Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Janis Hallowell, Author of SHE WAS, Comments on Campus Reading

I love having guest bloggers—and it's not because I'm slightly lazy. Like any good guest, new people bring fresh points of view and liven up the place.

This week, I invited Janis Hallowell to comment on The Washington Post article, "On Campus, Vampires Are Besting the Beats" by Ron Charles.

Here's what Janis has to say:

So, the number one book last year was a vampire book. And college kids are reading it. So what? I’d be willing to bet that at 19 years old Ron Charles read some less-than-lofty books that he’s selectively forgetting. Here’s a reality check: the best selling novel in 1969 (the year that Alice Echols claims everybody on campuses was reading
Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice) was Portnoy’s Complaint, followed by The Godfather and Jacqueline Susann’s The Love Machine. Hardly subversive. On the non-fiction side were Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs and two books by Rod McKuen. Eldridge Cleaver didn’t make it into the top ten, nor did The Autobiography of Malcolm X, The Golden Notebook, or anything by Plath or Nin. In 1970 the number one book was Eric Segal’s Love Story. The point is, the top selling book rarely reflects what the college kids are thinking about or reading. It only reflects what’s selling.

The college freshmen I talked to today (on Facebook, by the way) said that they do like the Twilight series for escape reading. They’re also reading Toni Morrison, Conrad, Shakespeare, and Joyce. These kids have got the daunting task of becoming the workforce and the genius that’s going to get us from here to the post-carbon era. They elected Barack Obama and apparently they’re buying his books. So excuse me if they’re not reading Malcolm X and Eldridge Cleaver in their down time. They don’t have to.

Janis Hallowell is the author of She Was, a novel set in the Vietnam era and the Iraq era that may or may not be subversive. The paperback edition of She Was will publish in April.

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