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Friday, June 6, 2014

Adults SHOULD read whatever they want

I've read an article that upset me. Adults Should Read Adult Books. I decided that today I'm going rant about how wrong this article is (in my opinion, of course) since I'm pretty heated up. Here's the bullet points from that article and another in why they think adults shouldn't read YA and why they should stick to adult books.
  • The only thing more embarrassing than catching a guy on the plane looking at pornography on his computer is seeing a guy on the plane reading “The Hunger Games.” Or a Twilight book. Or Harry Potter. (Article One)
  • The only time I’m O.K. with an adult holding a children’s book is if he’s moving his mouth as he reads. (Article One)
  • Because it’s embarrassing. (Article One)
  • You can’t take an adult seriously when he’s debating you over why Twilight vampires are O.K. with sunlight. (Article One)
  • Not because it is bad—it isn’t—but because it was written for teenagers. (Article Two)
  • Even the myriad defenders of YA fiction admit that the enjoyment of reading this stuff has to do with escapism, instant gratification, and nostalgia. (Article Two)
  • At its heart, YA aims to be pleasurable. (Article Two)
  • Most importantly, these books consistently indulge in the kind of endings that teenagers want to see, but which adult readers ought to reject as far too simple. (Article Two)
  • But the YA and “new adult” boom may mean fewer teens aspire to grown-up reading, because the grown-ups they know are reading their books. (Article Two)
Are you still with me? Did you skip over all those worthless examples of why adults shouldn't read YA? Good. Now here's my point of view...

How in the hell is it embarrassing if I'm reading YA on a plane? I'm twenty-three and I would feel no sorts of embarrassment by reading a novel like The Hunger Games in public. I'd have no problem reading anything in public, and maybe that's just because I don't care--but neither should you.

I don't think it's anyone's job to judge what books we read. Whether you're sixteen, twenty, forty or older, read what makes you happy and what interest you. These genres aren't concrete. Saying something is young adult is only labeling the appropriate age. It doesn't mean only fourteen to eighteen year olds can read YA. It just gives you the bottom of the scale.

I feel like people go through phases. Or at least, I know I do. Right now I'm really into traditionally science fiction and dystopians. But I'm into older fiction. Last month I went on a new adult kicker and read at least fifteen NA books. This month I'm into romance. Adult, NA, and YA have all been in my TBR lists this month. I don't discriminate. I don't pick books by their age. I pick them by the content inside and that should be the only thing that matters.

I think both authors of the two articles I've sited have generalized Ya and Adult to such an extreme extent, their words are almost condescending. They say that the stories in YA are far too simple and their endings aren't realistic. Well, I can name a handful of adult books where I rolled my eyes at the ending or thought it was cheesy. You also have a new genre, NA, which features tons of Dark Romances that don't have happy ever afters. Again, generalizing at its finest.

Escapism. Isn't that why we read in the first place. Of course, not including non-fiction. You read to enter the world of someone else, to learn about them and grow with them. We enjoy reading about people we relate to or at the very least understand. I think the easiest people to relate to are teens, you can't find a more naive, vulnerable, stripped down group of people out there. They're young, searching for answers and growing up. We've all been there, at that age, and felt what they do. So why not dive into their world and relive it?

My last point is about the last bullet up there. I disagree completely, yet also agree to an extent. I think that children and teens who grow up reading will continue to read YA or NA into their adulthood. I think as they grow, their reading habits will too. Maybe they'll grab some adult novels or maybe not. Maybe they'll fall in love with non-fiction. As long as the youth is reading, I don't see the problem. 

Children grow at different rates. Every single education class has taught me that establishing reading habits at a young age helps a child continue that into their adulthood. My perspective is that as long as teens grow up reading instead of watching TV or playing video games, we're doing a pretty damn good job. Who cares whether it's Na romance or YA fantasy. Each book means something to someone else. Each book can impact someone in a different way just because of someone's current state of mine.

Twilight had a huge impact on me. I read it for the first time when I was a junior in high school. I wasn't an avid reader in high school. I actually hated English class, hated reading the books they assigned in there, and barely read at home. Until Twilight. It opened me up to a world of novels I never knew about. I didn't know someone my age could read a romance about a character my age. I didn't know fantasy stories existed other than the movies. Now looking back, Twilight isn't one of my favorite books, not even close, but at that point of my life, it changed me and made me the reader I am today.

Read. Read. Read.

Don't stop reading YA because some elite NY Times author feels embarrassed for you. If a book interests you, pick it up and read it. Better yet, go to your library and read it for free. Don't be ashamed of your book choices. Be proud to be a reader and screw whoever says otherwise. YA books rock! (I should know, I write them) 
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Article One
Article Two

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