My Take on Clean Reads

Unlike most movies and even a lot of TV shows, books don’t really come with ratings. Occasionally they’ll be marked with a warning about mature content or maybe list an age range, but that’s about it. A handful of sites do offer content reviews for books. Their rating systems deal primarily with the areas of sex, language, and violence. The idea is not just to help parents decide what age group a book is appropriate for, but they also help any reader choose the types of stories they’re comfortable with.

Since content reviews are tough to come by, Eternal Mercury doesn’t have one. But I do love that readers have called it a “clean read” in their reviews. Interestingly though, I didn’t have that in mind when I wrote it. All I knew was that I had to stay true to the characters and the story, but above all, to the gift of writing that I’ve been given. The book blurb tells you right off the bat that it’s about a girl who loses her boyfriend in a car accident. Car accidents are violent. Plus it’s a love story, and what good would that be without romance? And as far as language goes, it’s mild, but it is an important part of the story line.

All that being considered, here’s what I think. People who are interested in a clean read or mild-content book aren’t looking for something boring, perfect, or unromantic. They’re looking for an engaging story with realistic characters. I don’t even think it’s the violence so much that’s offensive to people so long as it isn’t gory or gratuitous. The main emphasis is that they don’t want to be barraged with a bunch of explicit language or sexual references. Besides, mild language used in the right places can go a lot farther in conveying emotion than dropping the big ones all over the place. And as far as sex goes, they don’t want the details because, hey, we all already know how that works anyway. Truthfully, the beauty of romance comes from the build-up of chemistry between two characters—that’s what creates that magical electricity that gives you the good kind of chills.

However, a clean read doesn’t mean the subject matter is suitable for all audiences. Being labeled that way does set it apart from books that would be rated “mature,” but it also sets it apart from those that would be rated “family friendly.” Does that mean there’s something wrong with books that fall into other ratings categories? Of course not—one of the cornerstones of our society is the freedom of expression. It’s just really cool to think that there’s a niche like this out there—that pop culture doesn’t have to delegate what anyone reads or writes.
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Published on October 24, 2013 21:15 Tags: clean-reads
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