What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
I’m very excited to see more intense feminist dystopian fiction being published. For years, it felt like I only had Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Then came Hillary Jordan’s When She Woke and The Blondes by Emily Schultz. Now we’ve got Louise Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God, Maggie Shen King’s An Excess Male, and Naomi Alderman’s The Power, with more on the way!
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
I serve a very diverse student population that includes avid comics readers and aspiring comics creators. Both superhero and indie comics creators and publishers have worked hard to make their characters more varied by race, gender, and background. We have the teenage Muslim Kamala Khan in G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel, the intrepid 1980s nostalgia-soaked girl gang in Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughn, and a very fluid representation of gender and sexuality in the Jem reboot by Kelly Thompson. I hope that more and more varied characters will be included as the industry moves entirely away from just representation into complete integration and effortless inclusion. My students all deserve to see themselves in their favorite medium.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
Every book has its reader. That said, I’d be happy to never see another tone deaf memoir from an American who travels to another country and relates an exotic/spiritual experience without real thought about that country’s actual citizens.
I could also do without every YA book containing a love triangle and/or love interest. In particular, books with a teen girl protagonist are saturated with relationship concerns. I am not alone in remembering there were plenty of times during my teen years when I was focused on other pursuits such as academics, building friendships, teaching myself new skills, and/or just making weird classic rock collages. The more emphasis that can be placed on these teen girl characters exploring their own passions and personalities, the stronger the collective can grow.
Before you write me off as an old prune, please know that I have enjoyed plenty of great teen books with a romantic focus by Becky Albertalli, Jenny Han, e. lockhart, and Sandhya Menon. A good teen romance has the power to teach teens about boundaries, respect, and the mechanics of relationships. I simply want there to be more varied content in what we can offer this group.
What do you want to change about publishing?
I’ve been experiencing trilogy fatigue for the past several years. There are definitely trilogies that are well-paced and well-planned out, such as Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle series. However, some of these sagas really only have enough content for one book. All this stretching the story across three volumes often feels like a really unnecessary move.
What’s unique about libraries in the context of the publishing industry?
Librarians are some of the best book handsellers around! One of the best parts of being a librarian is linking older books to newer books while doing a reader’s advisory. Without the limitations of marketing for profit and/or only showcasing new books, a librarian can focus on specific patrons’ needs to put the best items in their hands. It often feels that many members of my profession do this type of automatic cross-referencing as second nature. I think it’s a thing of beauty when applied to a library’s collection at a patron’s request.
Jennie Law is a reference and instruction librarian at Georgia State University in Atlanta. She enjoys conducting reference interviews, running a comics book club for adults, and researching intersectional comics history. Jennie is also the co-host of the Newbery Tart podcast.