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From the Library: 100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader


The Bitch Media Community Lending Library brings you our very first book list, made up of 100 young adult novels that every feminist should add to the stack of books on their bedside table. Here at the library we've been re-reading some of our old standbys and finding new feminist favorites. If you're looking to buy a book for your favorite teenage girl or just looking to cuddle up with a powerful story featuring teenage characters, look no further. Click on the pdf below to see our picks, and be sure to let us know which of these books have resonated with you and which books you would add to the list.

100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader (609.65 KB)

If you're unable to open the pdf, you can view the list here.

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Comments

450 comments have been made. Post a comment.

[writing for young adults] =/= [reading for young adults]

If the reference to the YA community was intended to cover WRITERS of young adult books rather than READERS, then part of what I said was off-base (or at least unnecessary).

I do have books marketed to kids and young adults as part of my literary diet - for example, I make a point of reading everything Hope Larson writes. I consider her work sophisticated, subtle, and challenging on several fronts... but I can also comfortably blaze through anything she's published in under an hour, because it has a targeted reading level that is way beneath what would require a literate adult to slow down and chew harder.

(The fact that she works in comics may make this claim seem a little less meaningful, but were it prose I don't think it would more than double the time required.)

There is of course a delicate art and enviable knack to composing prose and dialogue that can convey big ideas through narrower pipes without choking them. I have boundless respect for people who do it well! When I've written for hire and been asked to keep it to a more basic reading level, I've found it exceptionally challenging. Writers who make words ring out in a restricted milieu are doing a harder job than writers who do the same with no fetters.

But readers who read that material are doing an easier job than readers of an equivalent level tackling material that is intended for a readership with the highest level of literacy and reading comprehension conceivable.

The only point I was trying to make with my admittedly snide remark is that 960 pages of fiction is not an unlikely feat to read and grasp in a weekend, even if we do presume that every staffer who hadn't read one of the books reviewed hadn't read any of them.

The point I am NOT making is that young adult fiction is written by or for idiots. It just categorically requires an editor on the case to say things like "Some fourteen-year-olds will have no trouble with this paragraph; many will choke on it it. Can we streamline it a little?"

I hope that helps to clarify MY meaning!

As for censorship... protection... dangerous... that just doesn't have anything to do with what's going on with this list. Many of the listed books are still complex and challenging. It has not even been recommended that anyone not read the de-listed books; certainly they have not been censored. The umbrage on display is a weird pageant.

--
rljd

Whenever you strategy

Whenever you strategy forward, you are able to consider all the particulars, which provides you with an excellent benefit within good tuning every part from the celebration.

Sorry, but...

I think the decision to remove these books was well-made. This is a themed booklist; Bitch isn't censoring anything by not including books that don't live up to the theme.

Living Dead Girl is straight-up torture porn. It satisfies the appetites of horror-loving teens, and as a librarian I say that that gives it value, but it is in NO WAY a feminist book. Girl gets raped non-stop for five years, then (SPOILERS) gets killed? Not irrelevant, certainly, but also NOT feminist.

Sisters Red's appearance on the list was questioned because of the way the author negatively portrays the sister who has been raped, while favoring the more feminine sister. I haven't read the book, but that sounds like a valid concern to me.

And Tender Morsels? That book is certainly a lot of things, but I don't see how it could be called feminist. I don't think it's at all fair to accuse Bitch of censoring books that feature violence against women. Notice how no one asked that Speak be reconsidered? A book can be important without being feminist, and an author can be a feminist without writing feminist books. Furthermore, TM is boring. TRY to get a teen to read that book, TRY. I don't understand the hype about it at all.

My respect for the authors who've demanded that their books removed from this list, and I've read something by each of them, has just plummeted pretty drastically. What a bummer this has been.

Shorter version of above

Shorter version of above post:

"I didn't like any of these books, so it's just as well as they were dropped."

I'm glad this person is not MY librarian.

Way to miss the point. I just

Way to miss the point. I just said LDG has value and that I haven't read SR. I didn't like Tender Morsels, but I read it and I do get to have an opinion about it.

Yes, and your opinion boils

Yes, and your opinion boils down to "I didn't like these books, so the Hell with them."

No, sorry. At least Also a

No, sorry. At least Also a Librarian is backing up their opinions with a bit of reasoning, and seems to have real experience with the teens this literature will impact the strongest. You just come off as some kind of disgruntled fangirl/boy/your-choice-of-gendered-appellation-here.

If you actually care about this, stop trying to shut down intelligent, critical discussion with ad hominem nonsense, and post something substantial.

Shorter version of this: "I

Shorter version of this:

"I don't like the fact you're not taking my deeply dismissive posts seriously, so I'll lecture you on how to respond to me."

In addition to not being my librarian, you're also not my mom.

Whoops. Response based on

Whoops. Response based on incorrect attribution. My mistake.

Reposition: I gave her comments the response I thought they deserved.

Also: She's not my librarian, and *you're* not my mom.

"Also: She's not my

"Also: She's not my librarian, and *you're* not my mom."

Then stop acting like a child.

I really regret mentioning my

I really regret mentioning my dislike of Tender Morsels because that apparently made everything else I've said INVISIBLE.

On the contrary

I thought you were wrong long before you mentioned that you didn't like Tender Morsels. For all I know, you ARE one of my librarians, but I hope not.

this thread = over

Ok everyone, this particular thread is getting pretty personal-attack-y and not really contributing to any of the larger discussions about this post. Also, please consider choosing a pseudonym when commenting in order to reduce the number of "Anonymous's." It makes things way less confusing (and is still anonymous!)

____________
Kjerstin Johnson, Web content manager
Did someone say "Comments Policy"?

____________
Kjerstin Johnson, editor-in-chief
Did someone say "Comments Policy"?

no, try

"I didn't think any of these books were feminist, so it makes sense to me that they were removed from a list of essential feminist books."

I'm glad you are not MY... summarian.

Just No.

While I do like the books that were removed (have not read Tender Morsels, however) I am not going to complain about you disliking them.
But seriously!?! ("Living Dead Girl is straight-up torture porn.")
How is a story about a girl who is kidnapped and sexually abused by her kidnapper... STRAIGHT-UP TORTURE PORN?
Pornography's definition: creative activity (writing or pictures or films etc.) of no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire.
How can sexual abuse be THAT?
I'm just curious.

I guess I should have seen that coming.

Torture porn = "Films in which the torture of characters is the sole focus to the exclusion of all other considerations... Films which are designed specifically for an audience that gets off on torture... Films in which people fuck and torture one another at the same time."

http://www.thehorrorblog.com/2007/09/06/on-torture-porn/

This is a themed booklist;

This is a themed booklist; Bitch isn't censoring anything by not including books that don't live up to the theme.

Word. I agree with all of your post but especially this.

Self-censorship is still censorship

In choosing to amend their own list, Bitch is engaging in self-censorship. Books have been removed from what was presumably a considered, serious list for reasons having to do with ... well, fear.

As I said previously, reminiscent of the "Huckleberry Finn" controversy, it's an attempt to soften something seen as unpalatable. Like the 'n' word, the uncomfortable aspects of these books are uncomfortable for a reason: the authors, I would hazard a guess, do not include them accidentally.

The anger from readers of Bitch comes from feeling patronised by this decision (whether we may be young adult readers or adult), as though we cannot be trusted to make up our own minds about a piece of art. These books were originally included for good reasons - and deemed to be 'feminist' - and those reasons stand.

Self-censorship is not the

Self-censorship is not the only possible reason to amend one's writing. The genuine belief that one is wrong, for example, or that the piece was based on outdated information.

Self-censorship is completely

Self-censorship is completely allowable and not wrong. I censor myself all the time. I think "what a jerk," but I say "perhaps we disagree." Censorship becomes a problem when it is imposed from an external source.

I can't speak for the authors of the article, but if it were me amending the list, fear would play a part. Not fear because I might look bad or people might judge me, but fear FOR girls who might inadvertently be harmed through something I recommended. Is that fear justified? Maybe not. But maybe it is, too. I would rather be accused of being overly concerned about young girls' emotional well-being than not concerned enough.

The Huck Finn controversy was never about self-censorship and is not similar to what happened here. The people who made this list did not remove anything from the books, nor did they recommend against reading them.

If readers of Bitch can truly make up their own minds about a piece of art, a list shouldn't make any difference one way or another. It seems to me that readers are upset because they weren't consulted about a decision to place or remove books from a list, not because anyone removed their decision about reading a book.

If it's about making up your own mind, do it! I hazard a guess that the editors of Bitch Magezine won't try to stop you.

turncoat

Why do you feel that their initial decision-making process was totally impeccable if you have zero respect for their process of review and revision?

Why is everyone pretending that the list was handed down on stone tablets to Mount Sinai in the first-published form, rather than heavily revised and edited and gone over and argued and vied over for ages to meet the various criteria of different participants in its compilation? Why do you trust them THEN but not NOW?

If you knew that another of your favourite books was included on an earlier draft, but someone pointed something out about it to the person recommending it that made them reconsider and substitute their previous 101st pick.... would the reasons for inclusion at the time of publishing still be good and standing, or would they be cowardly in comparison to the reasons some titles were included in the first draft only?

Is only brainstorming at all valiant?

SELF-CENSORSHIP? Are you

SELF-CENSORSHIP? Are you kidding me? Yes, they want to soften something for SURVIVORS of VIOLENCE. Do you think it is somehow wrong for a feminist magazine to try to soften the blow of gender-based violence for the feminist readers of their magazine? What is wrong with you people?

But those books fit the

But those books fit the theme, and Bitch is removing them out of pure cowardice.

In your judgment they fit the

In your judgment they fit the theme; in Bitch's judgment they don't.

Ascribing motives to other people's actions is always a tricky business and more so when you use inflexible words.

says you!!

Bitch made up the theme!! Why on earth should you imagine that you get to take stewardship of their choices from there?

Yes! Seconded.

Yes! Seconded.

I've been trying to stay out of this

I've just been reading the thread and sighing.

But now I HAVE to reply.

There is NO RAPE in Sisters Red. Absolutely NONE. The "victim blaming" is NOT to rape victims. It can be paralleled to rape, but there is no actual rape. Just need to make sure this is clarified.

The scene in question in Sisters Red can be seen several different ways. I, personally, did not see any victim blaming while reading and only saw where it came from after reading the Book Smugglers review. And I still don't agree. I saw it as one of the character's own insecurities being projected. It's the reader's life and experiences that shape that scene.

I haven't read the other books, though I'm very interested in both, so I won't comment on them.

Speaking as a librarian

Speaking as a librarian myself: just because it's not censorship (and it's not, really) doesn't mean that it was not ill-thought out, reactionary, and a plain dumb move. Authors and readers are allowed to comment on dumb moves and this was a doozy.

And in what world save high school English do you try to "get" a teen to read a book? You find books that suit the reader. There's plenty of teens, twentysomethings and Old Adults who'd get a lot out of Tender Morsels.

No, actually, a book can

No, actually, a book can include violence against women and still be feminist. What about books that are designed to speak out against violence against women, and include scenes of it in order to do so? Sometimes, people who have not experienced rape or assault need to read about it vividly in order to get how important this is.

That's the cowardly stance that Bitch is taking here. "These issues are bothersome to certain people, so we're not even going to include them."

strawperson

The list is LOADED with books that feature TONS of violence against women.

None of the three books swapped out were reconsidered because they feature violence against women, or bothersome issues.

The creators of the list decided that the books being swapped out dealt with the issues at hand in ways that they couldn't, following their own consciences (the ones that inform every aspect of the list from the get-go), recommend them in the spirit in which this particular list is intended.

Actually...

It's not a well made decision to remove books from a list after recklessly putting them on a list before ever reading them. It is the same thing as giving a patron a book with questionable content then actually reading the questionable content and taking it away from them because you don't think the patron can handle the content. Both of these techniques are horrible examples of Reader's Advisory. Both examples are similar to Book Banning and Censorship.

And if you are allowed to refer an author's work as "straight-up torture porn," why are you judging authors for having strong opinions and reactions of their own?

But no one said they didn't

But no one said they didn't read them in the first place. Just that they didn't recognize the problems that were later brought up. When said problems were brought up, the books were "re-read", not read a first time. So your metaphor breaks down immediately.

Some of the staff and interns

Some of the staff and interns had not read the books before the complaints came in. And having to "re-read" a book to find an issue with it still sounds problematic to me.

Facts

Actually, Linds, the fact of the matter *is* that Ashley McAllister, Bitch's library co-ordinator who put her name to the posted lists and acted as the primary spokesperson throughout the comment thread, *did* say that she had read neither Sisters Red nor Tender Morsels. (I can't remember what she may have said about Living Dead Girl). What is of particular importance to this discussion is her *immediate* response to the first complaint about Sisters Red:

"Thanks for bringing this up! I had only heard great reviews of Sister's Red. I was excited to hear it reviewed as a feminist retelling of the sexist and scary Little Red Riding Hood story, and like Ana at The Book Smugglers said, I love a good fairytale retelling. While I read most of the books on this list, there were a few that I just researched, and it appears that my researching skills failed in this instance (kind of like the book failed over at The Book Smugglers -- who sure know how to call out a book on perpetuating rape culture). Thanks for tuning me into this. I'm going to go ahead and remove Sister's Red from the list and replace it with another book."

Essentially:

1. I had not read the book but have only recommended it on the basis of what other people have said.
2. I am still not going to read the book to investigate the validity or otherwise of your complaint for myself.
3. Instead, I will immediately remove it from the list and replace it with something else.

And, yes, I realise that eventually she did read this book. But the fact that she only seemed to have decided to do this after the discussion became wider and drew two more books into the spotlight, and that her first thought was to simply and hastily redact the possibly offensive book is genuinely chilling.

