Nose to Grindstone & WFMAD 17

The 18th century beckons so I’ll keep this short today.

Bookavore has a wonderful interview with Cory Doctorow.

I know that Gossip Girls and their ilk upset a lot of people, but how is it that they can’t see all of the literary books in the bookstore? What do you think about this rant?

Today’s goal: Write for 15 minutes.

Today’s mindset: terrified

Today’s prompt: What smell represents fear to you? Why? Write about a memory with that smell, or give a fear/smell relationship to your character and write a scene in which it comes up.


13 Replies to “Nose to Grindstone & WFMAD 17”

  1. Having never read or seen any of the Gossip Girls things (nor the “spin-offs”), I can’t comment to the supposed elitism they contain and promote. But even if they are that way, and that’s the message readers really do get from them. . .this article is just too narrow in focus. The larger point here is not what kids are reading, but that kids are reading. There is a world of stuff out there available to readers young and old (including the teens who actually do read the Young Adult stuff — turns out there are a lot of them). It’s up to the parents, and teachers to some extent, to talk about the themes and subject matter in the books. I’d rather have kids reading Gossip Girl and then talking with them about what’s going on in the books than have them not read at all. And that’s what it comes down to. I love today’s books. Maybe being in my mid-twenties doesn’t make me old enough, but I only recognized two books that Ms. Shukert mentioned: Ramona and The Babysitters Club. And I only read one of those growing up. The fact that today’s youth are reading despite the prevalence of video games, the Internet, and an increasingly shortening attention span is a victory, not one to be chastised in the name of subject matter.

    Sorry for my own little rant there, but you did ask what we thought ๐Ÿ˜›


  2. It’s a good rant, but those are hardly the only things moving the YA literature set. They’re just the ones that have had a TV show made about them. The author apparently hasn’t read you…or Louise Rennison…or Lemony Snicket, much. I don’t see the Gossip Girl series as all that much worse than Sweet Valley High and 90210, and I managed to read/watch those growing up without turning into a monster. I don’t even wear heels. ๐Ÿ˜€

  3. I think it should have been more thoughtful, more philosophical, about money. “We honor the rich,” Emerson wrote, “because they have externally the freedom, power, and grace which we feel to be proper to man, proper to us.” There’s a lot more food for thought there than there is in her implicit blanket condemnation.

    I do agree with her (and did it already) when she says, “Pick up the newly issued DVDs of the old Sesame Street โ€” and ignore the ridiculous warning that appears at the beginning of the series saying that the episodes are intended for adults and ‘may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.'” I’m entirely capable of explaining the difference to my son between kids hitting other kids and the letter W beating up Kermit the Frog.

  4. I think it’s very appropriate that that rant appears on a site called “Babble.”

    OK, seriously, it’s true that there’s a trend toward books and movies about rich and powerful teenagers. Maybe it started with the “Princess Diaries.” And unfortunately, these are the books I see prominently displayed at Borders, rather than books like “Speak” and “Twisted.” But isn’t being rich and powerful a pretty natural fantasy for both teens and adults? I haven’t read the “Gossip Girl” books, but I admit to watching the show, and IMO its purpose is to let the middle-class viewer enjoy the fantasy of wealth while still feeling slightly superior because s/he isn’t nearly as messed up as the rich folks on TV.

    Sure, it’s great for kids and teens to read other books in addition to these “rich brat” series. And you bet I encourage my children to read the books I enjoyed as a kid. But this writer needs to look past the “featured book” tables at Barnes & Noble and see that the kind of books she likes are still being written and published.

    Also, Island of the Blue Dolphins has to be one of the most grim and boring YA books ever published. Give me Gossip Girl any day over that.

  5. Who cares?

    So, I don’t comment on here much. I prefer to lurk and see what all of the educated grown-ups have to say. But this is a subject near to my heart.

    Why should we care what a child is reading? If they are reading Sports Illustrated or the Editorials in the New York Times, the point is that they are reading. The issues as of late will illiteracy can be partially attributed to video games and the internet, I agree there, but shouldn’t we focus more on getting them just to read in general. While kids, myself included, spend time on the internet, we’re reading. Blogs, myspace, facebook, email… those all contain words.

    What I guess my point is, is that regardless of how a child is reading it should be considered as them reading. The reason so many kids, especially boys, “hate reading” is that they have been forced to read books that do not appeal to them. I personally love the Gossip Girl and Princess Diaries books. They are a quick easy read that makes me laugh. If parents and educators stopped caring so much about the quality of reading material and focused more on the quantity that a child is reading I think they would see a huge rise in the want to read. Believe it or not, overtime you would probably be surprised to see that when a child is allowed to choose what they want to read, they will eventually start choosing better written things.

    Daughter #3 who used to (and sometimes still does) read crappy chick lit, and who now starts every morning with the New York Times.

  6. I had a very productive morning
    Organised the novel outline, scrapped some bad sequences and managed to hammer away at a chapter or two

    If I can keep this pace I’ll have my first draft by Dec 30

  7. Thanks for the reminder

    Just yesterday I did a post about Sweet Valley High on my blog saying I couldn’t believe why I liked them in the first place and that I probably wouldn’t be filling my classroom library with their re-released versions. Reading the comments today were a perfect reminder that the focus should always be on whether or not students are reading rather than what they are reading. Your comments inspired me to write a follow-up to my blog yesterday relating to myself as a reader:

    It was fun to read the article and all of your comments.

  8. “crappy chick lit” I love it!!!!

    All I know is that I have a 15 year old with her nose buried in โ€œcrappy chick litโ€ and the TV has been off most of the summer. Iโ€™m sure happy about that!

  9. I’m gobsmacked that she can’t find diversity of race or socioeconomic class. I don’t even think Rachel made it to the YA or kids’ section, but only looked at the front-of-store paid placements. Le sigh.

    Turns out that rating the article a 1 lowered its stats significantly, btw.

  10. rant and rave

    The rant is disturbing. What is heartening are all the folks who responded with criticisms (they are there, you just have to scroll through the sycophants). It seems as if every 6 months or so someone writes an article or does a sound bite piece on one of the morning shows decrying the sad state of affairs in book-land. SO THEY’RE READING NANCY DREW, SO WHAT? was the title of a great doctoral dissertation some years ago that concluded readers of serial fiction grew up to be readers. Point made.

    WFMAD: all but one day and lots of progress (I think). Thanks for this challenge.

    LOVED you on the red carpet, too. Kudos on the win.


  11. 15

    I only gave 15 minutes to a freelance gig, and gave the rest of my writing time to my WIP. I’m weaving my way through Chapter 18 and it’s a lot more fun to write than the paying work.

  12. Gah, this is after the fact but that rant is annoying.
    1)There are tons and tons of books out there that don’t focus on being rich and petty. Harry Potter anyone??
    2) Everyone likes to read books/watch shows about the rich and shallow. It’s fun escapism.
    3) What do you expect preteeners to read that have been wearing shirts that say brat and sassy on them and playing with bratz dolls since they were toddlers? The problem isn’t with the products but a general sense of entitlement we have today.
    4) The fancy nancy books sound cute and funny

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