not only the response, like this articulate, brief response at Philadelphia Magazine, but the bizarre, nearly-blind sharing and disseminating of these articles on social media.  So many people shared this and were like, “This is great advice!”  But did they actually read the whole thing?  Because it’s not really that great, advice-wise, and what’s more, the author makes some sort of problematic assertions about what marriage is (i.e. marriage is for procreation, so think of the children!).

So why do we share things like this without really thinking about them?  And when someone challenges us about the content of the article, why do so many of us shut down?  Isn’t the whole point of sharing information on social media to foster discussion, even if some of that discussion makes you uncomfortable?  This is the thing I’ve been thinking about most this week.

How the Write the Worst Article About Millenials (The Atlantic)

This scathing piece from The Atlantic is pretty spot-on when it tackles essentially every “think piece” written about the millennial generation today.  It’s a quick read, so I encourage you to go check it out, but the closing paragraph sums it up pretty well:

In sum, there is only one type of young person, her parents are super-rich, and they reside in a great big house with expensive PJs and an awesome couch to live on forever. There is, it would seem, no American species more tediously homogenous or more consistently inept than the Millennial generation. That is, perhaps, except for the columnists who write about them.

Generalizations about an entire generation lead nowhere good, humans.  Stop doing it.

In Defense of Hate-Reading (It’s a Dog Lick Baby World)hate reading

This is actually a blog post from this past spring, but I just discovered the blog this week, and I thought this post articulates much of what I do when I hate read other blogs (I also hate read people’s Facebook accounts, but that’s different).  I’m a big reader of Get Off My Internets (GOMI), and while I think that sometimes the anonymous gossip and snarkiness goes overboard, I also believe that these are readers who want a space to discuss things, and if they’re over at GOMI, they aren’t able to discuss it where it really matters: on the blog in question.  Bloggers who put their lives out there should also recognize that it comes with a price: people are going to judge the hell out of you, and moderating comments and deleting negativity only fuels the fire more.

At any rate, this blog is frequently hilarious and she seems to be my soul mate when it comes to all things Buffy, so give it a read.

The MPAA’s Backwards Logic: Sex is Bad, Sexism is Fine (Salon)

I mean, this is not really news.  It’s no secret that the MPAA is AWFUL and biased and totally, irredeemably backwards in their thinking about ratings.  If you haven’t seen the documentary This Film is Not Rated, I highly recommend you do so, as it gives you a really clear look at what the MPAA does and how it assigns completely arbitrary ratings to movies.  It’s always been more lenient with movies that are extremely violent than it has with movies that feature sex (especially if that sex involves any sort of female pleasure), and this is the case with the new foreign film Blue is the Warmest Color.

A snippet from the article, which talks about the Parents Television Council clutching their pearls over the decision a New York movi theater made to show the film without its NC-17 rating:

The PTC wants the movie theatre to fulfill its entirely voluntary obligations to adhere to MPAA standards, which are supposed to reflect the opinions of “the majority of American parents.”  That’s a big job.  What if these opinions are discriminatory and perpetuate a sexist, racist, homophobic status quo? The MPAA is regularly ridiculed for the incoherence of their ratings, as well as a bias against independent films.  The documentary “Bully,” for instance, was released with an R rating for profanity. Its core audiences, young teens, could not see the film without an adult.  AMC theaters released the movie with no rating and allowed teens to see it unaccompanied by an adult.  PTC head Tim Winter warned at the time that this incident could set a precedent that would “derail the whole ratings system.”

Anyway, people suck.  Things like the PTC and the MPAA are outdated, irrelevant, and not needed. Fighting words?

Should Literature Be Useful? (The New Yorker)

I’m including this because it articulates many of the problems I had with all the media attention about reading literary fiction lately.  I had more than one person crow on Facebook about how literary fiction makes you a better person, and I felt all squirmy and uncomfortable about it.  This article looks at those studies and asks a few really good questions and makes several great points about quantification of such things.

There is another way to look at the studies’ conclusions, however. Instead of proclaiming the superiority of fiction to the practical skills allegedly conferred by reading non-fiction, the studies implied that practical effects are an indispensable standard by which to judge the virtues of fiction. Reading fiction is good, according to the studies, because it makes you a more effective social agent. Which is pretty much what being able to read a train schedule does for you, too.

