Monday, 6 June 2011

I Turned Out All Right

The hot potato in the book blogosphere at the moment is that Wall Street Journal article on Young Adult fiction. I don't read a lot of YA books now and I didn't read ANY when I was a teen. I read adult books. I do remember writing a Standard Grade dissertation on Trainspotting (I would have been 14 or 15) and it didn't disturb me or turn me into a junkie. If anything, it will have put me right off a life of crime and drugs if I'd been so inclined.

I also remember reading a lot of Dick Francis, where people get killed or attacked on a regular basis, and the occasional Stephen King. I also read plenty of books with sex in and I managed not to get myself pregnant. Shock horror!

The thing is, books don't have ratings like films. Just because a book is aimed at one age doesn't mean there are any restrictions to it other than what parents allow. If we start adding certificates to books, what on earth will kids study in school? Romeo and Juliet is all about civil war, murder and suicide, do we stop teenagers studying it? Let's face it, R&J was the original YA read, two teenage lovers getting in a pickle (Juliet was only 14).


  1. I'd find it quite useful having ratings for books just so I knew what I was getting myself into! Not age ratings, but something like the ESRB descriptors they put on games e.g, "Intense violence", "Strong sexual content", etc. Perhaps not the rather specific ones like "Mild simulated gambling" :)

    I think knowing that people were going to get naked in advance would only increase sales.

  2. Interesting post. I didn't realize that YA vs adult literature was a hot topic right now, so I reckon I'll have to check it out. (And don't forget that major bugaboo, at least here in the States, of the Holy Bible--if you had to put a movie rating on it overall, it would have to be R, or even NC-17. But the religious right doesn't want to talk about the content of its most holy book.)

  3. Mike: I've seen them on some books. Whoever publishes the Kitty the Werewolf series in the UK has symbols that give a brief overview of the content. As long as they don't start putting "mild peril" on everything. WTF is mild peril?

  4. I must say I'm not a fan of rating books for any reason. It just sounds like the next step will be more overt censorship. If you want to know what your kids are reading, read it too. Then discuss it. If you don't like what you are reading, put the book down. The whole point of reading is to use your brain. Sorry, I'll get off my soap box now.

  5. yeah, that article cracked me up. As a teen (back in the dark ages) I read Stephen King and Virginia Andrews (VA for god's sake!!) - I'm pretty sure what's available these days isn't worse than that!


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