Quite a few of my links this week come from The Guardian, oddly enough, though they’re mostly older ones. To start things off, Neil Gaiman on Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming. I often hear people say that books aren’t important anymore because of the internet, but with most of the information on the internet being written, we are interacting more and more through text than ever before, and to do that effectively we must be strong readers. Hence libraries.
Related to Gaiman’s essay is Susan Cooper’s on the same topic. What I want to highlight in this article is actually what she says about fantasy:
I’ve often pondered the effect of my perilous second world war childhood on the growth and haunting of my imagination. It must surely have been the enveloping image of Us and Them, Good and Evil, the Light and the Dark, that influenced all the fantasy writers of my generation. And the generation before us too: old Tolkien, his imagination shaped by the horrors of the first world war.
Fantasy as a genre really came of age in the mid-twentieth century, thanks in no small part to Tolkien (can we take a moment to envy Cooper for having been taught by him in the flesh?), and many critics of fantasy dislike it because of its supposed moral simplicity. The genre has been moving away from this dichotomy for years now, but I’d never before stopped to wonder where it came from to begin with.
And because this wouldn’t be a Literary Linking without a post about sexism, here’s Derek Attig from BookRiot on how Women Aren’t Aliens. In particular, he emphasises that this Andrew Smith’s behaviour is not unusual:
It’s not that he’s some spectacularly, uniquely awful monster. In fact, the problem is quite the opposite: it’s that this whole thing is totally normal. That’s because it draws on a worldview that is widely held, one that has long shaped the publishing industry like it has many other parts of our world.
For more on how sexism has shaped publishing, check out this article on how most traditionally published bestsellers are written by men, but most self-published bestsellers are by women. I’ve been reading a fair bit about self-publishing lately, after discovering Joanna Penn’s blog about being an author-entrepreneur. Traditional publishers are undeniably valuable, but I’m a control freak, so self-publishing appeals to me, though I’ve by no means ruled out traditional publishing yet. The control-freak aspect would also be why I’m looking into publishing options already; having a clear idea of my options after finishing my book, and what it would take to pursue them, makes the process of writing it less intimidating, because I’m less likely to procrastinate for fear of facing the dreaded query.
And finally, the Dangerous Consequences of the Book Life. Can I just say I’m glad I’m not the only person who tried to tap on a page in a print book?