Monday, July 5, 2010


I saw this on The Bloggess, and I just can't decide how I feel:

On the one hand, if it gets kids to read, FANTASTIC. Perhaps it'll start an entire wave of young readers hankering for Victorian fiction and the like. I can see it now...throngs of my students delving into Rebecca, Jane Eyre, and Dr. Zhivago. Not bad, actually.

On the other hand, I don't know how Emily Bronte would feel about this. It seems a little sad that Harper Collins has chosen to decide that the only way a young person of this generation would even read the classics is if fictional characters give it a thumbs-up. I shudder a bit.

I think I have to grudgingly go with my first "hand", however. If it gets kids reading good literature, run with it. I can't wait for it to seep into their writing....

What say you, readers?

UPDATE: My two commenters thus far have caused me to expand on my position and my thinking, and I have responded in the comment section. I think it adds a lot to the original post. Thanks, ladies!


feather nester said...

I think that there's nothing inherently wrong about Bella and Edward as incentives to read. They're not perfect, but really, they're good people. Would you be this torn if kids wanted to read a book that they thought Jane Eyre would love? It's the marketing greed you detest. Not kids' willingness to follow role models. Nothing new about that.

jules said...

I feel far more comfortable commenting here, rather than on our colleague's FB page, where a similar argument was unfolding just recently. I don't think there exists a single teenager who believes that Twilight is a better piece of literature than, say, Jane Eyre. They get the difference. I've spoken to many about it.

However, what we have to remember, even if it seems so long ago, is that we, too, succumbed to "teen chick lit" - books with ABSOLUTELY NO literary merit, when we were kids. I read, voraciously, the books by R.L. Stein (the ones BEFORE Goosebumps), Christopher Pike, V.C. Andrews, and a TON of those really cheesy romance books where one character was destined to die but wanted to make the world a better place before she did (like Nicholas Sparks in his prepubescent years.) And if the kind of marketing existed in 1987 that exists today, I would probably have a Flowers in the Attic T-Shirt and a Lurlene McDaniel "skin" for my iPhone.

And, remarkably, I still grew up and understood the value of literature. I meet once a month with my dearest girlfriends as a book club, and we've read wonderful new memoirs and fiction titles without ever considering Sweet Valley High.

And let's be honest, I've been trying for ten years to get my juniors to stop hating The Great Gatsby. Maybe if the cover had Daisy's RED light at the end of her dock, they'd pick it up? (Hee Hee)

die Frau said...

I think you're right--it's the greed. As I wrote, if it gets kids reading, FANTASTIC. I was only being slightly facetious talking about the upswing in Victorian romance reading. I think it'd be great.

die Frau said...

Jules, that's very, very true, and I've always thought it for myself--just have to remember that with students. A good friend always contended that Stephen King wasn't a "real writer" because he [the friend] preferred Ezra Pound and Tolkien, for example. I always stood by my claim that, while he's never going to win the Pulitzer Prize, King has his place in the world of novels. I loved my share of chick lit, too. And let's face it--I totally used Twilight to get my students into Romeo and Juliet.

Perhaps we can get Stephenie Meyer to have the main character love Gatsby in her next series....

Wonderland said...

I shuttered a little bit at the sight of seeing "Bella and Edward" on the same jacket as "Bronte", it felt worlds-collidingly wrong. However, I am in total agreement with the simple fact that if that cover encourages even one more kid to read one more book, than I am all for it. I argued the same point about the Oprah Book Club, which many people thought was cheesy and a marketing racket. But my feeling was that millions of more books were getting read, so that's always a good thing. Thanks for this thoughtful post, Frau.
PS: Eclipse = Best.Movie.Ever. :)