Saturday, July 23, 2011

Me and My "Girly" Books

So, the other week I was reading Elizabeth Miles' upcoming YA debut, Fury, and was asked by a classmate if it was "one of those girly books". I simply said no and continued reading. Despite my rather casual response,  I actually get really irritated when people say things like that to me. So what if the book I'm reading is "girly"? So what if I like "girly" books? And what even constitutes as a "girly" book?

It's no secret that most of today's YA paranormal romances are geared specifically toward teen girls. As a result, people associate those books with, well, girls. And I think that's where the "problem" lies. Why do we draw certain connections between things and why do they matter to us? I know marketing certain books for a certain audience helps, but I also feel like it alienates readers, too.

So, readers of YATopia, do you think of books as "girly" or "boyish" books? What do you think of this labeling system?


  1. I just read the Body Finder today, and I found it a little too "girly" for my tastes. I think what it means is focusing a lot on being a stereotypical girl--appearances, boys, rivals, especially romance--as opposed to something "boyish" like survival, danger, and action.

    That's my take, anyway, and as I'm reading more, I do find myself looking away from the "girly" books and looking more toward the "boyish" books. I don't know if actual BOYS do read what I consider is boyish, though.

  2. I don't think that I have ever thought a book to be "girly" or "boyish" because I think that is too broad of a classification. I mean, how do you clarify which books are "girly" and which are "boyish"?

    I've read books that have very "girly" aspects, but if the whole book was focused on making out and falling in love or whatever it is "girls my age do" (because a lot of times, I get the feeling that many authors don't actually grasp that every teenage girl is different) there would be NO PLOT.

    Even the TWILIGHT series has action in it, and that has more romance than any other book I have read. Wouldn't that be the kind of "girly" books that people talk about? Huh! Because I know several guys that read that.

    And what about NIGHTSHADE by Andrea Cremer? That has a lot to do with romance (tons of lust!) but I'd like to see anybody read that and call it "girly"!

    I think many people (the ones who don't read for pleasure, that is, and actually CARE about books) believe that a book is "girly" if it is told in the perspective a teenage girl that falls in love.

    Yes, this topic really pushes my button because, and I kid you not, I have heard someone describe The Mortal Instruments Series "girly"! Right.

    And I happen to be a reincarnation of George Washington.

  3. For some reason, most of the "cool" books do get viewed as girly because, among other things, they often involve romance. Typically, guys feel like they would have to give up their "man card" if they read these books rather than just admitting that they are reading good literature. Part of this association, I think, is that the books are marketed toward girls with the covers. If the covers were more gender-neutral looking, then I think fewer guys would shy away.

    I know I have a few male students in my middle school class who I regularly see reading "girl" books, but they always lay them on the desk face down or take the dust jacket off if they can. Again, that's a cover issue. They want the story but not to be associated with that cover.

  4. I do think of books as "girly" although I hate it when I think that way. I hated it when a family member classified my novel as a teen romance in a very derisive tone of voice. Now I'm trying to say to myself and to others- who cares? Who cares if there's romance? Who cares if it's "girly". Read it anyway! Read it before you judge. Then, if you don't like it for other reasons- fine. But don't just NOT LIKE IT because it's "girly" or has romance in it.

  5. On series I think did a great job of coming out gender-neutral even though the MC is a girl is the Hunger Games. The covers (and let's face it, people do judge books by the cover) were very neutral and there is a ton of action. My son devoured them and never thought twice about the girl MC, though they may be the first books he ever read that didn't have a male MC.

  6. Michele ~ I haven't read Hunger Games yet (I know, right? lol), but from what I know of the series, I agree with you. And I think the same could go for Harry Potter. So many girls love that series, yet the MC is a male.

    Jessi E ~ I'll admit that I even get embarrassed when I buy romance novels because of the covers, but I'm starting to get better at not caring. :-) But as much as I love a good cover, some do in fact put certain readers off. That's why I love covers like the Twilight ones where there's an image that has nothing to do with gender.

    And the funny thing is I often get mistaken as a girl on the Internet because of my love for romance, lol.

  7. How is Fury by the way?

    Ok back to your post...I recently started reading more books in the YA/Teen catagory (when my sister asked me to help her with her blog) and now my husband teases me constantly about reading "12 year old girl" books. It all started when we were standing in line behind giggly fan girls at a book festival waiting to meet Aprilynne Pike. LOL I don't care though. I find YA/Teen books to be highly enjoyable. I still read adult fiction but find when they become to heavy and serious it is fun to throw some great YA books into the mix. I say read what makes you happy. Life is to short!

  8. I do tend to recommend books based on their "girliness" or lack thereof... On the one hand, I know I'm stereotyping. On the other hand, I think people want reassurance that what they're going to be reading isn't the kind of thing that will make them a weirdo. I also think that "girly" books have unfortunately become synonymous with the one-dimensional lust-fest. So I don't think most people ask if what I'm reading is girly because they hate books written for girls. I think they're unfortunately asking if the book is good, engaging and complex. Certainly, this isn't a fair stereotype, but I see where it comes from.