Yesterday and the night before, I started asking folks on twitter for their recommendations on Young Adult novels and series which feature a strong female lead. It was sparked by a discussion I had with my boyfriend on recent debates over Hunger Games vs Twilight and somehow even vs Harry Potter as series with strong female leads (Katniss vs Bella vs Hermione). Why are only these "big ones" in the heat of debate?
While I was able to immediately count off various stories which feature a strong main heroine or a heroine in a team of heroes, my boyfriend could only name one (Matilda). It got me curious as to why that is. When he was at the age I was reading the likes of Babysitters Club, Ramona, Island of the Blue Dolphins, A Series of Unfortunate Events, A Wrinkle in Time and others, while he'd already jumped into sci-fi. Is this the assumption for all boys around that age?
Apparently, it kind of, sort of is. My friend Melissa shed some light on the issue, saying this has been a hot topic in publishing because it is already assumed that the authors and audience are going to be predominantly female. Boys apparently have better things to do when they're 12, like playing soccer or learning karate. Then again, if you read stuff like this well-written debate on The Mary Sue, you'll quickly realize that things just kind of went in this direction because it's the only way that many women broke into published literature.
Needless to say, and back to my original story of thinking I was breaking some sort of ground with this whole issue, the response from Twitter I got was overwhelmingly female, with just three boys who had input (good input, actually, in mentioning Coraline and Ramona among others), and only one mention overall of one of the “big" titles (Hunger Games series). They mentioned all kinds of stories, some of which they harked were “classics" even, that I had never heard of. You could run a search on my Twitter feed to see all the recommendations as well as clicking here for another list of titles if you're looking for ideas.
It made me realize that I don't really lean one way or another with my reading. I read memoirs if I admire the person, I read a lot of any genre except romance despite the hero's gender, and most of all I've found I enjoy stories with a team of heroes involved, or the kind that the perspective varies from chapter to chapter as in my current reading 1Q84. This exercise helped me come to this conclusion; the personal realization about my reading trends.
That being said, now I'm interested in learning about the reading trends of other people I know. Some of my local buds have already come back to me with all kinds of feedback based on the activity on Twitter and I'm eager to hear more! Thanks to everyone who has participated so far, especially to Melissa Dominic who educated me on the debate and to all of you who came here to read about it, too.
[image of Hermione via]