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In Defense of Pop Culture References In Books

I just finished a YA novel that I really enjoyed, and I went over to Goodreads to

Who do authors keep doing this, the review said; don’t they know readers hate it?

Of course, just because some readers hate a trope or writing style doesn’t mean most or

In fact, the most complained about authors are usually also the ones that sell the most

Personally, the hate for pop culture references in books has always baffled me

The reason I’ve seen used most often as a point against pop culture references in books

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First, do pop culture references date books? In the most literal way, definitely

But there’s a big range in the kinds of pop culture that get referenced and where

Referencing Taylor Swift, though, could be anywhere in a 15-year time frame, and there’s no sign

I think what irks me about the pop culture reference complaints the most is the idea that

If you’re writing a contemporary story, though, it’s necessarily going to be dated

The language used in dialogue dates a book, and so do their hobbies, their jobs, their values,

And most importantly, what’s so bad about having your book set in a certain time? Just

For YA novels especially, these characters are immersed in a specific media landscape, political environment, and day-to-day

You can choose to set the book in a world without COVID, for instance, but that’s

If none of your teenage characters use any current slang, they’re not really speaking like teenagers

So why do authors write pop culture references in books? For one, because it makes sense to

A nerdy teenager is going to make fandom references; that’s practically a law

And the class clown is probably going to make jokes about what’s in the news or

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir is a book brimming with pop culture references, and fans love

Pop culture references can make a book feel more realistic and relatable; it can be fun to

There’s a reason they get written into books in the first place

So please, I’m begging readers: remember that your personal pet peeves in books aren’t universal

There are plenty of books that minimize pop culture references for you to read