Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Book Most Frequently Stolen From School Libraries

Today is the birthday of S.E. Hinton.  She's perhaps most famous for her book, The Outsiders.  Even though it was first published in 1967, it still sells over 500,000 copies a year.  Some years, it's the book most stolen from school libraries.

Upon stumbling across this nugget of information, I immediately felt a stab of both envy and yearning.  To have written a book so powerful that students steal it from school libraries--what an accomplishment that would be!

I can't remember when I first read the book, sometime in the late 1970's, I imagine.  I first started reading "young adult" books around 1977, so I imagine I got hold of Hinton around then.  I inhaled her books and returned to them again and again, although they didn't really describe my suburban world.  But if we can judge by book sales, they certainly tap into some universal elements.

It's also interesting to consider how the world has changed.  Susan Eloise Hinton used the name S. E. Hinton because her editors thought that no one would believe that a female could have written about such gritty material.

Now, it's hard to imagine an editor saying that.  Actually, it's not, but I would find the situation reversed somewhat.  If a male wanted to write about a teenage female yearning for love in the arms of a vampire, he might adopt a female nom de plume.

I was in a Barnes and Noble bookstore the other day which led me to reflect on how long it's been since I've been in a bookstore long enough to wander the aisles.  There's a whole section on teenage supernatural romance.  And it's a huge section.

Yes, I know that authors have used supernatural elements when writing about real-life drama and trauma.  I wrote my dissertation on how certain British authors used Gothic elements to explore the very real problems of domestic violence as the 18th century turned into the 19th century.

 Still, I'm heartened that people continue reading books of gritty realism, like The Outsiders.   

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