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  1. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    Mainstream Dumbing Books

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Leaka, Nov 21, 2009.

    ..Didn't know which area to put this. But I had been assorting through some books at the local Barnes and Noble. Now I'm not saying challenging and fun books are hard to find. But there seems to be a lot of non challenging and non fun books out, Twilight is an example. I realize publishers usually publish what is mainstream. Does this mean mainstream dumbs down books for those who are avid readers?
    I find it hard. YA books bore me because it's rather I have read this before somewhere in another book or it isn't any challenging. It's like the writers doesn't respect that they are writing for Young Adults and that we are Young Adults.
    What are your thoughts?
     
  2. Evil Flamingo
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    Evil Flamingo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well although I too try to avoid all that nonsense, boring literature; I really do find a few good novels though. But to tell the truth, I've never shopped in the young adult section in my life. Every time I ever looked in there with some friend pulling something out, it just didn't look interesting. I read quite a bit, but I almost never read mainstream novels so I guess I can't have an opinion; I just don't want to read novels that I know will be disappointing or bad. haha

    - Steve
     
  3. apathykills
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    apathykills Contributing Member

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    I don't really think twilight counts. That book is aimed at prepubescent girls and that is the most underrated audience in any form of the entertainment industry.

    I would say that products of that caliber are an insult to the audience but they're buying it and well... i've met prepubescent girls.

    If there is an audience for a book like twilight then it should get published. It's all about supply and demand really.

    Anyway there are good books coming out all the time it's just a matter of picking the ones you like to read. If you go to a book store or your public library and you can't find a book you like (perhaps outside the ya section) then you're probably not looking hard enough.

    I can recommend you some if you tell me what is a: "fun and challenging book" and I guess so can most of the other people on this site.
     
  4. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    IMarkets need people like myers and Rowling. Sure their books arent the best (Namelyt the former not the later) but you know what, it gets kids reading and talking and reading other boks and so forth (which is how buisness runs).

    Its the same for music. Pop music has n0 challenge these days, but its needed. it gets kids into music and then it gets them into sub genres like metal, blues and jazz.
    Most kijnds dont wont t0 read The stand or listen to metallica when they are 7, so instead they pick up Harry Potter or Whats her face Cirus.

    I hate myers and what she stands for as a writer but she has done what most dream off as wrters. Gets people, esp kinds into boks and has them talking and rtalking and talking and so forth.

    in twenty or ten years time Myer may have been one of the best things to happen to litracy. She may create a force where people around the world will try and attempt to creae a little peice for themselves and others (And yes, most will be shocking) But she has created something out of the ordinary. She has created arguments/ssides which can only be good.
     
  5. apathykills
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    apathykills Contributing Member

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    I can only half agree with this. shallow novels may hook kids (kids are stupid, i should know. i used to like some really really bad movies as a kid) but i think if a kid wont read good and deep books then reading will only be a faze.

    it's fine for someone to enter reading in general with a flavor of the month book (btw i think Rowling needed heavy editing, but 50%+ of her work was great) but if it wont be backed up by something truly grand and epic that instills them with a sense of wonder and joy, then reading won't stick.

    I think what really got me into reading as a kid was… a book who's name in English I am unsure of. Quickly followed by lord of the rings and the hobbit (that I picked up since they were quoted as inspirations for that book)
     
  6. Evil Flamingo
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    Evil Flamingo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Speedy, I did think the same thing about Myer at one point in time, getting a whole new generation into reading and writing. But then I kind of realized a little problem with that. What happens when this generation who reads terrible novels grows up and floods the market with even more terrible novels? Those little gems get squeezed out because they didn't win the popularity contest. This lasts until they become non-existent or don't even come out anymore. There aren't that many genius writers who want to write great things without making at least some prophet. I think somebody needs to do a study on the economics of literature.

    - Steve
     
  7. Fedora
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    Fedora Active Member

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    Good books are still being written; you just have to know where to look. Most "mainstream" literature is created to turn a profit and nothing more. It doesn't make sense to single out Twilight, because it's abundantly clear that it was written as a Young Adult romance novel. It wasn't supposed to be the new Romeo and Juliet; it was supposed to be a fun, albeit clichéd piece of light reading. On that front, it's a resounding success.

