Thursday, April 29, 2010

Teen Urban Drama Preview!

I just got a batch of books from tech services that I'm excited to read and report on. Since their covers are so beautiful, I thought I'd share them with you, my darlings! All of these titles are street/urban/hip-hop/lit/books/drama. In other words, I don't know what to call them, but they meet the criteria that one woman asked for on the phone last week: "Something for my 14-year-old daughter with black people and drama."

Labels are tricky--when I first started working at this library, I was mortified by the yellow "African-American" stickers on some of the books, because whenever a black person asked me for book recommendations, I didn't know if I should go for the stickers or avoid them. Now I don't even blink at them. I guess I know a lot more black authors than I used to, so I no longer feel like I'm relying on the stickers to call my attention to authors I hadn't read.

I also used to be embarrassed by the circ shelf, which is a shelf behind the circ desk where we keep books that are "very popular." In other words, stolen a lot. And it's all urban fiction or whateveryacallit. But people are so happy to browse books in that category that now I think of it as a jackpot for readers rather than a jail for books. All of this is to say that the labels for categories of books are slippery, and even though the industry seems to use "street lit," and we call the location "circ shelf," and the stickers say "African-American,"* and all anyone asks me for these days is "urban drama."

*We put "African-American" stickers on all genres of books by African-American writers, not just urban titles, so not all stickered books are urban, but most urban books are stickered. Although there's some Latino street lit out there, and I'm keeping a lookout for Asian.

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