Writing has changed the way I read books. In my case, the same can be said for parenting. The older my kids get, I’m less able to lose myself in a story.
I’ve been reading a lot of young adult books recently. As a self-published author, I’m always checking out the bestselling SP titles. Frequently they are YA, or more specifically the recently crowned and much needed genre classification called New Adult. There’s a lot of S-E-X in these books that’s not appropriate for the younger YA crowd.
The good news is that I could easily converse with a population of girls more than half my age. The bad news is that I worry for our girls.
Let me preface this by saying I have a thirteen-year-old daughter, so the lens I view these books through isn’t exactly clear. I can’t help but read these books without worrying. Why worry, other than the S-E-X? I’ll summarize the plot of the majority I’ve read: innocent, virginal girl moves to a new high school or goes off to college and is suddenly discovered and appreciated by the campus bad boy. He’s slept with a million girls and no one can tame him but our innocent, virginal heroine. All the boys fall at her feet and all the girls want to be her best friend. I don’t mind a little fiction in my fiction, but the plethora of these stories has me scratching my head.
Why does this bother me so, especially since I’ve never considered myself a raging feminist?
All of our daughters are beautiful. Some more on the outside, some more on the inside, but they are all beautiful. All of them. Many times, these girls—our daughters—go unappreciated just like the girls in the books I’ve been reading. Is there always a boy who’s going to magically make them feel better about themselves? No, and why would we want these heroines—our daughters—to only find themselves worthy because some boy wakes up and realizes she’s wonderful?
I’ve been to college, and I was that innocent virgin. Did I find myself during those pivotal years? Yes! Did I find myself because the campus bad boy saw what every other boy I’d ever met couldn’t see? Heck no! I found myself. I discovered myself in the pages of the books I read, in the responsibilities I carried, and in the process of letting go of my childhood. As I came into my own, I met the man who was to become my husband. Was it love at first site? Nope, not even close for either one of us. Did I save him or did he save me? No. If we’d never met, I feel confident we both would have gone on to live happy, productive lives. I must add here, for the sake of my marriage, that our lives are infinitely better for having met and fallen in love.
It is my greatest wish for my daughter to find love with a man who appreciates every wonderful thing about her (even the not-so-wonderful things). Will this man have a tortured past, be (God help me) covered in tattoos, or come from a broken home? Maybe, but if he loves and appreciates my daughter, I won’t care. What I do care about is that before she pledges her love and her body to a man, she will truly appreciate the value of her love and her body and know what a gift she’s giving. And that man better appreciate and cherish the gift he’s receiving, because if he doesn’t, her father and I will be happy to tell him. For those of you lucky enough to know my daughter, you know I won’t have to—she’ll tell him all on her own. J
I don’t begrudge the authors of these books or the readers who devour them. Who doesn’t love a well-written good-girl saves bad-boy story? I know I can’t assume that all girls who read these books will believe there’s a bad boy out there who’s going to be the answer to her prayers. I read Cinderella and Snow White and Sleeping Beauty when I was a young girl and I never expected a handsome young prince to ride up on his white horse and make me his princess. But somehow I can’t help but feel sad.
Perhaps this is what happens when someone who’s not a new adult reads books written for new adults. I’m too old to appreciate the genre. Phooey. I should have known it would boil down to this…
Today is the anniversary of my dad’s passing into the great unknown. It’s been three years since he left us, so in honor of his memory, I’m reposting one of the first blog posts I wrote.
I inherited my nose from my dad. I also inherited his calves, his easy going personality and his love of reading. He died in 2009 but my all time favourite picture of him shows him sitting on the beach in a lawn chair, a book in his hands with the sun shining down on his head.
The first book I remember holding was a beautiful hardcover copy of Cinderella, filled with strange words I couldn’t read and beautiful pictures I adored. Once I learned to read, I worked my way through Dick and Jane, on to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, and in between, the back of every cereal box my mom ever bought.
When I ran out of reading material, I would sneak into my dad’s book stash, which he wisely kept in the garage, and read his Harlequin romances. He also had some racier novels there, stories with – gasp! – sex, and if my mom knew I was reading those books – heck, if she knew my dad was reading those books – she would have banned them from our reading material.
These days I’m allowed to read whatever I want and I want to read a lot. In fact, I want to read more than I have time for. Favourite authors include Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Barbara Samuel (O’Neal), Ann Voss Peterson, Linda Style, Susan Vaughan, Virginia Kelly, Joshilyn Jackson, and Lisa Lutz, just to name a few. And with the arrival of the e-reader, not only is my to-be-read pile contained within one small device instead of all over the office floor, but I’ve discovered indie authors like our own Women Unplugged bloggers Dianne Venetta, Christy Hayes, Patricia Yager and Sharla Lovelace. If you haven’t read their books yet, run to your nearest e-reader and download them now. I’ll wait ….
Shortly before my dad died, he gave me the book Volcano by Richard Doyle. When he told me I had to read this book, there was a tone in his voice that I recognized so well. It was awe and wonder for a can’t-put-it-down story, emotions I too experience whenever I fall in love with a story or an author’s voice. Although I have yet to read the book – I’ve become more of a love-to-laugh-out-loud reader – Volcano will forever remain on my keeper shelf because it was the last time my dad shared his love of reading with me.
This is how I will always remember my dad, with a book in his hands and another waiting to be read. This is, hopefully, how my children will remember me, too.
So who did you inherit your reading gene from? Who are some of your favourite authors and books?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I love books. They don’t talk back. There’s a never ending supply in the bookstore, online, or at the library. And if I’m lonely, they’re always there to keep me company.
Florence Fois’s March Bookfest inspired me to share a few of my recent and upcoming reads. If you’re interested in finding out more about these books, click on the links below.
Against The Wind by Virginia Kelly
Romantic Suspense – a hurricane, a man on the run, and the woman who rejected him - Kindle
Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson
Women’s Fiction – a woman on a journey to find herself escapes a dangerous man - Paperback
Next up on my to-be-read pile are:
Pushed Too Far by Ann Voss Peterson
Thriller - “… nail-gnawing suspense, dark mystery, and a dash of romance.” - Kindle
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Young Adult – “… stunning, gripping, powerful.” - Kindle
Where The Heart Is by Jenny Gardiner
Women’s Fiction – “… home is the only place she’ll ever be able to reclaim what’s most important to her.” -Kindle
On order and on their way, some writing books that sound interesting:
Plus, just for good measure, I ordered a Yoga DVD to keep me in shape.
What is the most recent book you’ve read? And what’s next on your reading list?
You heard me. Grocery shopping is a necessary evil and I do it because we love to eat. Shopping for clothes is something I put off until there are holes in my socks and my jeans are frayed.
But give me a bookstore – online, on the street corner, or in the mall – and I’ll gladly spend hours browsing the shelves, checking out covers, and reading back cover blurbs.
When I return home from my shopping spree, I’ll spread the books around me, then study the covers and reread the back story blurb. Or if I’ve purchased the books online and downloaded them to my Kindle, I’ll open each one up so I can view the cover and read the opening pages – copyright, acknowledgments, and story blurb or excerpt.
Then comes the moment when I have to pick which book to read first. If I have a favourite author in the mix, I’ll usually start with her book. Sometimes a story blurb will so intrigue me, my curiosity gets the best of me and I’ll dive into that book instead.
I dream about moving my household into the local library, where I can be surrounded by books 24/7 and browse at will. I’d be the happiest woman in town … except for when it came time to dust each and every book on the shelves.
Hello, my precious books. You are better than gold.
How about you? When buying books or bringing them home, what is your reading MO?