Why It Doesn’t Matter

Okay, I know I promised that my next post would be a review, but now that I have the power of this keyboard at my fingertips, I really want to share my opinion on something that I think about a lot now. Recently, there was an article published (I am not going to link the source, or state the author’s name because I do not want to give it any more publicity) that said that adults who read YA – Young Adult, for those who don’t know the abbreviation – should be ashamed of themselves. Instead, adults should be reading classic literature, or literary fiction. I have a severe problem with this, as I fall into the category she is berating. I love YA and I have zero shame about it. I’ve talked to a bunch of my book nerd friends and a couple of authors about this, and I want to share my very strong opinions.

I am an adult. Not only am I an adult, I am an educated adult. In college (I graduate in December, yay!) I am an English major. I am also working on my minor in Secondary Education to hopefully become a high school English teacher. I am well read, I have read classic literature, I have read literary fiction – high brow fiction, if you will – and my honest opinion is that it is boring. When it comes to YA, anything can happen. I went to a book signing two weeks ago with a wonderful author named Sophie Jordan. She writes both YA and Adult Contemporary novels. See? Right there. I have to clearly define what kind of adult genre she writes, while with YA, she could write about absolutely anything, and it can just be called “YA.” I asked her what genre is more fun for her to write and her general opinion on this heinous article. She told me that YA is more fun because it can be anything. The world building is more fun, the story itself is less rigid, and the fans are rabid. I know more adults, my age and older, who enjoy YA than I know teenagers. I have been a substitute teacher for four years, and some of these kids are reading Kafka while I’m at my desk reading a YA novel. Admittedly, sometimes, it does make me feel a bit immature. I am a 26 year old woman. However, I read YA because I LOVE YA. I will shout it from the rooftops and wear that badge with pride. Some of my friends try to shame me and tell me the books I read are “trash” because they aren’t classified as something an adult can read. And to them I say, so? YA gives me character development and extremely detailed world building and the ability to immerse myself in a book so completely that sometimes I forget where I am when I’m reading. I have yet to encounter an “adult” novel that can do that to me.

So why the rant? When people find out that I am a high school (student) teacher/substitute, they assume I read the genre because I want to connect with my kids. Honestly, yes that is a part of it. But, I also just really love it, if you couldn’t tell. I am hugely into a branch of educational psychology that supports something called bibliotherapy. For those who don’t know, bibliotherapy is kind of a sneaky way for a teacher to help a kid going through something emotional ranging from earth shattering to a blip on the radar. The idea is that, instead of trying to get the student to talk (which they probably don’t want to do anyway) you give them a book with a story or character that mirrors their situation. That way, when they’re reading, they can find connections and feel not so alone. Being a teenager is rough. I had this done to me as a child, and I didn’t realize it until I learned about bibliotherapy. I was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at the age of 9. Around this time, a teacher recommended I start reading The Babysitter’s Club books by the legend Ann M. Martin (who I met this weekend, by the way. She is so cool!!). There is a diabetic character named Stacey. She helped me make connections and feel like I wasn’t so alone in the world. At the time, I had zero diabetic friends. It was so great to see that other people have this disease, too, and know exactly what I was going through.

I went on a couple of tangents there and I am so so sorry. The big point: read what you LOVE. Some people like historical fiction, some like non-fiction, some like romance. I like none of those genres, but am I going to berate people for reading what keeps them reading? NO. No matter what you read, as long as you’re reading, you’re becoming smarter. You’re expanding your vocabulary. Read whatever floats your boat because if someone is hating on what you’re reading, the genre is obviously doing something right.

P.S. I’m sorry I lied to you guys about the post. I will try to NEVER do that again, you lovely followers.