Sorry, did you say something? I was busy reading this awesome YA and not hating myself for it

*bridge-of-nose pinch*

So, there’s apparently some new Defender of Mature Adult Literature out there, telling us over-18-year-olds that we “should be embarassed” about our enjoyment of books written (or at least marketed) for children and teens.  I’m not going to give this person any fame by naming names…and yes, I did consider the perhaps more effective option of just ignoring and forgetting.  Because no, I’m not likely to change this person’s worldview, and nothing they say has any actual power over me [insert Labyrinth joke].

Because, as they so graciously concede (I’m sure I’m just imagining the implied eye-rolls), it’s “Live and let read” in the end, right?  Who cares what some At-The-Risk-Of-Sounding-Like-a-Snob thinks?  They might even just be trolling for outraged gasps and “STFUs” — with such a sweeping, judgmental premise, what else could they really expect?

But here I am, feeling like I want to say something to all the Railers Against Grown-ups Reading Non-Grown-up Stories.  Because what the heck, it’s my blog and I have just as much right to the soapbox as the anti-YA person does.

So here’s my very sophisticated response:  Lighten up.  Seriously, what’s the big deal if a lot of your peers like something you don’t?  Why do we have to confine ourselves to these age-based pens — Kids over here, Teens over here, Adults over there and never the three shall meet?  I prefer the model of life as described by the narrator of “Eleven,” by Sandra Cisneros:  we do not move rigidly from one year to the next, leaving behind who we were at all the previous ages.  Instead, we are the sum of all those years, and we can still access those previous stages.

And that’s not a bad thing.  Adults are not “better than” children and young adults.  More experienced, yes.  More developed in intellectual and emotional ability, sure.  But that doesn’t make us “better” in the sense of value, and “Adult” books are not inherently superior to books written for younger audiences.

Are you resentful of the Adults Reading YA phenomenon because you’re having trouble finding people with whom to discuss your favorite books?  Or because you’re an author whose books aren’t getting as much love as you feel they deserve?  Well, you’re certainly not going to reel in much sympathy by insulting what others enjoy (and newsflash – people can enjoy multiple literary styles/genres.  We don’t have to give up one to appreciate another).

Remember:  flies + vinegar = 😦  …  flies + honey = 🙂

So.  Can haz World Peace now?

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2 Responses to Sorry, did you say something? I was busy reading this awesome YA and not hating myself for it

  1. Heather says:

    The ‘funny’ thing about articles like the one mentioned is that most of the time those people have no idea what they’re talking about. It was quite obvious the author of that article doesn’t read YA…but also obvious that the author of that article doesn’t read a lot of ‘serious’ adult literature, either. That person made themselves look like a total fool.

    Now, I have a question for you (that I’m asking you because I know you won’t take offense to it coming from me):

    I read YA here and there. There are some fantastic YA novels out there that I believe I am better for reading. But I could never read YA exclusively. So the question is, why do some adults read YA exclusively? What is it about YA literature (or adult literature, really) that makes an adult want to only read about teens and not things that go on in adult lives? This really is just a curiosity question and not a judgmental one. 🙂

    • Nerija S. says:

      No worries, I totally know there’s no judgment in your question 🙂 My answer…It really depends on individual tastes. It could be that a person loves a particular subject (I’ll say mermaids, just off the top of my head), and has only or primarily found that subject dealt with in YA books. Maybe there just aren’t enough people writing not-specifically-Juv/YA books about mermaids (again, I’m just using that as a random example; there may be a whole world of adult mermaid literature that I’m just not aware of 🙂 ).

      I choose books based on whether the story sounds interesting, regardless of the section in which they’re placed — a good story is a good story. In my early teen years, I was reading both the Jean Auel books and Sweet Valley, both Anne McCaffrey and Bruce Coville… I was just as likely to pick up Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior or Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye (I did, in fact, randomly pick each of those from the English classroom’s mini-library) as I was to pick up the next Alice book by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

      As for the anti-YA article, I agree; the writer did come off as someone who hasn’t read enough of the books he/she’s criticizing for the argument to have much weight. And in any case, as I said, it was a lost cause from the very premise; one can’t expect such a sweeping argument (EVERYONE should feel this way because I feel this way!) to be taken seriously when it’s about something as subjective as reading preferences. Sure, maybe some people agree that YA is just for kids, but it’s hardly likely we’ll suddenly see a great anti-YA revolution.

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