05 September 2014

Books don't have gender

I've just been made aware that "women's fiction" is a thing. Like, it's an actual, recognized literary genre? I'm ... confused.

Is "women's fiction" supposed to refer to the gender of the author? Of the protagonist(s)? Of the intended audience?

Oh no. It's the last one, isn't it? "Women's fiction" is a catch-all for "stuff (marketers think) The Womenfolks like to read", isn't it?

Oh, I should really not look up the definition of "women's fiction", should I? It'll just annoy me, won't it?



*resis ...* oh, fuck it. *Googling*

Gawd-dammit, I was right. I'm annoyed:
"Women’s fiction is just that: fiction about women’s issues for a female readership. However, it is not the same as chick lit or romance. While utilizing literary prose, women’s fiction is very commercial in its appeal. Its characters are often women attempting to overcome both personal and external adversity. Although women’s fiction often incorporates grave situations such as abuse, poverty, divorce, familial breakdown, and other social struggles, it can also explore positive aspects within women’s lives. Romantic love stories are also part of women’s fiction, and although love stories are found in chick lit and romance, the mature depth and tone of their development within women’s fiction set them apart from other genre classifications." (agentquery.com)
Why?! Why why why do we even have terms like "women's fiction" and "chick lit" - unnecessary, inaccurate, and condescending labels that downplay women as authors and readers.

As if I'm going to browse bookstore signage like, "Oh good, there's a 'women's fiction' shelf ... thank goodness they have a section for the penis-impaired! No need for me to wander into Man-Land where they keep the mysteries and scifi and thrillers and male protagonists. And certainly no reason for the penis-endowed to come anywhere near MY aisle."

Can you even imagine if there were corresponding genres of "men's fiction" and "dick lit"?

Ridiculous, right?


Why would it be ridiculous to corral specific books into a made-up, marginalizing genre of 'men's fiction', but NOT ridiculous to draw that line around what women should want to read - and, by extension, what men should NOT want to read?

There's just no good reason for this divisive label to even exist. Even the definition above makes it clear that the "genre" is a made-up mashup:
"... fiction about women's issues"?
Really?! REALLY?!?!

And what, pray tell, is a "women's issue"?

"Family, romance, and social struggles", say the marketers?

Oh yes, those are obviously the only subjects women want to read about - and, by extension, that only women want to read about - and so they should be clearly labeled as such.
"... for a female readership"?
Well, we wouldn't want anyone getting confused and accidentally reading a book intended for a different gender.

I love books. I love lists. I have soooo many book lists: Literally thousands of titles sorted just about every way you can imagine: By genre, by author, by subject, by series, by date, by cover type, by year read, by year re-read, by to-be-read, by recommendation, by rating, by personal review... Everything marked, everything 'membered.

But it would never have occurred to me to assign any of them a gender.


Nope. Not even that one.

So can we please just liberate the "women's fiction" and let them re-join their long-lost brothers and sisters in the genderless fiction aisles?

Then we can have a talk about those SFF covers.


09 May 2014

01 May 2014

More books for the to-read mountain. I might have an addiction.

More books for the to-read mountain. I might have an addiction.

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28 April 2014

It’s possible my “To Read” pile might be...

It’s possible my “To Read” pile might be getting a tad out of control. #ReadAllTheBooks!

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03 March 2014

Book Review: The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastards #3) by Scott Lynch

The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastard, #3) The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this series. I cannot say enough good things about the characters and world building, the tone and pacing, the plot and prose. That said, this may be my least favorite book so far in the series - and yet it had some of my favorite moments in the series, as well. Oh, I know, that sounds contradictory. And maybe it is. Lemme ‘splain.

First, if you’ve read the first two Gentleman Bastards books (and if you haven’t, for gods’s sake, don’t try to start the series with book 3! That’s just uncivilized in general and in this specific case would be a tragic disservice to yourself as a reader.) Ahem, as I was saying, if you’ve read the first two books, you know that the storytelling pattern here is two timelines unfolding at once: The “Now” timeline, juxtaposed with interludes from the “Past”: Locke’s (and Jean’s and Sabetha’s) childhood years.

In the “Now” timeline of this installment, we have The Heist Plot and The Relationship Plot - it’s up for debate as to whether the heist is the “Plot” and the Relationship is the “SubPlot”. I, personally, think of them the other way ‘round.

In the “Past” timeline, the interludes unveiled a “Past Heist” and “Past Relationship” plots as well. Through all three of his books, Mr. Lynch does a terrific job of pacing the reveals and twists and turns of each timeline and each plot with excellent timing so that the unfolding stories complement in a most satisfying manner.

In Republic of Thieves, though, I found something lacking in the The Heist of the “Now” timeline. This was somewhat disappointing considering how fantastic The Heist plots were in the previous two books. This one just fell flat in several areas, including a huge overall “huh?” factor when it came to the motivation of the “Clients”. There were a few fantastic signature “Gentlemen Bastard” moments, though, that mostly made up for the overall “meh” I felt about The Heist.

But if The Heist Plot left something wanting, The “Now” Relationship Plot and the plot/subplot of the “Past” Interludes more than made up for it. Maybe it has something two do with the two books’ worth of teasing, (You are slightly evil, Mr. Lynch. Anyone ever tell you that?) but I was so full of antici … pation about finally “meeting” Sabetha and seeing her and Locke together that I was actually afraid the reality could not live up to the hype. But it did. I love these characters together - past and present - and I cannot wait to see how The Relationship unfolds as The Heists continue in the next books.

Trying to stay spoiler-free and not give away a bit of a “twist” toward the end of the book, I will say that Lynch introduced a new and pretty much un-foreshadowed element in this third installment of Locke’s story (Yes, I ADORE Jean and Sabetha, but let’s be honest, this is Locke’s story.) that I’m not entirely sure I am going to like. But this author has more than earned the benefit of my doubt and I will be very interested to see where the next book takes my favorite Gentlemen Bastards.

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