Friday, 10 December 2010

Blogoversary: Discussion - Why Do We Read YA?

Todays favourite thing about blogging:

One of my favourite things about blogging is interacting with readers on the blog, it's so awesome when I want to talk about something so I write up a discussion post and well... people actually discuss it with me. I love reading other peoples opinions like that.

So, in keeping with the theme, here, have a discussion post (and I'll love you forever if you tell us what you think in the comments):

Why YA?

[Note, black writing = Julie, Blue writing = Lanna]

Maybe this seems like a silly question, but why? I may be a teenager and Lanna be very child-ish (it's why I love her) but it doesn't meant we have to read Young Adult books, does it?

I got back into reading when I was 12, the summer before I turned 13. Obviously, I shouldn't have been reading a lot of adult books at that point. But now I'm 16. I don't have to read young adult books.

I do read some, I won't lie. I've read a lot of Meg Cabot's books and Mitch Albom's a beautiful writer and I love my Jane Austen. But it's almost like I can't read adult fiction anymore. The few times I've tried since I began blogging seriously failed. I couldn't get into the book. It'd take me ages just to get a few pages in and I never finished the book.

There are 50 books on my Favorites Shelf. Two are adult books. But why do I love young adult books so much?

I've thought that maybe it's because I just relate better to the characters, but that's not it. I've always been more mature for my age and when I was 13, my mom said I was a 30 year old trapped in a 13-year-old's body. At family party's I'm always with the adults and I don't really relate well to others my age who can go out every night. I'm too damn tired.

I think it's more of the stories themselves. I'm 16 and never been kissed. I've never been totally wrapped up in emotion for a guy and never been asked out. I've been bullied, picked on, ignored in school. There are times where I feel excluded from my own best friends. (I'm totally not looking for sympathy here, though. I'm totally happy with the wonderful bloggers I talk to every day.) So when I read these books full of romance and magic and people who fit in or at least has a friend who gets them, I think "This is what I should have. This is what normal teenagers get."

And a love story like some of these characters get? Yeah, I want that kind of love. (I mean, there are some books where I'm perfectly happy not to be in that situation, like Hex Hall. But you get what I mean). I get the same feeling when I read "Love Gives Me Hope" stories. I want that happy ending.

Are these things in adult fiction, too? Yeah. But the adult's are different. The way they love, the friendships they have. That's not like what I have now. They don't have stories set in a world I understand or a world I want to be in.

And that's why I read YA.


I'll try to keep my answer for this short and my answer is actually a little different from Julie's - maybe because I'm older, who knows? (Although, as far as maturity levels go, Julie seems like the adult and I'm like a little kid who talks too much and gets worked up about the dumbest of things.)

Julie did mention a part of the reason I prefer YA books: adult books show things like love differently. When you fall in love as a teenager, it's different, you're feeling a lot of things for the first time and there's usually less bitterness or hesitation and it's easier to throw yourself right into love without caution... when you're older, you're faced with the reality that even though it feels like you'll love someone forever, chances are one or both of you will end up with a broken heart. It doesn't make the love less real, just more innocent in a lot of ways and I like reading about that kind of love.

Being a teenager is one of the best ages to read about, the changes you go through when you're a teenager; first loves, first heartbreaks, so many firsts and a lot of first mistakes, as well as growing up a lot and figuring out what the hell it is you want to do with your life and who you are as a person... that stuff, it's fun to read about and amazing to experience. You're stuck in this in between place where you're not a kid anymore but you're not an adult yet and you're having to figure things out.

Even sticking teenage characters in an unrealistic setting where vampires or werewolves or whatever exists doesn't kill those things.

Then there's the fact that reading is an escape in a lot of ways... I want to lose myself in a whole other world but most of the adult books I've read fall into two catagories:

1. Books that focus on realistic things/problems; marriage, divorce, pregnancy... that kind of thing. And to be honest, I'm not even remotely interested in reading about that stuff at this point in my life (I even have a slight aversion to it in YA - I don't really read books about teen pregnancy often or books that revolve around family issues) because reading about that isn't much of an escape to me, it's too much... well, reality. And it's often really boring.

2. Fantasy/supernatural/crime/thriller type books... that are filled with sex. Now, don't get me wrong, it can be amusing to read books like that from time to time but I can count on one hand the number of adult books I've read that can get the balance between plot/sex/characters right. Two of my favourite adult books aren't really an exception to that. With YA books, you often get the romance but it's not over the top, or in the cases where there is a lot of it - it focusses on the feelings and the relationship, not just the physical side of things. Again, YA has this innocence to it that adult books are often extremely lacking.

Now, I guess in my case it's probably just that I haven't read the right adult books (recommend some if you know any good ones), but I haven't really felt the need to either because while 90% of the adult books I have read have just bored me or been mediocre/forgettable, the YA books I've read totally bring the awesome so why would I stop reading what works for me?

To be honest, I think a lot of adults would read more if they were open to reading YA (my male best friend said this to me earlier: "You did succeed in lifting my blanket distrust of YA fiction with Perks of Being a Wallflower." - he was completely against it before, so I sent him a few that I love and he loved PoBaW).

And so much for me keeping my answer short, sorry. But anyway, if you read this: Why do YOU read YA? Do you have an adult book recs or anything to say in defence about adult books? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject.



  1. LOL, Lanna, that's why I read, and write, YA paranormal romance. I prefer the romantic tension and that elusive first kiss that YA offers that's so much more fun than the characters getting down and dirty, so to speak, in adult paranormal books.

    Great post, ladies!

  2. Ok, so I have to agree with Lanna, as I am also an adult who reads YA. I used to read nothing but adult fiction until just this year when I discovered YA and that adults could read it too. : )

    I like reading YA better because for me the stories are not filled with sex or it is barely touched upon in most books. The story focuses on what it should: the STORY. I hate that every adult book has to have some sort of sex scene in it.

    Also, the YA books are more interesting to me. Although I do love the realistic books more, they give me a peek into a something I may not have been completely aware of.

    Also, since I have two teenagers it helps me see inside their heads in a way too.

  3. I read YA books to live through the characters.
    Though I can't be labeled a quiet girl, I'm not exactly very social outside school, so I enjoy reading about people who are and have fun with friends (I don't have many, I go to a catholic private school and most of the other students are little stupid brats or over religious)!
    Also, I read books to escape real life: when I'm deeply interested in a book, I forget about my problems and just concentrate in the plot. I reach my nirvana while reading (or while flying in a plane but reading books is more affordable).
    Lanna, I read some adult books that I loved but my favorite one is:
    • Blood Sisters by Barbara and Stephanie Keating - it's about the coming of age of 3 girls in the sixties (it's considered an adult book but as some YA related content, and the character are about 21, so you may relate to them in some level).
    Julie I don't believe that there's something as a normal teen, we're all very unusual in many different ways.



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