Young adult (YA) literature has always held a soft spot for me ever since I was a teenager. From Twilight to Sarah Dessen’s complete bibliography to the Harry Potter Series, I’ve read it all. My love for YA literature continued well into adulthood. I still venture over to the YA section in the bookstore, and often end up going home with one or two.
A few weeks ago, I was reading Kasie West’s By Your Side on my iPad when my mom asked me what I was reading. When I told her it was a Young Adult novel, she said: wait, aren’t you a little old to be reading those books?
Furthermore, I’ve often encountered this question when talking to people about my reading habits. And, while I understand their concern, I do want to defend my love for young adult literature. Furthermore, let me add this: these aren’t the only books I read. I read adult books too — from classics, to mysteries to fiction.
With that being I’m not the only adult that still indulges in Young Adult Fiction. Several of my friends, all of which are 20-s0methings, do read young adult literature. And, they are not alone. According to an article on the Atlantic entitled Why So Many Adults Love Young Adult Literature, approximately 55 percent of young adult readers are actually adults.
But why are so many adults picking up these books? One reason is the nostalgia factor. Many of the novels describe the intensities of first love in ways that will have many of us lusting for prom night. And, nostalgia factor aside, they are just pretty fun to read.
However, it’s not just about the feeling of the books, but the books themselves. The article says that one of the reasons is that genre changed over the past decade. There are more “diverse protagonists” than there used to be, and the books, as a whole, have “just gotten better.” And, I agree. Many of the newer books in the Young Adult genre, are really well written.
This change, the article says, all began with one magical series — Harry Potter. Harry Potter changed the way many of us approached reading. After all, readers of all ages read Harry Potter at least once. However, before the series came out, not many adults would be interested in purchasing a novel meant for teenagers. Oh, how times have changed.
Furthermore, these novels often are ones that are getting talked about. For instance, when the movie The Fault In Our Stars Came Out in 2014, many readers flocked to the bookstore to get a copy — and fell in love with John Green’s bibliography. The same happened with the books If I Stay, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and Divergent.
However, not all adult readers agree. Ruth Graham wrote an op-ed in Slate entitled Against YA: Adults Should Be Embarrassed to Read Children’s Books. The piece was written in 2014 when the The Fault In Our Stars craze was in full swing.
In her article, she states that “adults should feel embarrassed about reading literature meant for children,” and tells fellow grown-ups that we “are better than this.” She goes onto say that it’s a “shame” that these novels are replacing “literary fiction” for adults.
To some degrees, I get what she’s saying. There are so many great novels written for adults, that if you indulge in those, you wouldn’t have time to read literature for children.
However, I do not agree with her statement that adults should be ashamed for reading them. Reading is reading. Shouldn’t we encourage reading novels, versus shunning someone for what they choose? Just saying.
Furthermore, Graham classifies these novels as “fuddy-duddy.” However, I disagree. Let’s take the bibliography of best-selling novelist, Sarah Dessen, for instance. Many of Dessen’s novels are tagged as romance novels. However, many of them have a serious undertone that attacks real issues such as abusive relationships, school shootings, and having a sibling in jail.
Those aren’t light topics, now are they?
But, I will be honest. Many of the young adult books are entertaining. And, some of them are swoon inducing. However, that shouldn’t be a reason to defer readers from reading them. Not everyone — myself included — is going to be in the mood to read heavy topics all of the time. And, that’s perfectly okay. Reading is reading. I think we should encourage reading, versus snubbing someone for not reading the most sophisticated thing.
So, I’m going to admit that I’m adult who reads Young Adult Literature. And, I think that it’s perfectly okay.