Friday, July 18, 2014

Discussion Question: Why do they care what I read?

I recently read a number of articles on the topic of young adult fiction.  While many cultural critics came down on the positive side of young adult fiction, others did not.  What is interesting about these critics is they often focus on the readers rather than the books themselves.  The critics seem to take issue with the idea that adult women are reading YA.  They can't seem to understand why adult women would want to read books where the main character is under twenty and the story focuses on contemporary teenage experiences, are set in fantastical worlds, or focus on the paranormal.  They seem to be somewhat more understanding when adults read YA dystopian but even then they suggest adult dystopian would be more appropriate.  Since I am an adult woman and a heavy reader of YA I obviously ignore these critics but I am aware of their censure and the negative response of many friends and family. 

So why do I read YA? I've never enjoyed thrillers, suspense, and crime dramas which are the genres that seem to dominate the adult market.  As a result I used to read a lot of literary fiction and historical romance UNTIL I started reading YA.  YA books have helped me to discover there are so many more genres that I enjoy.  For the first time in my life I am reading science fiction, I am reading about female heroines who fight and kill, I am reading about fairies, vampires, and witches.  I still love a good contemporary or historical romance or a book about families and relationships but now the main character is usually under the age of 20.

What drew you to YA books and do your friends or family comment on your reading choices?

Posted By: Sheri


  1. I started reading YA mostly because I got tired of the dry topics I was finding in Adult fiction at the time. It had become too repetitive.
    I discovered that YA was so much more adventurous and exciting. There were stories so far out of reality that I just couldn't believe how much I was missing out on. It started with Divergent and Maze Runner and I just kept going and even though I'm well in my 20's I have no plans to stop :)

    1. Maze Runner is on my TBR shelf and I keep meaning to read it before the movie comes out! ~Sheri

  2. I agree that many of adult books follow a pretty standard script. I think there is also something about characters that age that allow authors to make choices that are distinct from those the characters would make when they are older.

  3. First, I read my first YA by "accident". A friend's aunt works as a high school librarian. The aunt recommended a few books which I loved (Twilight the first month it was published and The Uglies also when first published). Then, a friend starting writing a blog so I have been reading YA a lot lately.

    Second, I love the argument that the characters get to age. I had not thought about this, but it is true that this is one of many aspects of the books that I love.

    Third, the argument that adult books follow a standard script is true. However, I think YA does as well - based on previous posts here, the authors of this blog would agree with me.

    Fourth, Sheri's argument that most adult fiction is thriller/criminal and that is why she doesn't read it is bogus. Although there are many books that lean this way, there is extensive literature that doesn't so... my question is: what is it about YA that made Sheri willing to read science fiction? why is it more appraochable? are you now willing to read adult science fiction?

    Fifth/final, the question was about the critics. Really? Who listens to them? I consider, without a doubt, the greatest literary triumphs of my lifetime to be Harry Potter and 50 Shades of Grey. Why? Because they got people to read. This is exciting! There were literally launch parties at book stores at midnight (I attended one!). If you write an amazing book, millions of readers may read it and identify it as such. This is wonderful. BUT, if you write a book that gets millions of people to pick up a book for the first time (Harry Potter) or the first time in decades (50 Shades), this is an event! The critics (and I) would agree that 50 Shades was trash, was not great literature, was "appallingly atrocious". Forget critics - just keep reading! YA got Sheri to read science fiction - how can you criticize YA now?

  4. It was Harry Potter. That's what got me reading again (thus proving Donna's fifth point). Up until that series, everything that I read was for my studies or for my career -- and each time I thought about reading something that was "for fun," I felt guilty that I wasn't doing what I should be doing. However with HP, I couldn't stop myself. I had to read it. I went to the book store at midnight on more than one occasion -- and dragged my family to more than one midnight viewing of a newly released movie. So that's what started it all.

    When I read Twilight several years later, I devoured the books one after the other - I didn't start reading them until well after the final book was published. I couldn't believe that I waited so long to pick them up. Once I finished that series, I knew that this was my genre.

    So what is it about YA? The firsts -- first love, first kiss, first heartbreak, fist loss, first success, first failure -- and the growth that comes from those things. How we will interact and cope with the world are established in those firsts. Watching the characters start to figure that out is what keeps me reading YA.

    But critics -- if I'm honest I can hear myself using preemptive statements when people ask what I like to read -- as if I have to justify why this genre is worthy of its fanbase. However, I've found that it is most often the NON-readers who question my reading of YA. When I'm talking to someone who is an avid reader, even if they don't like YA, they don't criticize or look down on my choices.

  5. Oh boy. Prepare for a novel length comment. *rubs hands together*

    I HATE when ppl judge me for reading YA. And the thing is, the ppl judging are ppl who have not read much, if any, from the genre. Stop judging something that you know nothing about! Who cares what other ppl read? Guess what? You don't have to read it if you don't want to. So stop judging other ppl for it.

    I read YA because they tend to move faster and for me, they tend to be more emotional reads. The teenage years of someone's life are critical ones where a lot of character development takes place. Which is why I love reading. I love watching these characters grow up. I learn things from them. And I'm not going to apologize for liking it. So all the haters out there can continue ranting, but it's not going to stop me from reading YA and being proud of it.

  6. I hate that YA gets such a bad name despite successes like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games which have been enjoyed by people of all ages. I often don't advertise that I read YA because of the negative response but I am getting more comfortable sharing that part about me - haters be damned. My close friends and family get it - if they weren't already YA fans, I've converted them by now. But people less close to me don't always get it. I've had friends pick on me about reading vampire fiction because that's all they think of when it comes to YA. It's annoying.

    I do enjoy adult books too but I've been more drawn to YA these past couple of years. I read for pleasure and I find YA to be more fun on average. It's hard to pinpoint just a few traits that make it more fun. But I know that I love it and I'm going to keep on reading it no matter what anyone says!

  7. I really dislike how people judge YA and how they brush it away as 'immature' and 'something older people shouldn't read.' You should read for your enjoyment, no matter what you pick up.

    Nobody in my surroundings make comments about it and if they would, hell would break loose, haha. I really can't stand it if people judge me about it, because what do you care what I read? They all call me their booknerd en bookworm and that's it.

  8. I never left the YA genre. I remember when I was about to turn twenty last year, I started to worry that maybe I shouldn't read YA any more because all the characters would be younger than me and that I wasn't the target audience. But then I joined the book blogging community and realised that reading is all about YOU as the reader.

    Reading is like anything else that you do for you. Reading is for your enjoyment only, and if YA is the genre you prefer best then YA is the genre that you prefer best.

    I think it's sad and kind of pathetic that so many people are trying to demean the meaning and wonder that can be taken from reading YA books.

    They are amazing, and if they make you happy - then never stop reading them, I say.