News & Notes is a weekly Saturday post featuring book- and publishing-related news, links to interesting articles and opinion pieces, and other cool stuff
- Hamilton Mania Inspires the Library of Congress to Put 12,000 Alexander Hamilton Documents Online (Open Culture)
- School librarian rejects First Lady’s donation of books, saying they should go to a school with fewer resources. She also argued for choosing books with a wider diversity of characters. Ms. Trump had donated 10 Dr. Seuss books. (The Guardian)
- Latino Authors Celebrated at Annual Book Awards (Publishers Weekly)
- The Hurricane Relief Bookstore offers SFF ebooks and emagazines for sale, with 100% of profits going to hurricane relief and recovery. Prices are higher than at other retailers, but presumably that’s to boost profits and therefore funding. (Or you could just make a direct donation elsewhere.)
- UK’s National Poetry Library launches appeal to collect poetry in endangered languages like Irish Gaelic, Assyrian, and Basque. (The Guardian)
- Merriam-Webster adds 250 new words to their online dictionary, including sriracha, froyo, troll (in the internet sense, as a verb), alt-right, and ransomware. Alas, the blog post doesn’t list all 250 new terms. (Merriam-Webster.com)
- Irish publisher refuses ‘sexist’ submissions addressed “Dear sirs” (The Guardian)
- Seattle Mystery Bookshop to close (Shelf Awareness)
- To Tweet or Not to Tweet: “A growing number of YA authors are posting about previously taboo topics” like politics. (Publishers Weekly)
- Cover design: Why are UK and US book jackets often so different? (The Guardian)
- Bargain Books in the Digital Age: “The rebound in print sales has helped stabilize the remainder market.” (Judith Rosen, Publishers Weekly)
- A new scholarly book “Highlight[s] Hobby Lobby Owners’ Path from Retail Giant to Bible Curators . “…Biblical scholars Candida Moss and Joel Baden question the ethics behind some of the Green’s acquisitions and the way the museum is being presented as a nonsectarian “Christian Smithsonian.” (Shannon Hill, Publishers Weekly)
- Banned Books Week: In 2017, censorship comes from an outraged public (Allison Flood, The Guardian)
And then there’s this…
The NY Times Book Review published “A Roundup of The Season’s Romances” by Robert Gottleib that got a lot of romance readers steamed up—as in angry—and with good reason. Gottlieb, an 86-year-old man who is neither the target audience nor a fan of the genre, is condescending, patronizing, and oddly clueless about the romance side of romance, focusing instead on the sex (with quotes apparently cherry-picked for a combination of salaciousness and poor writing.) Or, in the case of Barbara Cartland, the lack thereof. Cartland? Excuse me? In 2017??!!! Even the first book he discusses is not exactly new: Julia Quinn’s The Duke and I (originally published in 2000.) It seems an odd choice for an article about “the season’s romances.” Oh, and then there’s his casual racism. And his complete missing of the whole point of romance: the building of a romantic (emotional) relationship, leading to a HEA. And his dismissal of the whole genre as “harmless.” This of a genre that makes up 34% of US fiction sales, with sales of over $1 billion per year. (source)
I could go on and on about why Gottlieb’s article infuriated me, but instead, I’m going to point you to some terrific responses and takedowns by other writers and bloggers:
- Start with the comments on the article itself. Some of them are great. I particularly like Jaya’s response. Then read…
- SB Sarah’s response on the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog, which also references some good twitter threads.
- All the Dumb Things You Can Say About Romance Novels, In One Convenient Place (Ron Hogan, Medium), which is brilliant and funny and feminist.
- I Drank Wine and Read the NY Time Romance Roundup (Amanda Diehl, Book Riot), which comes pretty close to expressing my own outrage.
- My Overdue Defense of the Romance Genre (Lauren Layne), which also makes some very good points (most of them the same, at this point, but obviously THEY STILL NEED SAYING, or we wouldn’t be subjected to pieces like Gottlieb’s.
- and finally, Robert Gottlieb is obviously smitten, in which Olivia Waite, after pointing out some of the more egregious problems with the book, makes a tongue-in-cheek but also convincing argument that Gottlieb is in the process of falling for the genre he’s so dismissive of. I don’t know if she’s right, but the same thing occurred to me… and it will at least leave you with a smile on your face. (Seattle Review of Books)
Great Blog Posts
- Banned Book Week: On Banning Books (Musings of a Bookish Kitty, aka LiteraryFeline)
- Banned Books Week 2017: Some Celebrations and Links (Bea’s Book Nook)
Book & Movie Announcements
- Peter Rabbit is getting an origin story… from Sony Pictures. And it turns out everyone’s favorite bunny (voiced by James Corden) is pretty naughty. It’s no wonder Mr. McGregor is so set on catching him. (Personally, I think I’ll stick to the lovely British series of animated Beatrix Potter tales based on Potter’s own drawings, but we’ll see.) (IndieWire, with trailer)
- 15 Challenged Books Retitled As Clickbait (Book Riot)
That’s it for this week!
Lory @ Emerald City Book Review
I don’t read a ton of romance, but snobbish dissing of genre fiction always gets my goat. Shame on the NYT for letting such an ignoramus write that article!
Lory @ Emerald City Book Review recently posted…New Reprint Review: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
The thing is, he’s a well-respected (or at least well-known) editor and literary critic — not an ignoramus exactly, but clearly only superficially acquainted with the romance genre. But yes, shame on him for the literary snobbery, sexism, and racism on display in that article… and to the NYT for publishing it. I sure loved some of the responses, though!
There have been some great articles and Twitter threads in response to that NYT article. I haven’t been able to bring myself to actually read the article.
It’s worth reading if only to see what everyone is steamed up about. But it will probably have steam coming out of your ears, too.
Lory @ Emerald City Book Review
Right – I guess I meant ignorant in the field he was supposed to be writing about (why pick him them?) and insensitive as to the audience. But the responses almost made it worthwhile.
Lory @ Emerald City Book Review recently posted…Witch Week is coming in one month!
Absolutely. I agree that he was a really, really strange choice. I mean, why not ask someone who is really familiar with and appreciative of the field? Or someone who regularly reviews romance, and can be relied upon to be critical when a book merits it, without essentially dismissing the whole genre with a patronizing pat on the head?
Thanks for the shout out!
Sure thing! 🙂
Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews
Yeah, that article made me scratch my head. I didn’t know I needed permission from an old dude to enjoy romance. Nor was I aware of the fact that every single book I read is supposed to ‘teach’ me something. Especially because emotions and being able to see things from a different perspective did not appear to be included in what I’m supposed to ‘learn’ when I read.
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It continues to baffle me that he seems to have no concept of what the whole point of the romance genre is — and it isn’t sex, no matter how well or poorly such scenes are written (and regardless of whether the author includes a lot or none at all, and whether the reader reads them or skips them.) The point of romance is the development of an emotionally fulfilling and lasting relationship. (Granted, sometimes these days it’s a HFN, but I prefer a HEA.) How can he have read several romances and completely missed this essential element? Oh, yeah — obviously, he skimmed them looking for the “naughty bits” rather than really reading them. Seriously, I’m still shaking my head in disbelief.