I recently came across an article on Slate about YA (Young Adult) books. Perhaps you came across it as well.
I thought the author made some interesting points, but I would like to say that I respectfully disagree with her opinion.
Yes, there has been a recent surge in YA popularity — The Twilight series, Divergent, Hunger Games, and the recent box-office smash TFIOS — and yes, there are some that say these books aren’t well written, that they’re catering to teenagers, and that it’s degrading/embarrassing for adults to be seen reading/enjoying them.
I have mentioned in other posts that I am a major bookworm. I am the type of person who will have anywhere from four to five books started at once. I know that not everyone is like that. For some, it’s a challenge to even read one book at a time — and I don’t mean that as a slight or as an insult, because reading is great, not matter what pace you’re doing it.
Basically, who are we to judge someone else for what they’re reading, especially if it’s not hurting anyone? Who am I to deny someone access to a wonderful story because it’s advertised as a book for kids?
The author of that Slate piece also said something about how YA books are replacing classic literature. Once again, I respectfully disagree.
While I am still in my 20’s and only a few years out of college, I would classify myself as an adult. I work full-time and I pay my bills/support myself almost entirely without assistance from others. I would also say that I am an adult who has read TFIOS and The Hunger Games series, along with The Giver (which is also part of a series), The Book Thief, and numerous other authors whose work is considered suitable for a “YA” audience. I’d also like to point out that one of the biggest Harry Potter fans I’ve ever met in my life is my own mother — she binge-read all seven books over the course of one summer.
In fact, I think part of the appeal of “YA books” for “adults” comes largely from parents reading the same things as their kids. And why not? If it helps families find a common interest (especially one that encourages reading), I don’t think it should be shamed — it should be encouraged.
Furthermore, I do not see so-called “YA books” replacing my interest in literary fiction or any other genre. I would instead argue that reading a wide variety of materials allows you to expose yourself to numerous ideas and themes, most of which are encased in interesting word choices and story lines. Plus, reading (or even rereading) “YA books” at an older age gives you a chance to find other layers and depth that you might not have noticed or fully understood as an adolescent. I don’t delve into a story and think “Hmm, that’s a nicely written book for 13-year-olds,” — I am enjoying the author’s choice of words to create a scene or set the mood.
In short, if you want to read something, don’t let a marketing tactic by a publisher (because really, that is what the label “YA” is), or the so-called “shame” of reading something targeted toward a younger demographic stop you. You might miss some amazing stories otherwise.