Another choice bit:

Fiction’s lack of practical usefulness is what gives it its special freedom. When Auden wrote that “poetry makes nothing happen,” he wasn’t complaining; he was exulting. Fiction might make people more empathetic—though I’m willing to bet that the people who respond most intensely to fiction possess a higher degree of empathy to begin with. But what it does best is to do nothing particular or specialized or easily formulable at all.

This one is just excellent all around.  Well worth your time to parse through it.

What did you read this week that got you thinking?


What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

This post right here is where I blog about all the things I’m reading and thinking about in a given week.  Let’s get right to it:

Life, Etc.

Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy (Huffington Post)

I almost hate to link to this, because it’s such blatant link-bait, but I’ve been talking about it this week with some good friends and we all have such feelings about it.  Do I agree with some of what of the article says?  Yeah, I do.  I think there are a lot of entitled people in my generation (myself often included).  But I think that the article is also patronizing and guilty of making the broadest generalization possible about a group of people who just happened to be born in the same year-span.

I also think it’s a gross oversimplification of what is happening to our generation with regard to the rising cost of living and the absolutely awful job market.  And the comparisons to our parents?  Dude, stop.

The comments are pretty good, though.

Fuck You. I’m Gen Y, and I Don’t Feel Special or Entitled, Just Poor. (Adam Weinstein)

A follow-up piece to the HuffPo article, this guy tackles the weak spots in the argument about Gen Y being a bunch of entitled wannabe special snowflake unicorns.

Weinstein gets into a lot of detail, and the post is definitely worth your time.  Here’s a bit to think about:

But there’s nothing for us to suck up, really. As a rule, our parents did end up much more dedicated to their careers than we have. But as a rule, they were laid off less. They didn’t intern or work as independent contractors. They got full medical. They were occasionally permitted to adopt magical unicorn-like money-granting creatures called “pensions.”

Pop Culture

Screencapping 10 Things I Hate About You (Pajiba)

10 Things I Hate About You is probably one of my favorite movies ever, and definitely in my top 3 favorite movies of the 90s.  I was obsessed with it when it came out (I was a mal-adjusted 8th-grader, okay?), and I’ve watched it countless times since.  This is definitely not a piece with any substance, but if you want a quick shot of nostalgia, this is a fun 5-minute diversion.  And now I want to watch the movie again, so well played, Pajiba.  Well played.

Where Do I Start with Key & Peele? (Slate)

Have you ever watched Key & Peele?  If you haven’t, you should start.  I sometimes use it as a litmus test with dudes I’m dating, and if they don’t seem to get it or don’t think it’s funny, it’s a sign that our relationship isn’t long for this world (I’m joking, at least a little, when I say this).  But seriously, Key & Peele are doing some of the funniest, most intelligent ruminations on race, politics, and pop culture, and it’s definitely worth checking out.  This piece at Slate compiles some of their best sketches.  I recommend the Substitute Teacher skit and the Dubstep skit.

Books, Reading:

Jonathan Franzen: What’s Wrong With the Modern World (The Guardian)

Sometimes I feel like Jonathan Franzen and Aaron Sorkin should become best friends and just form the most misogynistic, crabby, privileged white man’s club in the world.  The two of them are both so pretentious, so ornery, and so out of touch with reality that I feel like they’d be a good fit for each other.  I wasn’t going to link to this piece this week, but there are several really great responses, so in order to discuss those, I felt obligation to discuss this one.

The gist of it is this: Franzen hates Twitter (and unicorns, puppies, and fun, probably) and other aspects of social media.  He’s disappointed when authors he likes and/or respects deign to engage in tweeting.  It’s pretentious, dense, and lengthy, but then again, when isn’t Franzen all those things in his writing?  The man is a pretentious curmudgeon.  This article gives me a rash.

The Rage of Jonathan Franzen (The Toast)

Even if you can’t make it through Franzen’s overwrought piece at the Guardian, it’s worth giving this response a look.  Not only is this piece funny and accessible, it’s also dead-on.  This is how it starts:

Jonathan Franzen is the angriest novelist in the world. He is the novelist who is so angry he cannot move. He cannot eat. He cannot sleep. He can just barely growl. Bound so tightly with tension and anger, he approaches the state of rigor mortis.

He is angry because Salman Rushdie uses Twitter, and nowadays people can buy books on the Internet, and the Home Depot, and he had to go to Germany one time, and also some women exist who have not had sex with him.