    Bear in mind that popular books aren't always bad. I thought The Time Traveler's Wife was fantastic, and Dan Brown's books are always entertaining. Don't lose hope: there are good writers out there. Idiotic dreck has always existed and will continue to exist as long as people keep buying it. Hell, I saw a copy of The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy when I was browsing the Religion/Philosophy section at my Barnes and Noble. There will always be more bad books than good ones, but don't take that as a sign of societal decline. It's just capitalism at work.

    Don't put on rose-tinted glasses. Crappy books today are just as bad as the crappy books of yesteryear. The difference is that, thanks to the media, we hear about them more often. Besides, Young Adult fiction has always been bad, with a few notable exceptions. Maybe you should look into a new genre.
     
  8. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    One reason we don't hear about more good books is because people are more interested in mediocre books. Thus, the good books aren't given as much promotion as the mediocre books. I suspect this is the reason we don't see more good books by younger or first time authors. The good books that are promoted are usually those by established writers. The best way to know which books are "good" is to ask people who know about books/writing. You could also ask teachers/professors for recommendations. Looking for a list of good books on the internet is not a bad idea either.
     
  9. Evil Flamingo
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    Evil Flamingo Contributing Member Contributor

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    I whole-heartedly agree with that statement. = ) ^^
     
  10. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I personally don't have a hard time finding smart books in the youth section, but it does seem like there are more and more less intelligent books being published by the major ones. I don't think we can blame it on the writers. Most of the time, anyway. I blame it on the publishers underestimating the audience and trying to lure in the kids who don't read much. Let's face it. There are more kids who don't read much than there are teens like you, Leaka. And it's a business. They have to produce what they know will sell a lot.
     
  11. Empyrean
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    As far as the youth section goes, I loved the Redwall books when I was younger. I skimmed through some of them recently (as I have about 15 of them) and noticed that as the years go on, the writing style seems to degenerate. Maybe it is an adherence to the growing cultural trend of stupidity, maybe it's not. Brian Jacques is an old man, so I don't think that that would happen to him.

    Anyway, there's my two cents.
     
  12. Twisted Inversely
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    Twisted Inversely Senior Member

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    Redwall, loved the books as a kid. Nowadays, not so much. Even the good old rose tinted spectacles can’t hide the fact the series is pretty much an exercise in formula; evil vermin character shows up (along with sniveling arch-villain), threatens peace loving forest creatures, rhyming prophesy, quest, battle, evil villain killed, feast. Basically if you’ve read one books, you’ve read the all.

    As fedora says there was plenty of crap produced in the good old days, we just don’t remember it, or if we do it’s through a veil of nostalgia that blinds us to its faults.
     
  13. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    This is [most likely] not because society is getting stupider. There could be other reasons for this. It gets harder to come with up ideas for the same type of story. This is especially true for books with many sequels/series. After a while, it seems like the series just drags on for no apparent reason.

    Money is factor for the writer, so as long as he's getting paid (and the publisher is making money), more attention is going to be paid to how well it attracts readers. This means plot takes precedence over writing.

    Also, age plays a role in how well one writes. After a certain point, your mind is on the decline, so it's natural that your writing will most likely suffer as well. Bottom line is that I doubt something like this has to do with the increasing stupidity of people. And I don't think there is a dumbing down of books, either. You just have to know where to look.
     
  14. InkDream
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    InkDream Senior Member

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    Easy or "dumbed down" books are like the junk food of the bookshelf for me. When I was working and going to school full time the last thing I wanted to do was read a book that was going to be deep, and thought provoking--I got enough of that at college. So I would often grab some light reading material like Twilight, Eragon, or something of the garden variety chick lit. I think the nice thing about these kinds of books are that they are often highly enjoyable. Period. All you have to be able to do is read.
     
  15. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    I read because I look for the challenge of it. I look for the challenge of challenging my mind. I enjoy reading and get wonder out of challenging books. Most books like Harry Potter or Twilight were merely guilty pleasures. Though Twilight was a guilty pleasure I really despised.
    Where as Harry Potter was a guilty pleasure I enjoyed. I'm simply saying the books I find challenging are the books not written in our period.
    I enjoy books from 1800 and forward.