It's also about a textbook a definition you can get for "knee-jerk".

"It is the same thing as

"It is the same thing as giving a patron a book with questionable content then actually reading the questionable content and taking it away from them because you don't think the patron can handle the content."

Not at all. Removal from the list is not the same as removing access to the book. Come on.

They shouldn't have been

They shouldn't have been included on the list in the first place if the people making the list had not read them.

No one is raped in Sisters

No one is raped in Sisters Red, and both sisters are given equal "screen time" and development-- neither is favored. And there's no apostrophe in "sisters." You're a librarian-- for fuck's sake, at least get the book title right.

"I haven't read the book, but

"I haven't read the book, but that sounds like a valid concern to me"

Well, there you go. There have been several, nay, scores, of comments on here saying that the author does not negatively portray the sister. And they believe that the novel allows for conversation on an extremely difficult topic. So that seems like a valid concern to me.

When selecting books, you need to stand by your decisions. Someone will always find something wrong with a book on your list.

(A fellow librarian)

Okay. So first of all, I

Okay. So first of all, I think you should read Sisters Red before making preemptive opinions about it. This is exactly what book banners do, and it gets you nowhere. Also, you have the opinion that Tender Morsels is "boring". That's fine, but it's just that- an opinion. Many, many people have obviously read and enjoyed it, otherwise there wouldn't be this controversy. I have not read Living Dead Girl, so I will not say anything about that, though I would like to point out that the definition of "feminist" is definitely unclear, and what you may not see as feminist might be to someone else. I also don't understand why you lost respect for people who did not want to be associated with a group that removed three books in a process basically the same as book banning. (Note I did not say what they did was book banning, I'm just saying the way they decided to take the books off the list was the same, and for a magazine that calls itself feminist, disappointing. Bitch Magazine made this list. They should have had reasons for each book they decided to put on it, and they should have stood by those reasons.)

Well, now, look what you've

Well, now, look what you've done. I'd not heard of any of these books prior to getting a glimpse of the kerfuffle on my Twitter feed. However, I am now going to read all the books that were removed from the list (and peruse the "Official-We-Really-Mean-It-Now" list, too, since it's not the authors' fault that others' books were removed).

Yes! Read!

I think this is a great idea! Reading is great! We should all definitely read whatever we want, whenever we want! It's a good argument that ends, no matter what, in people reading.

Great! That's awesome! I'm

Great! That's awesome! I'm pretty sure the people at Bitch would support you, since they themselves have those books in their library.

I'm disappointed that you

I'm disappointed that you didn't check these books personally before including them. When you recommend something you should be able to stand by your words.

That said, and assuming you truly believe these books to glorify rape culture (which is how I interpret your judgments of "victim-blaming" and "vengeance rape"), removing them from the list with sincere apologies is entirely reasonable. If you, now knowing the content of the books you previously recommended, cannot stand by your words then amending your words is reasonable and honest.

Agreed. It would have been

Agreed. It would have been great if Bitch had researched the books before creating the list. Still, Bitch unequivocally recognized the merit of these books; they merely decided they were wrong for the list in question.

How can

How can you recognize the merit of a book if you've never read it?

They recognized the merit

They recognized the merit after they read or re-read the books. From Ashley McAllister:

A couple of us at the office read and re-read Sisters Red, Tender Morsels and Living Dead Girl this weekend...We still feel that these books have merit and would not hesitate to recommend them in certain instances

I am a rape victim. And a

I am a rape victim. And a feminist. Despite my apparently delicate and fragile condition, I don't need to be protected from books. Or any other media. It seems a bit screwed up to want to save me from the memory of not having a choice by not trusting me make decisions regarding my own reading material.

I've read Tender Morsels. I didn't keel over.

And that you are/were recommending books you aren't familiar with...that's just silly. I applaud the authors that asked to be removed from the list. And I'm pretty disgusted by your knee-jerk reaction to a handful of hyper-commenters.

I've had a subscription for years and I've donated extra when I could. I'm up for renewal now, so withdrawing my support will be nice and easy. If you don't support authors and/or media that portray abuse victims, then I will not support you.

Just wanted to let everyone

Just wanted to let everyone know that we're reading these comments but as we're a really small staff we don't have the ability to respond to all of them tonight. While we'll be more available to respond to comments during office hours tomorrow, I wanted to point out a few things before hitting the hay this evening:

Regardless of how frustrating this might be for some people, we took these books off the list because readers left comments and sent us emails explaining why these books were particularly triggering or victim-blaming, and when we took time to read/re-read the books we found some of the same problems as they did. This decision was not one that was made out of intimidation, but one that was made thoughtfully after having many conversations amongst staff and interns as well as with readers who contacted us.

Additionally, retracting a recommendation is not the same as pulling books off library shelves. We did not remove these books from our shelves... Yes, our library does hold all three of these books and will continue to do so.

We also did not say that these books were anti-feminist. Conversely, we didn't call the books that we put on this list feminist, but instead recommended them to feminist readers. We do not feel that these books don't deserve to be read. We actually enjoyed many things about these books and some of us might find ourselves recommending them in other instances.

Lastly, we are not going to be putting these books back on the list.

You're welcome to voice your dissent, but please remember our comments policy and know that comments that violate it will be removed.

Ashley McAllister, Outreach Coordinator

Does that mean you're going

Does that mean you're going to honor the requests of Scott Westerfeld and Maureen Johnson to be removed from your list or is it that a bridge too far?

I wish there were another name for it, but...

Wow.

I'm impressed. Tender Morsels: 448 pages. Sisters Red: 336 pages. Living Dead Girl: 176 pages. (from Amazon)

So that's what? 960 pages. 960 challenging, thought provoking pages, and a "couple" of you Hoover'd through them in three days. ("Scrumby" complained on 1/29; you caved on 2/1; subtract some time for "conversations" and, nope, make that 960 pages in two days. Yowza! Somebody got gold stars at Evelyn Wood.)

And given the timing, do you really expect anyone to believe you separated yourself from scrumby's complaints? That you read the books with a truly open mind, cleared of any bias? I know I couldn't have done so.

Is what you did censorship? No. It's editorialization. That's fair, and really, I wish people would learn the difference.

Is it cowardly? Oh, yeah. Not just because you pulled the books, but because:

1) You claim the removed books contain troublesome content, but from the comments it's clear that many (all?) of the books contain content someone would label troublesome. Do you really expect your readers not to see how transparent your lie is? Have you actually convinced yourself that people are buying this line of goods?

2) "we didn't call the books that we put on this list feminist, but instead recommended them to feminist readers." What a jaw dropping exercise in double-speak.

Bitch Magazine is feminist. Our list is "100 young adult novels that every feminist should add to the stack of books on their bedside table." Oh, but that doesn't mean the *books* are feminist. There's a difference, see?

Apparently, your definition of "feminist" must include the word "gullible".

3) The overwhelming number of respondents who are disappointed or even outraged, far outweigh the numbers who support your decision, and yet, you've dug in your heels, and haven't the spine to admit you screwed up.

Hey, making a mistake is the price of being human. Refusing to admit you've made a mistake, and trying to cover it up with blather worthy of Fox News? I'm sorry, but there's no other word for it but cowardly.

As my mother used to say, "If a hundred people tell you you're drunk, maybe you ought to sit down."

I'm glad you separated

I'm glad you separated editorialisation and censorship, not enough people can do that.

But then you had to go and be so totally wrong about everything else!

You're calling the good people at this not for profit magazine liars, and calling into question the truthfulness of them saying they'd read these books. Too far!

You think they're cowards because you think they listenedtoo much to the first comments, but wait, if they were cowards wouldn't they cave in to the pressure now being piled on by other people? (Some of it by authors who know what this will do for their sales, I imagine.) Also, cowards wouldn't approve comments like yours - these people are not afraid of criticism.

Also of course the books can be recommended for feminist readers without saying that the books themselves are implicitly feminist. That's basic logic! Logic 101.

The authors wanted off the

The authors wanted off the list due to the immediate caving of the staff. If anything

Also, basic logic lesson.

From Bitch's "About Us":

" Bitch Media’s mission is to provide and encourage an empowered, feminist response to mainstream media and popular culture."

If a publications entire mission is to do the above then it's a given value that anything they recommend can be logically seen as empowering to a feminist message provided they do not explicitly say otherwise on the list. For instance: if the NAACP suggested films then you could feel reasonably safe that they would celebrate diversity or movies that talk about race. What I imagine you would not think they would include would be overtly racist films like Birth of a Nationor out of left-field movies like Wristcutters: A Love Story or Teeth.

Is it censorship? Not really. Is it caving to the first objector to a title that comes along? Probably. The fact that they didn't even realize there was "triggering" language(whatever the hell that is) in the first place speaks to a weak editorial frame.

But there are worlds of

But there are worlds of difference between a feminist organisation recommending a book and saying 'x work IS feminist.'

I think feminists should watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but a statement like 'BtVS is feminist' is entirely different. There are tonnes of essays written both for and against that very statement, in fact!

Honestly, I can't say that I

Honestly, I can't say that I see that there is. There's a tacit implication between an organization's mission and the recommendations it makes. The American Bar Association has a film list. The point of it is to provide an illustration of the Role of the Lawyer.

I haven't read the works that were excised(although I've added them to my list), but I get the feeling that Bitch's staff caved because frankly they're a small organization and they probably thought that bowlderizing their list would've been less of a bother than potentially offending a few readers. The result is that people who've never heard of this publication's first response is "censors!" and are endeared to the authors who decided to stand with their colleagues in requesting a place OFF of the list.

I'd agree that the list doesn't have to be all feminist

Sean H it wouldn't surprise me to see BN on an NAACP list. So, it's fine with me that there are different kinds of books on the list. Some of the Girls Kick A$$ variety and some of the more thought provoking kind, some even counter-examples.

I don't think that Bitch editors pulled the books because they were scared of the commenters. I think they were scared of the BOOKS. This happens often enough when adults read YA. They think they are big and strong and grown up . A book written for kids couldn't possibly be so overwhelming that it rocks their world. Then they hit something like Tender Morsels and they run away thinking that if the book is too much for THEM, they need to protect kids from it.

They didn't think carefully enough about this list before they put it together. They might have the feminist cred, but they should have brushed up on their Librarian skills before they published it. I think they didn't think it was all that important. It's just books, right? But to me, and others like me, books are incredibly important.

Bitch, I wish you would admit that you didn't put the thought into this that it deserved. I wish you would pull the whole list and reconsider it for six months, and I wish you'd go talk to some librarians about why you put a book like Tender Morsels on the list, as well as the more Buffyesque stuff. There are a lot of ways to approach this thing that is Feminism, and different readers need different approaches. A list that doesn't recognize the breadth of its audience isn't a very good list.

" I think they were scared of

" I think they were scared of the BOOKS. This happens often enough when adults read YA. They think they are big and strong and grown up . A book written for kids couldn't possibly be so overwhelming that it rocks their world. Then they hit something like Tender Morsels and they run away thinking that if the book is too much for THEM, they need to protect kids from it."

Honestly, I hope that's not the case because that's the kind of society I'm afraid of. What starts with burning books ends with burning people and what not.

Time to Reflect?

Actually, Anon in Cali was questioning whether or not the staff could a) attentively read or re-read almost 1000 pages of fiction in a couple of days; plus b) process what they read effectively and independently of the expressed view of one reader, while still taking into account that view; and finally c) carry out a reflective, balanced discussion about whether or not any or all of the books should remain on the list and come to a non-biased conclusion.

I'd call that into question as well.

It's also been made pretty clear that the books on this list are to be regarded as "feminist-friendly". By singling out three titles and removing from the list, Bitch is labelling them as being NOT "feminist-friendly". As many people have pointed out, and as would be evidenced by the fact that the books were actually on the list in the first place because *feminists* had recommended them, this is a problematic political stance to take.

I also object to the subtext I'm picking up in some of the posts by Ashley McAllister -- "it's not my fault, those books were recommended by someone else, I haven't even read them." Shifting blame doesn't seem to be a defensible tactic to me. If you trusted the opinions of the people who recommended these books enough to include them in your published list without feeling the need to read them yourself first, just what has happened to diminish that trust? Why is the opinion of two commentators (writing under pseudonymous screen names) considered more valuable than that of the people you trusted for the original recommendations? And what does this say about the respect and esteem in which you hold those people and their (presumably informed and considered) opinions?

It *is* cowardly to panic and react in haste at the first sign of a discontented reader.

It is *not* brave to refuse to address the repeated and cogent arguments of many, many readers when they point out the problems with and troubling implications of your reaction.

And, just by the by, Katniss, it's a pretty low blow to suggest that the authors who have publicly responded here are motivated by possible increases in exposure and sales. Because, obviously, they can posses no genuine concern for the actual issues raised here. It must be all about the money.

I don't think that taking the

I don't think that taking the books off the list means they're not feminist friendly. That's not how I'd read it at all. After all, there must be more than 100 feminist friendly YA books out there (I hope, anyway!). But maybe the criticisms aimed at these books knocked them down a few pegs on the ranking?

It's not cowardly to listen to criticisms and take them on board.

Ha, maybe I was being too cynical about the authors. I am quite cynical about what authors do on the internet under their pen-names, though, when your twitter followers are also your customers, there's a fine line to be drawn, somewhere. But you're right, it was a low blow. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, just wish people would do the same for this magazine.

Everything Kirstyn said was

Everything Kirstyn said was spot-on. Your methodology, intent, decision-making, and everything else is in question here. I mean, what other features and lists you've run have also been subject to such crappy processes? And the inability to take responsibility for mistakes in your replies here is sad.

