Thursday, November 19, 2009

Genres that Don't Exist

I don't believe in children's books. Or young adult fiction. I believe in everyone books. In creating a special section for children or young adults in our book stores, are we not limiting the books they are exposed to? What young adult will go to the barnes and noble Classics section when they can see across the way an array of candy colored books sporting images of hot guys and girls in mini dresses?
I'm not saying that books defined by that genre have no credibility, merely asking what makes it embarrassing if a not so young adult reads that same book? Teen Fiction is, in general, a genre written by grown ups who have forgotten. They don't remember how frustrating it was when they were teens, reading books about people who didn't resemble them at all, hardly resembled humans. This is in turn due to the forgetting; a dangerous spiral. The genre feeds on itself.
Oh, sure, there have been special books through the years, books labled as "transcending genres", but shouldn't all books be like that? What is wrong about adults reading children's books for their own enjoyment? Why would we read them to our kids if we did not believe them to contain some sort of intrinsic value? Similarly, why is it that at some point reading a book like
Gossip Girl or The Clique turns from being respectable into being a guilty pleasure? Those books, while enjoyable, shouldn't morph with the age of the reader. They are trashy no matter at when you read them.
So many times in my life have I heard the words "Isn't that a little mature for you, Phoebe? Aren't you too young for that?" NO, I always wanted to scream. No.
Just the other day I was talking to my brother's girlfriend about Jane Austen. "I was kind of a pretentious kid," says she, "I read all of Austen in Middle School." "Yeah." I answered, "I did too." Why is that pretentious? I was asking within myself. Because Jane Austen doesn't suck?
I believe in everyone books. When I was three and four I would sit quietly and listen to the chapter books my brothers and mother were reading aloud, all of us transfixed by the story. A story transcending generations, age devides, everything. Where do you find that story in the book store? I'll tell you where I would look. In the literature section. The sad thing is, though, I don't think that that is where I would find it.