Friday, June 27, 2008

Brief Round-Up

A couple of links for your weekend reading:

Jen Robinson has an excellent list of Speculative, Science Fiction and Dystopian Fiction for teens. Some of these books were actually published for adults but as Jen notes have definite teen appeal. Do give it a look.

Also, Carlie has an engaging list of "Guy-centric YA Romance" at the Libraries Unlimited quarterly newsletter. I'm never sure if this is a genre that works with guys as much as it does with girls - or even works for guys at all. To some degree I wonder if guy-centric YA is really a slight variation of the genre that is still going to be predominantly read by female readers, just written from a different perspective.

Any thoughts on guys reading romance, I'd love to hear them.


gonovice said...

I just consulted a thesaurus. "Romantic (adjective) 1. affectedly or extravagantly emotional: bathetic, gushy, maudlin, mawkish, sentimental, slushy, sobby, soft, soppy... gooey, mushy, schmaltzy, sloppy, soupy... drippy, sappy, tear-jerking. 2. Not compatible with reality..."

Reality. I know it's hard to deal with, and many prefer escapism (TV, video games, fantasy). But we guys are not usually raised to be gushy, soft, mushy, sappy, etc., nor do I think women want us that way.

But I can recommend Booth Tarkington's Seventeen, and Tolstoy: Both Anna Karenina, and War and Peace deal with love in a way I could relate to. Yes, War and Peace is huge. First time I read it, I decided I'd see if I could get through book one. "OK, now book two," etc. It is worth the effort. I hope to reread Anna Karenina, too. It'll probably break my heart.

Joe Cottonwood said...

Some of Norma Klein's books dealt with romance from the guy's point of view. I thought they were great.

One of the reasons guys focus on sex (besides the obvious) is that it is physical, quantifiable, and somewhat predictable. The subtleties of social relationships are abstract, mysterious, and the goal is uncertain. The girl always seems to be two steps ahead of the guy in the social sphere. Writers who acknowledge this will speak to boys.

Colleen said...

Both of these answers made me think of an episode of "Sex and the City" where the women are analying every last second of a date and then a guy chimes and says "He's just not that into you!" If a guy likes you, he sets the next day, if not then he gives some vague "I'll call later" response.

Women will think about relationships FOREVER which might explain why this genre is so popular with their gender - it's the literary form of hashing every last second of a relationship over and over and over.

A Paperback Writer said...

In 20 years of teaching junior high, I have only seen boys reading romance when they are assigned to do so. (Yes, one of my units includes Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey, and Wild Irish Girl -- they must choose one.) Many YA "boy-appeal" books have a bit of romance thrown in as side plot of an adventure or something, but a YA book that is specifically a "boys' romance novel" sounds like offering tofu burgers and brussel sprouts in the cafeteria: not a really wide appeal.

A Paperback Writer said...

Oh, and gonovice, do you really want women to be "fafectedly or extravagantly emotional: pathetic, gushy, maudlin, mawkish, sentimental, slushy, sobby, soft, soppy... gooey, mushy, schmaltzy, sloppy, soupy... drippy, sappy, tear-jerking."? If you do, I hope I never have to meet your SO.

Colleen said...

I've to to tell you, I'm pretty blown away by that definition of romance. Is that really the best the thesaurus could do?

I mean "not compatible with reality"? That is harsh!

gonovice said...

Roget's II: The New Thesaurus (c. 1995) offered two definitions for the adjective "romantic," followed by some synonyms for those connotations. For the definition "not compatible with reality," we get "idealistic, quixotic, starry-eyed, unrealistic, utopian, visionary."

We need idealistic visionaries, no question.
But "hashing every last second of a relationship over and over and over" can get in the way of living in the moment. The relationship NOW matters, too. Mary Chapin Carpenter wrote, "Shut up and kiss me." Bless her.

Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli, I think guys would enjoy. I did, a lot. Haven't read the follow-up, called "Love, Stargirl."

Liz B said...

I can say that yes, at the libraries I have worked, guys do look for romance (tho they may use different words, and Carlie's article is addressed to professional staff who would identify these books as romance and would know that the reader would not always or often use the R word.)

Every guy as a potential audience? Nope; but there are male readers for these books, and it would be a disservice to male readers in general to bring an attitude of "you don't want THIS book, this is really a GIRLS book" to a readers advisory interaction (online, real life, booklists, etc.)

And, of course, there is the GLBTQ audience; many newer GLBTQ books for boys are indeed old-fashioned romances in a way -- will he like me? will he kiss me? will he still talk to me in public? what has he told his parents? And the books like that are life savers to guys.

And as a reader of romances, that thesaurus definition is hardly accurate in terms of books. I suggest smart bitches, trashy books for a more complete look at romances, including the occasional teen romance.

One final word: I'm hearing more and more librarians talk about the male audience for Twilight. Love it or hate it, teenage guys are indeed reading it and liking it.