Happy Friday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I'm on yet another discussion. There are several things that have popped up over the last few weeks about right and wrong things to put in a book. Get your coffee or tea in hand, your typing fingers ready to respond, and let's get going!
We all have opinions, right? I plan to open discussion on both sides of the board with this post, and I won't be standing on either side of the fence. You all know me too well if you've been around here a while. I like to hear what you think, I'm going to try my best not to influence you with my own words, and I enjoy the verbal exchange of ideas and viewpoints.
*****That being said, please be nice when you comment. This is my blog, and I won't tolerate hatred, calling-out, or vitriol here. Got it? Okay. Let's move on.
There are a number of books that have been released lately that have spurred some pretty serious reader blowback. To be 100% transparent, I haven't read any of them. My work has revolved around writing my own book, and it's been emotional enough.
But I've seen posts and discussions on Facebook, and I know the titles of the books under fire. No, I'm not going to share those, either. If you want to know, you'll have to do your own research. This post isn't about that.
For centuries, books have been the catalyst to change in many countries. If you don't know the history, do a quick search. There isn't enough space here to discuss them all, and you should be informed. But what I'm seeing now deals directly with what the authors write.
Incest, racism, hate.
Those are the topics under fire.
From my reading experience, either an author is trying to change your way of thinking, trying to bring to light something that's horrible that needs to have light shed on it, or they're trying to tell a story that has nothing to do with their own thoughts or beliefs (a true escape).
It's difficult to tell the difference sometimes, but that doesn't stop me from reading books I don't know what's inside of. This thing where authors have to disclaim horrifying details of their books in the blurb is unsettling.
Because the things that bother one person, won't bother another. We see this with all the reviews from all the books everywhere. Some people loved the Harry Potter series, and some folks wanted to burn all the books for promoting witchcraft.
See what I'm saying?
I can see labeling it 18 and up, but I'm talking about all the other things. It's worrisome that someone might just grab a book and "read" it only so they can trash it in the review later on and have that little verified purchase ribbon to back their words. But I'm backsliding.
Anyway, the problem here isn't just that labels are being applied, because I know at least one of the novels under fire was labeled, but that it's expected in the first place.
Who are we to know what someone else is going to feel when they read our books? How are we the authorities on how something we've written will be comprehended by the reader?
Authors may be the worst people to add warnings to their books, but then, so might readers. What some find intense, others will merely scoff at.
Let's discuss by the three topics above then.
This isn't a new trope used in books. It goes way, wayyyyy back to novels published in the 70s even. Before you go bananas, let me say, I can see both sides of the issue here. 1) It's something that happens in real life, ergo, it can be applied to a book for real-world additions. 2) It's disturbing to read about, and the fear is there that it'll incite someone to do something they hadn't considered before. It's a touchy subject, to be sure. If an author writes about it, does that mean they're encouraging it, bringing light to an ugly, or merely writing a story?
This also isn't a new topic. I could list several books that were racist in nature, but they've become literary classics all the same. I can, again, see both sides of the issue. Do you want to see through a racist's eyes? Get their viewpoint on things? How their brains work? Maybe. Maybe not. 1) Racism is something that's real. It's a serious problem, but it can be used as a mechanism to show what might be in a racist's mind, giving others a unique insight. 2) It's bothersome to read, and it may fuel the already present racist heart of another, making them think of doing something they'd only considered before reading it. Again, what was the point of the author writing it?
This applies to genders, races, siblings, government, etc... An older than time topic. Dystopian worlds were borne from hate of a ruling class or laws. You could also say hate applies to books with rape in them. Both sides have weight. 1) Hate is a true problem in our society, and shining a spotlight on it can be used as an effective fuel for the proverbial fire in a novel plotline. 2) Reading about a character hating on people from any walk of life is hard, and it may, again, reinforce that the reader's mindset is the correct one. Do we care about the point if the book makes us uncomfortable?
Historically, we're strongly influenced by books (again with the search recommended above), but does that mean if we read about it, we're going to act on it?
Has the fine line between reality and fiction blurred, or are we just more attuned to the crossovers now? Do the disclaimers even matter at that point?
What bothers me most about all of this is the mob mentality that's taken hold of the world. When someone writes something that's not considered PC, they're attacked by backers of the antis. While I believe in having an opinion and stating it, isn't that what reviews are for? Why do we feel the need to attack the person (in public, no less) behind the words without understanding (or caring) what it was they were trying to say? Is that really the case, or is something else going on here?
Is this censorship?
I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the matter. Remember to be nice and don't name authors or books directly. This isn't a bash-fest.
Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!