Books, Musings

There’s nothing wrong with reading YA

A few writers on Facebook are up in arms following an article published in NY Times online. You can read it in full here. The writer of the piece thinks that adults should only read adult books and not books for teens or children. He says video games and Pixar films are okay as they don’t require brain cells but reading should be to learn and you can only learn from adult books.

Yawn. We should be reading for pleasure as well as learning. I love reading, it provides escapism and the chance to imagine and this is true for me whether I read an adult or a young-adult book. Okay, I’m slightly biased as I choose to write YA books and so I do read a lot of them but this article just reeks of someone declaring something is rubbish when they’ve never experienced it for themselves. He admits he’s never read The Hunger Games. Great so don’t criticise it then. If you haven’t read something, you can’t judge. And especially you shouldn’t judge those you have and have enjoyed it. We all like different things. How boring would the world be with just one type of book on the shelves?

I also think he’s wrong on the learning front. You can still learn from books aimed at teenagers and children even if you are an adult. In fact, when you’re an adult sometimes you forget about the important things in life that YA books embrace wholeheartedly – love, friendship, bravery and fighting against evil. When you close yourself off to experiences then you won’t learn but if you try new things, you might not only learn something new but you might find you were completely wrong and discover that it is amazing. Which YA is – just sayin’.

So for me it doesn’t matter what age you are or what age a book is targeted at, if you want to read it do it and let yourself have some fun and enjoy books. That’s what they are here for, regardless of target age or genre. Unless it’s a school textbook obviously but so people still enjoy those anyway 🙂

 Adults can read YA in the same way teenagers can read adult books.

Okay – rant over. And now breathe.

What do you think?





38 thoughts on “There’s nothing wrong with reading YA”

  1. I agree, there is absolutely nothing wrong with adults reading YA books. I often read YA books inbetween various “adult” books, and I won’t lie, I happily watch cartoons from time to time. Some of the best films I have seen recently were aimed at a younger audience, and likewise some of the best books I have read were aimed at a younger audience.
    Also, that idea of “reading should be to learn” is the very thing that will put a lot of younger people off reading entirely – they need to know reading can be and should be for pleasure, probably more than for learning.
    The writer of that article must just be the most boring, beige person ever. 😛
    Great post, you’re spot on! 🙂

    1. You’re right, kids need to be encouraged to enjoy reading, and adults too because not everyone loves it like we do. Ruling out a type of book might hold people back from picking any up, and that would be a really bad thing!

  2. I agree – read whatever you enjoy! I love reading research-heavy psychology, spirituality, and top sellers, but I love (well-written) young adult just as much. I think each genre has something unique to offer, which some people will appreciate, and others will not. It’s not right someone to come out and discourage reading YA books – I would be encouraging of any reading, even trashy romance novels. Great post – thanks!

  3. I didn’t read YA until I began to write YA. When I was a teen, the YA section was sad, so I quickly switched to adult books. Why judge if people are reading? I read a range of books. I write a range of genres. If books are selling, what does anyone care? The author of the article misses the point.

  4. What complete and utter twaddle. I read what I like to read regardless of who it was aimed at for marketing. I’d be more inclined to moan about bad editing / grammar than if a book was written purely for teenagers should be read by adults or not.

    I wouldn’t worry about the article though, if anything it will open peoples eyes about YA and hopefully inquisitive minds will go and buy said books therefore booming the YA audience.

  5. My all-time favorite book, The Book Thief, is YA. I challenge anyone to present me with an adult who hasn’t learned something from a YA book. That’s like saying that the over-50 crowd already knows everything about what the under-20 crowd is up to. Really? When you stop learning, or assume you know everything, you die.

  6. I’d never considered reading YA until I ran across the magnificent prose of Anne Spollen. I did not know the Hunger Games were YA when I started. I did not read Twilight. I don’t think there’s a problem with adults reading YA…I think the problem lies wherein thirty-five year old women are swooning over a seventeen year old boy and are obsessed with the romance in the book….I find that more than unsettling. I know grown women who made complete fools of themselves over Twilight. Reading for entertainment is one thing but trying to make it reality is another. Of course, this is not at all what the author of the article was stating. He thinks one must expand the mind…and I admit I found the Hunger Game series expanding my mind as it was a different type of book than any I’d ever read. However, you can bet I will NOT be swooning over the romance part or obsessing about the characters etc…

    1. I know women like this, too. What’s sad is I also know their home lives are lacking severely in the ‘love and romance’ department. They cling to the dream because they want it so badly. It’s sad. Very, very sad.

