Warning: This post written around midnight and may be incoherent due to the blogger's tiredness. He hopes it all makes sense somehow.
OK, everybody and their mother has weighed in on this and the other topic I'm covering today, so I'll try to keep this short.
Last week, BITCH magazine unveiled their first ever book list and I imagine that the uproar it caused will give them plenty to think about (we hope) if they ever do another one. See, what happened was that a list of the 100 Young Adult books for the Feminist Reader was posted and it had some amazing books on there. It was a wonderful starting place for feminist reads as there are definitely more than 100 and it was a great idea for a list like this to be posted.
A few comments in though, someone brought up a review from the Book Smugglers about Sisters Red and a whole "rape culture" debate that went on because they misinterpreted a passage from the book and then went on a rampage of hate for the book. I was so angry reading that review and the comments because it was like these people were stupid and didn't understand how fiction works.
But anyway, as soon as the link to the review was placed on the list's post, the author of the list said "Oh, I didn't know about this. Sisters Red is off!" and replaced it with a different book.
Yes, that's right. ONE comment that linked to ONE negative review got a book taken off. The author of the post said that she hadn't done enough research and hadn't found any negative reviews. Has she not heard of Amazon or GoodReads? I'm sure there are plenty of 1 or 2 star reviews that point out this absurd viewpoint. Either way, ALL books, especially the ones on this list, are bound to have detractors. I mean, some of them have been challenged in school districts; this just means that they're really good because parents are afraid of their child finding out about the real world. Which seems to be what Bitch Media is doing, though they're not doing a good job by leaving Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson and Sold by Patricia McCormick on the list. To me, these are not bad books, but if you're getting rid of a book that doesn't even have rape in it and saying it does, then you should probably take off the books that actually show the horrors of humanity.
What bothers me about this list is that Bitch Media didn't stand by it. They made a list, posted it on the internet for all to see, and then caved when one person comes along and says they thought a book sucked and therefore shouldn't be on the list. When you make a list for your blog, even if it's a long 100 book list, you need to have reasons for placing the books there so you can tell haters why you're recommending it. Even if you haven't read the book in question and had just been recommended it by several other people, write down THEIR reasons and stand by them. The first rule of blogging is never back down. Never let readers control your blog and what you post. If I ever post a list of recommended books here, I'm not gonna let some random commenter make me change the list because they didn't like a book. This is MY list, not yours. If you don't like a book I put there, make your own list.
In the end though, Bitch Media lost TONS of integrity by taking three books off the list- Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce, Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott, and Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan- and making the list way less feminist than it was. Even though there were very few comments requesting those books' removal, apparently it was bigger than the 50 bajillion comments supporting those books and how they had helped people who had been victims of rape. So the saying is true- one person can cause change. Just not in the way we intended.
Read Diana Peterfreund's take on all of this, and she also includes lots of links to other people who chimed in with their thoughts. Also, The Book Smugglers posted their thoughts about the whole fiasco (which they should since it was their fault to begin with).
OK, so that was WAY longer than it was meant to be, but when I'm angry, I get on a roll. Last week also marked the latest in Blogger Backlash. During a YA Lit Chat on Twitter, there were tons of comments made about how bloggers are taking all the ARCs away from teachers and librarians and how we don't deserve them because we do nothing at all and are only in it for the free books.
Yes, there are people out there who think that. Yes, I'd like to punch them as well.
But what they fail to realize is that ALL groups have bad apples. Now, I haven't come into contact with any, which is wonderful, but there are bad librarians out there. There are also bad teachers. Should those groups be judged by the actions of a few? Absolutely not. So why should we?
Just because you've come into contact with one greedy, rude blogger doesn't mean we're all like that. All of my blogger friends are in it for the love of books and their passion for reading. ARCs are just a perk. Pretty much all of us didn't even know ARCs existed until we'd already started our book blogs and we could probably keep our blogs going without them. They are helpful to have, but not necessary.
As for bloggers receiving ARCs, that's up to the publisher. If they decided to not give us any ARCs, that's their prerogative and we'd all live with it. But they see what we're capable of and how we can help sales and build buzz and all that business-y stuff and decide to send ARCs to us.
So please, before you go badmouthing us, get to know us. And by "us", I mean more than one person you had a bad experience with.
Other thoughts on this topic come from Lindsey Leavitt (who mentions me!), Pam from Bookalicious, and Adele from Persnickety Snark!