You also must honor the requests by some writers to be taken off the list. If you don't, that's absolutely wrong. jv

Not too far and certainly not wrong

Katniss,

Thank you for the praise. Editorialization vs. censorship is a pet peeve of mine.

However, it is that same praise that leads me to believe you can't be entirely genuine in your criticism.

In short, if you know the difference between Edit. vs. Cens. then you have to be able to see that if an ardent promotor of feminism creates a list of books explicitly recommended to feminists, the tacit, but nonetheless clear, message is that they believe the books are pro feminist.

And since pro feminist is Bitch's stated main criteria for inclusion ("every feminist should add..."), whether there are troubling aspects to a book should take second place to its overall pro-feminist message.

Your refusal (and I think it is a refusal) to see this is rather like the man who stands up for a politician by saying, "No, Senator Roberts called his opponent a cowardly, lying, scoundrel. But he never said he was a "bad" man."

Or, if I were to say, "No. No. I said their actions were cowardly. I never said they were cowards (and for the record, I do believe they are cowards -- though not irredeemable ones). Also, I clearly stated that I believe they are cowards for not owning up to their mistake, and trying to cover it up with double-speak.

The "drunk" reference was meant to point out that the wisdom of the majority (i.e., the three books shouldn't have been pulled especially for the "troublesome" content) should prevail since it was the wisdom of the minority (i.e. the books should be pulled) that led to the decision. I see now that point was unclear, and I apologize for the poor writing.

If a hundred people tell you

If a hundred people tell you that you're drunk, and then when you sit down another hundred start going on about what a shame it was you sat down and how they'll never respect you again for it... well. You might see the problems with this?

If one person tells you to

If one person tells you to take a drink, and a hundred people tell you not to because you're already drunk and could die... that would be the more accurate one.

Three people would complain, and the apologists would instantly switch gears.

ummmmmm, are you not posting everyone's comments?

as a reader, a blogger who reviews the books in an attempt to introduce new books & authors to others, and a bookseller I ask this question because you keep saying "several people" have issues with the 3 books you have chosen to take off your list. I was intrigued so after reading all the comments the first time, I went back and reread those that started what has become a controversy for you. For the record, according to the thread, it's one person (id'd as pandora) who says "Sisters Red" is a bad choice for this list. And it's one person (scrumby) with an issue with another one of the titles. Unless, of course, you're not sharing everyone's postings. Which is your perogotive as it's your site. I believe the third title was brought up by an impassioned individual who was using it as a defense for keeping one of these titles on your list. And that nobody attacked it until they did.

Therefore, based on what has been made public, "several people" did not have an issue with all 3 books, but rather 1 person had an issue with 1 book and then another with a separate title, and then a third with the third. Like the mom who didn't want my english class to read "To Kill a Mockingbird" when I was in school because she didn't think it appropriate for how Ms. Lee depicted the town's treatment of Boo Radley. Yeah, the school district told her it was an educational tool and did the equivalent of patting her on the head. We read the book anyways. Why? Because one person's interpretation of a work of fiction is different than anyone else's.

You were wrong for saying we should have titles on our nightstands & bookcases that you hadn't read (or perhaps didn't read all the way through), but you initially claimed that people you respected recommended them for this list. You were also wrong to take them off the list when someone had an issue. Plus, i'm now wondering what these original recommenders think of you & if they feel tjey can make suggestions to you anymore?

Just my 2 cents.

I quote from Ashley's comment

I quote from Ashley's comment above...

'we took these books off the list because readers left comments _and sent us e-mails..._'

*shrug* it makes sense that not everyone would want their personal feelings about the list made public.

It seems like you're missing

It seems like you're missing the point.

When you issued the list in the first place it came with the assumption that you put careful thought into each title that was included.

Then a few readers complained about some of the books so you, "took time to read/re-read the books [those books that folks complained about and] found some of the same problems as they did." Which is rather akin to saying that you hadn't really read or thought about these books much before. Which is kind of like saying that you didn't put much thought into the list in the first place. Which pretty much INVALIDATES the ENTIRE list. Dontcha think?

So just curious, are you reading/re-reading the rest of the books on the list? Or if nobody complains, then you're good?

Seriously? You're pulling out

Seriously? You're pulling out the "Lurkers Support Us in E-mail" defense? I find it hard to believe that you re-read 1000 pages of book in two days, had a thoughtful conversation about it, and then up and decided reasonably and rationally to edit the list.

You put together a list of books you didn't personally read, and you caved the second a strong opinion wafted by. That's not what I would call feminist, nor is the absolute inability to evaluate your own complicity in this mess. I find it amazing that you only show a backbone when you're the one being called out.

Totally okay with you to throw Jackson Pearce, Elizabeth Scott and Margo Lanagan under the bus, but goddess forbid you take some responsibility for this fiasco and *apologize* for putting together a shoddy list to start with, and for caving to two comments and the "reams" of e-mail you got from The Mysterious Lurkers.

The least you can do is remove the authors from the list who now want nothing to do with this publication. To leave them on there against their wishes is a whole nother kind of triggering.

Minority Voice

I'm obviously in the minority here, but I want to thank you for caring enough to be concerned about the potential impact of your recommendations. I don't necessarily agree with your choice to remove the books from the list (I think adding a warning would have been sufficient), but I appreciate the motivations behind it.

It's not cowardly to be concerned about how you might influence someone else. It IS cowardly to hide behind anonymous labels and hurl insults over the Internet. If more people would consider the possible results of their words and actions, this world would be a better place.

My name is out there. This is how I feel. And I still don't like the name of your magazine :)

The confusion comes from no

The confusion comes from no one understanding how a group of people can make a list and not do the right research before offering it up on the internet.

Everyone involved in the selection progress should have read the books before making a list. Everyone should have taken these issues seriously. All of these discussions that were held in private elsewhere should have been conducted prior to the list being published.

Why do only the emails matter to you when clearly plenty of people think that the books you removed were excellent? Why don't all opinions matter or get recognized as equally valid?

More importantly, how on earth can I, as a librarian, use this list or any other book-related list posted by Bitch in the future?

I can't trust that most of the books on this list would read carefully or read at all since you've made it clear that the three that were actually read by everyone were ultimately removed.

OH, dear heavens, a thousand

OH, dear heavens, a thousand times thank you!
Book lists cannot be made over brunch, as is evidenced by the months of work put into creating the Best Fiction for Young Adults, Popular Paper Backs for Young Adults, Great Graphic Novels for Teens, and the countless other selection lists put out by the ALA every year.

I used to love Bitch, and still read it on occasion, but now I seriously question the editorial process of the magazine.
And just because something is on-line and not in print, it's still under the Bitch mast head, and should be subject to the same editorial guidelines.

Principal of the mater

I personally haven’t read any of these books, but honestly it doesn’t mater. From what I’ve seen here in the comments it looks like a few people complained and instead of sticking to your guns like a self-respecting feminist should, you caved in hard and fast. I mean the name of this place is Bitch for crying out loud, you should be used to controversy by now.

You added these books to the list for a reason, so we should assume that you put thought and consideration into building this list in the first place. This means reading them, weighing the pros and cons, and ultimately deciding that the pros VASTLY outweigh the cons (because lets be honest, there are many other books out there). But, by removing these three books it undermines the integrity of the list as a whole. It says to us, “Whoops, we didn’t pay close enough attention to these three books, so we’re taking them off.” If these three books didn’t get care and attention, then how can we believe that the rest of your list wasn’t rushed together?

Now, in order to maintain the integrity of your list you need to re-evaluate every single book and take out any other potentially upsetting book no mater how good it may be.

The funny thing though, if you add the books back, it looks like you caved into comments again.

Just wanted to say that if

Just wanted to say that if the criteria is going to be 'triggery', please take 'wintergirls' and the uglies series off your list. While I love and enjoy both these, the cutting in 'uglies'is very triggering, and 'wintergirls' even includes calorie counts. Just because they don't die in the end, this is okay?

Please. Also, 'rampant' deals with sex and rape so maybe that should be taken off too. But really. 'Living dead girl' is brilliant and it's strikingly feminist because it was WRITTEN. It speaks out as a testament to atrocities that do happen. If that stays off, then 'sold' should be removed also.

Think about how much hassle would have been saved if you actually set parameters! If these books don't belong on this list (which I still find very vague) what list do they beong on?

Please calm down and breathe

I really think people here need to calm down and take a breath. It's a book list for goodness sake! Peole getting very emotional about a person's personal book picks seems a bit much, don't you think?

Also, why would you remove any of these books? Again. it's your opinion.

A thought experiment

I'm going to give you ten books to read. I'm going to explain to you how important they are, how essential they are, how valuable they are, how they are so good that they will enrich your life immeasurably. Then, someone else will see the titles of, let's say, three of those books, and complain to me that those three books might possibly -- not would definitely, not even would almost surely, just might possibly -- hurt you in some ill-defined fashion. So then I take those three books away for you, and explain that no, these books are suddenly wrong for you. Moreover, you're also wrong for them. You're too DAMAGED to read them. In fact it's because of you that this book is no longer good for you.

Tell me: What kind of person does that make me?

Your analogy is inaccurate.

Your analogy is inaccurate. Suppose I were to email you a list of one hundred military science fiction titles. Someone else sees my list and tells me that three of those titles aren't military at all. I re-read the books and send you a second list of one hundred military science fiction titles. I tell you the names of the three titles I removed and explain that while those titles are science fiction and good books, the military elements weren't as prominent as I'd first believed, or represented the military in ways I believe to be pejorative.

At no point do I "give" you any books. At no point do I make decisions for you. At no point do I deceive you about the process or cast accusations that your stomach isn't strong enough to handle the descriptions of blood and gore.

I'm really tired of the word trigger...

I'm getting rather weary of people who complain about things that make them uncomfortable and then use the blanket excuse that the subject matter is "triggering." There are things out there that can and do disturb me should I stumble upon them, but I would never, ever for a moment think or demand that anything and everything connected to these subjects should be removed from existence, or censored, or - to be topical - removed from a rec list of books that contain strong female characters and possibly dubious content.

For example: I don't like stories in which the main character(s) die. These stories can destroy me. I remember reading one recently that had me in a major depressive state for well over a week. I do not handle death well. Yes, it has touched my life in a tragic, violent way. I suppose you could call stories about death a "trigger" for me.

So, as a general rule, knowing my own limitations, I just do not read them.

And on the occasions I have read them, either intentionally or accidentally, I don't hold it against the author as a personal slight to me that s/he wrote about a character dying. I sincerely doubt the author's intention in writing that story was to totally ruin my day. And no one held a gun to my head and forced me to read the story - I'm pretty sure I clicked the link or opened the book all by myself - I'm a big girl, now! Like other girls reading that list, I am completely literate and capable of deciding for myself what I can and cannot read.

I wonder about the people who started this whole mess, the ones who complained and put the bug in Bitch's ear to yoink those books off the list. What were you thinking? Okay, yes - your opinion that the books was, to you, disturbing and bothersome is a valid opinion. But I'm pretty sure your opinion is just that - yours. And if you're a slave to your triggers, fine and dandy, but don't you dare force them on other people. Don't abuse your own issues by using them to shame Bitch into redacting the books. You don't get to decide what I read. That was underhanded and selfish. And really rather bitchy.

Not in the good way.

More on trigger

I actually like the idea of trigger warnings on some posts, such as those dealing with rape or abuse. It gives people who know that they might have a problem with the content the choice to read or not too. I think if you are thin king about reading a book it is a good idea to read the inside cover or a review first (just to save money or the trip back to the library if nothing else). But I totally agree that it is absurd to use "triggering" as a reason for never doing posts about rape of abuse.

I think Bitch has the right to put which ever books they want on their list and take them off at any time for any reason but Bitch has proved over and over again that they can be easily manipulated by the use of feminist buzz words. "You are using __________ privilege to _____________ shame me." You can't win the game so why does Bitch even play? They should post what they want and let people say what they want.

An analogy

I went to see the movie Saving Private Ryan the day it came out, as did quite a number of older veterans. During the first half hour of the film (the scenes of the D-Day invasion) several of those elder veterans got up and walked out of the theater - not because the movie was bad, but because the realism of the battle scene was too intense for them to handle. Some were actual survivors of that assault (based on the unit badges they wore), and I can't blame them for their inability to sit through such a vivid reenactment. (And yes, I actually asked some of them why they left the movie.)

Obviously SPR has made it onto several lists of "the greatest movies ever made", a distinction that could and should be debated. But I can imagine there would be a similar uproar as this if someone removed it from one of those lists based on its ability to trigger PTSD in some people (which it most certainly does). As several people have pointed out, removing an item from the list is far worse than having excluded it in the first place.

Having included these books on your original list, I urge you to please reconsider the decision to redact them.

judgement

The analogy to a "greatest movie ever made" list does not hold up. The correct comparison would be to a list of "films which every veteran MUST see."

Disagree

The correct comparison would be to a list of "films which every veteran MUST see."

No it wouldn't. Unless you are assuming every feminist has a history of abuse. .

double-disagree

No, only that ANY could.

As related in the above example, not every veteran - even of those who did experience the thick of grisly combat - has, or manifests, PTSD in a way that prevents him or her from remaining un-triggered during a harrowingly rendered film sequence of grisly combat.

It's the difference between every and not every, not the difference between every and none.

I stand by my original analogy

I realize the analogy I posted does not line up perfectly, but it makes the point I wanted to make. In that respect it's fine the way it is.

