Ten Wishes for the Year in Reading
I’m not one for resolutions—I completely agree with the theory that goal-setting can actually lead to failure or mediocrity. In fact, the lowest-functioning organizations and people I’ve worked with have all been extraordinarily preoccupied with goal attainment.
I participate in the Goodreads reading challenge for the sole purpose of having that handy count of books read in the sidebar, not because I want to reach a specific threshold. (Though I will admit, two years in a row, I’ve been a couple of books shy of 150 during the last week of the year and have power read through to ensure I have a nice, round number.)
So in the spirit of ignoring the idea of goals, I’m eschewing the reading resolutions posts that abound on the web today and would like to share a bit of what I’d like to see in the upcoming year in reading, publishing and book culture.
#1 An end to the divisive, unproductive, ridiculous discussions of e-reading versus print reading.
Why anyone cares in what format people choose to read books is beyond me, particularly in a culture in which a quarter of the United States population has not read a single book in the last year. Whatever helps ensure people get a book—digital, print or etched in a stone tablet—in their hands is fine by me, and it should be for anyone who truly cares about promoting reading culture.
#2 An end to the term, “Mommy Porn.”
Thanks to the legion of ridiculous articles about 50 Shades of Grey, “mommy porn” is used to dismiss the reading choices of women by people who are threatened by women reading about S-E-X. I wrote about this early last year and it continues to frustrate me.
#3 No more articles confusing young adult adult novels and children’s books.
I’m looking at you, Atlantic Wire. I’ve talked about this before, but I’m completely flummoxed by people’s insistence on commingling beloved children’s books such as Ramona Quimby, Age 8 with novels for teens. They’re not the same thing, and it’s not hard to tell the difference.
#4 More shorter-length non-fiction.
While I rarely talk about it on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves, I really enjoy quality non-fiction. However, I’ve really developed a preference for shorter books in the 200- to 300-page range. Unfortuantely, non-fiction seems to be headed in the opposite direction, with epic tomes being the trend. Give me a tight, well-structured non-fiction work and I’d be thrilled.
#5 More (good) novels set in college.
I think this is probably something that’s going to happen, given the popularity of Easy. Unfortunately, with the exception of Charmed Thirds (Jessica Darling #3), Gayle Forman’s forthcoming Just One Day and the Secret Society Girl series (I’d also lump Come See About Me into this group, even though the main character is only in college for a few pages, since the relationships epitomize those established in college), I haven’t been able to find much with this setting that appeals to me, since the bulk of the new books featuring this setting are of the overly-dramatic, unhealthy relationship romance variety.
#6 Stand-alone genre fiction.
Y’all, I love a good series, but I can think of very few genre novels that stand on their own: Texas Gothic, Team Human (which may or may not have a sequel coming) and The Scorpio Races are the only ones that immediately come to mind. Sometimes I’d like to escape into a different world without committing to a three-plus book series.
#7 Contemporary/realistic fiction without drama as its centerpiece.
I have a post half-written about the subject of 2012’s drama-rama trend, but I’d love to see both adult and young adult contemporary fiction take a step back from the hyper-dramatic, artificial storylines (I’m looking at you, Pushing the Limits) and focus more on quality, sensitive stories (such as as Unbreak My Heart). I don’t care for people in real life who spend their time manufacturing unnecessary drama in their lives and I don’t care to read about them either.
#8 A reasonable conversation about the idea of “new adult” fiction.
Whether it’s simply marketing, a legitimate new category, a flash-in-the-pan trend, I have no idea. Regardless, I’d love to see more reasoned, thoughtful discussion like what Liz at School Library Journal posted last week. Unfortunately, when I wrote about “new adult,” much of the reaction was that I hated the idea of books featuring characters in the 18-20 age range, which couldn’t be further from the truth—my reservation is focused on whether or not a new category helps or confuses readers in terms of book discovery.
#9 No Goodreads drama and other ridiculousness.
2012 was the year that Goodreads jumped the shark, am I right? From author drama, to hiding negative reviews and the constant spam, I was nearly ready to say goodbye to everyone’s favorite book network. Let’s hope that Goodreads remembers their foundation—the readers—in 2013.
#10 Brave book blogging.
One of the things that makes me sad is seeing so many people in their end-of-year blogging posts state that they aren’t comfortable posting what is often referred to as “discussion posts” (we call them “opinion” here). I love book reviews, obviously, I love lists and other fun stuff, but there are a number of bloggers I’d love to see lend their voices to the discussion of reading culture and trends, but instead cover reveals, giveaways and promotional posts seem to be what’s growing and the content that attracts the most traffic. It sucks that the culture of the internet is such that people feel that there’s not a space for their voices. Honestly, I understand why people feel this way. My post about Tom Bissell’s ridiculous GQ article became fodder for a disgusting online forum, and my post about the gross nature of many online communities received some nasty comments, tweets and posts. (Interestingly, I also received numerous emails from people saying that they too felt like the internet was devoid of common courtesy.) This also means that I’d love people to reaction more sensitively and less personally when their opinions differ. Going out on a limb isn’t easy for many people and it’s made all the more difficult when people who disgree make it all about the person and not the issue.
What are your reading wishes for 2013?