Mad Monday: Rating Books

One of the biggest, hottest genres out there is YA (young adult) and MG (middle grade).

YA are books specified for children 12-18 yrs old. MG are books specified for 8-12 yr olds. Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, Chronicles of Narnia, The Mysterious Benedict Society, The Graveyard Book, and A Wrinkle in Time series are all MG. It’s assumed that there will be NO objectionable material in the MG genre, as far as sex, violence, and language goes. This used to be the case with YA, too.

In the book, Writing and Selling the Young Adult Book by K.L. Going she talks about one big reason people read the genre is because it is cleaner than the adult genre. When I talk to my voracious reader friends, whether teens or adult, one reason they state that they love the YA genre is because it doesn’t have the sex, violence, and language that they prefer to avoid.

But there’s great diversity of content in YA books. And now it’s easier to pick up a YA book with sex, violence, and language in it than to find one that’s clean. And I’ve read some YA books that I wondered why they weren’t in the adult genre. Not just because of the sex, violence, or language in them, but because the voice and tensions in the book felt like they weren’t in a young adult context.

I’m NOT about banning books or drawing skull-and-crossbones on “dirty” books or anything like that. I want all of these books to be written and published and set on the shelves for teens and adults to read.

But I am also a big fan of knowing what you pay for. 

In the YA section, you can pick up books like The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and Marcelo in the Real World with explicit sexual jokes and scenes, or you could pick up The Book Thief which has no innuendo. You can pick up a fantasy like the Leviathan and find little violence or you can pick up The Hunger Games and get more than your fill.

This is good. Diversity is awesome because teen readers are so diverse. But for those teens who prefer not to read about sex, violence, or language I think we should make it easy on them to find books they’d enjoy.

I think it’s time that “objectionable content” was listed on the backs of books. Not anything like a MPAA rating system, but just a way for readers to know what they’re getting. It’d be nice to pick up a YA book and know if there’s sexual content, violence, or language. Of course this doesn’t solve every problem, because sex scenes in Twilight, Shiver, Graceling, Sold, and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants aren’t at all graphic and they can get graphic in other books, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

I wrote more about this topic in an article called Ellie Ann Battles Sex, Violence, and Rock and Roll.

What do you think about listing objectionable material in YA books?

Have you read any good posts/thoughts on the idea you can share?

Friday Favorites: Review of 4 Good Books

These are three books that I’ve really enjoyed lately, and my video reviews of them:

A King In A Court Of Fools

By Larry Enright

I loved following the adventures of the Caswell gang, and discovering the mystery of the Pink Lady. Highly recommended!

Leviathan

by Scott Westerfield

I think Deryn is one of my favorite female protagonist in YA literature. The steampunk culture Westerfield created is vivid, creative, and exciting.

I highly recommend this book!

The Mulch Pile

By Albert Berg

A literary horror novel that is deep, moving, and frightening on so many levels.

Blood Skies

By Steven Montano

I recommend this engaging read to anyone who likes fantasy and action! Great characters and wondrous world building. I loved it!

What good books have you read lately?

Worldly Wednesday: No Electricity

The distribution of production is not uniform – Benin and Togo only produce 10 and 11 kilowatt hours per person per year, respectively. Norway and Iceland produce almost 3000 times more per person per year. – worldmapper.com.

1.6 billion people live without electricity.

Let me repeat that.

1.6 BILLION people live without electricity. That’s a quarter of humanity. (according to these poverty stats)

Although I know that there are some unhealthy and unhappy side effects to not having electricity, I’m not just going to say, “Oh poor souls, no electrical outlets,” and be done with it. No, sirs and ma’ams, think of all the good things that could happen if you didn’t have electricity.

There’s Nothing On TV

Instead of looking at your spouse, complain that there’s nothing on TV, then keep on flipping through the channels for another three hours, you would actually do something else because there’s literally nothing on TV. No electricity means you must make your own entertainment.

Like make jewelry:

Or hunt vampires:

Or build a bridge:

Or learn to play the recorder:

Or meditate:

Or learn to speak parrot:

Or write. Or read. Then read another book. Then read two books at the same time:

Photograph: Collection of Robert and Gayle Greenhill

Another awesome thing about no electricity:

Grilling

No more frozen dinners. No more soggy microwave dishes. It’s grilling time, baby!

Grilled steak. Grilled ribs. Grilled corn on the cob. Grilled jalapenos. Grilled mangos. Grilled duck. Grilled pineapple. *is your mouth watering yet?* Grilled onions/garlic/zuchini/marinated lamb on a kabob!! Everything cooked over an open fire! Yummers!

You know how you never liked hot dogs until that one day you went camping and roasted one yourself over the open flame? Yeah, without electricity you’d get to eat like that every day.

Without the aid of a stove/oven/microwave, you’d cook everything over the flames of an open fire or wood burning stove. And in my humble opinion, that’s good eatin’.

No Alarm Clocks

Your body would learn to listen to the rhythms of the earth, you’d learn to sing with all the voices of the mountains, and paint with all the colors of the wiiiiiind!

Oh, or … maybe I’m getting away from myself.

There’d be no staying up late tweeting or Facebooking or playing video games or watching re-runs of MASH.  When you felt tired, you’d go to bed. Or more accurately, whenever it got dark and you ran out of candles you’d go to bed. There’s something I find very refreshing about listening to your body in that way. And candles are kind of romantic. Which leads me to my next reason:

There’d Be More Babies

No explanation necessary

Those are some of the reasons I think having no electricity isn’t something we should pity.

Now sirs and ma’ams, I invite you to mosey on over to Jason C McIntyre’s blog The Furthest Reaches for he has an interview with me! He’s the excellent author of Thalo Blue and On The Gathering Storm and he’s an all-around super great guy! It was so nice of him to invite me to his blog to hang out. Well, invite might be stretching the word a bit, I only had to beg him for the past 60 days for this interview, promise to bake him a cherry pie, and pay him $500, but I feel like it was worth it. So … go check out the interview with yours truly (that’s me).

What would you do without any electricity?

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