Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Guest Post: Maree discusses, "Why I Read YA"

 by Maree from Maree's Musings


Why I read YA

This isn’t, to me, a difficult question to answer. The answer is the same on the question of why I read at all. I read books for fun. Reading is something I genuinely enjoy, hence why I started a book blog. I assume this is the same reason most other people read and also why so many of us have a ‘did not finish’ pile alongside our ‘to-be-read’ pile. After all, why force yourself to read a book you’re not enjoying when there are so many fabulous books out there waiting for you to open them?

I’ve always been the sort of person who will give almost any book a try, however, I’ve had a soft spot for contemporaries since I opened my first Jacqueline Wilson novel when I was ten. During school I would often just look for any book which sounded interesting and hardly ever bought books because I was never completely certain I’d enjoy them. Hey, do you blame me? Books are expensive in Australia! It was not until I started my own blog that my reading tastes really started to expand and I discovered the wonderful world of young adult literature. I know, I’m a little late to the party. Now I will happily buy TONS of books based solely on the reviews of bloggers I trust and almost every book I’ve read this year has been in response to those reviews.

Previously my opinions of YA were based almost solely on Twilight and Vampire Academy. Now I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing, but it did lead me to form some rather unjustified stereotypes about YA literature. And these are the stereotypes I’ve faced during my first year in uni when I tell people I love to read YA.

One of the most offensive things anyone has ever said to me was “you can’t read that, that’s a children’s book”. Their derisive tone made the statement even worse, as did the fact they had also admitted to me they never read anything for fun. Unfortunately, at the time, I actually did feel ashamed. And now I feel ashamed that anyone ever made me feel ashamed about the books I enjoy reading. It’s a vicious cycle *sigh*.

I think one of the most common misconceptions among teenagers who love to read is that there is a limit to how long you can read books for ‘young adults’. There is in fact no such thing. If you’re at university, there is no need to be pressured into reading ‘adult’ books. Unless of course you are, like me, taking a literature subject. I’m sorry, but it’s kinda important you read high brow books then. It’s ok, I don’t totally understand them either.

However, I think some of the most harmful misconceptions are those held by adult readers who view YA as nothing more than simple books for teenagers. Alright, I’ll admit, sometimes we like nothing more than to escape into a nice fluffy book, but not all YA is light and fluffy. Some of it is dark and probing, poignant and heartfelt, and, above all else, real. The emotions surrounding the issues the protagonists deal with are amplified in a way, when viewed through the lens of adolescence. This makes YA literature powerful, not only for teenagers, but for adults who are able to reflect on these issues with the added life experience which teens lack. These books are by no means ‘dumbed down’ or ‘simplistic’ in fact, most times they are quite the opposite; thought-provoking and, sometimes, life changing. Laura from Clear Eyes, Full Shelves summed it up perfectly:

I know I’m preaching to the converted, but I also want to say thank you to all the YA book bloggers who helped me discover the amazing world that is literature for young adults, not children. So, to conclude, I’d like to leave a list of all the lovely bloggers who have given me wonderful recommendations this year and who are just awesome in general (obviously Brodie is on this list, but you guys already know she’s fantastic, don’t you?)

Reynje @ Wordchasing
Maggie & Noelle @ Young Adults Anonymous
Mandee @ Vegan YA Nerds
Catie, Flannery & Tatiana @ The Readventurer
Wendy & K. @ The Midnight Garden

You can find Maree on: Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook
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Thank you so much for sharing your brilliantly wise thoughts, Maree! <3 Oh, how TRUE those thoughts are! How many of us have had that one (okay, potentially more) person in our lives who looks down on us for reading a children's book? If only more would recognise, as Maree said, that: "Some of it is dark and probing, poignant and heartfelt, and, above all else, real."

Also: I apologise to those others waiting on their guest post to go up, it's obvious that I've been terrible with blogging lately! I'm so very nearly done with assignments, so I've had time to FINISH A BOOK *cheers* which means a review next week and getting drafts posted. The other guest posts will be up very soon :)

26 comments:

  1. Great post! I've definitely come against some YA prejudice now and then - so it's great to see that it's getting a wider readership now. There are so many brilliant books to be read, regardless of the label they're marketed under.

    And thanks for the shout-out, Maree :)

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    1. Thank you! I am only sorry I didn't start reading it sooner! I have so many gorgeous books to catch up on. You're right though, in the end it's just a label :)

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  2. Lovely post Maree! I've definitely noticed more interest in YA fiction in readers who would never have considered picking up these titles a year or two ago. Spread the word!

    and thanks for the mention :)

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    1. Thanks Anna! I love converting people to YA now haha, I even got my mum reading a couple (which she loved). We should start some kind of secret society where we convince people to read YA....

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  3. Exactly. I read because I love it. I think books are fun and they hold so much wisdom, even when it's just "YA". I always try different genres and I keep switching between things I like, because I read almost everything. I never lie about what I read, but I hate that people have there judgment ready. Why am I supposed to read Adult books, because I am an adult?

    I'm actually pretty new to YA, because I started reading it last year, but I'm totally hooked. These books aren't just fluffy things. They have beautiful stories and well, I just don't care what other people think :) As long as I enjoy what I read, it's fine by me.

    But, wonderful post <3

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    1. Thank you Mel! I'm pretty new to YA too and sometimes feel a little overwhelmed by the amount of wonderful books I need to catch up on. I don't think I've ever tried as many genres as I have while reading YA -they're all so easily understandable and accessible, but have such great messages.

      Why should we read adult books if we don't find them fun? I think reading is all about the fun! :)

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  4. Nothing frustrates me more than the assumption that YA literature is easier or simpler than adult books. I am almost hesitant to tell others (mostly non-readers) that I run a young adult book blog because of that. Just yesterday I was asked with the most condescending tone if I actually enjoyed reading kid's books.

