Okay, my friends. After a year and a half of blogging, it’s finally time for the all-important “Why I Read YA” blog post! I felt like this would be a good discussion to wrap up the year and it’s something that I really wanted to share with not only my fellow bloggers, but the entire YA community.
A couple months ago, Candice from The Grown Up YA tweeted a great article called “The Thirtysomething Teen: An Adult YA Addict Comes Clean“. The article itself was great and then things got heated in the comments… I don’t really want to go into the negative and all of the people who tore down YA. Honestly, no matter how much we advocate it and read it and support it, there will always be haters out there. What I really wanted to do is express why I read Young Adult novels and how the discovery of them has really changed my life in quite the positive way!
I also recently (finally) saw Catching Fire sooooo. What better way to spice up this post with visual aids than using Catching Fire gifs? (Oh, yes.)
WHY I READ YA
Because I want to
Honestly, what better reason is there? Since when do people deserved to be judged based on what they read? I like YA. Bam. Done.
Because YA makes me passionate
I struggled for a LONG TIME with finding books I connected with. A long time ago, I talked about how I nearly stopped reading (thankfully it was only for a while) after being forced to read books I didn’t enjoy or want to read in high school. Aside from Meg Cabot’s adult books (somehow I never read her YA) and cozy mysteries (and some… “regular” mysteries), I never really found an adult series that made me passionate about reading and about the characters. Honestly? Whenever I wanted to read something, I re-read Harry Potter. Over and over and over again until I finally started reading YA. Then I dove into the adventure and amazing worlds The Hunger Games, Delirium, Shadow and Bone, Cinder/Scarlet/Cress… I found love and heartbreak in Gayle Forman books. These were some of the first series that I picked up, read, and said “I MUST HAVE MORE NOW.”
I started a book review blog when I was ready cozy mysteries but once I found the YA community, I immediately knew I found the place for me. I dove in headfirst, made new friends, met authors, found a hobby. Reading, reviewing, and blogging became a lifestyle. It’s become a big part of my life and I’ve met some of my best friends through blogging. YA has provided me with a passion and a drive that I was missing for many, many years.
Because I relate to them
I’m almost 27 now. But I JUST got engaged. I JUST bought a house, and those are still really new experiences for me. I haven’t been married or had kids or been divorced. I still haven’t had a lot of “adult” experiences, so to speak. “New Adult” and college-aged books are still a relatively new thing right now. What I have been through? Childhood. Adolescence. A first kiss. A first crush. A first heartbreak. School, friends, family. These are the things I know and reading YA helps me connect to the characters because I knew how I felt when I went through the same things. I feel a sense of nostalgia for my own adolescence when reading.
Because I’ve learned a lot about myself from reading YA
One of the comments on the article that I did want to touch on was an opinion that people who read YA are childish or refuse to grow up — Even some of the commenters on the aforementioned article who did read YA said that most of it is “fluff” and isn’t “educational” at all. That really bothered me.
Firstly, regardless of whether you’re reading YA or adult or MG, isn’t reading an escape for most people? We read for fun. I’m not sitting around reading textbooks, so what does it matter if books aren’t education in the “traditional” sense? Couldn’t I make the same exact argument for things like chick lit and cozy mysteries? (Not like I would and I actually enjoy those quite a bit myself, but you understand the point I’m making here.) No one gets judged for reading those. Because they’re adult. Sure, some YA is on the lighter side but there’s nothing wrong with that at all. It’s ALL meant to read for fun! What about books like The Book Thief? Code Name Verity? A serious contemporary like Just One Day or Fangirl? Don’t all of those have a good, strong message regardless of age? People aren’t getting made fun of for enjoying Harry Potter and that’s even arguably middle grade/YA. (Although that’s SO popular that you’re probably judged if you’re NOT reading Harry Potter, amirite?)
But even more so than that, I learned so much about myself by reading YA. I got to relive my teenage years. I got see what went right, what went wrong, and in a way, it’s like re-writing my past. What I mean by that is, I don’t remember everything from my high school years vividly and by sort of “reliving” some of those moments in YA, I get to see different sides of things like Prom and dating and my friends. Sometimes it helps me put a positive spin on something I couldn’t see before. Other times, it helps me come to realizations why things went wrong in the dating world or why a falling out happened with a friend and I was too self-centered at the time to realize it. I get to see how immature I was — and I also get to see those other times that I have been mature beyond my years. I don’t get a second chance at my adolescence, that’s true (and nor would I actually want one), but YA has helped me look into my own past and get over issues that I didn’t even know I was holding onto for ten years or more.
Because you can do ANYTHING in YA
When I first fell in love with dystopians, it was after reading The Giver in 7th grade. I wasn’t a big reader (in my free time) yet so it wasn’t until I read The Hunger Games a couple years ago that I began seeking it out. I searched EVERYWHERE and you know the only place that had a wide selection? The young adult section. Young adult also had vampires and mermaids. Heartbreak and personal struggles. Fantasy worlds and magic. Rebuilding worlds and destroying them. Robots, zombies, virtual reality, fairy tale retellings, serial killers, dragons, demons, angels, mental illness, family issues, travels abroad — Literally anything and everything works in YA. Sure, we can find a ton of these themes and genres in adult books as well, but I feel like new and unique ideas are more likely to be found in YA. Why is this? Maybe the teenage mind is open to many more new ideas. Maybe it’s easier to weave some of those unique fantasy and paranormal story lines into a coming of age story versus an already established adult life. Or maybe because YA is awesome and this is where all the cool kids hang out. (Personal bias, of course.)
I could go on and on forever about why I’m so passionate about YA and I’m sure so many of us could! But I just want to wrap this post up with a THANK YOU. Thank you to the friends who have ranted and raved with me. To the bloggers who have commented and kept the fire for the hobby alive. For the Twitter chats. For the amazing authors who inspire me. For the fantastic publishers who are so kind as to work with me. THANK YOU ALL for making this such a rewarding experience for me!
I would love to hear your thoughts as well! Why did you start reading YA? What does YA mean to you? Has it changed your life like it’s changed mine?