There’s a lot of talk on the blogosphere right now about Barnes and Noble’s new shelving of teen fiction by individual genres –into categories such as “Teen Paranormal Romance” — in an effort, they say, to lead readers more directly to what they want.
On the surface, it doesn’t seem like such a terrible idea and makes sense from a marketing perspective. Still, for me, half the thrill of book shopping –as a t(w)een reader and even now — was stumbling on something while browsing the shelves, something I didn’t know existed and didn’t know I would want to read — but was so glad I did when the last page was reluctantly turned. Shoppers are obviously still free to do that if they don’t feel constrained by generic labels, but those labels are always tricky and, often, quite faulty. Some books are far easier to categorize than others; it’s fairly obvious where a book like Twilight would go, but what about From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler? I would hate to have missed that one, and for an author, having one’s book shelved in the wrong place can cost readers who would otherwise be drawn to her/his work.
But if you DO know what you like to read — or at least the five books that have influenced you the most — check out Scholastic’s social networking site Youarewhatyouread.com. Post the five books that influenced you the most and find out who your bookmates are. For instance, mine include Taylor Swift (we both loved Charlotte’s Web in our formative years) and Daniel Radcliffe, who counts Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita as among his faves — which I guess would make us book buddies with Mick Jagger, who is said to have written “Sympathy for the Devil” under the influence. My daughter was happy to discover a book soulmate in, apparently, all four Jonas Brothers in their mutual love of Lemony Snicket (though the Holy Bible ranked number one for the JoBros). Check it out, make your profile, and who knows? Maybe Eli Manning has been you book soulmate all along. Check out my profile!