So, I’ve been “working” (yes, you can read that as having finger quotes) on a YA. Actually, if you ask me, it only qualifies as a YA because the characters are young–I’m not even sure I’m gearing it toward younger readers. After all, I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer for ages (and when I catch it on TV, I still watch it). Just because the characters are young doesn’t mean the audience has to be by necessity. After all, in movies we have Stand By Me, which I think we can safely say was not a movie geared toward a young audience.
Which brings me to my point (egads! I actually have one!): I find the labeling of genres to be quite arbitrary. And pointless. I mean, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “But I don’t read romance.”
My first thought generally is, “You don’t?”
It’s been ages since I’ve read a story I really enjoyed that didn’t have romantic elements. Shoot, if we’re delving into just romantic elements, husband now has a legitimate argument for why Terminator is a romance (honestly, it really is his idea of a romance. And sometimes, when the mood hits me just right, I actually see his point).
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve read a book of literary fiction and thought, “But this is a romance.” Or the number of times someone in my family has whined about how I need to “write in a genre people want to read,” while she is reading what I would label as a romance. But don’t call it a romance. Those are read by little old ladies with blue hair and lots of cats, right? Right?
So many books these days are cross genre. Only some genres seem to me to be more socially acceptable than others. To me, there is often little difference between a historical romance and historlcal fiction. Love and relationships often features prominently in both. And while I understand the differences in genres, and I understand the subtle differences between those two genres, the distinctions seem somewhat arbitrary to me. Especially once people start telling me they won’t read romances but they just love historical fiction. Quite frankly, I can’t remember the last time I read a book of historical fiction that didn’t contain romantic elements. In fact, I recently read a delightful Regency that blurs the lines between historical fiction and Regency romance–and you know what? Just because I couldn’t peg which one it was doesn’t mean I didn’t love it, and that fans of both genres wouldn’t, either.
So, I ask you: Do you read a book according the genre it falls in? Are there certain genres you avoid? If so, why?
Additionally, if you do, I dare you: Pick up a book in a genre you don’t normally read. Hey, maybe you’ll discover a new and exciting author!