Mallory Ortin, the author of this article, takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to Franzen’s view of things, but the undercurrent is one of anger.  And rightfully so, because Franzen is kind of full of shit.  Angry shit.  Because the world is full of people who watch TV and use the internet.

jenniferJennifer Weiner Responds (New Republic)

I never expected to talk about Jennifer Weiner in two link roundups in a row, but here I am doing it, because Weiner’s response to Franzen is also worth mentioning.  I wouldn’t link to this if it weren’t relevant.  Franzen actually calls Jennifer Weiner out in his overlong piece:

But so the physical book goes on the endangered-species list, so responsible book reviewers go extinct, so independent bookstores disappear, so literary novelists are conscripted into Jennifer-Weinerish self-promotion…

Weiner felt compelled to respond, and I think she has every right to.  I don’t want to end up pasting the whole article here, but Weiner has some great stuff, like this:

Maybe Franzen takes issue specifically with my use of Twitter, which falls into two broad categories: urging mainstream publications toward more inclusive book coverage and live-tweeting “The Bachelor.” Neither preoccupation has done much for my book sales, so neither one is truly self-promotional.

Maybe it’s personal.

In 2010, I coined the hashtag Franzenfreude. It was very bad German for a very real problem: When Franzen’s most recent novel, Freedom, was published, newspapers and magazines devoted thousands of words to the book and its author, while giving other literary books far less attention, and, in some cases, ignoring commercial works completely. Perhaps Franzen’s recent name-check was payback for when I implied that he was the face of white male literary privilege, or for pointing out that he’s the kind of writer who goes on Facebook only to announce that he won’t be doing Facebook, with the implication that he doesn’t have to do Facebook, because the media does his status updates for him. Or maybe he just really, really hates “The Bachelor.”

It would be silly to think that Franzen’s snotty attack on Weiner wasn’t at least a little bit personal, but it’s also the fact that she is a champion for commercial fiction (like we discussed last week).  She’s a woman, she’s outspoken, and she’s found great success as a writer and utilizes social media to her advantage.  And Franzen hates that.  All of it.


The Hidden Truth Behind Teach For America’s Political Empire (Salon)

Look, guys, I hate Teach For America.  I think that when it was founded, it had some good intentions, but I don’t even believe that any more.  I think TFA does a disservice to students who need the most help, and I think that it chews up people and spits them back out.  I have a lot of problems with the organization, and I say this as a former high school teacher and current higher ed one.

This article breaks down the TFA system and also talks about a new initiative that hits close to home for me: the proposed agreement between the University of Minnesota’s teacher program and TFA.  People are split about this agreement, and rightfully so, but it mostly just pisses me off.

Not that it matters:

Behind its public image, TFA anchors a political empire that enmeshes policymakers, universities and school districts — and crowds out dissent.

Drinking and Sexual Assault: America’s Booze Culture is Sexist (Salon)

There isn’t a lot new here, but the article does articulate some of our biggest problems with talking about alcohol and drinking in this culture.  Jill Filipovic examines what it is about booze culture that undermines female alcoholism while also playing up the woman’s role in sexual assault when alcohol is present.

The overarching problem with women and alcohol, though, doesn’t seem to be an epidemic of female alcoholism. The problem is a drinking culture that increasingly looks like American food culture: prioritizing excess over enjoyment, mass-marketing cheap processed products, blaming consumers for the bad outcomes of products pushed on them by large companies, and promoting over-consumption as a substitute for pleasure. And it’s a sexist culture that wrings its collective hands over female “bad behavior” and uses the specter of sexual assault to keep women fearful, while simultaneously applauding recklessness and aggression in men.

I really encourage you to read the whole article, because while it’s depressing, it’s also really thought-provoking and doesn’t provide any easy answers.

What did you read this week that stuck with you?


pop culture

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

Without further ado, here are the articles I’ve been reading and thinking about this week:

Pop Culture:

The Race to Address Race in Orange is the New Black (Cultural Leanings)

You all should know by now that I love me some Cultural Leanings.  It’s smart, well-written commentary on TV and pop culture, and if you aren’t checking in with the blog every once in a while, you should be.  This piece identifies some of the problems I have with some of the think pieces about race and Orange is the New Black, and it does so better than I ever could.

