Morning, Sparklers and Manklers! Today in newspapers, the Growns are super surprised at how wellThe Fault in Our Stars did opening weekend (it beat out that Tom Cruise thing with the giant Lego guns!), and have YOU to thank—YOU being what they have dubbed “Book Girls.” Here are the highlights in NPR’s somewhat reductionist portrait of you, the Smart, Nerd-Proud Youths:
Who are the Book Girls? They are readers, and in this particular case, they are girls and women… On the young end, they may only be 10 or 11; they remain demographically Book Girls at least through college. And they do, on a broad scale, seen in large groups, seem to emerge as a type that is in a sense unfair to all of them but feels like a weighted average: They dress for comfort; they pull their hair back. They move in groups, they drink iced coffee, they talk about podcasts, I secretly suspect as I eyeball their earbuds that all their music is playlists, and they read all the time. They have The Fault In Our Stars shirts that say “Okay” and “Okay” in word balloons, they are very glad Harry and Hermione never got together because that would have been terribly reductive, and they consider power and individuality to be topics for books that are at least as important as kissing.
Book Girls also live in trees and feed on acorns. They don’t use cars they jump rope between places. Their hair is also made of books.
Okay, so that’s all a little bit cliched, and leaves out older girls (like your Sparkitors) who remain within the bounds of Book Girl behavior, not to mention our esteemed Manklers, but Linda Holmes does say something really nice about you guys a moment later:
They, moving and talking and starring and sharing and making fan art and packing paperbacks in their pocketbooks, have helped create a space where girls who fight and feel things are not genre-breaking but genre-defining elements.
This is actually pretty huge: In my teens, I only got Now and Then, which, let’s be honest, is just a weak-sauce version of Stand By Me. And it goes the other way: a METRIC TON of adults are reading YA fiction right now. It might have been kicked off with The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, but the hysteria in adult circles over Rainbow Rowell is something to behold. The hysteria is so great, Sparklers, that just last week, the grumpy old adult internet erupted into a fireball over whether adults should read YA, thanks to a particularly stupid essay by Slate. Here’s the dumbest line in it:
Today’s YA, we are constantly reminded, is worldly and adult-worthy. That has kept me bashful about expressing my own fuddy-duddy opinion: Adults should feel embarrassed about reading literature written for children.
Oh, YA novels about coming of age, finding an identity (sexual and otherwise), breaking gender norms and so on are childish?
Of course, I’ve already defended The Fault in Our Stars against all those fuddy duddy critiques that it is “contrived” or “manipulative.” (If it’s just a cynical ploy to turn a Kleenex commercial into a feature-length film, why did I cry the most goldfish during the happy parts???)
Anyway, you know what they say: If you’re worth gossiping about, take it as a compliment.
Are you a “Book Girl”? Do you take it as a compliment? What makes you a book girl? Acorns?