On Why readergirlz Rocks

readergirlzFor the past few months I’ve been posting reviews of the books from readergirlz, an online book club of sorts for teenage girls. I realized that I never really posted anything about readergirlz itself and that I should!

readergirlz was started by four wonderful authors and their manifesta claims that the goal is to get readers to share their thoughts about books, talk to the authors themselves, and be enthusiastic about what they read. They also aim to encourage girls to take something away from each book, to strive to make a difference in their lives and communities, and “to make history of their own”.

Each month the website features a different book and a guide to go with it. The guide has an author interview, suggestions for a book club meeting, and information on a major social issue that relates to the book and how readers can get involved in it if they so choose. Besides this, readergirlz has its own MySpace page where anyone who wants to can join in the discussion of the book at hand (or previous books) and topics related to it on the message boards. This is a great feature and allows for a lot of interaction between readers. It’s also nice that the readergirl authors are regular contributers to the message board discussions themselves!

I have loved all three of the books so far from readergirlz. They have all been fantastic and each one is very different from the others, which is great. Two of them were books that I probably wouldn’t have picked up if it weren’t for this great group, and now I can’t imagine having missed them! What I am most impressed with is that all three books have very much presented interesting heroines who were full of individuality and personality. They weren’t all dramatic and heroic, but not all girls are, so not all heroines need or even should be.

What they did do, which I have found to be unfortunately all to rare in too much of the teen literature published today (although not as much as some people would lead you to believe), is pass the Bechdel Test with flying colors. Briefly, the Bechdel Test looks for a story (whatever the media it’s presented in) where there are two or more female characters having a conversation that has nothing to do with guys at some point. It’s scary how few things actually pass this test (the name is a reference to a comic by Alison Bechdel and the term is frequently used by feminist critics). I’ve loved that boys have been a relatively minor, although definitely present, part of each of these stories. The focus is on the girl herself, not her romantic entanglements or lack thereof.

I didn’t expect that tangent to go on quite so long, but anyway… what I’m getting at is that each selection so far in readergirlz has been great. I can’t wait to dig into Dragon’s Keep, which is the book for next month, and I’ve only just barely begun formulating a review of The Phoenix Dance! I encourage anyone who hasn’t checked out this great group as of yet to do so, they rock!

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