Monday, July 9, 2012

Why Young Adult?

"Why do you read Young Adult books?"

This is the one question I find myself being asked constantly and it can frustrating at times. I read young adult books for plenty of reasons but the most important one is that it's what I enjoy. (A previous guest post with author, Sherry Soule, on her love for young adult books also helped inspire this post.)


I've just recently turned twenty-one and I still prefer young adult books. I love them so much that I made this blog almost 2 years ago. It's not that I haven't tried other genres either. Sure, there are some adult fiction books that I love and I have tried everything from science fiction to romance. I also read and enjoy plenty of classic literature because I'm an English major in college. However, there is just something about young adult books that I keep going back to. These books can make me experience a wide range of emotions from crying to laughing like crazy. I'm not saying that adult books or classic literature can't make you experience those feelings as well because there are some that certainly have made me feel that way.  

Young adult books just provide me with the perfect escape. They saved me as a teenager and still do every single day. When I have a bad day, I immediately reach for a book. I can often lose myself in the crazy adventures, scary dystopian futures, or the heartbreak of first love. Every single person was a teenager at one point in their life so these characters and their experiences are easy to relate to. Some books remind me of high school while other books can directly relate to something I'm currently handling in my own life.  A common theme I find in the young adult genre, whether it be a dystopian book or a contemporary book, is discovering yourself. I'm still growing up and learning new things every day and I don't want that to ever stop. Then there are even some books that I don't make any personal connections with but it doesn't mean I can't enjoy experiencing it all alongside the protagonist. The writing can range from simple to beautiful to complex.  

What really pushed me to write this post though is the unnecessary judgements that are made because of what I choose to read. I have had clerks at bookstores laugh in my face because in their opinion "I'm too old to read young adult." I have heard teachers and complete strangers say that young adult does not count as "real literature." I have even heard a mother refuse to buy her teenage daughter a young adult book in the bookstore because it is "garbage." Usually I ignore these comments because normally I'm not big on confrontation. When I do respond though, I give them a list of books that I challenge them to read or I just say "So you're telling me that The Outsiders or Lord of the Flies is not real literature?" 

However, I also try to remind myself that I don't need to be embarassed by what I read. I don't need to hang my head low while browsing the teen section of the bookstore or rush out of the store without buying anything when I see someone I know. I used to be so embarassed to even read in between my classes at school because of comments that my fellow classmates would make. It has taken me until this past year at college to finally have the confidence to pull out a book during a break in class. It has always bothered me that this stigma is attached to young adult books in the first place.   

I understand that this genre isn't for everyone and I don't want to push it on to anyone. However, I do think it's important to at least try more than one book before making a judgement about the entire genre. Maybe one day in the future my reading preferences will change but for now I'm perfectly happy reading young adult because that is what I personally love. The bottom line though is that a reader shouldn't be judged for what they read. Instead they should be proud because they are actually reading a book and that is what is really important! I'm proud that I read and I'm proud that I love young adult books!

So how do you answer when you are asked about why you read what you read? Do you have any experiences you would like to share?



25 comments:

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  2. I'm glad you are overcoming your embarrassment of being seen reading a YA, I can truly relate to that.
    Every point you made is why I also enjoy reading YA, even though some might deem me "too old" I am only 22. However, I believe you are never too old to read YA!

    I also truly hate the stigma attached to YA books... It's sad, in a way.

    Young adult books are also my way of escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It's like being able to breath again after a hard day.

    I love the feeling of escaping into the genre. I also enjoying the range of emotions I feel when reading an amazing YA book.

    I think the reason why I read young adult is because, it speaks to a certain part of me, and it answers. It gives me what I need. It fills a certain space within. When I read young adult, I feel whole.

    I too, am a lover books and reading, but an avid lover of YA books!

    Magen Corrie
    ~Corrie the book,crazed girl

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    1. Thanks Magen! I'm happy that YA books are an escape for you too. You're right you are never too old to read YA. :)

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  3. That's horrible that people have those reactions. I haven't encountered any of that luckily. I am 30 and love YA and I could care less what people think. Good for you for getting over your embarrassment of it too. There is nothing to be embarrassed about.

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    1. Wow Amy you are definitely lucky that you have never encountered any of that. Good for you for not caring about what people think, I definitely wish I was always like that! :)

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  4. I'm like Amy! I am 31 and I read YA and I don't think I will ever stop. Love it!!!

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    1. Good for you Mindy! I don't think I will ever stop either!

