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:
Jo @ Wear the Old Coat
Reynje @ Wordchasing
Maggie & Noelle @ Young Adults Anonymous
Mandee @ Vegan YA Nerds
Trinity @ Trin In The Wind
Catie, Flannery & Tatiana @ The Readventurer
Wendy & K. @ The Midnight Garden
Anna @ Anna Scott Jots
Belle @ Belle’s Bookshelf
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 :)