[ISBC] Round 4: Flowers from the Storm

The “Inner Senshi Book Club” is an online book club where five book lovers of different backgrounds and tastes across the world take turns at selecting and hosting a book each month. Individually, we are (in alphabetical order): Aimee, Angel, Meghan, Samantha L, and Samantha R. Together, we present you a whole range of books, complete with our responses to a rotating list of set questions.

A new book is selected on the 15th of each month, and our thoughts are posted roughly four to five weeks later. We hope you can join us in our reading shenanigans! (The book club derives its name from the five soldiers of love and justice from the Japanese manga and anime series, Sailormoon. We are just as kickass, and if all goes to plan, twice as well-read.)

***

This month we’re reading Flowers from the Storm, Laura Kinsale. As chosen by Angel.

Samantha L wants you to consider:
Which person–real or fictional–do you think will consider this book one of their favourites? Why do you think this is?

Samantha R is interested in knowing:
Did you have a favourite character in the book? If so, what was it about this character that drew you to them? Or in reverse, were there any characters that you particularly disliked, and why?

Meghan is wondering:
If you could rewrite any part of the book, what would you change?

Angel would like you to think about:
Was it easy or difficult to identify with the narrator and why?

Aimee’s question for you is:
How believable were the character relationships in the book?

This month’s host, Angel, has two bonus questions to choose from:
Flowers from the Storm isn’t the quintessential romance novel, what with its focus on disabilities, religion and tolerance. What do you think the romance genre added to the discussion of these issues as Kinsale wrote them?

Or:
One major theme in this story is the loss of control and agency, e.g. Jervaulx’s stroke rendering him unable to think and speak properly and Maddy’s role as a woman in the Quaker church preventing her from making certain important decisions. How well does the novel deal with the hurdles both characters face and (if you think the problems have been solved) does it make for a satisfying conclusion?

***

Thanks for the pick Angel! I don’t normally read romance so this will be a broadening of my horizons. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone thinks about the novel.

For those that missed our introduction post, or are just joining the book club, we’ll be reading Flowers from the Storm from now until September 15th. Don’t forget to check back this week to read everyone’s thoughts about Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye.

Aimee @ Penmanship Smitten || Angel @ Mermaid Vision Books || Meghan @ Coffee and Wizards || Samantha L @ All Things Literary

Advertisements

Reading: It Can Never Be Wrong

Earlier today, I read an interview with debut author Jess Rothenberg over at Mermaid Vision Books, in which she talks about a teacher she had years ago who thought Rothenberg should be reading more “sophisticated” books. Rothenberg states in her interview: “When I was ten or eleven, a teacher saw my summer reading list—packed with things like Sweet Valley High, The Babysitters Club, and plenty of classic stories by writers like Lois Lowry, Jean Craighead George, and Scott O’Dell—and made me promise I’d stop reading “those kinds of books.” I was pretty devastated, but did my best to put them aside in favor of more “sophisticated” (as she put it) reading.” (You can read the full interview here.)

It immediately reminded me of a similar incident from my childhood. When I was ten our class was asked to place on our desks the books that we were reading. I remember proudly pulling out my book to put on the corner of my desk. It didn’t matter to me that the girl who sat next to me had pulled out a book ten times the size of mine. At least, not until our teacher came around and compared the two books for the class. My friend S. was reading the right kind of book. I wasn’t.

Want to know what the books were? S. was reading Watership Down at the time. But mine was The Truth about Stacey, the third book in The Babysitter’s Club series.

I was hurt. And angry. Really, really angry. I can remember thinking, hey, at least I read. Which was more than I could say for a lot of the kids in my class at the time. And what really made me angry, though there was no way that I could have articulated the feeling at the time, was that I was being judged for what I chose to read, instead of being praised and encouraged for reading at all, outside of what I had to for school. My teacher wasn’t taking into account what else I may or may not be reading at home (which was a wide variety of things which included, but was not limited to, the Anne of Green Gables series, and the Goosebumps series). The assumption was that I should be reading something “better”.

But I refused to let Mr R.’s opinion sway me. I continued to read whatever I wanted to read, whether it was long or short, and regardless of whether it was considered to be “better” than other books. Less than two years later I jumped straight from The Babysitter’s Club to Jane Austen, not because Austen’s novels were considered to be “sophisticated” or “real literature”, but because I simply saw a book in a bookshop with a story in it that appealed to me as a reader.

In many ways I feel like I’m still facing the same issues now. I love YA. It’s probably my favourite area (at the moment anyway) to play around in. But being almost twenty-four years old, and an English major to boot, people in general think I should be reading something more “high-brow” than YA. Children’s fiction in general, and YA in particular, aren’t seen as being good enough. If you’re not a teenager anymore it’s expected that you should have moved onto books that are “better” and “more worthy”, simply because they’re written for adults. And this doesn’t just apply to YA either. The same can be said for people that enjoy romance novels and chick lit. If you’re not reading “proper literature”, then you’re not good enough.

But personally, I think it’s all just bull. Just like when I was ten, I still refuse to let other people’s opinions sway me when it comes to my reading choices.

So go ahead and read what you want to read, whether that be Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction as an adult, or tackling nineteenth-century literature at the age of twelve. Because reading, no matter what it is you’re reading, will never be wrong. And if someone tells you otherwise? Ignore them.

 

What about you? Have you ever been judged by what you chose to read, or experienced something similar? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.