  7. I love reading YA books. And I think they’ve become more accessible for adults over the years, since I feel like more good YA fiction is being written all the time. Basically – read what you like – who cares what anyone else thinks?

  8. I love that sign.

    And speaking as someone who reads lots of YA books herself, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with an adult reading them! Goodness.

  9. I completely agree. My favorite author is Dean Koontz. I first read one of his books when in middle school and between then and a couple years after college I often found myself going for that same book. It wasn’t until I was 25 that I began reading for recreation and I began collecting all of his novels.

    He’s not really Young Adult, but he has more of a cult following when it comes to adult authors (though I think the messages in his writing are universal to age).

    I digress, I’ve found myself enjoying some of the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson, which isn’t something a 31 year old is typically found reading by this author. I just happen to enjoy stories along the lines of a supernatural nature over crime drama thrillers.

  10. I completely agree. I LOVE YA books, and I have to tell you, some of the YA protags out there are sooo much better than some of the adult ones. The plot lines are very intriguing and it’s great to see our young leads figure their way out of the messes they find themselves in. I’ve met many people who don’t get the adult-YA fiction thing. I say too bad for them. My reading experiences are varied. I can’t say too much for theirs if they are cutting out this genre. I take my books like I take my music – mixed up and fun. Bah humbug on the scrooge who wrote that article. it seems to me he could stand to learn a few things.

  11. Great for You calling out Joel Stein on this anomaly of his. He must have had a bad burrito as he is usually both funny AND insightful, and this article was neither. It’s an adult thing and a child thing to do what pleases you. If it’s not harming anyone else, so much the better. I’m really fond of books about allegedly archaic subject like alchemy that have Latin and Greek footnotes, and just as fond of “Horton Hatches the Hoo.” Anyone who mocks Dr. Seuss, especially on the (go into monotone-put-you-to-sleep professor voice) clarity and value of the tenor of this literature (resume your normal voice rather than proceeding to zzzzzz’s) is simply plain missing the boat. Oh, there is the argument, more the impotent statement, about “where’s the depth and substance?” And, the depth and substance is to be prompted IN the reader. That’s the point of children’s stories, and stories in general, in my opinion . . . to elucidate imagination from deceptive simplicity . . . one of the best examples of presence going beyond the spoken/written words.

    Plus, he began with a statement about YA being the only thing more embarrassing than pornography to see someone else reading on a plane. W . . .T . . .H?!! Uh hem. Wouldn’t pornography be considered “Adult.” LOL I would give him credit for opening up with dry wit for this . . . except that the rest of the article in no way supports that tone. More, rings as the flat tenor of a pedant . . . my fave word for those who elect themselves to tell me what it is I should or should not do. Presumption is as stinky as unsolicited advice. Put together as in this article and BLAH. Now, I’ll go back to my regular programming mode, to my perspective . . . where . . . If I don’t like it, I’ll look away . . . and laughingly inserting . . . “Yeah, I’ll surely look away from that hoopy . . . after I blast ’em in the hull a couple of times for good measure. Don’t want ’em polluting my visual landscape. I don’t want to see that by accident again. Effs up my trust in the beauty of the serendipity factor.”

    D-Hall for Joel Stein after 5 to 10 swats with the woodshop-made paddle. Oh, and make him wear that orange vest like the guys along the highway for a while.

    “When you close yourself off to experiences then you won’t learn but if you try new things, you might not only learn something new but you might find you were completely wrong and discover that it is amazing.” AMEN to the serendipity factor. And, Aim at Joel Stein a corrective for this run. We’ve got a runner! Yank him back. Maybe he was distracted by Adult topics . . . like hand to gland combat. He should know better than to write under that influence. OOps. There I GO telling him what to do. No matter. Tennis is a great sport!

  12. A good story is a good story no matter how it manifests itself. Imagination and storytelling is the one place where age does not matter. Truth be told I love Green Eggs and Ham just as much as I love Jane Eyre. Stephanie Meyer and David Foster Wallace both inhabit my bookshelf and I love them both equally!

  13. As I read this, I found myself thinking along two trajectories: (1) Rock on, Vix! (2) I feel so sorry for all the people too busy being stuffy and self-righteous to enjoy the world around them.

  14. Double yawn! I love YA, I’ll scream it proudly from the rooftops if I must. I think many of the themes in The Hunger Games are mature and even adults could benefit from the messages.

  15. Why let age dictate what you read? I love reading YA novels and I hope to write one too. According to my age I am definitely no longer in my youth but who cares, as long as I can relate to and like what I read?

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