    I think there was so much creativity in those times. I think it was because writing was just starting out. Now everything feels that it has been done before. And the only thing you can do is well execute the same idea differently. There will be those rare books and those rare authors I find that I really enjoy.

    But I feel there is to many of those guilty pleasure books out there. I don't live in one of those towns where the old stuff exist. You know the bookstores that carry all those beautiful unique books, of authors and stuff you thought you wouldn't find. The bookstsores we have around here only sell mainstream stuff.
    The comic books stores have died. The arcades died. Nothing old lives in this city. It's all mowed down for something new and hip.

    So I understand you have to go looking for this stuff. But when it's expensive online and you cannot find in your life. You wish the publishers would take bigger risk for the audiences who have been reading years and years.
     
  16. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is this a recycled post because it sounds like something you posted a while back? Anyway, if you go in Barnes & Noble and only can cite Twilight without noticing other books which are not YA/romantic-fantasy, then I think you're dumbing down your browsing behavior in bookstores.

    There's a new Vince Flynn book, new John Grisham one as well as the mammoth Stephen King book. Go into the YA section, and there are a ton of thoughtful intelligent books--check out John Green's stuff, Kevin Brooks, Libba Bray, ... I could go on and on.

    But if you want to just look at covers with red & black on them, then your eyes will only see Twilight stuff. Expand your vision, dude.
     
  17. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    Stephen King is a crappy crappy writer. I don't like Vince Flynn nor Grisham. They aren't my style.

    I do expand my horizons. I buy books by bulk. And read through them. What I mean by YA books being dumbed is also I can read them in a day. That's right. All those books I pick them up and read them in about 4hrs. And yes I obtain the book, I'm always questioning the book and analyzing it.

    I grab whatever books sounds interesting from the first chapter. I grab book by book. Look at the backs and read the first page of the first chapter. It isn't that I'm looking for only red and black books. I'm just looking for something that's my style that is also challenging.


    Publishers need to realize their is an audience of the readers as well. And I don't like how books are being treated as if they are fad rather then books.
     
  18. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    True true. But its been happening with movies, viddeo games, music, fashion 9maybe even) fo years.

    I feel over the next decade and a half wirth most stuff being bought online, there is a good chance that self publishing (or POC) MAY pick up. (yes it comes with its floor we all know). I wonder if in the near future we'll see more publishers take risks with printed materiall 9and lend a hand fixing it up for their own desire).
    It takes someone to say No 9sonds hard to imagine, but with time it does). Just like when we have good times A9Music revoltion, movies and so forth) eventually people ruin what is good. its human.

    The thing that puzzles me is i though, i assumes twilight was for ttens or tweens. But apperently a lot of 20+ people are into it....which begs the question on how far has things been sliding, for for how long?

    I agree someone ne4eds to go out and study to world of publishing and markets. It would indeed be interesting.
     
  19. Twisted Inversely
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    Twisted Inversely Senior Member

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    And this is a bad thing because? When did length become an indicator of quality. Did I miss something?

    And if you can't find anything at your local book store, try a Library (bigger selection, doesn't cost anything).

    I suppose it's because people want to see what all the fuss is about. Same thing happened with Harry Potter. And on that note, what's the deal with the adult versions. Same books, darker and more serious covers (compared to the childrens editions which are all bright and action packed). Personally I think this says it all about the way we percieve younger and older readers.
     
  20. Empyrean
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    I agree with you on most of the books. Though, for the first few books Jacques churned out, there was no reiterating formula. It wasn't until the fans started clamoring for more when Jacques began with the formula business. As far as I know, he's written about twenty of these things, and a pirate series on the side, of which I've had no reading time with. Also, most of the stories in the series aren't even linked, as an unknown passage of time goes by between each book, which is probably why I stopped reading them in the first place.
     
