Two of my favorite aspects about the YA world: passion and idealism. Neither is simply about a love of the books—though it all starts there—it’s also about a love for one another, for the intended audience and for the larger community. Sometimes that passion and idealism manifests in superpositive, generous ways.
Read Bookshelves of Doom's favorite books of 2011.
Other times, not so much: controversies spring up like mushrooms. Some die out almost immediately, while others snowball. Tempers flare and we do see the occasional flounce, but these mini-tempests are often constructive—in a roundabout way—because the discussions that come out of them are, while often heated, still thoughtful.
A couple of the biggies of 2011:
In February, Bitch magazine released a list of 100 YA Books for the Feminist Reader. Shortly thereafter, due to a few complaints, the creators of the list three books—Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott; Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce; and Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan—because they didn’t approve of how the books dealt with sexual assault.
A massive storm erupted and spilled out into the greater YA blogosphere. Accusations of censorship were raised, which led to the inevitable “What is censorship?” debate. Authors still on the list asked for their books to be removed and those requests were denied, which set off another round of back and forth. Ultimately, Bitch invited readers to join an online YA book club to read (among others) the three books pulled from the list. As you’ll see from the comments section at that post, the invitation generated a mixed response.
In March (and April!), we were fascinated by the Wicked Pretty Things brouhaha. It kicked off when author Jessica Verday wrote a blog post called Being Gay is OK, in which she explained that she’d pulled her contribution to an upcoming Running Press anthology because she’d been informed by her editor that a male/male romance was unacceptable to the publisher. Her editor posted a somewhat flip response about the situation in the comments section, and it just got bigger and uglier from there.
HOLY COW, this one was huge. So huge that it would take, like, 14 columns for me to recount it all. Very, very long story short, Running Press said that the editor was mistaken in her assumption, but at least 10 authors pulled out of the 14-story anthology in solidarity with Verday, and the whole book was eventually canceled. Cleolinda at Occupation: Girl ran excellent comprehensive coverage throughout, and even though it all finally wrapped up in August—when Verday announced what she was doing with the story—it still makes for totally engrossing reading.
That’s not remotely all of them, of course! There was also the #YAMafia debate and #YASaves, the sudden death and miraculous resurrection of Monstrumology, a yearlong conversation about the casting of The Hunger Games movie, the banning of Slaughterhouse-Five and Twenty Boy Summer at a Missouri high school, Katie Crouch’s Slate piece, the Shine/Chime aural malfunction at the National Book Awards, and even now, there’s ongoing chatter and discussion about recent revelations about #fridayreads.
I know I must have missed a few. Any personal favorites?
If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or doing her librarian thing, Leila Roy is probably maniacally organizing all of her music into far-too-specific Spotify playlists.