If everyone at Bitch is going

If everyone at Bitch is going to stick by their bad decision to amend their list - fine, whatever. Obviously those first few voices that denounced those 3 books were loud enough to drown out the rest of the commentators on this thread who ask that the original list be reinstated. However, please respect the wishes of the authors who'd like to be removed from your botched list. This only seems fair. If you have the right to remove authors and books from the list, then the authors themselves should be able to request that their titles be removed from the list and their requests should be honored.

Same old story, moral

Same old story, moral guardians and gutless publishers. Once upon a time the default word for anything that made a moral guardian think (and we all know how scared and upset having to engage the brain makes them, much easier to stop everyone from thinking and then they don't have to have their bubble-wrapped world disturbed) was "blasphemous" and then publishers had to scramble to prove they weren't. Then it changed to just "immoral", because the public wised up and didn't automatically accept that as a reason to get rid of something, but "immoral" same old tactics and result, but then we figured out we were hoodwinked again. Then "communist", hot damn, better remove that incase someone thinks we are communists. Feh. So change of vocab, now the go to for something that want to stop existing because it makes them uncomfortable is "triggering".

As soon as someone says triggering we see the same pell-mell, helter-skelter, panicked scuttling, that those craven cowards of old did when they saw the word "blasphemous". "Triggering" is just the latest goto word of those that are afraid to think, afraid to see anything uncomfortable, and afraid to live in a world where other people can all be different. Bitch (oh please, birch!) is as craven and cowardly as those publishers of olde, on that it is well named. You are the moral guardian's bitch, and they've ridden you into submission.

Your horrifying rape

Your horrifying rape metaphor, even moreso than your essential misapprehension of what a "trigger" is, disqualifies you from commenting in feminist discussions.

The bits where you think anyone ever tried to make anything stop existing would otherwise just be sort of charmingly amok.

If you don't support authors

If you don't support authors and/or media that portray abuse victims, then I will not support you.

I am also a rape victim and a feminist and I feel the same way. In fact, I think the problem with mainstream media is that we sweep rape under the carpet and never talk about it. Which is why the removal of these books based on these totally ignorant and short-sighted ideas (women here arguing that this rape is good to read about, but this rape is not. Some rapes are fine in books, other rapes are not because of their personal definitions of feminism and how it relates to rape. WTF?) is so disturbing by a mag that claims to be what BITCH claims to be.

If I showed this comment thread to my survivors group, they would instantly feel triggered. Not by the books or the rapes in the books mentioned or pulled from the original list. But by the insane defining and blaming that's going on here by so-called feminists, and the refusal to see that the more we talk about rape in the media (all kinds of rape and all kinds of personal reactions to rape) the more we HELP rape victims.

Bitch magazine, I'll never support you again. Not because of some dumb list of books. This whole thing is pretty stupid now. But because throughout this process your reasoning has completely missed the point and makes you look no different than what I see in society, media and government every damn day.
Rape victims are what we define.
Rape victims need what we say they need. Yawn.

How about rape victims need

How about rape victims need what THEY say they need? As I understood it, the original complaints came from people who had been raped and asked that the books be reconsidered because the way they dealt with the material was upsetting and/or not in keeping with the theme of the list.

Or did you just hear "OH GOD, THEY'RE HORRIBLE CENSORS" and jump into the fray?

Someone once spilled juice

Someone once spilled juice over my sweater, and it was really upsetting and now everytime I read a book that has depictions of liquid in it, it triggers me. My NEED is that Bitch Magazine stop recommending books where liquids are depicted. I need them to do this for me because I'm too dumb to decide for myself and I KNOW my needs, likes, and dislikes must take precedence over everyone else in the world.

Oh won't someone think of the childr//// victims.

Did you really just compare

Did you really just compare spilling juice on yourself to being raped and abused? Check your privilege and stop making stupid analogies.

I find depictions of seizures

I find depictions of seizures on television to be mildly distressing seeing as I've had one. Do I have a right to request that people stop showing people having granmals on tv because I've had stress reactions/flashbacks of the event? No, I do not. Check *your* privilege at the door, please.

From the rape victims against

From the rape victims against the rush caving I would probably say that the maxim "No person is exactly alike" is more accurate. It's entirely possible that the objections came from "concerned citizens", and even if they hadn't it wouldn't be any less patronizing of Bitch magazine to its readers and to the victims of rape they seek to "protect". Tender Morsels is pretty honest about its setting and the sexual abuse present in the book, if someone feels they can't handle that then they can not read it.

How about rape victims need

How about rape victims need what THEY say they need? As I understood it, the original complaints came from people who had been raped and asked that the books be reconsidered because the way they dealt with the material was upsetting and/or not in keeping with the theme of the list.

But who are they to say that these books don't belong on the list? Because they found the material upsetting? Does being a rape victim automatically make their opinion more valid than, say, the other rape victims who have responded to this thread saying the book belongs on this list/should not have been yanked?

It doesn't work that way. If you read something you don't like, tough. You can't tell other people they can't read it, either. I'm not about to tell someone they can't read a book about death because I can't handle it myself. I might as well be one of those idiots who rewrote Huckleberry Finn in an effort to pretend racism doesn't still happen.

Agreed. REALLY aren't most

Agreed.

REALLY aren't most people going to check out a title before reading? Amazon has descriptions of the books and lots of reviews which cue any slightly curious reader into what she might find in the books. Let women decide for themselves!!! Assume that we have BRAINS! Not that we need coddling because we've been victims.

The list is entitled, "From the Library: 100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader." It isn't titled, "MUST READS FOR ALL FEMINISTS." (And frankly even if it were I'd still use my brain before making personal selections--nothing personal bitchmedia.) Yes, while the description of the list suggests "that every feminist should add [these books] to the stack of books on their bedside table." The more BITCH-y thing to do would have been to EDIT this small DESCRIPTION before the list and add a few notations to alert some women. Ya know like a "parental advisory" for sensitive issues? NOT EDIT the LIST thus CENSORING it.

And really, I can't help but wonder if the "read/re-read" done over the weekend included only passages of the books in question and not whole books with passages taken in context. Because we all know that it's really easy to say a book is "bad" based on single passages alone. But in CONTEXT there may be clarity, meaning, thought and depth which is completely different from any single passage. Really. But you're smart women, so you know this already. (I think.)

Hmmm.

Linds, I don't think you read my response correctly. Or if you did, this really personal attack seems to be somewhat misguided. I don't think anyone here is censoring anything. I'm saying that as a rape victim, I am sick of everyone else trying to define what I need, and which rapes are "okay" and which ones aren't "okay" to talk about or write about, and how those definitions somehow point to how "feminist" a thing is or isn't.

No one can define these things.
Not for me. Not for any other victims.

Whoever said upthread that people should take a deep breath really was right. Holy cats.

But no one is trying to

But no one is trying to define what you need. That's what I'm getting at. Some rape survivors objected to the inclusion of particular books. The bloggers decided on the strength of that and a re-read that on second thought the books did not match the themes that they were going for.

I mean, as feminist bloggers, in creating any list they're going to be making "definitions [that] somehow point to how "feminist" a thing is or isn't." By creating this list, regardless of what's on it, they are already making that definition. By altering their list, they revised their definition, but that definition was already in place because the list existed.

This whole this just so over-the-top and eating-our-own. So they made a misstep and removed books that some people objected to and that a lot of people like, but all of this "YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO READ AS A SURVIVOR" really strikes me as completely over the top because they already were.

Actually, the neither of two

Actually, the neither of two initial commentators (pandora and scrumby) made any assertions as to whether or not they themselves have been raped or abused. This is might be part of their personal history, it might not be. Such a personal history might have helped formed their opinions of the books they complained about, it might not have. But this was certainly not part their publically stated objections as you are suggesting.

In fact, a lot of other commentators have responded stating that they are rape survivors and that they found the books to have merit and resonance for them.

But this is a somewhat off-centre argument anyway. As others here have pointed out, whether or not a book can be personally detrimental for a particular individual to read, doesn't have much to say about the merit or otherwise of the book. It would certainly be something to take into account when considering warnings or caveats to a potential readership, but it doesn't mean the books themselves don't have important things to say about difficult subject matter which should be exposed to a wider audience.

To draw a line, as you have attempted to do here, and say, "Rape victims hate this book! People who aren't rape victims should listen instead of calling them censors!" is not only simplistic but also make a lot of dangerous assumptions about participants on both sides of the discussion.

P.S.

The above was in response to Linds. Sorry, should have tagged that in the post.

I wasn't attempting to draw a

I wasn't attempting to draw a line. I was pointing out that accounts (that I'd heard) involved rape survivors objecting to the inclusion of those books. Some clearly feel the books belonged on the list. Several other didn't.

If the bloggers came down on the side of one or the other, that's their prerogative, because either way they'd be ignoring someone's objections.

And not recognizing that there's always going to be a definition drawn about what is "appropriate" for a Feminist Best Of list, and that that definition may change depending on whether people initiate a dialogue about the included books is kind of ridiculous.

censorship

When I was in high school the teacher assigned Rudolfo Anaya's "Bless Me, Ultima," a beautiful book and one that that particular (somewhat racist) group of students desperately needed to read. The teacher sent a note home saying that if the parents didn't approve of this book their student could be excused. None of us were forced to read it, unlike "Catcher in the Rye" or "Of Mice and Men". And yet, since the book involved pagan elements and questioning of Catholic practices (gasp!) one of the mothers complained, saying it was overly sexual. Now, "Of Mice and Men" has more sexual references and acts, and logically the administration should have shrugged off the complaint and let the ladies daughter read in the library instead.
But no. "Bless Me, Ultima" was YANKED from the shelves and given to that same mother so she could "dispose" of them.
Now, one person doesn't like some of the books on this list. Fair enough, no one is forcing anyone to read them. That doesn't mean they should be YANKED from the list, because that prevents others from reading them by choice. What may trigger one person might help heal another. Putting a trigger warning next to the books in question could have balanced everything nicely. But instead I'm left feeling like I'm in high school all over again.

That doesn't mean they should

That doesn't mean they should be YANKED from the list, because that prevents others from reading them by choice.

I agree with the rest of your post, but this sentence is not quite true. They're not preventing people from reading the book at all. What they are doing is failing to recognize very important books. For those who have never heard of the removed books, now they don't have the opportunity to learn about them from this list. I think it's a disservice to the readership to say "these books are very important, and you should read them", then turn around and remove them. It's not preventing anyone from reading the books, but it's certainly hiding them.

All we can ask for now is

All we can ask for now is that you respect the authors such as Scott and Maureen and take their books off your list. They no longer want to be associated with it and although there is no law saying you have to take them off it's just basic decency.

what is a list

Say an author came across some kid's Facebook, and saw that he or she listed one of that author's books among his or her favourites.

Suppose that author looked at the rest of the visible profile, and decided he or she didn't much like the look of it. The kid had a mean quote or the wrong political identity or an ugly photo or something.

Imagine that author sent the kid a message requesting that his or her title no longer be included among a list of that reader's favourite books.

It is a request to LIE.

What Scott W is asking Bitch's writers to do is PRETEND THEY DON'T THINK HIS BOOK IS A GOOD FIT FOR THEIR LIST.

That is WILD.

Scott W said nothing of the

Scott W said nothing of the sort. He said that he was acting in solidarity with the authors whose books were removed from the list because he did not wish to be associated with it. Why can't this request be honored? And why is ignoring an author's request a good thing?

Because at the point that an

Because at the point that an author publishes a book, he or she loses control over what other people think of it or say about it. It would be ludicrous for Bitch to "honor" his request.

Right!

I mean, suppose Bitch asked that their name be removed from all of the tweets and blog posts made in response to this issue. I doubt very much that any supporter of the protesting authors' right to have their books' names removed from Bitch's subjective writing would also think Bitch has a right to that.

--
rljd

AnalogyFAIL!

Stop twisting your analogies to fit the situation. This comment thread is full of absolutely godawful analogies regarding the authors who have asked to be removed and not one comes anywhere near anything even resembling accuracy.

What Scott (and Maureen, Justine, Diana, et al) have said is that their books should not be on this list if the removed books were removed due to their treatment of difficult subject matter because their books all contain similarly difficult subject matter. Scott said that he personally has received letters from cutters that were triggered by the cutting scenes in his books. These authors also pointed out that the list now lacks any credibility it originally had by virtue of the completely one-sided process used to remove the three "offensive" books from the list and they would prefer to not be associated with such a haphazardly constructed list.

It is not like a Favorite Books list on some random kid's Facebook page, it's more like a list published by a magazine for the express purpose of recommending these books to their readership.

It is not like demanding to have won an award you have lost; it's more like refusing to accept an award because you believe the committee that distributed the awards was corrupt in their award-distribution-process. (Look, a bad analogy! I guess they just happen here...)

Removed Book List?

Please provide a list of the removed books (and any other books you deemed too radical to include on the list). I should very much like to read the books that I'm too delicate to read because I'm female.

How about providing a list of "Emotionally Unsettling Books" that include those that were removed? You could appease those upset with your decision to remove the books, and also keep them off this list. A very brief blurb about why each was selected for the list would be beneficial. Let's call the blurb column "trigger", and you could use defining characteristics such as "rape" or "abuse" or "torture". I hope this doesn't come across as a sarcastic tone, because I do not mean it sarcastically. I truly would love to see such a list!

Others have said, but I shall reiterate: it's not censorship in any way, but it is cowardly to remove books based upon a couple comments. If the books are that challenging, shouldn't you want MORE people to read them? Especially if you support strong females and want women and teen girls to think for themselves? You've undermined your entire philosophy with this quick move. That is why so many people are upset: not because you've changed your mind about a list, but why you changed your mind, and how this looks to strong women everywhere.

How about providing a list of

How about providing a list of "Emotionally Unsettling Books" that include those that were removed? You could appease those upset with your decision to remove the books, and also keep them off this list.

