I love reading YA books. There has been a lot of debate over the years whether or not adults should read YA literature. My immediate response is to say that people should read whatever they want, but I also think the subject is worth discussion. What defines YA as a genre? Why do some adults enjoy reading YA so much? I can only speak for myself, so here’s why I still love YA at age 27, and why I think other adults should still give YA a chance.
For the most part, I find it difficult to find adult novels that entertain me. So many adult bestsellers are thriller and mystery novels, and I just have no interest in the genre. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve read some amazing literature aimed at adults, and I’ve been particularly obsessed with memoirs lately. But when I go to a bookstore and all the best sellers are thrillers, it doesn’t inspire me to dive into the fiction stacks.
There’s so many genres within the YA genre itself. I can pick up realistic fiction while also finding an urban fantasy I want to check out in one trip. I’ve read about fictional battles with cancer and about wizards in magical schools. There’s a lot to choose from, and I’ve found that YA literature is a bit less formulaic than their adult genre counterparts.
Also, I find that YA has a lot of fresh ideas, particularly when it comes to sci-fi and fantasy. I’m a sucker for dystopian fiction, and YA has so much of it. I don’t always want to read, say, high fantasy. And again, I’m not saying the sci-fi/fantasy section at bookstores is bad, simply that I enjoy the YA fiction counterpart.
I can relate more to characters who are 17 than I can to characters in their forties. While I have a lot of the “real life” problems that older adults struggle with, I find that my mindset does not often align with the mindset of these characters. Maybe it’s because I’m a millennial? While reading YA yes, I may agree with the parents or think a romance is unrealistic, but it is still fun, and I can understand both perspectives now that I am older.
There are YA novels have some of the most interesting, beautiful writing I’ve seen. I read a lot of literary fiction in college, and I often felt the plot was put on the back burner for flowery descriptions and metaphors. YA can still have that beautiful prose, but it never sacrifices the plot for it.
YA allows for so much escapism. That’s not just because, say, the story takes place on a different planet where every twelve years people lose all their memories. YA also really gets into the emotions of a character. Teenagers often don’t think an analytically as adults do, and it becomes easy to get swept into their emotions. Additionally, reading about a crisis in a YA novel feels a bit less hopeless than reading about one in adult fiction.
I still find YA novels to be more accessible. General fiction in bookshops gives you a huge mix of reading materials. When browsing sci-fi, you often have to search for the first in a long series of novels. Though this could be the fault of how bookstores are organized more than anything else.
Even though the subjects can often be heavy, YA just makes for a less intense read. I’m not always in the mood to read deeply intellectual texts. Sometimes, I just want to breeze through a fun book. Lolita was a fascinating read, but the translated work had small font, a fantastic vocabulary, and required much more close reading. On the whole, YA is easier to read.
Some of the most amazing, inspiring messages come from YA novels. Sure, you can look at the surface of a YA novel and describe the plot easily, but a close read can also bring about more complicated themes. And while I don’t hate ambiguous endings, it sure is nice to finish a book that feels very complete.
I just enjoy them, and really, I think it is ridiculous that people can be such snobs about the types of books other people read. I don’t enjoy thrillers, but that doesn’t mean the genre has no merit. I just don’t find it very interesting. We all have our tastes.
So yes, next time I take a trip to the bookstore I’ll probably pick up John Green’s new book (I do have OCD, after all), as well as When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (because clearly, my OCD needs more mental fuel for my fear of cancer). And I am proud of that.
What genres do you read? Do you have a favorite YA novel? Let me know in the comments!