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I checked in at the Booking Through Thursday blog, which is the host for a weekly book meme or blogging prompt. Here is this week’s prompt:

Movies have a rating system to help guide the consumer weed out adult/violent/inappropriate kinds of films. Video games do, too. Do you think BOOKS should have a ratings system?

It depends on who is implementing the ratings and what categories they are labeling. readers usually have a good idea of the book judging from the genre given on the back cover: General fiction, literary fiction, romance, historical fiction, etc. Sex, violence, and obscene language don’t bother me as long as they are natural discourse of the story. If a book’s focus is sex, then the label “romance” is more than suffice for me to steer clear it. It really boils down to who gets to decide what types of scenes would get a warning and which wouldn’t. I doubt people could agree on them. Most gay fiction (not even erotica) in Hong Kong and other Asian countries are sealed in shrink-wrap with a warning of explicit material. Whereas, Fifty Shades of Grey has no such warning. Also if violence is to be censored, then almost the entire genre of thriller would have to be sealed in wrap. It’s difficult to reach a consensus on what is to be warned and censored.

4 Responses

  1. I guess I don’t have issues with movie, music or video game ratings, but book ratings make me feel weird. I’m not sure why, because it shouldn’t be any different. I WILL say that I’ve seen young girls at the bookstore buying Fifty Shades and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and was horrified. To the point where I wanted to find their parent, or say something to the manager or something. A 12 YEAR OLD SHOULD NOT READ THIS!!! So I guess I don’t have a good answer.

  2. My sister (16 y.o.) and I were talking about this yesterday. It came up when she was telling me about a book she recently read. I can’t remember the title but it was about a high school girl who is psychologically troubled and who gets caught up in the world of drugs. Apparently, the story is rather troubling and is filled with anguish. My sister said that had there been a rating on the book, she probably wouldn’t have read it! Yet, she does agree that it conveys an important message to people her age.

    I do believe that there should be some form of rating system for books but I agree, those involved would certainly be hard pressed to objectively implement such system. In most cases, as you said, it does depend on who rates what and where. I remember when I was in school (Kuwait), certain books would be banned by the ministry one year and then the ministry would allow some of them again a year or so later. Banning certain books made sense but banning some of the others did not make any sense at all. It still baffles me but at least now the advancement of the Internet has, in a way, made things easier.

  3. Sometimes the blurb helps to determine the content; at other times the author’s name itself is a clue. However, these are not enough to warn readers what the book entails. A form of rating system could help but there is a problem there. How do you reach young girls or boys about the dangers of drugs and gangs other than to show the violence in it. It will be disturbing but they will learn why they should stay off.

    • I agree; sometimes you can tell, other times you can’t. And certain books can certainly spread much-needed awareness amongst young people. Perhaps one way to deal with it is if parents and/or older siblings recommend books to and help young people choose books to read – not all the time, of course, but from time to time.

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