This is an amazing idea.

Pull the whole damn list.

Pull the whole damn list. Take the time to consider the ALL the books that you just slapped on it in the first place and repost a new list in six months with a better, more thoughtful explanation of what criteria you used to select books for this list.

did you pay for this list???

Are you the web editor of Bitch Magazine? Where do you get the nerve to take such a scathing tone in demanding that a blog post be removed and replaced with a very different project that you would appreciate more?

Why does the internet instill this sense of entitlement in a readership?

--
rljd

Jesse, when I first saw your

Jesse, when I first saw your comments all over this site, essentially saying over and over how *dare* we criticize Bitch, my first thought was: are you TWELVE? My second thought was: yes, you probably are. This is all about Bitch's list of books for YAs after all, so if you sounded immature and self-important that was okay. Most people grow out of that. Then I realized that unlike most of the other people commenting here, you have a profile, so I clicked on the link. You aren't twelve. You just sound like you are.

I apologize for what must seem like an ad hominem attack. It isn't meant to be one. It's just that I realized, after I read your most recent comment, that all us who are trying to tell Bitch that we expected something more and something better from them-- we don't have profiles. We are writers of YA literature and we are librarians for children and Young Adults. We are feminists who believe that this is important. Some of us think it is important enough to dedicate our professional lives to it. We are trying to tell Bitch that we believe they can and should produce material that's intelligent, informed and well-crafted and they are ignoring us.

It finally dawned on me why. WE aren't their target audience. You are. You're the guy with a profile after all, the sewed in member of the community. And if there are enough Jesse Dangerouslys out there on the internet to keep Bitch in business, that's good enough for them. So all of us hoping for something more, we've had the wrong idea of what Bitch is or could be. Sorry. Our bad.

1991

If all I'm getting across in my posts is "how dare you criticize Bitch" then we have a really bad communications breakdown. I'm all for criticizing Bitch - Bitch is a hub of criticism; that's the most valuable thing about it. It doesn't ever offer the definitive or final word on any topic, just a batch of feminist perspectives on different things in pop culture.

I have loads of criticisms of every issue of Bitch, and many of their tweets and blog posts that I've read, and I think it's very healthy to engage with them if one cares about advancing the feminist discourse in our culture.

I don't subscribe to the rows and columns you've drawn up for who's in what army. Having made a profile for commenting on a blog is not a tattoo or a set of dog tags. There is no definitive split between who cares about young adult literature and who cares about third-wave feminist magazines. Hopefully, anyone who has posted in this thread has some feeling that both are important and worthy of getting right.

I just... what exactly IS the idea you've had of what Bitch is or could be? I could follow that question up with a dozen rhetorically loaded sentences to express my bewilderment but I would much rather get a real answer.

--
rljd

I can't believe you included Harriet the Spy

That book made me physically ill when I was a child, and it still makes me cringe. One of the reasons I've never done what so many writers do and carry a notebook to jot down my thoughts is because of what happened to Harriet. I can't believe anyone still reads it, let alone recommends it. It's about as feminist as Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, and pretty mean spirited to boot.

Also, I'm with all the others who are less than pleased about you recommending three books and then yanking them. Bad form, not done, and I'm now seriously questioning whether I want to reup my subscription.

And when you post the better,

And when you post the better, more thought out version of this list, please consider adding a description of each book and a suggested age range. Because plonking Dealing with Dragons down on the same list as Sold with no indication that some of these books are appropriate for girls as young as ten and some of them really aren't, is misleading.

Librarians, you know, they don't just dust the shelves and tidy the books. They actually KNOW things. I wish you had more respect for what they do. Being able to play with Pages doesn't make me a magazine designer, does it?

YES

I think that would be a terrific idea, coming up with annotated list of books that the editorial board has actually read, plus an age range for each book. A Wrinkle in Time is written for a younger audience than Tamora Pierce, to name just one, and a ten year old who loved the latter might not be ready for the former.

Also, if you do this again, kindly separate the books by categories. People don't always read or like the same sorts of books, and speaking as someone who knew by the age of twelve that she loved mysteries, science fiction, and fantasy, but hated contemporary "realistic" fiction, it would be helpful to know what genre these books fall into before I head over to the library.

Not the point of a list

I don't believe the list should tell you everything about every book. I would expect parents and teens to take personal responsibility and research the books before reading them. It's asking too much for a list to include information about: "appropriate" age ranges (I was reading Stephen King at age 11 -- is this appropriate for everyone?), genre (very difficult to categorize books, as many cross genres). I look at the titles of the books and have no idea what many of them are about. I would certainly research them slightly before deciding to read them, and I suspect many people work this way.

to Banned Book Reader

Banned Book Reader,

I'm not expecting them to tell me "everything" about a book. No, asking for an age range or a single sentence synopsis, is not too much to ask, at least, not to much to ask of professionals interested in doing a good job. It may be too much to ask from a bunch of Bitch magazine writers who thought they could pick a list of a hundred books without actually reading all the books they were going to promote.

No one who actually works with books and young adults thinks that the age ranges are hard and fast rules. They know that age ranges are a coding system that by and large rank books in relation to other books. So-- This book for 13 and up is likely to be more challenging, or more mature than That book for 8-12.

And I am sorry, but Stephen King is written for eleven year olds. Tender Morsels is not. No coding system is perfect. That's why it's professional to give people a heads up about content.

Please do try to remain civil

Please do try to remain civil and reasonable. I know we're on the internet, but the personal attacks are unnecessary.

And I am sorry, but Stephen King is written for eleven year olds. Tender Morsels is not.

Ah, so you've read Dolores Claiborne, then? And Rose Madder? Abuse, rape, molestation, domestic violence... Meanwhile, the School Library Journal recommends Tender Morsels for grades 9+, so ages 13+. That is entirely appropriate for certain 11 year olds. And underlines my point that age ranges are useless, since you think there's NO WAY that book is appropriate for that age range, but an authoritative source says otherwise.

No, asking for an age range or a single sentence synopsis, is not too much to ask, at least, not to much to ask of professionals interested in doing a good job. It may be too much to ask from a bunch of Bitch magazine writers who thought they could pick a list of a hundred books without actually reading all the books they were going to promote.

I agree wholeheartedly that books shouldn't have been recommended based upon "research" only - they certainly should have been read first, if only to ascertain that they were appropriate books to recommend to their audience, regardless of what they want to title the list.

I don't expect a "list" to include such robust information, though I agree it would be helpful. By it's very nature, a list is simply a short and summarized version of something. To include a summary and age range and genre for all of these books would expand the list to several pages. Instead, I think a good way to handle this would be to use something like goodreads.com or amazon.com to create a List including all the books, that way it's incredibly easy for people to research the books and check "appropriate" age ranges.

Sorry, Banned Books. I knew

Sorry, Banned Books. I knew that would touch a nerve, but I thought it was important to draw a distinction between King's books which might be shocking and violent and graphic, but require no real intellectual effort to read and Tender Morsels which really demands a thoughtful reader. That expectation for a thoughtful reader is why I think that book was removed from the list. The staff at Bitch blew through the book in a day or two and failed to give it the consideration it deserved. There's very little chance that any reader can finish a King book without understanding exactly what King wants you to think of every character and decision. That doesn't make his books bad, just a whole lot more straightforward. Lanagan's book shows readers a complicated story and leaves them to come to their own conclusions about the characters and events. I think the editors pulled the book because they came to the wrong conclusions, or because they felt readers might come to the wrong conclusion. They don't respect the readers right to make their own judgement. That's really insulting.

How is stating an age range

How is stating an age range and a genre telling someone "everything about a book"? I am seriously asking, because that doesn't seem particularly burdensome on the editors. In particular, separating by genre only makes sense.

hmph

from one librarian, thank you!: "Librarians, you know, they don't just dust the shelves and tidy the books. They actually KNOW things. I wish you had more respect for what they do. "

one of those things librarians actually know is called readers' advisory. it's something we take pretty seriously.

i'm glad the discussion has moved on, for the most part, from whether this is censorship or just straight-up cowardice (my vote is for the latter) and the whole "triggering" term is so very very overused. also, "triggering", in my experience, excludes so many other aspects of life that are damaging and violent in people's life - like white imperialism: i.e., um, john marsden's book? and, as much as i love the blue sword still, and read it dozens of times as a teen and at least twice in the last year, there's no denying it's the typical fairy tale of the white person sweeping in and saving all the non-whites, she's better at them with their own magic, etc etc etc.

right now though, what's bothering me most is that it seems that the list was just thrown together and presented as if it'd been researched carefully and thoughtfully. and maybe that care and though is happening now or in the few days since the list was posted. however, clearly, some (many?) of these books were not originally read by bitch and were placed on the list due to recommendations by friends. wth! then at least make that known at the top of the list, please. whenever, i hand a book to someone as a suggested read and i haven't read the book, i make that super clear - that my recommendation comes from the author's previous works, reviews, a friend, whatever. that's the responsible action to take. i agree as well with what the previous commenters said re: age ranges, general categories, and so on. ya is a big big field and the term can, and is often, used to include anyone from age 12 to 24. that's quite a range!

basically, if you're going to call yourselves a library and attempt to put together an authoritative book list and distribute it, please do it responsibly - explain your choices, give recommended age ranges, be clear when you haven't read the book, etc. if you don't do this, you are belittling the importance of libraries - and as a librarian, well, that just pisses me off.

integrity of recommendations

YES, thank you for noting that if you haven't read something and are planning to recommend it, you should note that. In doing Readers' Advisory, I rarely recommend something I haven't read, but if I do, I will note that I haven't read it, but have seen it on several lists, or that it won an award or something to that effect to note where I heard about it and WHY I am recommending it. It's just responsible and professional, and allows you to stand behind the integrity of your recommendations.

Response from the Executive Director

If ever it is appropriate to characterize Bitch Media monolithically, it is safe to say that Bitch Media is an organization that loves books and we have a particular love for YA books.

There are thousands of YA books that we would heartily recommend and lend and passionately discuss and debate.

But we made a list of 100. Lists like these evolve and change. In some iterations a book isn’t listed, later it’s back again. Lists are idiosyncratic, biased and not the be all and end all. With the thousands of choices, there will always be some reason to choose one book over another.

I know for writers, readers and promoters of books, removal from a list can be a red flag, a call to action, a slippery slope toward book banning and censorship.

That’s simply not the case here. We’re proud to have all the books removed from the list available in our library (and, yes, it is a physical lending library in Portland, OR). I sincerely hope that more people buy, read, and discuss these books because of this discussion. But they’re not on this list.

And for those authors who have asked to be removed from the list, we respect your support for fellow authors, but it’s our list, with of our recommendations for young adults, and we think your books merit inclusion at this time. We don’t remove the books because we are asked; we remove or include them based on our judgment.

For these decisions, you can castigate or praise us, but I’ll hope you’ll do so in solidarity with an organization that promotes discussion and debate and condemns censorship.

Julie Falk, Executive Director, Bitch Media

Tender Morsels

You say you encourage discussion, yet no one from Bitch has really responded to the numerous readers' opinions that Tender Morsels does not -- in any way -- support vengeance rape. I am very interested to hear how the staffers who read it over the weekend came to this conclusion, and decided that it shouldn't be a part of the list. The skirting of this issue is making it hard for me to have faith in the list at all, because it doesn't necessarily seem that informed decisions are being made. It's your list; your decisions. But as so many people are obviously upset by your choice, I think a more complete explanation would go a long way. Thanks.

You Are Missing The Point

Ms. Falk,

I'm going to start with saying that over the years I've bought Bitch when I can and have enjoyed reading it even when I've disagreed with some articles that have been published. It's made me think, it's made question, it's made me reexamine my own actions or beliefs.

Your response above does not seem to have done that for you or your organization in this matter.

Instead you've dug in your heels and basically said "This is only a list, it's not a big deal, and it's not really censorship so please just support us and go away."

You have brushed off the concerns people have had with the way in which your staff has handled this whole matter: they had no clear criteria by which they made this list, they caved to pressure when confronted with complaints about the original list and didn't take their time to establish a process to think about why they would want to amend this list (or not) and thus their criteria to change the list was so arbitrary you could take it and apply it many of the books still on the list!

Yes lists can change, but you did not address some of the fundamental flaws your organization had in putting together this list which many, many, many posters above me have pointed out.. You claim to be against censorship but quite frankly, your staff changed your organization's list of recommendations because of the complaints of a few people without a clear cut process is indeed the first step in censorship no matter how you cut it. The books may still be in your lending library but it calls into question how much resolve you all will have when someone physically comes to your lending library and demands that those books be removed because they are "triggering" or "not feminist enough."

Finally that you will blithely push aside the concerns of authors who wish to stand in solidarity with their fellow authors and be removed as a matter of principle is wrong and very disappointing: I think that you would change your tune if say Bitch was placed on some sort of recommended list that as an organization you objected to. Your words of " we remove or include them based on our judgment" may come back to haunt you one day.

I urge that you and your staff sit down and take a good long look at the procedures may want to have in place going forward. Talk to some librarians in Portland who you respect and will work with you on setting up criteria that is more clear cut than what you have communicated with the public and publish that criteria. Because quite frankly, the way you all have handled this whole affair has been awful, the way you've communicated your criteria and how the books were chosen and recommended was well below the standards I've come to expect from Bitch.

BItch can do better and I expect it to do so. Otherwise I am afraid that this will have offended many long time readers/supporters and turned off casual ones like myself. Address this properly and you may still have time to fix things for a great many supporters.

Sara E.

Well, no

"we don't remove the books because we are asked; we remove or include them based on our judgment."

