Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Walking the Walk

So girls, I was reading a post the other day by the ever-amusing Merry Sisters of Fate. They were discussing why it is okay for us old folks to watch teen movies, but not read teen books. Tess brought up the "walk of shame into the YA section," (been there) and Maggie mentioned how women come to her signings and apologize for not being a teen.

At first I was thinking that I don't feel bad about reading YA. I mean, I LOVE it (obviously), but then I realized that to my non-YA-reading friends I often qualify my reading choices by saying, "It's all my mama brain can handle these days." Ouch. I've said that a lot. And really, it takes away from the complexity that is YA lit these days. Sometimes I find myself re-reading certain passages a few times to make sure I *get* what just happened. Other times I am blown away by a surprise twist that the author throws out. YA Lit doesn't mean easy, but I myself am guilty of shamefully bowing my head and pretending that it is just that - easy and fluffy.

The sisters do ask a good question - WHY do we do this?

PhotobucketI'm completely ashamed to admit this, but I'm guilty of having just done the "closet read" last weekend. You know what I'm talking about, ladies. When you're sitting on the airplane and you position the book on your lap so that the only way anyone can see the cover is to pry it out of your dead, cold hands.

Of course, I am an equal opportunity offender. I've taken more dust jackets off Charlaine Harris novels than I have YA books. Maybe that's because I always default to the "I'm a teacher" line if anyone questions my YA selections. Ew, I'm cringing as I'm typing that. After all, the only excuse we should need for reading what we read is because we like it, right?

Exacty! I regularly find myself saying, "I have a degree in English Lit, so I've read all the classics. It's okay for me to read this stuff right now." I'm cringing too. "This stuff," however, also includes the Charlaine Harris books . My Walk of Shame is not limited to the YA section. Before True Blood mania hit, I would take my Southern Vampire Series books up to the front of the store quite quickly and place it face down at the register. But, you're right - these books are what we like - what's the shame in that? And, they're good.

Okay, I have to admit that I don't actually feel shame. I mean, I'm sure I'm CAPABLE of being shamed, but not by my reading choices. I love to read, and I read a lot. I refuse to hide what I'm reading because it doesn't fit into the genre society has decided a 30ish mom should be reading.

Of course, I also refuse to hide the fact that I'm a video game girl, and I was known to wear green nail polish and anime tee shirts all through college. So, yeah. Maybe you should just continue this conversation without me. *runs off to teach her kids what a Moogle is*

PhotobucketWhen I was reading and swooning about Twilight, a lot of my friends razzed me about it. Then the movie came out, and suddenly all the naysayers were Facebooking about how tired they were because they had stayed up all night to finish reading the book. It's as though they needed validation to read it, and the movie franchise gave them the excuse they needed.

Well, that's a sort of group mentality that affects all of society. It's like if all the popular girls in school started playing Dungeons and Dragons, then suddenly it'd be "acceptable" to play it too. And who, in today's culture, represents the popular girls better than Hollywood?

Photobucket*going into shock* You mean it wasn't acceptable to play Dungeons and Dragons? Does this mean I wasn't as popular as I thought I was?!

But it was cool to play Cthulu, right? RIGHT?!

*confused face* Cthulu? Dungeons and Dragons? What the hell are you guys talking about? *smirk*

But you do make a good point. Once Twilight became a major phEEEnomenon (Thank you Oprah for ruining that word forEVAH), it did seem more socially acceptable to read and love those books. And, I think it's also more acceptable to read YA in general after Twilight. The girls in my book sharing club don't give me too much trouble about me only sharing YA books. In fact, they love them too. They just don't have to walk into the YA section - they all borrow mine. Cheaters.

So, what about you all? Do you do the Walk of Shame into the YA section at your local bookstore? Do you order online to avoid The Shame? Do you make up excuses like Cher and I, or do you flounce The Shame like Leigh? Do tell!



  1. DITTO! To just about everything you all wrote! Because of you ladies, I've been more open to reading YA Lit again (thanks!) I haven't in many, many years. And, didn't even know there was a separate section until I was buying some books for a friend's daughter a couple of months ago-based on some of Rain's recommendations (Thanks again!)--I was wandering the children's section for FAR too many moments-and was fine in there-b/c it's obvious I was buying for a child. But then, I found the YA section. And, even though I was honestly, at the time, buying a book for a tween-I was so embarassed and kept making sure the list in my hand was totally obvious-like, "SEE! I'm buying for someone else...not mee ooohhh nooo, hahaha, not me." I scurried away as fast as possible.