    Honestly, some people will never understand. ;) Anyway, this is a brilliant guest post! Thanks for sharing, Brodie and Maree!

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    1. YES! It is the most mis-informed assumption. Drives me mental. I always feel awkward telling my uni lecturers that I read YA because I feel like there's an expectation that I should be reading something 'intelligent', but intelligence is subjective and I've honestly learnt so much from YA in the past year.

      I wish, I really wish, I'd replied to the person who said that to me because it's wrong to make people feel bad because of something they enjoy, whether that be their taste in music (which he also teased me about), their taste in movies or their taste in books. What matters is that YOU enjoy them!

      You're right though, somethings just never get through to certain people. Thank you so much :)

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  5. This is such a fantastic post! Thanks so much, Maree! This is so true: "The emotions surrounding the issues the protagonists deal with are amplified in a way, when viewed through the lens of adolescence."

    That is exactly why I read YA! Everything is so much more intense in YA novels, because of everything teens are going through. I may be an adult myself, but I still have so much to experience, that I feel much the same now about things as I did as a teen, and so relate to the intensity in YA more than I do to actual adult novels. In my opinion, for example, a YA romance is so much sweeter than adult romances.

    Thanks for a brilliant post both Maree and Brodie!

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    1. Thank you so much Jo!

      That is definitely true YA is younger, fresher and punchier than adult novels. And you never stop experiencing these things, so why should you stop reading them?

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  6. Brilliant post Maree! I've definitely suffered many a raised eyebrow at my reading choices and it used to (sometimes still does) make me feel little and foolish. But most of the time I tell people to shove it and happily lurk in the YA section of the library/store 'cause whatever I'm reading is a bajillion times better than whatever they're reading and probably features Jonah Griggs.
    Thanks for the mention chicka! Proud to be on your list x

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    1. Thanks Trin! That's my attitude too now, who cares what they think? If they can't face reading the awesomeness that is YA, that's their loss, not mine :)

      Aww Trin, I'm proud to be part of this wonderful blogging community x

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  7. Wonderful post, Maree! YA is so much more than so many people think and those who dismiss it are missing out!

    Thanks for the mention, <3 you!

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    1. Thank you! 'Genre snobs' as you once said, are missing out on so much and they won't even acknowledge it. It is certainly a big loss for them.

      Also, you're one of my gurus of YA and I know if you like it I probably will too! Thanks so much for introducing me to some of my favourite reads of the year! <3 you! :D

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  8. Fantastic post, my dear. Pretty much everything I want to say has already been said. :)

    YA FOREVER AND EVER.

    (cheers for the mention sweet!)

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    1. Thank you Jo!

      I think that's what we should sign off every YA review with ;) and anytime, I've found some wonderful reads through your reviews.

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  9. Fantastic post! I feel the exact same way, before book blogging I was so... closed off about the world of YA literature. And I'm always coming across people that "raise an eyebrow" about my reading choice... even though I'm still in high school so I think it's a pretty interesting topic.

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    1. It's funny that you say that people still judge you even though you should be reading books in that age range, because that's exactly the sort of thing I got at school too. I really enjoyed english and history at school and it was almost as if you had to read classics and stuff just because you enjoyed those subjects. I never did because I honestly cannot read a book unless I enjoy it (with the only exception being if I'm being marked on it). I plan to catch up on classics, but with a healthy dose of YA in between ;)

      Also, BOOK BLOGGING FTW!

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  10. I love this post! I really think it convinces people to pick up YA and completely justifies the claims that YA is more than JUST for Teens - it's a much broader subject that really is for EVERYONE. Fabulous guest post, Maree! :)

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    1. Thanks so much Keertana, I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

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  11. OMGG seriously, this post is FANTASTIC. I always get so frustrated when people assume YA books are "for children". I have a friend who's always lecturing me on the types of books I enjoy- she's always like "but (they're) -meaning YA books- are for children! You should be reading "adult" books etc." URGHHHHH if she wasn't a friend, I would punch her immediately. (nahh I won't but SERIOUSLY. IT'S SO FRUSTRATING.)
    LOVEEEE this post Maree!<3

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    1. Thanks Shirley! Perhaps you could just suggest to your friend, in a very polite way of course, that you're happy with what you read and if she has a problem with that, well...it's her problem, not yours.

      It is one of my pet peeves!

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  12. As Emilio Estevez said in D2: The Mighty Ducks, MORE FUN! MORE FUN!

    Reading YA is FUN, but it's also poignant, heartbreaking, deep, shallow, fluffy and everything that, you know, people are. The only reason we have to justify reading it is because the demographic is mainly female, and I'm OVA it. If people don't want to read a genre that's popular and profitable, their loss.

    Thanks for the shoutout, Maree! :)

    -Maggie, non-apologetic YA reader and lover

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    1. Yes, reading YA is fun, but also a very meaningful experience. You're so right - people are like that and that's what makes YA powerful. I think they tend to be a lot more true to the character's feelings and the situations than adult books which try to push agendas or are, well, just boring to be honest.

      Also, I love that you included that you're a non-apologetic YA reader and lover. That needs to be made into a bumper sticker or something....

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  13. This was such a wonderful post - I always felt (Sometimes still do) ashamed that I was getting older and *cough* more mature *cough* and still reading YA books. But every time I think about it, I just go "Well, what's the point of reading adult books when YA books give me so much pleasure". I'm not going to give that up for anyone, and people are always going to judge.

    Maree, this post was truly inspirational! You have a new blog follower in me :) <3

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    1. Exactly! People will always find something to judge, so why not just enjoy yourself :)

      Thank you Claire! I'm glad you enjoyed it and I look forward to seeing you around the blogosphere <3

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