This is transparently not true. Your original list met this criteria. Your subsequent bed-wetting, knee trembling cave to criticism shows that you do, in fact, remove books when asked. You only remove books when asked by the alarmist public, as opposed to the authors. You've shown scarce little in the way of the strength of your convictions, and it is that that is alarming.

When people compare this to book banning, it's not because these books are banned. Rather, it's because book banning is a knee jerk reaction to a minority complaining that a book is offensive. Instead of defending your choice, you've simply said, "sure," when someone bitched (pun intended). This list cannot be fairly said to have "evolved." It's change was reactionary, not evolutionary. Massive fail in the courage department.

minority

You know who doesn't listen when a minority complains?

Oppressors.

Minority Complaints

True enough, but highly irrelevant. Oppressors don't listen, period.

However, to take your point as I think it was intended, a proper response would have perhaps been to note the objection of the minority, either with or without comment, to let the potential reader know of the objection.

Instead, they allowed the minority (of one, in one case) to overrule their collective decision and substituted his/her judgment for their own. That's an act of supreme moral cowardice.

Upon what are you basing this

Upon what are you basing this weird revision of the clear history of events?

Upon receiving feedback, they INVESTIGATED. They re-read, and and had further discussions, and came to new conclusions.

Same as the process of figuring out what goes on the list at every other stage, except in public this time.

Freaking out over it is an act of supreme moral jerking off.

I think you'd have a hard time justifying "freaking out" based

on my commentary, but I assume you're being hyperbolic and generalizing.

However, as noted: The list was created by people who read the books, made a list. Then, some members of the group, having not first read a book, returned and purportedly read ~1000 pages of fiction in a couple of days, and decided, uniformly, to remove books that had been criticized. You take them fully at their word. I do not. I look at how they reacted here to the initial comments, and what they said when removing the books.

The best that can be said is this: Someone in the comments questioned a few books. The people that read and nominated those books in the first place were overruled by someone who read the books with that sole purpose in mind.

So, back to moral courage, for me. Or am I just freaking out?

hyperbole

"bedwetting, knee-trembling cave;"
"massive fail in the courage department;"
"supreme moral cowardice."

My use of "freaking out" to describe your vehement language is roughly equivalent in hyperbole to the rhetorical thrust of your above-selected quotes. If you had been literal in your usage of those terms, then you would have been freaking out. I was appealing to your established degree of melodrama.

I guess, given your best-case assessment of events, I don't even know why you would concern yourself with debating the integrity of such an intrinsically debased list in the first place. The first version was presented by the same people as the amended version. You don't respect their criteria or decisions. How could any version of this list satisfy you?

Language

bed wetting and knee trembling are not my view of vehemence, but simply strongly condemnatory. However, if you take them that way, I certainly won't disagree, as I did use them to convey strongly my feelings. I have used and do use them in conversation, and they're not part of "freaking out." But, I'll agree to "melodramatic," I just don't equate that with freaking out.

I think your language would be more likely to draw condemnation, but I don't really object to it personally, though you seem to have odd standards for others, considering your own uses. I kind of like your language, though, so don't take it as a request to change.

As to why I join in this debate? Like any other discussion of a philosophical nature, the discussion is worth it itself. Not to mention, when I see bullshit, I cry bullshit. I see bullshit in the rationalizations I'm seeing here. Had the list changed, without the initial hand wringing objection (there I go freaking out again), people would have objected, debated the relative merits, and it would have been generally a positive experience. When someone yields to criticism, without visible merit (as here), they are then subject to a different kind of criticism, as here.

Glad you support them, and post about it. I just think you're wrong.

Not. Cool. You're absolutely

Not. Cool.
You're absolutely right, it is your list, and it is your decision to keep or remove an author, but it is a professional courtesy to remove an author who has asked to be removed. To not do so shows EXTREME disrespect.
I am incredibly distressed to see the direction that Bitch magazine has gone. While sloppy (and there is no other word for it) list making is one thing it is quite another to completely disregard an author's wishes to be removed from your list.
Just...absolute, professionalism FAIL.

professionalism

To what particular professional code or standard do you refer?

If an author is put on a

If an author is put on a list, and then asks to be removed, in professional circles (I am a librarian) the author is removed.
Is it written? No. Does it happen often? No. But it does happen, and to not do so is either arrogant or uninformed. Based on the response from Bitch's ED, I'm going with arrogant.
They put this out there under a professional banner. This isn't some kid on Facebook. It's an organization making reading recommendations, and then blatantly ignoring the wishes of authors who wish to stand in solidarity with censored (because redacting titles is censorship-if they had not been put on, that would be selection, but taking them off is censorship) authors.

That professional code.

oh the professional code you just made up right now

You are being VERY silly.

Bitch IS, among many other things, some kid on Facebook. It is a (justly) gorlified zine that evolved to a point where it is accessible through almost-mainstream channels. It is not a peer-reviewed journal or an infallible religious text. It is a collection of variously radical perspectives that advance the popular discourse on feminism. Its content varies from extremely raw and personal viewpoints that don't require a solid foundation to be meaningful to well-covered, cogent and pointed arguments.

When it has a list of books its constituents think are good for people to read, then it just has that list, and the list is NOT Schedule "A" of a legal document. It is just where you find out what some people think.

TO ASK THAT IT BE AMENDED TO SUIT THE AUTHORS NAMED ***IS THE ACTUAL POINT AT WHICH SOME REASONABLE NOTION OF "CENSORSHIP" ENTERS THIS DISCUSSION.***

It is also no more professional for an author to request that his or her work be removed from a public library's list (or collection) than it would be to request that it be removed from an individual's collection or professed list from any criteria whatsoever.

You are being so VERY silly!

Sorry, but I'm with the

Sorry, but I'm with the authors. If they want their names off this list because they don't want to be associated with it, Bitch should honor their request. At this point this whole mess is about half an inch from becoming a full blown Internet wank a la RaceFail or the plagiarized medieval recipe business, and if you don't know what those are, Google them and find out. A very popular blogger (John Scalzi) linked to this post, so that odds are good that it *will* spread well beyond the ability of Bitch to control or shape.

Seriously. Bitch digging in its heels is only going to make this worse. Take the authors who want off the list off the list before this spirals out of control.

FailFail

Propose a likely scenario in which Bitch Magazine's further editing of their list as per the instructions of its constituent items will have any bearing upon how under control "this" ("this" = mild internet dust-up, mostly but not entirely between men, arguing about how feminists ought to talk to one another) remains once denizens of the rest of the Internet who care nothing for the goals of feminism, let alone those of children's authors.

The authors' time would be better spent petitioning literary columns to retract unfavourable reviews of their work. That is to say, otherwise wasted in a similarly narcissistic pursuit.

They made a request. Why

They made a request. Why should it not be honored? If nothing else, it might prevent other authors from doing likewise, and the editors at Bitch looking even worse than they already do in many eyes.

I believe they should pull

I believe they should pull the list entirely. Give the books on it the consideration they deserve. When they've read all the books they want to promote, they should repost the list with some description of the criteria they used to select titles. Then we can look at their criteria and have a thoughtful discussion of how well we think the titles they selected met their criteria. No bedwetting, or hand wringing necessary.

Not a bad idea.

Not a bad idea.

amazing

Would you also like final editorial sign-off on the articles included in the magazine?

--
rljd

Would you stop exaggerating

Would you stop exaggerating and reading things that are not there into the comments of those who disagree with you? Seriously.

if you could see my face!

What an astonishing recommendation.

The whole bottled controversy regarding the substitution of three books on a magazine's recommended reading list, especially where there have been appeals to notions of bowdlerization or banning, or anyone standing in solidarity with a harmed party, is PREDICATED upon exaggeration and reading in things which are not there.

And I'm NOT exaggerating when I suggest it seems like the people calling for the list to be repealed and re-imagined according to their unique personal vision would like to be in control of what the magazine publishes. That is really exactly what they are pushing for and it is completely weird even if they don't like the list as it is.

--
rljd

This reply from the

This reply from the executive director is disappointing. Authors asked for their books to be taken off your list. You haven't complied. You haven't taken any responsibility for the slipshod way in which this entire matter was handled or acknowledged the slipshod approach to compiling the list in the first place. Irrespective of the central issue of the three books taken off the list, your response is utterly inadequate.

I've bought Bitch in the past on the newsstand--for our daughter, in fact. I won't be doing so again.

JeffV

That's a real shame for your

That's a real shame for your daughters. I think you have every right to express your disappointment with Bitch, but good luck finding another magazine to fill the void you are creating for your girls.

(Also, the stand you're trying to make is going to cost Bitch something like 17 cents per issue. They gain very little from news stand purchases. Just sayin').

Dear Julie Judgement might

Dear Julie

Judgement might lead you to believe that it is the moral thing to do to remove an author's work from a list created by an organisation that they do not wish to be associated with.

Leaving their names on implies, however indirectly, that they approved of your company and its actions.

If you are keen on promoting discussion, please at least indicate on your list which authors requested to be removed and why along with why you refused.

And for those authors who have asked to be removed from the list, we respect your support for fellow authors, but it’s our list, with of our recommendations for young adults, and we think your books merit inclusion at this time. We don’t remove the books because we are asked; we remove or include them based on our judgment.

Evolution of lists.

"Lists like these evolve and change. In some iterations a book isn’t listed, later it’s back again. "

The issue about this statement is that this process of evolution takes place before the list is published. Others have made the same point, but let me reiterate, because clearly you're not getting it.

Librarians (and yes, I am one) who create lists of "best" books (and I'm on a committee in the process of doing just that) do so over a long period of time, with much discussion, and only when everyone involved in the discussion has read every book.

But once those discussions are over, THE LIST STANDS. It is a meaningful list because it has been created thoughtfully, and the committee stands behind their choices.

I don't have any background in journalism, so I can't speak to what magazines do, but the title of this post is "From the LIbrary." If you are going to call yourselves that, you have to earn the right to do so.

You might begin by reading the Library Bill Of Rights, posted at ALA's website. It applies to all libraries: public, private, academic, or school.

This is Entirely Untrue

But once those discussions are over, THE LIST STANDS. It is a meaningful list because it has been created thoughtfully, and the committee stands behind their choices.

I am also a librarian and that is utterly untrue. Many libraries revise booklists every years as new books come out. Often they'll leave the old ones accessible, but they do in fact change. And I would hope that if I made a Top 10 list that upset my constituents they would feel comfortable telling me what upset them so I could investigate and possibly make the list better.

Librarian Too.

Perhaps you should re-read your post. Because, oh, the contradictions! Let's parse what you've said - book lists are created yearly. The old lists are archived. New lists are created. How has the old list changed? Each list may be titled "Best Mystery Fiction", but the old lists still retain the original content.

Thanks for pulling SISTERS RED

I count myself lucky to have been removed, however forcibly. This isn't a list for feminist readers, and it's certainly not a list composed by journalists OR feminists--journalists can support and defend their writing; feminists know women don't need to be protected from "triggering". It's an insult to be on it, and shame on you for not respecting the wishes of authors who find your actions so weak-spirited that they want their names pulled. How about next time, create a list that it's an honor to be on, instead of a slap in the face?

Bitch, please.

-Jackson

Tender Morsels.

You made a list. Including & excluding things is the whole point of a list, so I won't cry censorship. I will however add my voice to the camp that says that a complicated book that provokes discussion...isn't a bad thing? To be fair, I adore Tender Morsels, & yeah-- part of it was because the book portrays the horrors of rape in an unflinching & pragmatic fashion. I wouldn't object to someone noting that the book may be triggering, of course. The strength of the book, however, in part lies in how it DOES tackle a tough issue. Relegating things to the junk pile because they arouse strong emotions really misses the point. The book doesn't have to critique or discuss everything-- that is the role of a critical reader. I'm sad Tender Morsels was removed-- I haven't read the others, so I won't comment-- but taking a book off this list for being too challenging hardly recommends the list itself.

Yikes. Bitch certainly has

Yikes. Bitch certainly has opened a can of worms with its first book list.

I agree this is not censorship, but the decision to remove the books from the list was ill-conceived, however Bitch may try to justify it. The problem is that once the list was published it became public property in the minds of readers, and the time for Bitch to change it based on personal opinion (their own and that of a few of their readers) without creating ire was over. It is never a good idea to attempt to tell the public what is good for them. Much better had they let the controversy occur over their original choices, than over their decision to alter the list.

I think that, at the cost of

I think that, at the cost of defending our individual causes, we are losing sight of the good that is being done here. There is not a huge mainstream movement to showcase YA fiction with feminist characters and a feminist storyline, and condemning this one is not going to help. Bitch has a fairly large readership, and this list is an awesome step in the right direction. If I were writing this list, I don't think I would have pulled books off after publishing it, but I don't think it means that this is useless.
I also don't think that calling this censorship or cowardice is very productive. It seems like there is a lack of understanding of the "triggering" label. It is not meant to censor anything, but rather to warn readers that there may be sensitive material. Many of us, both those who have survived a trauma and those who have not, are able to read sensitive material without any further trauma. A trigger warning is for the rest of the readers- the ones who may be recovering or traumatized or just not able to deal with the imagery that day, for whatever reason. It is worth using a trigger warning to keep a safe space available to them.
I do not believe that removing the books from the list was a move to censor them; I think it was to keep this list safe for the average reader to recommend books for any young woman in their life, without worrying about it being harmful. I don't think that it devalues the books, or says that they are worthless or not feminist enough, but rather that they are not exactly what the list-writers meant to feature.
On that note, should they have researched more? I think it easy to say yes, and in a perfect world, each book could have had a review and rating and appropriate trigger warnings and adorable color-coded drop down menus. But seriously, how many of us would continue blogging if we could only write about things that we were absolute experts about? I wouldn't. I think that this list was meant to be one (or at least a small number of) blogger's view on books that would be safe to recommend to the budding young feminist in your life, no matter who he/she is. If you disagree, make a different list! Even if you agree, make a different list! Seriously, the more attention we give to this topic, the more these awesome books get out there.
I hope that Bitch responds to explain a little more about why they made this list, why they chose to remove these books, and why it is important to respect trigger warnings. But in the meantime, lets not lose sight of the good that is being done in promoting this topic.

