Friday, July 27, 2012

Books Lists

I just realized I’ve broken my posting rhythm and I haven’t posted anything since Tuesday.  I can honestly say it’s because July is catching up to me.  I’m feeling worn out, chewed up, spit out and stomped on for good measure.  And 99% of it is work related.  Not in the “I’m getting myself in trouble again” kind of way.  No, there’s been a little of that, but I just haven’t had the time to wander between jobs and get side tracked.  I’ve had to focus so hard and for so long and try to meet some pretty impossible deadlines that I’m just plain worn out.  I am exhausted.

I need a break.  I’ll get one next weekend, but that’s an entire week away at this point and I’ve got way, way, way too much to do before the end of the day Monday.  I can’t even focus on next weekend.  (Or even this weekend really…)

And it’s not just work that is wearing me down.  The weather isn’t helping.  The heat and humidity has kept me off my bike (but when you do ride, remember to always  check the tire pressure before you go… or you’ll be trying to ride a couple of miles with half flat tires…).  And thanks to work I just haven’t had the energy to be able to get up early enough in the morning or the drive really to get any good activity (other than mindless puzzle games or web browsing…) before work.  And I’m paying the price for that combined with stress eating.

Ok… Ok… this wasn’t supposed to be a whiny cranky rant where all my readers (all 7 of you) want to tell me to shut up and go away after the first few sentences.
Oh, one last thing before I get into the meat of what I have to say today… I’ll have to catch the blog up on the Photo A Day July pictures tonight or tomorrow, I’m typing this at work and my pictures are on the home hard drive and I’m not going to email this to myself so I can post later.

Anyhow, I thought I’d finally explore the idea that’s been bumping around in my head off and on for the last week.  Ever since I got last Friday’s NYT Books update.  On a whim I actually looked at the NYT Best Seller list.

I was struck by something odd; most of the books on the fiction list seemed to be “women’s” books for lack of a better term.  Yeah, I hate gender stereotyping, but in this case it seems to fit.  So many of the books on the list just don’t seem like books that the men I know (or myself really since I’m not much of a “chick flick” / romantic comedy/fantasy kind of gal…) would be at all interested in.  It all seems so…. fluffy?... brainless? … just so targeted towards women who want to escape their every day lives and live that of something more exciting and exotic.  I mean, the top 5 books on the Fiction print and e-book list are the three “Fifty Shades” books, Shadow of Night (which I actually do want to read, since I loved the first and while it’s got a romantic side, it’s more than that…) and Gone Girl.  If that doesn’t just scream “chick flicks”, I don’t know what does.

Of course, seeing this makes me wonder why is this the case?  Is this just a summertime phenomenon?  Do women just read more current fiction than men?  Do women read more fiction in general than men?  Are women in general more likely to buy books, or be “readers”?  Is this all a marketing ploy by the big publishers figuring they’ll get the biggest bang for their buck with formulaic, chick-flicky books?  (Yes, I just made that word up… I don’t care.)  Or do men just read such a diversity of fiction that their favorites won’t show up on the top 10?  Are women authors becoming more powerful than men?  Is it more acceptable, socially, to write “for” women now than it used to be?

I don’t have the answers.  I don’t even pretend to know.  In my own limited experience, all of my friends are readers, both men and women.  Growing up, my dad was the reader, mom wasn’t so much.  Most people I know aren’t overly interested in what’s in the top 10 fiction books, other than a few in passing.  I know that many people I know read a wide variety of books and most aren’t anywhere near a best seller list.  Some of us are fiction hounds, others non-fiction of one strip or another or there are those of us who’ll read just about anything you put into our hands.

I do know that what we as a society read as fiction says something about our society and outlook in general.  Of course, this boils down to an argument I had with a high school English teacher who said that “all literature has a social commentary and tries to express an ideal or point out flaws in society”, but then went on to say that science fiction wasn’t literature.  Excuse me?  No social commentary?  Uhm, 1984 is considered science fiction by many and that’s got huge social commentary.  What about Star Trek?  One can argue that, especially in some of the movies, they were dealing with the Cold War.  I’ve always believed that by removing the situation to somewhere completely foreign and out of this world, it makes it easier to look at hard truths and look at ourselves, because we’re not so close.

But, I digress, at least a little bit.  I’m not saying that everything on the top 10 best seller list should be considered “literature”.  I see a lot of it as brain candy.  But, the fact that these books are being published and are popular enough in sales to make the list, does say something about our society.  Or at least marketing…. which really is how companies influence society.

Yeah, I’ve totally gotten off track.  Or maybe not.  Anyhow, I just thought it was interesting.  I don’t really have too many more thoughts.  Other than I think there are a lot of great books out there that don’t make it onto the list, and that one shouldn’t base their entire reading life off of some market result document.  Sometimes the best reads are found by wandering through the library or bookstore, or bouncing through the blogosphere and are stumbled upon.  I have fond memories of many books found that way, by randomly picking up a book because the title sounded interesting.  Or it was shelved next to a book or series I enjoyed.  Or I grabbed the wrong one by accident.  Of course, I’ve found many spectacular flops that way too, but to each their own.

I’m going to stop rambling now and get back to work and try and meet my impossible deadline.

Peace to all and may you find something good to curl up with and read.

1 comment:

Margaret said...

I am definitely happiest when I have something good to read. I just finished Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman and A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. I liked them both. Now I am reading a book called subliminal, a nonfiction book about brain science.