Thursday, 27 September 2012

Can Adults Read Young Adult?

I was in the library today with my mother. We had an hour to kill before an appointment, so we were sitting in the Young Adult section: I was reading Adorkable, and my mum was flicking through some magazines. Then, a middle-aged woman, around my mother's age, walked into the section, and began browsing through the books.

As soon as the woman left, with a stack of YA books in tow, my mother started her rant:

"What is a woman her age doing reading books for teenagers? Has she no shame? Is she so dumb that she needs to read children's books?"
etc. etc. etc.

There's always a stigma towards books that aren't classics and/or literary. Genre books always get a lot of flack. But Young Adult seems to be getting the worst of it. People seem to think that because YA is aimed mainly at teens, that only teens should be able to read it. And, sometimes they go a step further, assuming that because it's aimed towards teens, it's somehow not as intellectual or as deep as adult novels. Basically, there's a lot of ageism going on.

It makes me wonder how people view me. I'm twenty years old. I haven't been in high school for three years. I'm definitely not a teen anymore, and I'm slowly ceasing to become a young adult. And, most importantly, I read practically nothing but young adult. I write only young adult.

Sure, there may be lots of YA books that are vapid and shallow, that are pale imitations of Twilight. But isn't that the same for books for adults? I don't mean to sound like a genre snob here, but a lot of smutty erotica novels are hardly deep (hurr hurr....). I've read a few books that are classed as literary (what is literature, anyway? But that's fodder for another post), that feel shallow, with stupid characters that are nothing more than Edward and Bella as adults.

But on the other hand, I've read some really deep YA, such as The Book Thief, Twenty Boy Summer, or Looking for Alaska, and they all deal with important topics. They are hardly vapid, and there's potential to teach a lot of people. Ditto with adult novels, whether they be literary or genre fiction.

I appologise for this ranty post. I realise it's not really going anywhere. I'm just trying to sort my thoughts into some semblance of sense, and I know it's not really working. Regardless of how much I'm failing at understanding this phenomena, I'd like to know what you guys think. Do you think that adults should be able to read books for teens, and vice versa? Is there something dumb about an adult reading below their age level? Why do you think this is?


  1. This post. THIS. Just ALL of it. I read YA and have gotten slack from my parents for soooo many years. "You're 23 and all you read is YA! read some adult books" Ummm yea....I DO read adult too (love the classics, Gone Girl, etc) But for me YA is an escape. Easy reading, faster pace, etc. I don't think there is something dumb about an adult reading below their age level, etc. I have a friend who is dyslexic and she never read a book before always listened to audio books but then in Uni she picked up Twilight series and READ the books. READ THEM. That was such an amazing moment for was this girl who struggled with reading and just couldn't sit still yet she found a book series that allowed her to do so....finally!!! Reading no matter what is important, Jess. :)

    1. Oh, that story about your friend is really heart-warming. Reading touches everyone. Thanks for sharing that, Rachel. It's nice to know that others agree! :)

  2. I've never gotten flack for reading what I do which is interesting considering I was an English Lit major and they tend to read such high brow stuff usually. But now that I'm doing Children's Lit, it's even more amazing because professors with PhDs read YA and other Children's lit. It kinda blows my mind. In a good way. :D