Warning labels on books: A controversial discussion

bookishdiscussion

I’d been intending to discuss this topic in a future post and had been holding off due to the fact that some may consider it a bit controversial, but I came across a great post at Pages Unbound and it addressed a lot of the same topic.  So while it is fresh in my mind, I’d like to throw in my humble two cents.

If you are a reader of middle grade or young adult fiction, it will come as no surprise to you that these books, YA in particular, are featuring more and more mature content. And that’s great. Readers can find all kinds of stories to suit all tastes.

But here is my dilemma.

While I would never want to be Nazi book mom, and call for removing books from libraries or angrily snatch books from my kids’ hands, I struggle with how I should handle these kinds of books in regards to my oldest who is soon to be 11 years old. When I was his age I was reading Judy Blume books and the Boxcar children. He on the other hand has a lot more to choose from. I encourage reading in our household and I know he is capable of reading at a level beyond middle grade books… but I don’t necessarily feel comfortable with him reading about things like rape just yet. After all, though he’s almost 11, he is quite naive in regards to a lot of things. His reading level may be advancing quickly but he is still a little boy who thinks the word “butt” is funny. Not quite ready to fully understand things like sex trafficking and torture. Now I know the simple answer would be to just monitor what he reads, but that becomes a little difficult when I don’t know the content of every single book that’s out there and he is fast approaching the “target age” for most YA.

I recently read an article where college students at several different colleges had called for “trigger warning” labels to be placed on books that dealt with distressing content. And while I admit I was sort of dismissive of the idea, it has gotten me thinking. Would it be feasible for publishers to publish future books with a small label? Something along the lines of “contains graphic violence” or “contains sexual content”. I’m curious to know what other readers think of this.

Now my dilemma may resolve itself. I may just be worried about nothing. He may decide “ewww this book is weird” and decide not to read it of his own accord until he is ready (or ever). In which case I will have another few years before I deal with the same issue again with my daughter. I know that for myself, I was around 12 when I started looking for more mature things to read. And I found them. I turned out okay, but I also think I was a little more mature and more prepared to handle difficult content than my son is now.

So I am curious to know what other readers and other parents think?  How do you handle mature content in books with your kids, siblings, students etc?

TBR or No TBR: in which we discover that Nicky sucks at TBRs and uses the word loose more than is necessary

Ahhh, the big debate- to follow a TBR list or not.

There are so many pros to reading through a TBR list.

Personally I consider a TBR list more of a loose set of “guidelines”

I’ll be honest, sticking to a strict TBR makes me feel very anxious.  I am a confessed mood reader all the way.  I like to have a general idea of what I’ll be reading soon-ish, but I tip my hat to all you strict TBRers.  I am the kind of reader who feels pulled towards certain books based on my mood. Sometimes this means I might have a stack of shiny new books that I can’t wait to get to and then I have a bad day and I pick up one of my old trusty standbys and re-read that instead.  LUCKILY, I have figured out a way to trick myself into sticking to a sort of TBR.  Challenges.  And of course my Goodreads goal.

The good thing about challenges is that many of them are loose rules or include loose suggestions or a loose theme of what to read. (I promise not to use the word “loose” any more in this post) But anyway, you get the idea. They don’t say, “you must read these specific titles”, it’s more of a “read a book in this category” sort of thing. For example, in my classics club challenge, I compiled a list of 60 titles and yes it is a sort of TBR, but I can read them based on my mood since I have so long to complete this challenge.  I can pick up one of the books on my list and decide I’m not in the mood for it and not come back to it for a couple months or more.  This gives me more flexibility and the ability to read based on how I’m feeling, while still sticking to a list.

Goodreads is an awesome tool for me.  I’ve had an account for years and just recently started figuring out how to change shelves around and updating settings to better suit my needs.  One of the things that I love about Goodreads is the ability to set up a yearly goal for myself.  I love to work towards a goal and I must seriously be the biggest dork in the world with how excited I get every time a book is completed towards my goal. I just tell myself I’d like to read atleast X amount of books in X genre this year and then I’m free to read whatever specific titles I want in each genre.

When I had my old blog, I was posting a TBR every month (when before I had never really stuck to one) and I found myself stressing over it.  There were times when I just wasn’t in the mood to read something and I forced myself to because it was on my TBR.  Reading is my happy place and it should never be stressful for me.  So my intention for this blog is to have a monthly TBR but not a concrete one.  I will give myself some choices for each month and let myself be the free little bird that I am inside.

If you prefer to stick to a TBR, first off I admire you, and secondly, I am genuinely curious as to how and why you prefer to do so. So please comment below!