Thanks for the new buzz word "triggering"

And for reinforcing that old cliche about the weaker sex. Evidently women are such fragile hothouse flowers that merely reading about something unpleasant is harmful to them! Who knew?

Now I get to add "triggering" to "patriarchy," "white privilege" and "heteronormative" as definitive signifiers that the writer hails from the fever swamps of far-left-wing victimhood identity politics and therefore may be safely identified as someone completely devoid of any remotely original or interesting thoughts...

"anomaly"

What on EARTH leads someone like you to weigh in on the ins and outs of a list of books recommended by a magazine that bills itself "a feminist response to pop culture?" You seriously just wormed up out of the woodwork to (a) demonstrate your unfamiliarity with the established concept of the emotional or psychological "trigger," and (b) let everyone know that you don't believe in patriarchy, white privilege, or heteronormativity?? Why do you even want to talk to anyone who might ever read as far as the second page of comments to a post on this blog??? Are you REAL???

WTF?

You are adults and it's your list, so you can do whatever you want. I've read the comments and I find a lot of important ideas to think about, so that's good. I think that taking the books off the list so quickly on such a slim basis is a weenie move, if you care.

I could say more, but I am distracted. My mind keeps dragging me back to one question: you recommended these books without reading them? WTF? What were you thinking? I am trying to come up with a better word than "stupid". How about "ill-advised"? How did you compile the list? If you didn't read the books, what is your recommendation worth? What BitchValue did you add to it? You didn't read them? WTF?

MAO

"Walk without rhythm and you won't attract the worm. If you walk without rhythm, ah, you never learn" -- Fatboy Slim

ricochet

How did YOU, with YOUR evident high standard for getting all the facts straight before acting, manage to get as far as composing and submitting a comment without reading any of the many, many times that it was stated that, of the multiple bodies who worked to compile this list, each book had been read by some but not every contributor?

If you didn't read the posts, what is your comment worth? I can think of only one word better than "ill-advised."

Bobbing and Weaving

Ms. Falk,

I am yet more disappointed by your evasive response. The issue isn't really whether or not you get to put whomever you want on your list. Nor is it whether or not you people love YA books. Is this list the best you could do? No. It isn't it. It was a crappy job from the start and you should own your mistakes instead of trying to wiggle out from under them.

Damn.

Coming from a YA......

As someone who was recently within the target these book are aimed at I would like to day thank you.Books with female characters have always been difficult to find, finding female characters that I can relate to or even strong female characters was always more difficult. If I had something like this list at a younger age I'm sure more of my favorite stories would have contained strong female roles.

It is especially exciting to see a large number of my own favorites on the list. But I am a little disspointed that Howl's Moving Castle wasn't on the list originally. Sophie was in my opinion the stongest female charcter I had growing up.
I was wondering if the Abhorsen trilogy was ever up for consideration?

And to all the other posters out there, I think there needs some chilling done here. It is a list of reccomended books, not one that you have to follow, but if you are so concerned about the content of the list then do a little extra research yourself. Plan on picking up the book for someone you know? Ask a librarian or a sales person at a bookstore, read reviews online.
And for the books that were removed from the list because people complained, even if they cover touchy issues that may be trigering so do many other things, why not keep them on the list and let young people read them and decide for themselves how they feel about them? If you still have concerns about how a person may interpret the victim blaming passage on page 108 talk to them about it!

I'd also like to point out that no matter what Bitch did someone was going to complain. If they had kept the books on there would have been complaints, and obviously removing the books was going to cause problems. I think the issue here is how people reacted. It would have been nice if those who objected were able to calmly articulate why they had a problem as opposed to the heated or sometimes childish arguments here.

Over all I'm more dissapointed than the posters here than Bitch itself, no I'm not pleased that a few important books were removed, but there a lot of other worthwhile books on the list and I feel that such a list existing is more imporant than a dispute over a few books. And to the authors that want their books removed, I'm dissapointed in you as well. If not for a list like this I would have never come across your books, and perhaps neither would many of others. By having your books removed you are depriving readers books that relate to or that they resound with, books that could become very important to that persons growth

bravo

For my part, as a long-time and often critical reader of Bitch in its physical and electronic incarnations, I think that your team has handled this matter gracefully at all stages, and that very little reasonable criticism has been levied.

To be flexible and open to having been mistaken is laudable. To review a matter based on outside input is the opposite of cowardly.

You haven't done anything wrong. I think a lot of these riled-up commentators are basing their ideas more on early inaccurate characterizations from your critics than on what you said or did at any point. I think many of them don't know how writing, publishing, ideas, or opinions work, pretty much at all. It is really sad to see such misguided and aimless wailing, when they could all be just happily reading the books they like so much, which certainly no-one has expressed having a problem with them doing.

I won't even say "stay strong," or "hang in there," because if you go ahead and change your mind again, that's what you're here for! You're just a bunch of writers and editors, not a government body or anything, so you are not really accountable to anyone for your subjective opinions on art. You can make your list as weird as you want. Cut off every book I think is great for reasons I think are terrible! So what if you do? You're only contributing to the discourse.

And thank you for doing so.
rljd

From the makers of the list,

From the makers of the list, wherein the decision is made, based on a single complaint, to remove the book (a claim they later backtrack from)

Hi Pandora-

Thanks for bringing this up! I had only heard great reviews of Sister's Red. I was excited to hear it reviewed as a feminist retelling of the sexist and scary Little Red Riding Hood story, and like Ana at The Book Smugglers said, I love a good fairytale retelling. While I read most of the books on this list, there were a few that I just researched, and it appears that my researching skills failed in this instance (kind of like the book failed over at The Book Smugglers -- who sure know how to call out a book on perpetuating rape culture). Thanks for tuning me into this. I'm going to go ahead and remove Sister's Red from the list and replace it with another book.

tender morsels

This book came as a recommendation to us from a few feminists, and while we knew that some of the content was difficult, we weren't tuned into what you've just brought up. A couple of us at the office have decided to spend the rest of our weekend re-considering this choice by reading the book and discussing its place on the list.

Yes, let's spend the weekend reconsidering. Not making an unbiased decision, mind you, but reconsidering.

Yeah, they say they "read and re-read" the three books. I find that less than credible. I find that the decision to pull 100% of the books for which they received complaints, combined with the sheer bulk of literature they'd have to consume, combined with their initially announced decision, before they read and re-read the books, to lead me to one conclusion. They couldn't take the heat of having an offensive book in their list.

"unbiased"

(1) Why should the list, or any thought that goes into developing it, be "unbiased?" There is no objective, platonic list to be uncovered and reported to the people with supreme journalistic devotion to concrete fact! There is just some people saying what they think!

(2) ALL OF THE BOOKS ON THE LIST ARE OFFENSIVE TO ALMOST EVERYONE

unbiased

I didn't, and don't, ask the list be unbiased, that'd be irrational. But, when they themselves purport that their decision is unbiased (the removal decision, that is, not the list as a whole), then I'd expect that to be the case.

2. God, i hope so. Good books frequently are. But, not everyone that was offended by the books asked that their personal whim be implemented. A couple did, and got their wish. Makes the listing less valid, to me, and clearly, to many others. Note, many people have commented on books THEY wouldn't have included, they just didn't ask they be removed. It's that process that makes me question the validity of "their" list.

1 & 2

Where do you find their claim of an unbiased decision?

What validity can a list of recommended books have? How does a valid opinion differ from an invalid one?

unbiased

Bold comments by Ashley, Feb 1, 11:10pm.

Validity? Not really the question. Motive, now that's a question.

bold comments indeed

No such comment exists - is it something that's gone now, or are you referring to either this or this? Neither of those contain a claim of a lack of bias, and nothing else posted by Ashley that I can find does, either.

--
rljd

I'm sure the published

I'm sure the published authors who requested that their books be removed from this list are pleased to learn that they know nothing about the publishing industry.

what?

Without a quotation from my text, I can't see how that has even the faintest thing to do with anything I wrote in the message of mine to which you are replying.

Since you seem unfamiliar

Since you seem unfamiliar with your own words, here is the reference:

"I think a lot of these riled-up commentators are basing their ideas more on early inaccurate characterizations from your critics than on what you said or did at any point. **I think many of them don't know how writing, publishing, ideas, or opinions work, pretty much at all.**"

Given that several of the "riled-up [sic] commentators" are themselves published authors, including several who have explicitly requested that their books be removed from this list, this assertion on your part is inaccurate to the point of absurdity.

venn diagram of "many" and "several"

Having used the equivocal language "a lot" and "many" when applying that characterization in my quoted statement, I think that for you to respond as though the statement logically encompassed your "several" is a leap, at best.

Whether I think that any of the published authors who have weighed in belong in the category of those who don't know how writing, publishing, ideas or opitions work has yet to be established by anything I've written. I can say, however, that your failure to imagine that someone COULD have been published without ever really getting a grasp on the full scope of the industry there says something for your own candidacy.

You are not doing a good job at making me look stupid with square brackets Latin and false equivalencies. You should try engaging my actual arguments if you want to score internet points.

--
rljd

*chuckles* First, I've

*chuckles*

First, I've probably been on the Internet longer than you've been alive, so I do not need your advice on how to respond to an exaggerated and ridiculous post. Also, you seem to have this peculiar idea that attacking someone who has the audacity to quote your own words back to you is a valid debating tactic.

Very, very sad.

indeed

ellid, like me, you probably thought jesse dangerously was twelve. Unlike you and me, he has a profile here at Bitch. You can see it by clicking on his name.

let us patronize one another just a little more shall we

Here is a non-exhaustive list of things that my Internet career is old enough to do:

  • vote, if it were a person; and
  • cure me of the once-novel idea that verbs in asterisks will either advance any point I'm trying to make or help me to look super cool and nonchalant about whatever's going on.

And I have been alive for some years longer than that, besides.

I do have good news, however! Being concerned that I had made you very, very sad, I took another look at the post of mine to which you declined to respond when you wrote this little ad hominem side-note, and the upshot is that I didn't attack you by any means. If your idea of an attack is having it pointed out to you that your assumptions are ill-founded, then you have a bad case of the just-not-liking-talking-about-things.

So you know, go ahead and don't talk about things if that's what you'd prefer, but it's not super decorous to pretend that you are trying to talk about things while you do that.

p,s, I'm sorry if it's hard to tell while I'm disagreeing with your posts, but I'm actually being generally very polite and friendly to you.

--
rljd

I think you make more sense

I think you make more sense than probably anyone else here. Thank you.

thanks!

That is really nice of you to say.

--
rljd

Why do we value rigidity so much?

I don't really get why in our culture it's seen as the worst thing ever to reassess and change one's mind. I think this perception is a huge problem, and just leads to people digging in their heels behind a lousy position, because it's seen as better to consistently defend a lousy position than to adopt a new one based on new evidence or perspective. Good lord. Isn't that what we *want* people to do?

Point about rigidity

Interesting point about our society in general. The horror of the ol' "flip-flop." True.

But I'd say that in this case it's more relevant to the fact that Bitch has NOW dug in their heels, after removing those three books. They have said that the books WILL NOT be re-added. So that means they are not taking into account the many, many opinions of people who feel the removals were a mistake. (I know that these posters' opinions don't need to be taken into account -- it's Bitch's list -- but I'm among those who think the staff couldn't possibly have read the books, especially Tender Morsels, with close attention in the span of one weekend.)

absolut dictum

Perhaps they would feel more on the cusp of flopping right back over to thence from which they flipped if even one single person protesting their decision to remove any of the books swapped out had yet presented a calm, cogent argument supporting its restoration, rather than a wild-eyed and frothy explosion of rage on principle at anything ever being changed, for any reason, ever.

Some kind of thoughtful petition would probably serve the cause better than unholy outrage, all crayon-writ.

Are you honestly saying this

Are you honestly saying this is what you think the authors who asked for their names to be removed were protesting?

wild-eyed and frothy explosion of rage on principle at anything ever being changed, for any reason, ever.

honestly

Eliminating the things they THINK they're protesting which haven't HAPPENED, yes.

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rljd

There were, in fact, many

There were, in fact, many clearly thought out and cogent responses advocating for its restoration, or at least defending the books against the claims made. For such response, I encourage you to read the following blog posts by authors Scott Westerfeld (http://scottwesterfeld.com/blog/2011/02/bitchfest/), Margo Lanagan (http://amongamidwhile.blogspot.com/) and Kirstyn McDermott (http://networkedblogs.com/dLj4k).

moral fibre tested

I want you to know that in order to give your assertion a fair shake, I just went and read, among other things, the full text of a socratic/sollipsistic/onanistic fake FAQ written by a man who saw fit to entitle his s/s/ofFAQ (on the topic of disagreeing with some feminists on how they should do their feminism) "BitchFest." That is kind of like walking on hot coals, so I hope you will forgive me if I then kind of tripped lightly over the other two and did resort to a little bit of skimming.

So at the risk of being as incapable of any sense of what was intended in those words as an intern ploughing through 960 pages in a weekend...

What I think I just read was a fine collection of arguments in defense of some books not being totally written off as being without value, plus a few apparently reasonable chunks of analysis and counter-analysis forming a fairly healthy venue of discourse around the concerns which some critical readers have expressed with regard to those books, and then a bunch of sort of fluffy, faux-activist rhetoric providing a Hallowe'en costume to dress the bits I just described up as a set of arguments for restoring those books to the list from which they were struck.

