Book Trends to Banish in 2016

The editor of Kirkus Reviews offers three trends he’d like to see disappear in the new year.

By Joy DiazJanuary 7, 2016 1:30 pm

We’re about a week into the new year and by now some of us have written our lists of what we want to do in 2016, perhaps what we want to read.

Clay Smith, with Austin-based Kirkus Reviews, has written about what he doesn’t want to read – book trends gone bad that he’d like to see disappear.

Smith says if there was only one trend in 2015 he could ban this year, it would be the “proliferation” of adult coloring books.

“I get the point of it – to sort of zen out,” he says. “It’s a way of a sort of mediative practice of just sitting there and coloring geometric shapes or actor’s faces… Could you just read a book instead of coloring?”

Smith polled the editors of Kirkus Reviews and found a trend of 800-plus page biographies. “The mini-trend within that trend is that those very long biographies only examine a certain part of a person’s life,” he says. He offers “Young Orson” as an example: an 832-page biography that covers Orson Welles’s life from birth to the making of Citizen Kane, when Welles was only 25.

“He’s a fascinating person but we do not need 700 pages about Orson Welles as a young man,” he says. “I think they’re hoping that the microscopic detail lends some sort of gravitas to the story. And I think readers just aren’t really sticking with them.”

In terms of sci-fi offerings, Smith says he sees a problem with dystopian or post-apocalyptic fiction that has been popular in recent years.

“They’re all so negative and the future that they depict is so grim and awful,” he says. “Any book that is talking about the future is talking about the present. But, can’t we have a little bit of hope for the future?”