Thursday 2 December 2010

Adults, why do you read YA?

Katie as a skinny, scruffy teenager, aged about 14

After reading a blog post by Anna, I found myself wondering about my own reasons for reading young adult fiction, and came to the conclusion that there wasn't just one reason. Until fairly recently, it was a genre I hadn't read a lot of since I was a teenager, although I had never entertained the notion of being too old for children's books. I suppose I considered Young Adult to be a rather exclusive genre, for teens, about teens, and generally a bit rubbish. There were some series - Harry Potter, which started as kids' fiction and ended up quite adult - and Twilight, which were being read by everybody, but in general I considered teen fiction angst or fluff. Or angsty fluff.

Then came the start of the new school year, Banned Books Week and the Speak Loudly campaign, and I was reminded that some YA fiction books were pretty good, and others were very good indeed. Although I'd been quietly keeping the Book Blog for about two years, with maybe six followers, that was when I really became aware of the book blogging community. I decided to do a YA mini-challenge in October, but as I followed more blogs, the list of recommendations grew longer and longer, until it wouldn't fit in one month, or two. And so many bloggers are adults who read YA. Why is that?

My Answers
  1. Now that I'm out of that stage of life, and distanced from it, the teenage years make a good story. The drama, the relationships - friends and romantic - the mistakes made, lessons learned, character development - it's better than any soap opera. Even Corrie with its tram crash coming up (!) Which brings me to...
  2. I mentioned character development, and that is a crucial part of any story for me. The teenage years are when you really start to become your own person, and that is reflected in a good-quality teenage novel, that is not just for teenagers.
  3. Katie age about 18,
    less scruffy, but still skinny
    I am 25, and starting to feel like I really ought to be an adult by now. Unfortunately, the last few year haven't let me feel that way. After leaving uni with a top degree, when all my hopes were high, I found the country in recession and had to move home, where I found a job that would better suit a student. I don't feel twenty five, I feel seventeen, and many of the issues YA characters face don't seem so far from my own.
  4. Somehow it seems there are more possibilities in children's and teen fiction than in adult. Fantasy and reality can be mixed and matched, and not constrained by the rules to which mainstream adult fiction seems limited.
  5. Also, more frivolously, there are so many beautiful YA book covers. The now overused Twilight was the first, but now YA publishers seem to be moving away from the bandwagon-hopping black and red trend that had been creeping over the shelves, there are some gorgeous books that just scream out to be read.
  6. Another, even more frivolous reason is that they take less time to read than an average adult novel and with my greed to inhale as many stories as possible (and blog frequently) that is a minor bonus.


  1. Great post! I really identified with your list. I don't feel like an adult either.

  2. "Somehow it seems there are more possibilities in children's and teen fiction than in adult. Fantasy and reality can be mixed and matched, and not constrained by the rules to which mainstream adult fiction seems limited."

    This is my favorite point. It's so true...the possibilities seem so endless in a way they don't for adult fiction. So glad you weighed in on the subject!

  3. It's that I'm 29, I feel younger in some ways than I did before. I was such an "old" teen. Did everything perfect, always behaved. Now I kind of wished I'd had more fun. It's fun to read YA and see all the adventures I could have had. :-)

  4. I love YA lit b/c it is both efficient and complicated at its best.

  5. Changed the first photo to one I actually like of me as a 14-year-old! I loved that pink shirt - it took me until last year to find one that replaced it.


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