Happy Holidays, lovely readers! Welcome to another exciting installment of Book Beat, brought to you by your editor Paige. As this is the last Book Beat of 2018, I can’t help but feel a bit thoughtful about this past year. For many, 2018 was both the longest and shortest year by far. There were so many amazing highs and devastating lows that globally we’re all suffering from a case of whiplash. But we made it, readers. That is an achievement that deserves a round of applause.
So, I’m going easy on you in this Book Beat. You’re likely hanging out with your friends and family, after all. But in the meantime, let’s gently slide into 2019 together with the latest news from this week.
Twitter Gets Spicy with Controversial Book Opinions
Book Twitter is arguably the epicenter of the nebulous book community, the place where everyone from professionals to casual readers can easily come together, converse… and, in many cases, debate about literature. For the most part, these debates are more civil than expected from an online forum, which has always been this community’s biggest strength. However, everything changed when University of Southern California professor Ryan Boyd requested the book community’s most controversial book opinions.
From this simple question sparked dozens of brush fires across Twitter. Users have been taking shots at the classics, genre conventions, and even the practice of dog-earring. Here are some of the juiciest and most thought-provoking entries in this call for opinions — and if they’re not enough, delve into the official Twitter Moment for all your literary drama needs.
Harry Potter is really, really bad. In like every way possible, from all standpoints, the entire series is awful https://t.co/4TPmwg62vD
— Elle (they/them) (@ellle_em) December 22, 2018
Romance novels are one of the best and most vital, quality genres—yet romance is consistently and wrongfully demeaned as unimportant. https://t.co/08yoXYNxY3
— Molli Moran (@molliwrites) December 22, 2018
I have no patience for the parents who opt their kids out of reading books that confront racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. Teens are fucking smart. You’re doing them no favors by “shielding” them from narratives that will make them examine their own privilege and biases. https://t.co/7pKusQJQXw
— rebecca “anti penne noodle” mix (@mixbecca) December 22, 2018
The idea that being well-read can make someone a better person is a lie that's more of a way for readers to assign some moral quality to what they like. Compassion for fictional characters is not compassion for real humans. It doesn't require as much work and sensitivity. https://t.co/IU2MZX1ZHo
— Zito (@_Zeets) December 21, 2018
E-books are good for the environment, give more people access to books and make moving easier, so they are ultimately good for literature even tho you love the feel of a book in your hands omg https://t.co/hg4nzKFTuf
— Daniel José Older (@djolder) December 24, 2018
Books are meant to be read. Not worshipped https://t.co/wDYaM5N6jJ
— ❄Mikki Kendall❄ (@Karnythia) December 22, 2018
PW Misses the Cultural Mark with its 2018 Persons of the Year
One of the reasons 2018 has felt like such a whiplash year? The changing sociopolitical landscape that has arisen due to a few unfortunate decisions made in the U.S. lately. The Trump presidency has seen a rising tide of conservatism and discriminatory oppression in its wake, but an even more powerful countermovement of marginalized resistance and empowerment has followed. I could spend an entire article praising the efforts of marginalized communities for literary and employment representation in the publishing industry, for example. But I honestly didn’t think it would be necessary — surely some publication would see and reward those efforts, right?
Well, uh… no. Every year, industry professionals wait for the Publishers Weekly Person of the Year announcement. Considering the past tumultuous year, this anticipation was no different. However, the final results have left a lot to be desired. Rather than choose one person, the publication chose multiple — specifically, the (white) publishers who have published bestselling Trump-related books. PW desired to “reflect the importance of the role that the Trump administration played in spurring the publication—and sales—of dozens and dozens of books” and to “[highlight] the important role books play in furthering the debate about our current political climate.”
Yet there are several optics issues with this choice, as numerous industry professionals and authors have pointed out online. During a time when the media continuously gives Trump the spotlight, this was a chance to give that attention to deserving leaders of color in the industry. It also seems a little weird that authors of color with incredible milestones and powerful social messages were not chosen either. The decision feels tone deaf, especially with the justification that book sales are more important than harmful cultural impact. Can 2019 be the year we finally give POC their chance to shine, please?
“We took this approach to reflect the importance of the role that the Trump administration played in spurring the publication…of books.”
You could’ve picked POC in leadership roles and highlighted their work resisting this administration.
— Patrice Caldwell – on hiatus (@whimsicallyours) December 21, 2018
And SPECIFICALLY Trump books, when over the past couple years, The Hate U Give topped the NYT list for 50+ weeks and N.K Jamison has won three Hugo’s in a row, and the arc of publishing is finally (slowly)?curving towards diverse voice and the market supports that?!
— shing yin khor (@sawdustbear) December 21, 2018
Vote in the 2019 Bookmarked Awesome Awards
Okay, shameless plug time. It’s the end of the year, and you readers know that there has been a lot of fantastic — and not so fantastic — moments in the publishing industry. And strangely enough, the various Best of 2018 lists that pop up around this time rarely delve into the industry’s most interesting moments. Luckily, you have us here at Bookmarked to fill the void.
This year, we’re hosting the Awesome Awards! From Best Book-to-Film Adaptation to Publishing’s Biggest WTF Moment, these awards will highlight nine specific literary categories we think best represent this year in books. Check out the following post for our full list of categories and nominees. If you want to cast your vote in this annual event, I encourage you to become a WWAC Patreon!
Bookmarked and WWAC will announce the results of the 2019 Awesome Awards in early January, so stay tuned.
Out This Week
Words to Love By written by Rick Warren and illustrated by Ag Jatkowska
The Hive Queen by Tui T. Sutherland
True Places by Sonja Yoerg
Watching You by Lisa Jewell
Happy Thursday, and see you all in 2019!