YA Anonymous.

Hello, I’m Haley Waddell and I am a YA addict.

Whew, feels good to get that off my chest.

Yep, I am 21 years old and have recently re read Scott Westerfield’s series The Uglies (seriously… I read them back to back over a week long period while on Christmas break) and I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed The Hunger Games series when I read them for the third time this past summer. And yes, I have also read the Maze Runner series and Fault in our Stars in the past six months. The Giver, which I read when I was 13, is my favourite book. I turn 22 in 6 months.

It has recently come to my attention that some view adults reading young adult literature as embarrassing. Time’s Magazine columnist, Joel Stein even went as far as saying, “ The only time I’m O.K. with an adult holding a children’s book is if he’s moving his mouth as he reads.” He then goes on to say that “books are one of our few chances to learn”. I actually think this is an outrageous comment seeing as many of the YA books today deal with a lot of things people are going through and can relate and learn from. I am going to be honest though, I have had moments where I have tried to hide the fact I was reading Twilight, but c’mon…. We can’t let one series ruin it for all YA literature. Author Patricia McCormick argues that, “young adult authors are doing some of the most daring work out there. Authors who write for young adults are taking creative risks — with narrative structure, voice and social commentary.” YA authors are currently taking over the literary market! The last time I heard an “adult” book get as much attention as The Hunger Games or The Book Thief was when 50 Shades of Grey came out…

( Don’t get me wrong, there have been some amazing “adult” books that have come out recently, we just don’t hear as much about them!)

Why is reading YA literature such a crime? These are stories that I can easily relate and identify with. Whether its things I have personally gone through, am going through, or feelings and emotions that I understand to some degree. I think thats why YA literature is so popular. No, I have personally not fought for my life in an arena or have a rare form of cancer, but I do understand love, and wanting to protect the people closest to us. These are feelings someone who is 16 has probably felt and these are feelings a 48 year old may feel too. YA books deal with themes and topics that are engaging, whether they are about imaginary things like vampires and futuristic worlds, or teens going through life as outsiders, popular kids or drug addicts. I was reading the comments left on Joel Stein’s argument and someone stated that adults should read books that challenge the brain. I don’t entirely disagree with this statement on the basis that we should always want to better our skills in reading and conceptualizing texts, however we are allowed to read, just to simply read. Books can be fun too. Helloooooo YA books can stimulate imagination!! When is that ever a bad thing for adults??

As a university student who spends her days highlighting textbook after textbook and reading the most boring pieces of literature assigned to us by our profs (Shakespeare’s history plays are not my favourite…just saying), at the end of the day sometimes I want to read something that I don’t really have to think about. We should not focus on what exactly is being read, but on the fact people are still reading! Who cares if on occasion I opt for an easy enjoyable read rather then a story with challenging plots and difficult characters. In a world where every one has their face glued to their electronic devices we should celebrate the fact people are still reading and that they are enjoying it. So, screw you book bullies, I will not put down my copy of The Host just because you believe I am too old for it. I will read what I want and not feel ashamed about it!

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4 thoughts on “YA Anonymous.

  1. Peyton says:

    I understand your argument and do accept the fact that adults will read YA fiction. Do you believe that YA fiction should dominate adults reading material though? I have read the first three books for this course and have found them all meh. I do not connect and find them to be below where I am intellectually in my life right now. (I read each book in a day–that never happens). I understand the desire for adults to read YA fiction as a way of escape, but this can be done through adult books too. In your argument you say that YA books are easily relatable, engaging, and stimulate imagination. So do adult books; and, adult books do this, in my opinion, in a more intellectual way. You also say that you read YA so that you can read without thinking, which I understand, but again, this can still be done with adult books. Again, I understand your argument and most people in class agree that everyone should be allowed to read whatever they want. However, I find the arguments stem from the belief that adults books do not offer the same things as YA books, but I disagree. Adult books offer the same things as YA books, but in a different way. I find that we are dismissing adult books too easily. Maybe, as university students, it is because we are forced to read adult books that are necessary for our courses and not necessarily what we would pick up off the shelf. I do think that adults reading material should be dominated by adult books and that if adults are reading YA books it is because they are not willing to try to find what they are looking for in adult books.

    -Peyton

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  2. I can certainly see validity in both of these points. Perhaps it is like we have discussed in class and people are becoming “adults” later in their lives. Because of this phenomenon, people may still feel comfortable with, or be able to relate to, YA fiction later in their lives. This could be leading to a phenomenon where a person’s guilty pleasure of reading YA fiction is now culturally acceptable, so there is less societal pressure for older individuals to explore adult fiction. Those are my thoughts, what are yours?

    Ryan

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  3. Taryn says:

    I used to think of YA literature as an escape from the heavier material that I was required to read for my English classes, but in many ways, the English classes that I’ve taken have resulted in me taking a detour from the YA section in Chapters and, instead, spending plenty of time browsing the shelves of the “Literature” section. I purchased The Maze Runner and The Book Thief near the end of September, but I’ve yet to touch them, instead turning to Murakami, Bukowski, Kerouac, Plath… authors that you aren’t generally introduced to until you push yourself past what I will refer to as a limit of YA literature, and I do see it as a limit.

    Like Peyton, I sped through the first three books for this course, and I found it impossible to relate to the material. Instead, I find myself relating to Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, Bukowski’s Ham on Rye, Kerouac’s On the Road, all novels that are, technically speaking, written about youth, and characters in, what we might define, as their YA stage of life. So, what separates texts like this from YA literature? I would argue that they are written with the adult in mind, rather than the YA, and in a lot of ways, which I can’t necessarily explain, that makes them more relatable, at least at this stage in my life.

    In high school, I remember relating to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and it’s still one of my favourite novels, but, in my opinion, it just isn’t on the same level as the authors I find myself gravitating towards, today. Yes, John Green’s novels stimulate me intellectually, imaginatively, but not in the way that Murakami’s 1Q84 pushed me past the boundaries of my imagination, pushed me intellectually.

    YA literature has its value, undoubtedly, but I think that that value is of more importance to the YA audience. That isn’t to say that I can’t still pick up a book off of a YA shelf, finish it in a day, and call it my favourite book, because I still do that, and I’m sure I’ll continue to do that, but no, I don’t find myself connecting to it in ways that I used to when I was younger.

    Taryn

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