Thursday, February 26, 2015

Why I'm an Adult Reading Young Adult Novels

I've wanted to write a post about this for some time now, but I was having the hardest time putting into words why I’m an adult reading young adult novels. So I did what everyone else does in 2015 and I posted to Facebook, asking questions like do you read young adult? Why or why not? If you do, what do you enjoy about YA? If you don’t, what is different about adult novels? I read through all the responses, nodding and smiling through most of it. Because of those responses, my own thoughts have been clarified enough for me to attempt to blog about them.

To start, I’ll throw out there that I’m 28 years old and I mostly read young adult novels, with the occasional new adult thrown in and, rarely, an adult novel. This is how it’s been for about six years now, since I rediscovered my love for reading when I picked up Twilight. I know, I know. Twilight?! Yes. It doesn't matter what you think of the series, but it did get me back into passionately reading and devouring books the way I did when I was younger, which is all I need to love and respect the fandom.

So what is the appeal that keeps me hanging out with fictional teenagers? Well, they haven’t got it all figured out. They are still learning about themselves, still growing and discovering the world around them, and they are doing it during one of the most emotionally fluctuating times in their lives. Because I read a lot of YA romance, I’ll also throw out there that they are falling in love for the first time and those are some powerful emotions that I can relate to.

Let’s look at my life a bit. I met my first real boyfriend in high school. First kiss, first love, and all that fluffy stuff. We ended up getting married just after I graduated and we started our lives together. Now, eleven years after we started going out, eight and a half years of marriage, and two kiddos later, it’s a refreshing reminder to get caught up in all those emotions all over again while reading someone else’s story. It’s wonderful, really, to be able to reminisce what it was like to fall in love with my best friend. For me, it takes me back to the same sorts of memories that are unlocked with certain familiar aromas. What is more magical than that?

When I posted about this, I also asked what are some of the most annoying things other people have said to them when they learned they read YA. I was pleasantly surprised to see that none of these people were really given a hard time, unless Twilight was thrown around somewhere in there. But I think this Buzzfeed post is still one of my favorites in addressing the annoying things people can say about young adult. Remember, young adult isn’t a genre or an audience level. It’s an indication of the characters’ age ranges.

The last question I asked was what book recommendation(s) they would offer as an introduction into the wonderful world of YA for an adult who wanted to try it out. With the help of a few of my most trustworthy book friends, here’s a list along with Goodreads links. Thanks to my book twin, Lynn, they are all broken down into categories. I have marked the ones I've actually read with an asterisk (*).

Historical fiction- A Spy In The House by Y.S. Lee. It's the first book of a whole series. 

Fantasy- Harry Potter*, though it is also considered MG 
Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Aerenden* by Kristen Taber

Science Fiction- Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card 

Dystopian- Hunger Games* by Suzanne Collins 
Unwind by Neal Shusterman 

Uglies* by Scott Westerfelf
Divergent* by Veronica Roth

Delirium* by Lauren Oliver

Magical Realism- Bruiser by Neal Shusterman 
Scorpio Races* by Maggie Stiefvater

Paranormal/Supernatural- Pivot Point by Kasie West 

The Mortal Instruments* by Cassandra Clare

Contemporary Fiction/romance- Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas 
The Distance Between Us* by Kasie West 

Book Clubbers wanting to read something with their teen: Something Real by Heather Demetrios
The List by Siobhan Vivian 

Issue books- The Fault In Our Stars* by John Green 

Thirteen Reasons Why* by Jay Asher 
Eleanor & Park* by Rainbow Rowell 
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson 

LGBT- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Do you read young adult? Why or why not? What are some books you would recommend to others interested in getting into YA? 


P.S. I have to do this, even though this post is long enough already ;) One of my writing inspirations, Cindy Thomas, is releasing her first book on April 13th! You can now preorder BECKON ME on Amazon! Don't forget to add it on Goodreads and check out Cindy Thomas on Facebook, Twitter, and her website!  


Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

I loved YA so much, I became a YA librarian. Aside from cozy mysteries, I rarely read adult fiction anymore. It just doesn't hold the same appeal for me. Some of my faves are on that list -- Maggie Stiefvater, Siobhan Vivian, Y.S. Lee.

Carrie Beckort said...

I like to read a lot of different genres, YA included. Like you say, I like the 'new' experiences that the characters tend to experience in the YA novels. I also feel that some (not all) YA novels are more creative than adult fiction. It's as if there are no boundaries on where a story can go or what the characters can do. The characters are still young enough to not have had life taint their belief that anything is possible. I feel like I need to be reminded of that sometimes, and a good YA book will give me that.

I've read a few of the books listed above, and I'm certainly going to be checking out those that I haven't!

Leandra Wallace said...

Great books on your list! Without a doubt everyone should give Stiefvater a try. And Cassandra's books are so full of adventure and romance and snark (gotta love the snark). I've seen Cindy's book on a few sites, and I love that cover. Cursive font is one of my favs.

Jonathan Schramm said...

Great post, Bri! I must admit, even as a dude I read a lot of YA. That's where the best dystopian, fantasy and sci-fi seem to be these days. I agree, the age of the protagonists lends itself well to the coming of age sagas I really enjoy reading. Some books lose me with the romantic stuff, but even us guys have a soft spot for some of it *blushes*. Anyway, thanks for the thoughts and the list!

I might --as the resident sci-fi guy-- have some trouble putting Ender's Game in the YA category. The themes and language are a bit too adult. Looking into it a little bit, I found this article from 2012, which makes a similar argument:

Just a thought!

Jill said...

I love pretty much everything about this post. :-) I mean, I love YA lit - it's (at least part of) my career and (one of) my passion(s). So obviously I'll like any post about what makes YA lit great...but I *also* appreciate the idea that asking people for their thoughts helps you clarify your own. And the acknowledgment that Twilight (or whatever's the object of mockery du jour) can be a point of meaning and connection for some readers, especially beyond its surface-level story. And the teasing-out of the term "genre." (I myself think YA isn't any of those - not a genre or a reader-age category or a character-age category - it's a PERSPECTIVE. A lens; a viewpoint; a way of seeing.)

Thanks for a great post, and happy reading!

DMS said...

I read many genres and for a variety of age groups. I read some YA and have read HP, Hunger Games, Eleanor and Park and I have Divergent (it has been next to my bed for a year because I have been afraid to start it after reading a bad review of the last book in the series) and The Fault in Our Stars (have had it for years and want to read it, but know it will make me cry my eyes out). One of the reasons I like YA is it brings me back to thoughts my younger self may have had or things I may have done. :)

I think people should read whatever makes them happy! Glad Twilight was a series that brought back your love of reading. Awesome!

Unknown said...

I’m 22 dammit and I’ll read YA because I like YA *holds up torch and pitchfork.* (Sometimes I think I am still funny.) The books that really got me into reading again, when I was in 5th or 6th grade, was Crispin (and the cross of lead, I think) and The Lost Years of Merlin series. Then as a teen it was Twilight *shivers.* But ever since those books, I’ve always found myself skipping “adult literature” (or more appropriately “lots-of-sex literature”) and going towards teen books again. I enjoyed my teenage years, and I think I was quite mature for a teen. Many YA books don’t exactly give me that nostalgic feeling of meeting my first boyfriend (he was a jerk) or having my first kiss (he was a jerk.) I think it’s because it feels fresh, for having teens almost be adults and are transitioning like I did from junior high to high school and eventually college. No one really gives me a second look in college when I’m sitting in the library reading Insurgent or City of Glass. Never once was I asked “Why are you reading that sappy teen book?” because, frankly, no one cares or even should care that I’m an adult and I am reading YA. Most likely that said person probably never even read the book and enjoyed it in its beauty. Even if I was ten years older, I will still probably enjoy reading YA.

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