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  5. I always think people are looking at me weird when they see what I am reading and it bugs me becausee why can't I enjoy YA novels too? I will be reading them even when I am 80 years old! LOL Great post! :)

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    1. Thanks! Right? I hate when people give me a weird look because of the cover of the book I'm reading. I definitely hope I'm still reading and loving YA at 80. :)

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  6. I agree with you. I love YA a lot. Recently I have been sent a lot of adult books to review and they just are not the same. I don't care that I'm a grown-up and married. I'm allowed to read what I want.

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    1. Thanks! Yeah I don't care for much adult fiction really either. Also you are totally right you're allowed to read what you want!

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  7. Well I'm 19, but I can pass for 15 (either kids nowadays look too old, or it's because I have Asian genetics)--so I don't think people care/look at me funny when I'm reading a YA. And I read my share of adult, classic literature...but I feel like I can still relate to YA more than adult (since I am at a lost when it comes to marital situations, depression, lost of a baby that seem to dominate a lot of adult fiction).
    I generally read YA to take off the tension and angst in between adult novels as YA just tends to be a more fun and easier to read, even if situations are often unrealistic.

    I love both YA and adult, but I find I can't get into MG anymore without dismissing plots as too naive and unrealistic.
    Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

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    1. Thanks Lilian! That is good that people don't care when you are reading YA. I also struggle definitely to connect to the themes and topics in adult books. I also struggle with MG books. I never even really liked them when I was younger either.

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  8. Word. I agree with you and everyone else. I'm only 23 and I'll proudly admit that I prefer reading YA book instead of the "grown up" books. I've gotten to the point where I smile at them very nicely and change the subject. Or ask them about their favorite books. Some of them don't have an answer because they don't like reading (So shameful). They just feel the right to pass judgments on something they have no idea about. So, that make them feel pretty dumb.
    So here's to our love for YA books!

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    1. Thanks Jenn! Good for you when you encounter someone who says something. Yes definitely here is to our love for YA books! :)

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  9. I love reading YA because I like to relive and experience, the excitement, romance, and angst of being a teenager again. I think most novels in the YA genre are fast-paced and thrilling, and they are often written in a style that is both engrossing and easy-to-read, with story-driven or character-driven plotlines. I also love that there are so many books created into a series nowadays, so that you can keep having more adventures with your favorite characters.

    Could my love of YA be simply because I’m still stuck at age sixteen, just a teenager-at-heart in disguise?

    Yup. And like many of you, I’ve read hundreds of YA books (you’re NEVER too old to read young adult novels, IMHO) and I can’t actually say I didn’t enjoy them all. Some I loved and I mean “LOVED”. Other novels became good friends that I didn’t want to ever part with, so they adorn my bookshelves and wait patiently to be reread again one day. Others were simply read and then disregarded with a contented smile. I am never embarrassed to buy YA books (although I buy most of my books online @ Amazon) in bookstores or carry them around with me. I love the genre and always have. Always will.

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  11. I kept waiting for someone to say something snarky or super rude to me, because I am an adult with a teenage son, and I write young adult novels.

    Happy Reading,
    ~Sherry

    Check out my books

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    1. Thanks Sherry! You are so right you can never be too old to read YA. I also love YA because so many of the books are fast paced and exciting. I hope no one ever says anything to you about writing and loving YA. :)

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  12. I've never gotten asked that question yet, but if someone did ask me, my answer would definitely be because I enjoy it! YA books are easy for me to relate to, and I love how they remind me of feelings and experiences that I may have had or am having at the moment.

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    1. Thanks for commenting Alexa! You are definitely lucky to have not been asked that question yet. That is definitely why I love YA too! :)

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  13. This is brilliant!

    I'm still a teenager so reading YA doesn't attract weird looks for me :) But, there's lots of smart kids in school who read thick classics and famous modern literature every day... For me, I'm simply addicted to YA *shrugs* It's my perfect escape from reality, the best cure for anything! It's light-hearted, it's free, but it always delivers new lessons about growing up every single time. That's what I need as a teen, not books like A Tale of Two Cities ;)

    Wonderful post, really! Thanks for writing this, I can't agree more!

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    1. Thanks Sel! I'm so happy you enjoyed this post. :) I know what you mean. I love some classics and all but as a teenager and still not I just rather read books I can connect with.

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  14. Oh man I an definitely relate to this! I'm 23 and I choose YA over everything as well. Just because it helps me escape. If I wanted to deal with "real adult problems" I would look at my own life lol I like to read YA and not have to think or have anything close to my life. I like just being able to dive into a world that's not even remotely like mine and just have fun. And I hate those people that judge. Just because I don't like the same things you do does not make you better than me. That's why there is such a thing as difference in opinion. I'm allowed to be different and I like that I am!
    Thanks for the great post! I couldn't agree more!

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    1. Thanks Nikki! I'm glad you liked the post. :) Totally agree, YA books give the perfect escape! Also I hate it when people have to judge and I love being different too.

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