Didn’t Catholicism deal with blood and resurrected flesh on a daily basis? Wasn’t in an expert in superstition? I somehow doubted that the hospitable plain Protestant chapels that dotted the university could be much help; they didn’t look qualified to wrestle with the undead. I felt sure those big square Puritan churches on the town green would be helpless in the face of a European vampire. A little witch burning was more in their line — something limited to the neighbors.
Logan shivered. He wanted to see dragons, but perhaps not very, very grumpy ones.
Shit just got real.
Why boys don’t read girls (sometimes)
When I do book signings, most of my line is made up of young girls with their mothers, teen girls alone, and mother friend groups. But there’s usually at least one boy with a stack of my books. This boy is anywhere from 8-19, he’s carrying a worn stack of the Books of Bayern, and he’s excited and unashamed to be a fan of those books. As I talk to him, 95% of the time I learn this fact: he is home schooled.
There’s something that happens to our boys in school. Maybe it’s because they’re around so many other boys, and the pressure to be a boy is high. They’re looking around at each other, trying to figure out what it means to be a boy—and often their conclusion is to be “not a girl.” Whatever a girl is, they must be the opposite. So a book written by a girl? With a girl on the cover? Not something a boy should be caught reading.
But something else happens in school too. Without even meaning to perhaps, the adults in the boy’s life are nudging the boy away from “girl” books to “boy” books. When I go on tour and do school visits, sometimes the school will take the girls out of class for my assembly and not invite the boys. I talk about reading and how to fall in love with reading. I talk about storytelling and how to start your own story. I talk about things that aren’t gender-exclusive. But because I’m a girl and there are girls on my covers, often I’m deemed a girl-only author. I wonder, when a boy author goes to those schools with their books with boys on the covers, are the girls left behind? I want to question this practice. Even if no boy ever really would like one of my books, by not inviting them, we’re reinforcing the wrong and often-damaging notion that there’s girls-only stuff and you aren’t allowed to like it.
I hear from teachers that when they read Princess Academy in class (by far the most girlie-sounding of all my books) that the boys initially protest but in the end like it as much as the girls, or as one teacher told me recently, “the boys were even bigger fans than the girls.”
Another staple in my signing line is the family. The mom and daughters get their books signed, and the mom confides in me, “My son reads your books on the sly” or “My son loves your books too but he’s embarrassed to admit it.” Why are they embarrassed? Because we’ve made them that way. We’ve told them in subtle ways that, in order to be a real boy, to be manly, they can’t like anything girls like.
Though sometimes those instructions aren’t subtle at all. Recently at a signing, a family had all my books. The mom had me sign one of them for each of her children. A 10-year-old boy lurked in the back. I’d signed some for all the daughters and there were more books, so I asked the boy, “Would you like me to sign one to you?” The mom said, “Yeah, Isaac, do you want her to put your name in a girl book?” and the sisters all giggled.
As you can imagine, Isaac said no.
People who say this stuff isn’t socialized… I see it all the damn time. Most people are just so inured to it, they don’t notice when it’s happening or even when they perpetuate it.
I am so fucking done with YA books where the authors think the only way to make a girl awesome is to talk about how stupid all other girls are.
That’s actually something I was thinking about re: Spindle’s End, and how much I love the relationship between Rosie and Peony especially. Like she starts out making you think she’s going to be all “girly girls are stupid!” but then changes direction to the far superior “It’s okay to be girly or not girly, and also you can be friends with someone who is not exactly the same as you are, and it’s all great!” It’s especially nice coming off the Agatha H novels, which, while the second was full of badass women, still for some reason did that “Girls are stupid!” bullshit.
The kid who did not take The Book Thief may or may not have gone with Will Grayson, Will Grayson.
I gave his mom my stamp of approval for that one, but she was apparently scandalised by the content in Impulse so I’m kind of hoping they’re both shocked by the frank style of David Levithan. (John Green, while he may possibly scandalise some parents, seems in general more fluffy and less hard-edged than Levithan to me.)
There must be blood, the girl thought. There must always be blood. The Green Wind said that, so it must be true. It will all be hard and bloody, but there will be wonders, too, or else why bring me here at all? And it’s the wonders I’m after, even if I have to bleed for them.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente
I’m having a really hard time not quoting ALL of this book to EVERYONE. I’m pretty sure the people who are friends with me on facebook are going to want to murder me by the end of the day.