I also followed Lionel Shriver's attack on Penguin's Diversity project, which if nothing else has at least given Penguin's diversity project and Lionel Shriver a whole lot more publicity then they might otherwise have had. There's a whole lot of things to take issue with in Shriver's original article, but the thing that both the storms in a teacup have left me thinking is that not great hooks deserve a bit more appreciation.
The majority of my childhood library must have been made up of Enid Blyton books, they're certainly the ones I have the clearest memories of. I've never revisited them, mostly because I think the magic would be gone for me now, but at the time the books I loved the most were the ones that most closely reflected my own life. If it featured farming, or islands, it was a winner.
I'm also thinking that those Enid Blyton's must have been as formulaic as the Mills & Boons that I used to share with my grandmother. Or maybe they had more in common with the well worn conventions of the golden age detective fiction I've also loved since my early teens when I first found Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers.
Either way there are times, and currently it's most of the time, when what I want to read is something easy, undemanding, and familiar. Maybe even something a little bit trashy - and there's nothing wrong with that. I'm also lucky that as a middling class, middle aged, white woman there's no shortage of books good, bad, and in between, that reflect me back to myself sufficiently to hold my interest.
That's the reason I love Virago Modern Classics, and Persephone books so much -they're reflecting the voices of women more or less like me, back to me. It was so exciting to find those voices, and every one of those books has it's merits, even if I judge some of them to be decidedly mediocre in literary terms. The point is that I want all of those voices to get a full sense of that history, and lucky me - they're increasingly available. Who doesn't deserve to be able to find the same?
I expect the books that Penguin's WriteNow mentoring scheme produces will thoroughly deserve their place on any shelf (and also, look at the Peirene Now project for consistently high quality, challenging, and diverse voices) but even if the project produced some decidedly mediocre work - what of it?