It’s funny what you’re tipping points are in life; What the figurative nail in the coffin is, or exactly what it is that finally snaps that poor camel’s back in half. For me, and what led to the creation of this blog, was the uttering of these ten, ridiculous uninformed, words:
“Oh, well I don’t want to read a Girl book.” My immediate reaction: OMFG…
Let me explain. As an avid reader and a person who has recently entered into a career in publishing, I am known to my friends as a ‘Booky’. I am often called upon to make suggestions for reading lists, and more often than not my friends and family are more than satisfied with my suggestions. I tailor each book to meet what I think are the readers desires and I send them on their merry way (if I can help it, to an independent bookstore).
Enter my friend Ron. The convo is as follows. Ron is looking for something new to read, I ask him if he has ever read or heard of The Kite Runner. Affirmative. Well then, I say, you should really check out A Thousand Splendid Suns, also written by Khaleo Hosseini. It’s set during the war in Iraq, its fairly action packed while still maintaining every bit of literary quality that you would find in The Kite Runner. Ron nods his head, up and down, he’s on board, I’m totally making the sale. Yeah, I say, its a fantastic read, the prose is eloquent and it is from the first person narrative two Afghan women who find themselves married to the same man.
Sales tip #1: When you’ve made the sale, for god sake stop selling. It is here that I have found i’ve gone too far. Insert the quotation that started it all, “Oh, well I don’t want to read a Girl book.” Holy Fawk…
I’m at a loss. Here I have an award-winning, well received, popularly consumed by readers, literary sensation, and my friend doesn’t want to read it because its ‘a Girl book’. How on earth is this a girl book? It can’t possibly be the setting; Afghanistan before, during, and after the war, a popular setting for many new books and a topic of interest relevant to current affairs. Does it not have enough action? A war-torn country on the verge of absolute collapse after the complete and utter upheaval of its’ political system from Taliban insurgents. There is terror, captivity, secrecy, and escape. Sounds pretty gripping to me. Nope? Must be the female protagonists; don’t want to get inside their heads! Though that seemed to work just fine in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series with Lisbeth Salander. I suppose she was grittier than the average female.
I will wrap this up here so that my good friend does not feel as though I have used him as a target, though I suppose I did…just a tiny bit. This isn’t an uncommon response, and for the record, I can agree with the idea that there are certainly books out there that are targeted specifically to women, just as there are books that are written with male readers in mind. But, to keep my head from exploding and others from missing out on a mind blowing read, I would like to acknowledge the difference. A Thousand Splendid Suns is a book for everyone to read. A ‘Girly’ book, I guess if I had to choose one, might be The Devil Wears Prada.
Men of the world, please do not skip reading books, or seeing films (ahem, Bridesmaids – I know plenty who missed out on this one), because of some silly notion that they are only for women. You will only continue to miss out on what the other half of the world has already agreed is pretty fantastic.