My Bio

My Bio
My name is Sharon Levin and I've been reviewing children's literature for 20 years. I founded and run the Bay Area Children's Literature List. My biggest passion (outside my family) is getting books into the hands of children and teens. My favorite thing is getting non-readers to realize that they're readers. I also LOVE t-shirts that have to do with books or literature. As soon as I figure out how to do it, I'll have a click through on the above picture so you can see my entire collection (and where to get them).

October 1, 2013

Those are Fighting Words...... how Language Matters

I had a lovely, lovely dinner last night with a bunch o' book people and two FANTABULOUS authors, Julie Berry (her book, All the Truth That's in Me, was the cause of wrestling matches between me and Elise because we both were in the middle of it and didn't want to share) and Holly Goldberg Sloan, whom I love not only for her amazing book I'll Be There and her new stunner, Counting by 7's, but also for Angels in the Outfield, one of my favorite movies (she wrote the remake).

I wish I could say that I just wanted to write to gush about these books, but really, I'm writing because I got really angry last night.

Why?  Well, Julie was talking about the number of publishers who rejected All the Truth... (bet they're kicking themselves now, because anyone who loves good YA is raving about this book) and one of the other attendees started railing about publishers and talking about how everyone should self -publish.

I said, "Are you kidding?!?!?!  99% of self-publishing is crap.  There's a reason for editors, etc."  (okay, my percentage may be a 'bit' high but I can't think of one self-published book that has blown me away, or even struck me as truly good, although I'm sure someone will post a comment with titles).

She said that the publishers were censoring because they had rejected Julie's book.  Okay, for me that's absolutely ridiculous, not liking something is NOT censoring. 

I said, no, self-published books are often terrible (I am not using quote marks anymore, because I don't remember exactly what I said) and I can tell a self-published picture book the second I see it (the art is normally horrific, especially if there are human faces involved.  I don't know why, I can't draw at all, so I'm not sure what it is about faces, but apparently they're very difficult to get right.)

She then said that I was censoring, I said, "No, I'm reviewing."  and she said, "No, you're censoring."  Luckily, someone, I don't know who, managed to switch the topic a bit, but I was just fuming.  Censoring is an extremely loaded word and makes the accused (and I was definitely being accused) look closed minded and conservative (ironically, this same woman said she didn't like the 'f' word in YA lit, I'm just sayin' ) *I* on the other hand belong to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation  (yes, I'm doing a throw down with my liberal credentials).

So, is this blog just about venting?  Well, not entirely.  We also talked about how language matters (although not about this word in particular, it was just too touchy).  Julie and I bonded over the misuse of 'disinterested'.  It is almost always used, incorrectly, to mean 'uninterested' meaning, you know, not having an interest (duh).  Disinterested means unbiased, impartial.

The latest barrage on language, as far as I'm concerned is that Merriam-Webster has decided that 'literally' can now mean 'figuratively'  pretty much THE EXACT OPPOSITE of what 'literally' means.

Now, I know that people say, "Oh, language is fluid, it evolves."  Sorry, but caving in to the misuse of a word is DEVOLUTION not evolution.  Fluid is 'impact' as a verb which still drives me crazy as does 'incentivize' (really?  REALLY?) but those words still give a correct, okay, correct-ish, form of the meaning of the word.  Literally, means literal, real, actual, not figuratively.

So, choose your words carefully and be careful who you call a censor, because that is figuratively a fighting word.