It took me a long time to write yesterday's book review—partly because it was my first from an advance copy, partly because I didn't like the book, and partly because I wasn't sure how much my dislike of it was due to the book itself and how much was due to the type of book it is.
On the heels of seeing the “Designer's Edition” of Scrabble, with its pink letters and its pink box emblazoned with the anti-competitive promise that “Every word is a winner!”, I'm reminded how touchy I am about products marketed specifically to girls and women because said marketing is so often demeaning. So, so often.
I play Scrabble to win, I like to watch movies that render me addled with fear, I have a healthy fascination with the apocalypse. I enjoy entertainment that makes me think, but I'm not terribly discriminating when it comes to what I end up thinking about. I also prefer not to be in a constant state of pissed-off, which means I avoid books I'll rail against as being stupid or poorly written (which don't always go hand in hand, but you might have found it entertaining to be around me during the couple of days I spent reading the perfect storm otherwise known as The Da Vinci Code); I also avoid fiction that's blatantly (intentionally or not) anti-feminist (unless, apparently, it's Twilight, in which case I'll read 2500 pages through to the end, waving my arms about and frothing at the mouth all the while). I consider it to be in my own best interest not to be pissed off about fiction when there's so much to be pissed off about in real life.
Anyway. There I was unimpressed with The Girl Next Door, and due to my book-picking history I couldn't tease apart the book from its genre, which seems to be women's fiction. The book is clearly intended for a female audience, and I'd love to know if men read such books, too, and if so what they think. I've never read chick lit (which is a different category), so I can't speak to it at all except to say I find the book covers (that reflect the marketing plans, that reflect the intended audience which I can only thusly assume is not me) unappealing and the blurbs uninteresting.
So, what is it with gender and genre?
As has become my habit, I started out my exploration by asking people on Twitter what they think.
I was immediately amused, and noted the negativity surrounding chick lit. Is the negativity warranted?
What sorts of fiction do you prefer, and why do you prefer it? What do you think about fiction aimed toward women—be it women's lit, chick lit, or what have you? What about fiction aimed toward men? Do you fit the marketing plan, whatever your sex or gender?
You know what, maybe I'll delve a little into science fiction (typically aimed more at a male audience) and fantasy (typically aimed more toward women). Yes, I think a wee micro-study is in order. Got great recommendations? I'm hitting the road soon and can load up for a genre gender bender!
UPDATE: After some great comments regarding fantasy not being aimed just at women (so true! What was I thinking?!), I'm cutting sci-fi out of the wee study. It'll be way more interesting (to me, at least) to look just at fantasy–books clearly aimed at women, books clearly aimed at men, and books that are more gender-neutral. Let me know what you recommend, and which category of those three it fits into! I'll compile a list and will post it.
PS Don't get me wrong, I totally like to be entertained in brain-off mode, too. Not usually from reading, but I love me a television teen melodrama and have a penchant for renting rom coms when I'm sick or exhausted.