Until recently I wasn’t a huge Young Adult (YA) book fan. Don’t get me wrong, I still read books like The Hunger Games trilogy and the Twilight series but I mostly did this because the popularity of both of these series was too huge to ignore. Even my husband and my dad read and loved The Hunger Games. But I thought these books were an anomaly that transcended their intended audience. Gosh, what did I know?
I didn’t read YA books because as an adult I assumed these books were too juvenile for me. I didn’t even read books in this category when I was a teenager. At about age twelve I just jumped straight to reading all the adult books on my parents’ book shelves.
If you Google YA books, article headlines pop up like:
‘Why are YA books so bad?’
‘Adults who read YA are sad’
‘Adults Shouldn’t Read YA’
‘All YA Books are the Same
‘Why are YA books so clichéd?’
Is it any wonder that with opinions like that out there I decided to ignore these books?
Now I know how wrong I was to exclude a whole genre based on preconceived notions that have turned out to be untrue. I was missing out on reading books that made me feel every emotion, books that were cleverly crafted and plotted, had so much imagination and tackled deep, dark, disturbing issues that anyone of any age could relate to. They weren’t childish at all. Yes, mostly the protagonists are young or youngish but why did I think the stories of younger people were now beneath my reading tastes just because I had grown older?
I would read a story told from an elderly person’s perspective so why not a young person’s? Yes, books aimed at teens tend to have angst by the bucketload but I was a teen once. I remember the pain of first love, the cruelty of bullies in the playground, the big dreams and the constant struggle to be understood by adults.
So the YA books I read before were few and far between but since joining the bookstagram and book blogging community my view has changed. I actually listen to other booklovers about the YA books they love and why and I try some for myself, mixed in with the other genres I like to read. I have discovered new authors like Sarah J Maas, Holly Black, Rainbow Rowell and Leigh Bardago. I have discovered new subgenres like YA fantasy and YA contemporary. But most of all I have discovered that I can enjoy books that I would have disregarded in the past. A good book is a good book no matter the audience and genre.
YA readers don’t deserve to be looked down upon–especially if they happen to be adults. I will continue to mix YA reads in with classics, literature, fiction, historical fiction, romance and crime thrillers. And maybe I will even try to increase my nonfiction reading. From now on I won’t judge a book by its genre but by what I personally take away from it. Different genres, voices and stories can only enrich my reading experience.
What do you think about YA books? Do you read them or are they not your thing?