In a cultural landscape where everyone is racing to have the first word about whatever topic is trendy at the moment, things are being missed.  This piece talks about how some (too many, in my opinion) critics felt the need to critique OitNB without having watched a single episode (or having watched only some).  It’s like writing a review of a book after reading a couple of blurbs about it.  Anyway, this is worth a read.


Washington Post this Weekend: Girls Are Asking to be Raped (Slate)

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably at least seen people mention the Washington Post piece by Richard Cohen where he basically says that girls who get raped have it coming.  Not only is the festering turd of an article a total blatant attempt at link-bait, but it’s also just awful.  It’s not just that piece in the Post, though: they have a history of sort of making the argument that sexual assault is the result of girls being girls or some other such bullshit.  Whenever I see arguments like this I actually see red and it gets hard to think clearly.

This piece basically summarizes a bunch of rape culture apologists while also casting scorn and derision on the so-called “journalism” happening at the Journal.  Ugh, guys.  This world.

Can These College Students Fix Wikipedia’s Lady Problem? (Mother Jones)

It’s no secret that Wikipedia has a lady problem.  Something like 87% of the site’s editors are male, and the bias shows (see: American Novelists vs. American Women Novelists for one example).  There’s a new fight to bring ladies onboard the site, though.  An online class encourages its female participants to get active in editing Wikipedia content in an attempt to bring the female perspective to the site’s articles.


When You Can’t Forget the Gifts You Didn’t Get (NY Times)

I’ve got two weddings and an engagement party this month alone, so weddings are on my brain.  This piece, which ran in the New York Times this week, is all about how people won’t forget the fact that you didn’t get them a gift for their wedding 20 years ago even though you’re rich, you cheap douche!  I’m not making this up.  The people interviewed in this article cannot let go of the fact that people deigned to show up to their wedding and celebrate their marriage without also hauling a crystal bowl.

I just can’t.

FYI: An Open Letter to Teenage Girls Who Don’t Always Wear a Bra (RESPONSE) (Jessica Gottlieb)/FYI (If You’re a Teenage Boy) (The Iron Daisy)

Okay, so this one is kind of a doozy.  Both of the articles linked here are in response to a blog post written by a conservative Christian mom on her own little blog.  That post blew up this week, and people have been posting it like crazy on Facebook and Twitter.  The piece, which I’m not linking to (but can be found linked to in both of these response pieces), basically presents itself as a friendly open letter to the dirty, braless teenage girls who dare to take pictures of themselves and post them on the internet.  It’s everything I hate: self-righteous, hypocritical, sex-negative, and profoundly idiotic.

On the other hand, these two responses, written by smart, articulate ladies, find the funny in the original piece and articulate exactly what is wrong with the original post’s thinking.

What did you read this week that you loved or got you thinking?

books and reading

Cybils Announcement

I probably could have posted this earlier in the week and closer to the announcements on Monday, but I had a bunch of posts already scheduled and hate posting twice in one day.  So I’m doing it now.

I’m thrilled to have been selected to be a Round 1 judge in the YA Fiction category of the Cybils this year.  For more information about what the Cybils are, be sure to check out their website here.

Nominations don’t open until October 1st, but it’s definitely time for you to start thinking about what books (released in the last year) you’d like to nominate.

I can’t wait to get started reading and talking about books with my fellow judges:

Round 1

Leila Roy
Bookshelves of Doom

Sarah Gross
The Reading Zone

Kellie Tilton
The Re-Shelf

William Polking
Guys Lit Wire

Kendall Kulper 
Blogging for YA

Kirstin Fearnley
Sprite Writes
What YA fiction books do you think should be nominated this year?  Start thinking about it, and get ready to get busy nominating on October 1st.  I’m so excited!

pop culture

Lists & Procrastination: 5 Things I’m Into for the Moment

Gentle Readers, welcome!  It’s time for another installment of Things I’m Currently Obsessed With.  Previous installments can be found hereherehere, hereherehere,  here,  herehere,  here, here, here, here, and here.

1. Marina & the Diamonds – “Starring Role”

The video for this acoustic version of “Starring Role” by Marina and the Diamonds is pretty captivating.  It’s just her singing with the band, but it’s damn near impossible to take your eyes off her.  I’ve had a love affair with Marina and the Diamonds for a good long while now, but the release of their new album “Electra Heart” has made my life much more full.  The entire thing is great.  Also, I really, really want that dress in the video.