No-one who has anything to do with the list ever said anything BAD about any of the books replaced, so none of these arguments defending those books against being BAD have anything to do with the composition of the list. It is not a list of "The Only Books For Young Adults Which Are At All Feminist And/Or Not Shite, No Exceptions." It is not even close to that.

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rljd

The complexity of purpose and voice

It is impossible in the public eye to make everyone happy. This in mind when you call yourself a library it should not be surprising to be expected to maintain similar standards that librarians do in their decision making, book selection and portrayal in the public sector.

If you do not want to be held to the standards and concepts of librarianship it is best to not put yourself in that position.

Librarians strive to support intellectual freedom and access to information. The concept behind this list was fantastic and fit a huge need for YA readers, to find books that would represent a new generation of feminists in their day to day fiction reading choices. However when faced with dissension rather than recognizing the inability to please everyone and simply sticking by their list choices changes were made. Perhaps the changes came from the simple fact that the list lacked the initial research for them to stand by their choices. This reminds me of the hard work that the Young Adult Library Services Association, a branch of the American Library Association, puts in to create all the lists and recommendations that they do for young adult readers. Their decisions and support of books in the form of lists, awards and honors is never taken lightly and the time that these people put into their choices is represented in the respect that the lists, awards and honors hold within the reading community. Their work is also done on a volunteer basis. So lets not make excuses or try to justify mistakes or keep playing the people pleasing game. Lets get realistic and really contemplate what the original goal of this list was and try to stick with that rather than wavering.

I believe the correct response would have been to stick with the initially published list. Unfortunately removing the titles from the list is an insidious kind of censorship that affects credibility. True libraries and librarians do not censor, they fight against it daily. Libraries have policies in place regarding book challenges and are prepared to fight for the books in their collection. Then when a situation like this comes up they know how to respond, instead of simply removing the title from the list. Re-evaluate your purpose and goals in making this list. If you want it to have any impact it needs credibility, which was lost in the hasty revisions.

Purposes and Goals

I'm curious about what the purpose of this list is. I don't think it's to expose readers to a wide variety of feminist YA literature, because I count at least eight authors who have multiple titles on the list. Authorial intent doesn't seem to matter much. Strong female characters are obviously an important qualifier, but if you were just choosing books with protagonists that fit that label this list would have been much longer, and/or is just picking at random from a list which is thankfully long and varied. Some of the books on this list were feminist touchstones when they were published and are no longer progressive; are they on the list as markers of what they have done for the field? Not that I'm not pleased to see so many queer-themed books on the list- I think many of the books you included are frequently quite good and very moving- but what makes those texts specifically feminist? If they were heterosexual romances, would they still qualify here as explicitly feminist YA literature?

Overall, while I'm grateful a list like this exists, and while I understand that part of the list's goal is brevity, I think that if the purpose of this list is truly to advise young feminist readers, it would be much more beneficial if each book came with a brief annotation explaining what makes that book one of the most feminist out there, and what triggers readers might expect. It would help avoid a lot of the criticism you've received thus far, and it would also be providing a service for smart YA readers that we're not receiving from all the other best-of lists around the blogosphere and in SLJ, Horn Book, Kirkus, and the other critical magazines that, believe it or not, many of us who love YA also read.

In any case, I really hope you'll add back the three titles you removed. Make it the 103 Feminist Titles You Should Read. Follow the texts with asterisks that identify them as potentially upsetting because of rape content. But please recommend the books- if for no other reason, do it because Bitch magazine has always shown that "feminist" and "unquestioning" aren't synonymous and shouldn't have to be.

I also note that a fair

I also note that a fair number of these books aren't especially feminist at all, nor were they originally written as YA books (The Blue Sword may have been a Newberry finalist but it is NOT a YA book nor was it marketed as such when first published, unless every fantasy novel on the stands is secretly for teenagers). If this had been called "100 YA novels that the Bitch editorial staff enjoyed and thinks have feminist content," it would have been much more accurate.

No, not really. It's pretty

No, not really. It's pretty clear the Bitch editorial staff didn't actually read the books. : )

Typical title hyperbole.

In general, titles of things like that are way over-blown and boastful, and I believe them about as much as "World's best burgers!" on every little burger joint in town.

Lists are generally published when a magazine or blog is short of ideas, and don't tend to be that well thought-out, and this seems to have fit that rule.

Your response to a little criticism (whether it was on here or in emails) shows that nobody involved actually had a great deal of confidence in your original choices; it's disappointing that you weren't confident enough in your judgement to actually stand by your picks when they were criticized.

Now, I'm not necessarily saying that it would be wrong to exclude those books from your list in the first place. Every list-maker has standards. The removal so quickly, though, says you did not actually apply those standards with any degree of rigor before publication.

I also have to express my disdain for "triggering" as an excuse to remove any novel. Yes, some things are triggering for those who have had traumatic experiences. It's that very verisimilitude that makes those books powerful and useful, especially for those who have not had those experiences and don't understand on a visceral level those who have, and why they respond the way they do.

Margo Lanagan's response

She responds to the specific criticisms of her novel and Bitchmedia's handling of the issue.

Those wishing for a "calm, cogent argument" please pay particular notice.

http://amongamidwhile.blogspot.com/2011/02/cold-uncertain-feetbitch-medi...

Nicely written

But, ultimately irrelevant. It's clear the basis for removal was not the content of the works, but the content of the criticism. How many books were challenged in the comments? 3. How many were "reconsidered?" 3. How many were removed? 3. I guess it's possible this wasn't done out of a fear of offending, but it sure sounds like a duck.

Quick remove these books,

Quick remove these books, they require thought and confrontation of uncomfortable themes, we don't want that sort of thing here at Good Girls Stay in The Kitchen and think Pure Thoughts Magazine. Yes, remove these unwholesome stories, don't you know that if we prevent young girls from reading about rape then it can never happen to them. For goodness sake, what is the 19th Century coming to.

"Bitch Media's mission is to

"Bitch Media's mission is to provide and encourage an empowered, feminist response to mainstream media and popular culture."

Well, you certainly blew that one when you removed ,Tender Morsels.

I may not agree with editing

I may not agree with editing a recommendation list after it's posted (unless it's to add more books, lol), but I would like to thank you for removing those three books from the list, since it allowed you to put in the exact three books I *would* recommend to any teenage girl. Though honestly, you really should have been more careful about choosing your recs in the first place. The fact that rereading the books made you change your minds about including them tells me that you weren't very familiar with their contents, so why on earth did you put them on a recommended reading list?

In the future, you might want to simply include a trigger warning about the books in question. Personally, I would have really appreciated a warning on Tender Morsels when I first picked it up! (Since it seems rather innocuous, judging by the cover. A 'disturbing content' warning on a previous rec list would have saved me from the rather traumatic experience of reading the first couple of chapters on Amazon.) It does get recommended a lot after all, but very few people mention that it's got repeated, incestuous rape as a main plot point. This strikes me as a rather glaring oversight, so I'm very glad to see that book replaced.

"very few people mention that

"very few people mention that it's got repeated, incestuous rape as a main plot point. This strikes me as a rather glaring oversight, so I'm very glad to see that book replaced."

I would argue that it has *survival* of incestuous rape as a main plot point. Did you read more than the first few chapters?

Thoughts

- Why didn’t Bitch compose this list with care in the first place?
- Because Bitch ostensibly re-investigated these books because of one complaint, does that mean I, just as anonymous and just as valid, can ask Bitch to re-investigate and reconsider? I am asking, by the way.
- In my opinion, Tender Morsels is an incredible novel. As Margo Lanagan has said on her blog, the claims from "Scrumby" are simply not true. Reactions are detailed, and not just subtly—the other characters practically ship Urdda away until she learns to control her magic, which was the sole, uncontrollable cause of the event that has had the book arbitrarily removed from the list.
- Likewise, there is nothing wrong with Living Dead Girl as a work of fiction. There is no evidence for the removal Sisters Red either.
-The use of "triggers" is, again in my opinion, paternalistic and not fitting with the ethos of Bitch. Surely, people, not just women, have 'choice'. As Bitch has admitted, there is nothing otherwise wrong with Tender Morsels and the others, just how they and a small number of posters have judged a tangential part of the book. In my opinion, they have judged incorrectly.
- Did they actually read the book before putting it on their list? This hasn't been confirmed as far as I can see (recommendations, apparently, how not well thought out). Have they actually, all of them, read the books? Going by the timeline, this seems impossible: almost a thousand pages in two days.
- There is no transparency with this situation. Maybe Bitch can't reply to everyone, but some incredibly pertinent points, in my opinion, have trolls as the only responders. Why is it that only a small number of people are defending Bitch against an estimated 200 other posters, and others elsewhere? Why does Bitch judge an emailed response more important?
- I think it would be courteous for Bitch to remove the books of those authors who are embarrassed to have their books listed. I understand, I think, their perspective. Why would they want their books recommended by a list that is so thoughtless, unconsidered, and capricious with what they champion?
- This is not censorship here. It is merely opposed to feminism, which is all about having the ability to choose. It merely parallels how censorship works with libraries and so forth. People can always buy or borrow the books despite this, just like how it would work with libraries. It's merely the removal of materials from public notice that are, in my opinion, completely valuable, because select, apparently superior, few judge that they are obscene or otherwise considered morally questionable without providing any context or other evidence whatsoever.
- I'm not trying to be melodramatic or sarcastic. I would like these questions answered. I would not like to have my post ridiculed like others here, with their pertinent points buried.

The obvious solution to this kerfluffle?

As someone who thinks that both sides have valid points, you know what I think would be an interesting solution to this? A Bitch YA book club. Have a point-counterpoint post for each of the books in question with a) one half written by someone who was triggered or offended by it (and not just someone who is assuming that others might be upset by it) and b) the other half written by the book's author, one of their author acquaintances, or a fan in defense of that book's feminist values. Give your commenters a couple weeks to read each book before the post goes up, and they can all weigh in too!

It's a win-win-win:
- Bitch gets to keep the elevated page views that no doubt spiked in the wake of this drama-fest
- The authors of these books (and all the other offended YA authors out there) will feel like they get a chance to speak on behalf of their book and re-emphasis how feminist it is
- Women who have actually been upset by triggering material will be able to voice their concerns about sharing it with young women who been through the same things they have (and maybe authors both already-published and aspiring will learn something about how to best handle triggering subject matter)
- All your crazy commenters will be frothing at the mouth to continue weighing in
- Bitch can no longer be accused of "censorship" or "shutting down the dialogue" or whatever it is they're being accused of because they'll actively be trying to get people to discuss this subject more

Come on, you know you want to do it!

gosh, 300 or so comments

and it doesn't seem like anyone has noticed how cute the title lettering is or how lovely the layout is. dang.

The Book Thief

I think you really need to consider putting a warning next to The Book Thief. As Cat Valente eloquently writes here, it has some content that could be quite disturbing to Jewish people.

WOW..I just spent an hour pouring over this link's comments!

Thank you for posting this book review of The Book Thief...I am so intrigued by the contention that almost any of these so called trigger words, phrases, ideas, concepts should in some way dictate the creation of a list and later the deletion of titles. Based on what I just read I am inclined to question the feminist perspective of The Book Thief and whether or not the character Liesel really has the feminist merit to remain on the list, to me she was relegated to supporting character by other voices within the book such as Max and Death.

Thanks for this response!

Not Impressed

I'm just going to say that I agree with a lot of other people on here, and I really don't think that Uglies is a good book to put on this list. I just read Scott Westerfeld's comment, and I fully agree with him.

However, I think a good book to put on this list would be Kiki Strike by Kirsten Miller. It's all about girl power and such.

This is such a heated thread

This is such a heated thread that I'm nervous about adding my tuppence worth. But here goes, I hope the flames don't get too hot for me.

I think the list should have been compiled with more care than it *appears* the editors gave it. I agree with the points about professionalism some of the librarians have been making, although not necessarily with how those points were made. But I'm genuinely torn on whether this should be considered censorship or responsive editing based on valid critique.

A few things that stood out to me about the comment trail here are:
- Sisters Red wasn't removed on the basis of "one comment". The comment about problems with it linked to a review, subsequent discussion and comment by the author herself which prompted further discussion.
- There seems to be a lot of dismissiveness here about the concept of triggers. I really would like to know the editors criteria for considering something sufficiently triggering to remove it, given other material on the list. But it's disappointing to see so many commentors dismissing triggers as over sensitivity. That's not what I expect from a feminist space.
- Being interested in a topic doesn't make you a clique. If there was a YA authors clique I'd have known before reading this article that Scott Westerfield is married to Justine Larbalestier! I am a YA author myself (yes, a real one) and I know lots of other YA authors who are naturally interested in YA reading lists. Just as librarians are. And feminists. Since we, presumably, wouldn't call feminists a clique, let's not lump all YA authors together like that.

Finally, (perhaps proving not all YA authors feel the same?) I don't think authorial intention trumps critical reading. I don't think the author gets to decide what is the correct reading of the text although they should be perfectly free to explain their intention. I also don't think authors get to decide whether they are included or not included in a list of recommendations. I see that the intent is solidarity but unlike the Ellen Hopkins boycott (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/sep/07/authors-boycott-cancels-teen...) I don't think asking to be removed from the list is the best response. A better response, IMO, would be to make your own list of recommendations.

I'm going to do that myself. But since I've only read 17 of the the 100 books on the list I have to go and check out 83 books now. (Oh, and the 3 removed ones, so I can make up my own mind about them.)