Several years ago, I did a signing at a Borders in New Jersey and snapped a photo of this display:
I'm sure it was a shelving error and I got a kick out of it at the time. Of all my books, it sounds the least likely to be considered a book for boys. And yet I've met many boys who have read and enjoyed this most "girlie" of my stories, though many were ashamed to admit it to me (their moms/teachers did so for them). Per our conversations here, here, and here, I hope to encourage awareness of how we talk about books and try to wean ourselves off the gender categories. Not all kids will like all books, of course, but no boy should be shamed for reading a "girl" book. And no boys should be led to believe that anything to do with girls is off limits to them or inferior. Boys can and do read "girl" books! And here's some photographic evidence, followed by a contest.
The title of this post comes from my husband. He went with me on tour to the UK years ago for Princess Academy. At one of the high schools, some of the boys seemed dubious about the book, and my huge, muscly husband stood up and said, "Real men read Princess Academy. In public." (The term "real men" is used lightly here of course. What, I wonder, is an unreal man?)
I told this 14-year-old cousin, "I bet I get emails from girls asking for your number," and he said, "And don't hold back passing it along." But seriously, is there anything more attractive to a reader girl than a guy reading a book she likes too? Hm, maybe I should make a calendar of teen boys reading. I'll be a millionaire...
Look at these cute brothers! I never ask anyone if they've read one of my books (writer ettiquette 101) but many of my photo subjects volunteered the info that they had, in fact, read Princess Academy. (most are from my extended family, but still, I was guilty of assuming the guys wouldn't have read it...)
These brothers and a son-in-law paused their manly pursuit of piano fixing to catch up on a few chapters. (Staged? What do you mean it looks staged? I'm a nature photographer, I snap pictures and never interfere!)
Out for a ride...and a read.
And now the contest. Snap a photo of a guy (any age) reading what might popularly be considered a "girl" book (doesn't need to be one of mine). Post it somewhere and paste the link in a comment on this post. My husband, son and daughter will pick the winners, who will get a signed hardcover of Princess Academy: Palace of Stone (in stores August 21!) and some other of my books too, whatever we can scrape up. If you enter, you're giving me permission to repost your photo on my blog in a future post, as I think it'd be fun to see all the entries together. [EDIT: I'm going to be busy the next couple of weeks, so check back for contest deadline, but you have at least two weeks to enter.] To get us started off, here's a photo of Ricky Whittle (Austenland's George East) with 50 Shades of Grey.
(copyright Splash News & Pictures)
PS. No Austenland movie news yet.