Monday, April 2, 2012

Well Trolled, Mr. Stein

TIME magazine's Joel Stein just successfully trolled every rabid reader on the Internet.

In a short screed entitled "Adults Should Read Adult Books," Stein argues that adults shouldn't be reading things like Twilight, The Hunger Games, the Harry Potter series, but rather should read books meant for adults.

Of course, this is classic Joel Stein being Joel Stein: Taking up a contrary or trollish position just to watch, as Scott Adams might say, the monkeys dance. And in reading the comments posted on his articles, I have to conclude that the monkeys are dancing indeed.

He may indeed hold true to his dictum that books written for children (or tweens, nor whatever marketing-speak you want to use) should only be read by the intended audience. He may simply be expressing a weariness for the popular at the expense of what he calls "3,000 years worth of fiction" meant for adults (I've read some of it. A lot of it is great. Some of it is mediocre. And some of it is dead boring).

He might also be right. I've read the Harry Potter books, and while they're great for stories, the writing is only mediocre. I've not read any of the Twilight books, and might consider reading the Hunger Games series, but at the moment there are other things calling from the bookshelves. This doesn't mean I don't read these "kinds of things," just that I'm not reading them at the moment of their popularity. I'm reading some other mediocre literature aimed at adults, putting off the popular until, I don't know, I'm in the mood, I suppose.

But there is some "kid stuff" out there that's rather much more lyrically written, and certainly more thought-provoking, than some of the "adult" stuff I've read. Lois Lowry's "The Giver," for one. That's a mind-wrenchingly good story, written well, that confronts some serious adult themes, all wrapped up in a tidy little tale for children. I hope Mr. Stein has read it.

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