ON YA FICTION

This weeks question: Why do you think that the Young Adult genre is so popular with even the adult readers? Do you read YA books, yourself?
It is much easier to answer the second question first: I read young adult novels.

I was only 12 or 13 when I started reading books not written for kids and teens. I read a metric ton of books in my teens without regard for anything but interest, one book leading to another as I read through everything I could get my hands on by certain authors.

I did read YA authors like Lois Duncan, Paula Danzig and plenty of others I couldn’t name if you paid me. I read the Chronicles of Narnia. I read Matilda though I was not interested other Dalh. My introduction to Robert Silverberg was a little kid chapter book called Lost Race Of Mars. Boy, was I surprised when I checked To Live Again out of the library at the tender age of twelve. My all-time favorite author, Madeleine L’Engle, is best known for her young adult fiction generally and A Wrinkle in Time specifically. I first read Wrinkle when I was ten, but a few years later I was special ordering memoirs and fiction from the bookstore. Besides classics, science fiction, and classic science fiction, L’Engle was my start into the world of adult novels.

The reason I mention my personal history in transitioning from YA to “regular” books at an early age is that the process has colored my viewpoint. At first, I felt grown up reading and understanding books above my age level. Over time, however, I saw the quality of a book wasn’t related to the age of the intended reader. With this knowledge, I didn’t feel like I shouldn’t read YA though I confess some of the campier fare did begin to bore me.

As an adult, I have no problem reading YA without a lick of shame. Heck, hand me Dr. Suess or Shel Silverstein and I’m happy as a clam. Good writing and storytelling are the same no matter who the intended audience. It’s true with movies and television, too.

It is weird to me to think of YA as a genre, let alone in relation to adults reading it. Everyone has their own reasons. For some, it may simply be reading comprehension level. I don’t mean that as a slam. Reading is the best way to increase reading skills and I’m always pro-reading whatever it is a person likes to read. I enjoy “light” adult books not much more difficult.

A couple of my personal reasons for reading YA could be factors for others.

It appears the most popular YA among adults is of the fantastical sort. Be it Harry Potter or Twilight, adults are reading it. Less popular, but way awesome are the Artemis Fowl books which mix myth and magic with high tech gadgets. It could be argued there’s plenty of this type of fiction written for adults, but I do find the YA fantasy and science fiction authors are more likely to be mainstream.

Another sub-genre of YA I’m especially fond of is “coming of age” tales. From classics like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, I love reading about a young person on the precipitous of maturity. Something about that point in life is so compelling. It was when I was at the age of the characters and it is looking back at them through the lens of adulthood. I don’t know anyone who had such a rosy adolescence they can’t relate. And relating to the characters is one of the biggest reasons I read anything.

I’m interested to see other reader’s answers to the why part of the musing.

Author: Tina Louise

Nerd. Geek. Dork.

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