From Hunger Games‘s Katniss to Divergent‘s Tris, today’s YA heroines are confident, intelligent, powerful, and always skinny. At The Atlantic, Julianne Ross argues that this scrawny stereotype ends up belittling the heroines’ independence and strength. “Just as women are expected to be sexual but not slutty, pure but not prudish, heroines should be strong but not buff.”
What do you think gets fact-checked the most rigorously: newspaper articles, magazine stories, or books? If you guessed books, you'd be surprised to know that they are rarely, if ever, fact-checked. At The Atlantic, Kate Newman questions why we have so much faith in books' accuracy but why publishers don't bother.
If you haven’t heard about Marley Dias, you have now. She has launched the #1000BlackGirlBooks book drive to collect one thousand books with black girls as the protagonists, which will be donated to a library in St. Mary, Jamaica. Did I mention that she’s eleven years old?
"To use the lingo of their era, these novels are square. The protagonists have names like Jane and Barbara; they are not the misfits of which much teen literature is made but instead fundamentally good girls who long to fit in, and usually do ... Viewed through the lens of contemporary culture, and especially contemporary teen lit, these girls should be boring and shallow. But Beverly Cleary’s supposedly ordinary girls are complex: resentful of their mothers one moment and sympathetic toward them the next, willing to do anything for one special boy but indignant when they’re taken for granted." On the unexpectedly complex nature of Beverly Cleary's boring protagonists with Ruth Graham at Slate.
A big haul of new books this week. At the top of the list is Chad Harbach's much anticipated debut, The Art of Fielding. Also new this week: the new Christopher Hitchens collection Arguably, Lily Tuck's I Married You for Happiness, Nuruddin Farah's Crossbones, and Anna Solomon's debut The Little Bride. Sebastian Barry's Booker long-listed On Canaan's Side is now available in the U.S. And Great House by Nicole Krauss is now out in paperback.
Philosopher and flower hater Slavoj Žižek comes late to the "let's discuss The Wire's greater cultural significance" party, but he does bring some excellent points with him. For the record, he doesn't believe it's the greatest TV series of all time. And the entire thing is worth hearing if only for an in-depth analysis of this [NSFW] scene.
Recommended reading: Pankaj Mishra and Benjamin Moser debate the continued possibility and relevance of Ezra Pound's "Make it New" for The New York Times Books Bookends.