  21. StuntMum
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    StuntMum New Member

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    I read novels for entertainment value, not (usually) to challenge my mind. I leave that for text books and non-fiction. I read a lot of plain, criticism on this thread.
    I assume most of you who have written on here are writers or aspiring writers - and the best criticism you can come up with is that something or someone is 'crap'.
    I am not going to quote individuals because almost every single post contained so many ridiculous spelling and grammatical errors they were almost impossible to read. Are you upset that people are reading popular fiction rather than your deep, challenging, well written novels??
    I read a lot of novels that are poorly written or have gaping plot chams or inconsistencies. To be honest, I don't care - I also watch B-grade movies, does this make me stupid too?
    I enjoy reading Harry Potter, Twilight, TrueBlood, Dean Koontz etc (btw, my favourite chatacters in the vampire books are usually the shape-shifters/weres, I'm not a vampire groupie ;) ) for the fun of it and actually felt insulted by some of the comments on here. As has been said - venture further in the store for your challenign novels, many many ya's would not read at all if it weren't for some of this mainstream popular fiction - and they don't always stick to this style once they get started.
    I'm sorry if this sounded like an attack, it wasn't intended that way, just my pov.

    BTW - Twilight is not at all appropriate for prepubescent girls!
     
  22. Agreen
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    Agreen Faceless Man Contributor

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    The problem with forcing readers to 'venture further' into the book store for more 'challenging' novels, is that it allows works of inferior quality to become the books most prominently displayed to casual shoppers. I have tables and shelves full of Twilight and Twilight knockoffs to choose from at my local Chapters, but not one copy of The Plague by Albert Camus, and no copies of The Divine Comedy beyond the Inferno.

    It doesn't bother me that people enjoy reading certain books purely for entertainment, and that bookstores capitalise on the popularity of books like Twilight- though I dislike the Twilight franchise. I just wish that indulging such readers didn't make it so much more inconvienient for me to find the books I enjoy.
     
  23. Twisted Inversely
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    Twisted Inversely Senior Member

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    Yes, but they read them anyway.

    Personally I blame the old “at least they’re reading something” argument for that. Parents don’t necessarily agree with the content but turn a blind eyes because their little darling is flipping pages like there is no tomorrow and as everyone knows books regardless of the quality of the message, or suitability of content do nothing but good for impressionable young minds.

    On the subject of content, Breaking dawn (yes I read it, do not mock me for I have suffered enough). Why is it alright to write, in detail, excessively graphic scenes like the childbirth sequence but any instance of sex must take place “off camera” as it were, or how in the Transformers movies, which glorify violence to the extent that it is almost sickening, every time a character utters the F-word that same word is obtrusively blanked (don’t want little Timmy to get ideas do we).
     
  24. StuntMum
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    StuntMum New Member

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    There are of course, those readers (and I'm not suggesting you are one of them), who dislike popular fiction (or music, or movies or fashion for that matter) simply because it is popular and no matter what the quality of the writing, they will want to venture further and further back to find the most obscure things they can (obviously, you are looking for things you know enjoy and so this is a different case), simply to be separate from the general populace.
    Also bear in mind it is the fact that these works are so popular that makes them so substandard - there is a high demand for these books (and sequels upon sequels) that publishing houses expect the writers to churn out books faster than they would like and the emphasis is then on the deadline rather than polishing their stories the way they would like.
     
  25. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Welcome to Western society....you're a few thousand years late but you've finally arrived...victory in violent conflict has always been rewarded, fighters have always been glorified and battles have always been recounted as entertainment. Its ingrained into how we think; when we want something really bad, we're told we need to fight for it. Conflict and violence have always and will continue to provide one of the bases of the majority of Western societies. As for the demonisation of sex and blasphemy, we have the church to thank for that. Sex = sin was the dominant ideology until the Victorian period, only about 200 years ago, and it still hasn't been wholely reshaped, hence the conservativeness in some texts, particularly when, like Twilight, they are written by authors who share those conservative views.

    As to the original question, I've given up on trying to win this argument. If you like sh!t-lit, that's fine. If you wanna read just to unwind and be entertained, that's cool. But don't pretend that those books have literary value and deserve the respect of critics and academics. It's BS. Dean Koontz might make you smile, but don't pretend that he's anywhere near as good a writer as someone like Nabokov, Hemingway, Woolf...that's when I get annoyed....
     

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