    I bought Twilight the first time about a year before the movie at an airport on a whim--and I didn't know anything about it to know to cover the title :). I had NO idea what was to come. When I went to buy New Moon-I had no idea where to look-but then found a special Twilight section-since Eclipse had recently-ish come out--so I still never realized there was a YA section. But, by the time I saw the Twilight section, I felt my first pangs of shame. It was so open! I kept thining, everyone can see me picking it up! I think I bought something else "respectable" to throw them off(like a teenager buying condoms and a crossword puzzle and some gum to distract from the condoms). My brother in law and I shared supernatural themed books-and I wanted to give him Twilight-but was embarassed to recommend it b/c it was YA. But, I bit the bullet and did-and he ended up LOVING it and being my Twilight Buddy. My sister and husband still REFUSE to play along and think we're dorks b/c of the YA piece of it. I'm sure that's where some of my pangs come from--my sister thinks YA is lame. Well, she's lame : P That's what I say :)

    When I had to buy for myself the first time (not online) and now knew about the YA section, I totally did the walk of shame. My husband wouldn't even come into the section with me (he's as big of a book snob as I am). I still am totally uncomfortable shopping in the YA section--but this does make me start to rethink that. It's ludicrous. Good books are indeed good books.

    The only other books I've bought that are embarassing are Laurell K Hamilton books--but mostly b/c they look like romance novels-and the early ones had titles that really really sounded like romance novels--and they're about a vampire slayer. If they were obviously about vampires and slayers-I'd be all hell yeah, I'm buying this. But, they don't-it's alway some half-naked chick in weird positions and names like "Guilty Pleasures." Really?! AND I do the closet read of those on planes ALL the time!!! I'm so glad I'm not alone in that. I crack the spine as much as possible so I can fold them over and block the cover!

    And, I've done the Rain thing too--explain it all away by pointing out that I have a degree in English and need some "junk food" every now and then. Sad.

    What a great discussion idea! Love it! (And sorry I'm so verbose! I try to stop it-and I can't!)

  2. Hah! Picksee - I adore you. I have to admit - after reading the entire Twilight saga, I re-read To Kill a Mockingbird (before starting the saga all over again) just to prove to myself that I could read a classic. (Even though I've read more "classics" than I can count!)

    And the Laurell K Hamilton books - I want to get them, but the Shame! Kind of like buying a Black Dagger Brotherhood book. SO embarrassing! Oh well - we like what we like!

  3. I used to do the walk of shame, but lately I've realized I just don't care. I walk into the local Borders and my feet automatically take me straight to YA! I still browse the literature section, but always after I've picked up at least 1 YA (usually a rec from this site, love you guys!).

  4. At least its called YA for you guys. There's a huge TEEN sign looming above me when I go in to buy a YA book *shudder* but I'm fine with actually reading them in public now so that's a start right? :o)

  5. never felt the walk of shame because figure people will just think i am buying for my kid. Also now I have a Kindle and can download in the privacy of my own home ANY book I want and nobody knows.

  6. I never feel ashamed. As far as I'm concerned YA is as high quality (if not higher) than any "adult" fiction I could be reading. It's my understanding that it is easier to get published in that genre (though with its popularity I doubt that is still true) so I assume that a myriad of authors is hiding in the YA section just waiting for me to discover them. (Or rather, waiting for you to find and blog them, then I get them from the library, lol). Anyway, when the caliber of writing and imagination I see in YA makes its way back into the adult section I'll find books there. Otherwise, YA is where it is at for me, and the list of must reads keeps growing. No end in sight.

  7. Oddly enough, I did the walk of shame more when I was a teenager. Like, at sixteen I could not let anyone see me reading my worn, over-read copies of The Vampire Diaries (the cheesy covers didn't help. Why do they put awful artistic renderings of the characters on the cover, why God WHY!?)

    Now, with the explosion of the YA market I have no qualms about reading YA books, or people seeing me read them, or even recommending them to friends. Especially since there are so many brilliantly written books. MT Anderson or Lauren Oliver, anyone?

  8. P.S. Leigh, I see you are writing a book with a love triangle involving a ghost. If you haven't already, I would recommend reading Meg Cabot's Mediator series.

    Cheer :)



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