Some Friday Fun: Book Cover Flipping

Happy Friday everyone! I can’t believe that it’s the end of May already; time just seems to fly by!

This is especially disconcerting when I realize that the year is 42% over, and I’ve only read 35% of my reading quota. Alas! I’m about 100 pages into Catch-22, which I’m enjoying so far, but I definitely need to spend time this weekend making a bigger dent into the novel.

Some might say that setting an annual reading goal is stifling, but I find that it keeps me motivated and pushes me to be a better blogger for my followers. I only wish that sleep was unnecessary–oh, how many books we could all read then!

Anyways, I found an interesting literary link that I thought I’d share: The Huffington Post’s coverage of author Maureen Johnson’s book cover flip experiment. As a YA fiction writer, Johnson was frustrated with the stereotypes targeted toward books written by women:

And the simple fact of the matter is, if you are a female author, you are much more likely to get the package that suggests the book is of a lower perceived quality. Because it’s “girly,” which is somehow inherently different and easier on the palate. A man and a woman can write books about the same subject matter, at the same level of quality, and that woman is simply more likely to get the soft-sell cover with the warm glow and the feeling of smooth jazz blowing off of it. If we sell more — and we often don’t — it is simply because we produce candy, and who doesn’t like candy? We’re the high fructose corn syrup of literature, even when our products are the same.

So Johnson tweeted her request that people recreate book covers as if the stories were written by the opposite gender. Here are some of my favorites, all of which you can check out at HuffPo:

 

 


I completely agree with Johnson. I believe that the publishing industry can be extremely sexist, perpetuating the idea that men won’t read female authors by packaging their novels in highly feminine covers–despite the fact that the quality of work is just as good as that of their male counterparts.

And while I have nothing against “chick lit” as a genre, since I read quite a bit of it, I realize that there’s no such thing as “dude lit.” We have perceived stories about women’s lives as different, and thereby somehow lesser.

So yes, I’ve described books as fluffy, light, beach reads, but only as an indicator of subject matter, not sex. There’s a huge difference between teen queen Meg Cabot and activist Margaret Atwood, and whomever you enjoy more is just a matter of preference.

And when it comes to my preferences, what I think is trash also has nothing to do with gender. I love romance novels when they’re written well, and loathe them when they’re written by Nicholas Sparks.

But if boys are so insecure in their sexuality that they refuse to read books with “girly” covers or written by women who use their first names instead of initials, then we have only ourselves to blame.

Let’s stop giving into cultural misogyny and start teaching all children to love reading, no matter what the main characters’ or authors’ genders are. Let’s stop polarizing the publishing industry by book covers and start encouraging more gender-neutral marketing. Lastly, let’s stop writing off entire genres as inferior and start reading outside our comfort zone so that we expand our preconceived notions and actually learn from one another.

Who’s with me?!

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