2. Scandal on ABC

I was skeptical about Scandal from the start.  Shonda Rhimes (the woman behind Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice) was taking on law and Washington, D.C. in her newest network drama.  I’m not big on procedurals in general, and I haven’t watched Grey’s anatomy since the third season (which was a season too long, in my opinion).  But I heard some good things about it, and I’m almost out of TV shows to marathon now that the season is coming to an end, and I needed something to soothe my mind in the post-finals week.  Scandal seemed like as good an option as anything.   I like Kerry Washington, after all.

The result?  I’m totally into the show now, but I’ve felt uneasy about it without being able to articulate it.  Rhimes is the only successful, high-profile African American woman running a show on U.S. television right now, and her tendency to do color-blind casting is both admirable and indicative of how white our TV shows are.  However, I stumbled across this piece by Alyssa Rosenberg at Think Progress the other day, and she manages to get across my biggest issues with the show.  This girl and I could totally hang out.

3. Jenna Marbles scaring her dogs with a fart machine

You guys, sometimes the lowest common denominator is actually really funny.  In this case, it’s YouTube sensation and (very funny) blogger Jenna Marbles using a fart machine to scare her two dogs.  I was raised by a mother who thinks that farts are really funny, and as a result, I think they are, too.  This video is worth it for the dogs’ reactions alone.  Watch it and enjoy it.  I’m sorry I’m so sophomoric.

4. The L.A. Complex (Season 1)

Okay, this is a Canadian soap–but let me finish!  The show is kind of like Melrose Place, only actually interesting.  It focuses on an apartment complex in Los Angeles full of artists trying to make it in the city that seems to spit out more and more hopefuls every day.  The reason I started watching it was because I love Jewel Staite (who was excellent on Firefly), but I’ve kept watching it because the show is doing some risky, awesome things.  It’s not perfect–and it’s not, by any means, a really great show–but it’s completely entertaining, and that’s enough for me.

5. Holier Than Thou by Laura Buzo

Okay, you guys.  Buzo’s first novel–Good Oil–is finally being published in the United States under the title Love and Other Perishable Items.  I loved this novel so, so much.  Buzo is definitely an author to watch.  Recently, I discovered that she has another book out.  This one, called Holier Than Thou, is firmly in the “new adult” camp, and I could not be more excited about it.  It looks so good.  Unfortunately, it’s not available in the United States yet.  While I can purchase it online, it’s not cheap.  I have to figure out a way to justify the cost, because I MUST HAVE THIS BOOK.

books and reading · pop culture

Rankings, Best of Lists, and Why I Love Them


If you’re a nerd like me, the end of the year means one thing: Best of Lists.  I love these lists so dearly.  I eagerly anticipate their arrival and then pour over them, comparing what I’ve seen/read/heard and what I haven’t, what I loved and what I hated.  For years, it’s been movies and books and maybe music.  This year, I had a sort of falling out with movies, and fell back in love with music (and by “fell back in love” I mean “became obsessive-compulsive about collecting”).  For the first time in a while, I’ve heard almost every album that’s making the best of music lists.  Even the really obscure ones.  Amazing?  Yes.

But I digress.

This post isn’t about the best of music (although I will be doing a post on that–so brace yourselves!).  This is a post about other dorks just like me who love to compile best of lists.  Like Kelly Jenson at The Hub, who has taken a look at the best of lists for YA books and done some hardcore awesome analysis.  It is amazing.

She looked at the superfecta (I had to look that one up, Readers) of review journals: Kirkus, School Library Journal, the Horn Book, and Publishers Weekly.  What she found is interesting, to say the least.  A few of the statistics:

  • Combining all four lists, a total of 63 titles appeared, written by 69 authors and illustrators.
  • The gender breakdown was 42% male, 58% female.
  • 4 books–Chime, Anya’s Ghost, The Scorpio Races, and Blink & Caution–made all four lists.
  • 3 books–A Monster Calls, Between Shades of Gray, and Daughter of Smoke and Bone–made three of the lists.
  • 8 books featured a main character of color
  • 2 had LGBTQ teens.

You should really go check out Jenson’s research–because it’s really interesting and has a lot of shiny graphs.  What’s most disconcerting to me is the lack of LGBTQ representation in books, as well as the relatively small number of books featuring characters of color.

Also, it would be interesting to compare the genders of authors making the list for children’s/YA with those on the best of adult fiction lists.  I have a feeling it would be very, very different.

Thoughts?  Opinions?