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TSS: Book Classifications

Good morning Saloners! Today finds me trapped at home due to our car breaking down (again) so I’m hoping to get a lot of those irritating practical tasks at home over with. Namely, lots of cleaning and filing are in my future. These things both need to happen, but I’m particularly annoyed because I’d planned to do lots of cooking this weekend, and I really do feel like cooking for once! I have a pumpkin and I really want to make pumpkin pie – hopefully we’ll be able to get the rest of the ingredients tomorrow after the car’s fixed, but it’s not quite as fun to cook after a long day at work.

On the bright side, because we’ve now gone back to standard GMT, I’ve gained an hour today to get my chores done, and I’m awake at the alarming hour of 7 am on a weekend.

Plus, I bought a couple of books yesterday, and I’m now immersed in the Dresden Files series. I really enjoyed the first book (the books I bought were the next two in the series) but I’m reflecting on the difference in the way books of the same type are treated based on whether the main character is male or female. For example, it seems that the Mercy Thompson, Kate Daniels, or October Daye series that I love so much are purely marketed at women (just looking at reviews reveals the differences. All the top reviewers I can identify on Amazon for these three are women, no male names in sight, while the Dresden book has obvious men and women), and they often get placed under “paranormal romance” even when the books themselves contain no overt romance. They were in the bookstore I was just in yesterday. In fact, I don’t think any of the first books of those series have much romance in them beyond a date. I caught the same whiff of romance in this book, if I’m right anyway, and yet they are firmly fantasy, in a different section, even though all of the books are mainly mysteries set in the modern day world with fantasy. If you like one, you’ll probably like the others. So why don’t men seem to be reading them in large numbers too?

We’ll see as the series goes along, as I’m making a quick judgement here – but to me they should be all in the same urban fantasy genre, whether you consider that a subset of paranormal romance or standard fantasy, not classified differently just because a woman is the main character. Don’t get me wrong – I like paranormal romance – it just seems like, as usual, fantastic books are judged differently because of a difference in main character gender. Plus, it’s just wrong; I’d be disappointed if I bought a book in the romance section only to discover I actually got a mystery with very little romance at all. I can’t imagine someone looking for a romance to be happy with Magic Bites unless they stuck around for a good long while – and I suspect Harry will get himself a romance if I stick with the Dresden Files long enough too.

If other differences pop up, I’m happy to revise my opinion, but just seeing them in separate sections raised my ire yesterday. I think I’ll return to this once I’ve read more of the series.

Wishing you all a fantastic Sunday and a start to November!

Keep on reading!:

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9 comments to TSS: Book Classifications

  • It’s definitely an interesting series of thought, and you’re right in your thinking. I’ve almost never seen a guy buying Mercy Thompson etc, but definitely the Dresden Files. In fact, I’ve seen more guys than girls buying that series. I have seen guys buying Mercy Thompson though – and some of the others, but the urban fantasy market is definitely more geared to women I think.
    Elena´s last post …Two Towers Read Along Week Three

  • See I always think the Dresden files look interesting, but get put off because they sound kind of like paranormal romance detective fare and I’m never quite in the mood for that at the mo. I can see the similarities and I would love to hear why men are more interested in those books than say Kate Daniels.

  • I am so glad you like the Dresden Files as I have the first one in the series on my shelf and it’s been calling out to me more and more insistently recently.

    Once I read it, I will consider your classifications question.
    Aarti´s last post …[TSS] Interlude: Johnny Appleseed

  • I have been reading a lot about the Dresden books lately, and really want to try one. They sound rather interesting, and I am glad that you are enjoying them. Sorry to hear that your car is broken. I know what that’s like, as ours just got fixed a couple of weeks ago!
    zibilee´s last post …Bossypants by Tina Fey — 288 pgs

  • Oh, what a pain! I hope getting your car fixed isn’t too expensive.
    bermudaonion (Kathy)´s last post …Weekend Cooking: Robin Takes 5

  • Don’t even get me started, Meghan. ;) I completely agree–it seems like the romance section is the catch-all “women’s corner” of the bookstore. Honestly, I think it has more to do with publishers and marketing than what people read or don’t read. I also hate this idea that female protagonist=female readers and male protagonist=male readers. Don’t you think we would have moved beyond that by now, what with the popularity of novels like Harry Potter and shows like Buffy?

  • I think many marketing professionals treat “urban fantasy” and “paranormal romance” as synonyms if the author is female. It’s like they think women are incapable of writing anything that isn’t romantic, while men are incapable of writing anything that is. It frustrates me. I’m not a big UF reader to begin with, but I suspect I’d read the genre more often if the various art departments didn’t make so many of these books look like something they aren’t.

  • I totally agree. I think the term urban fantasy is better. Oh I finally listened to Moon Called and shoot — I’m hooked. I wish I had the time to do nothing else but listen to that series. I have the first Dresden here but I haven’t gotten to it yet.
    Beth F´s last post …Review: The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson

  • I think it might be marketing…as Memory alluded to. As a man, I look at the covers of many of those books and immediately I go “Book for chicks.” So you’re saying that they’re not “books for chicks”? Hmmm, who knew? ;)
    unfinishedperson´s last post …7 billion