Why I Read YA

I’ve been asked before (very politely) why I, a monkey in my twenties, would read something clearly not aimed at my demographic aka YA. This is especially relevant after I read several naff YA books in a row. So today I’m gonna give a few of my main reasons why I keep going back to YA (with examples- yay!)

six of crowsBecause when it’s good, it’s damn good. Even after all this time, YA can still get my heart pumping. I let my emotions lead my choice of books, so if a book genre can still make me feel excited, then I’ll keep going back to it. Books like Six of Crows more than keep me sated- but you’ll hear all about it in my upcoming review. For now, I’ll just say books like that show how YA is always doing new and innovative things, which leads me onto…

northern lightsThey’re often extremely imaginative. The main reason why I keep going back to books aimed at a younger audience is that there’s a lot of fearlessness in the way YA authors write. There really is a sense in YA that you can write about *anything*. Being a fantasy lover, it makes logical sense that I’ll seek new worlds wherever I can find them. And since some of the boldest, most adventurous work always seems to be aimed at people under 18, that’s where I’m naturally drawn. Of course, for all this explosive talent, the genre is not without its faults. Still…

talonI am a genre whore, so I’ll read anything. Sure, all genres have “genre specific” problems- but if I was going to hold a flaw against an entire group of books, I’d have a lot of trouble finding anything to read. Though I can admit that tropey laden books like Talon exist, I strongly hold by the fact that *every single* bookish problem can be done well somewhere (who hasn’t thought about a book “wow this is a walking cliché but it’s done so well that I love it and don’t care”?). Plus, no matter how much I complain about YA, there’s always those books that somehow manage to avoid tropes and clichés altogether- I’m always on the lookout for those. But while we’re on the subject of genre…

wideacreAdult books can be a bit tiring/draining/bleak. I still remember the first time I thought “I think I can venture into the adult section now” (contemporary not classics). But when I picked a selection and read them, I came away so dejected, thinking “is this all adults think about?” All the books had been about jaded characters, stuffed with seedy subject matter and full of depressing topics (oh just wait for my review of Wideacre and you’ll see what I mean!!). Now I’ve found more books in that genre I like, but I still think there’s something to be said about returning to the innocence of a good YA novel.

peter pan and wendyA little Peter Pan syndrome doesn’t hurt. Yes, it might be a little obvious from this post and my frequent references to Peter Pan that I was one of those children who never wanted to grow up. Not only did I spend hours as a child jumping off my bed trying to learn to fly, but the adults in my life always taught me you’re only as young as you feel (my grandpa, for instance, went to Disneyworld for the first time at 75 and loved it so much he went back the next year). We all have to grow up- but that doesn’t mean we have to be old. Inside at least, we can still be young. (And no this doesn’t mean I have a Dorian Gray style picture stashed away somewhere 😉 )

Hobbit_coverAnd finally, they’re educational. You never stop learning! Just because I’m older doesn’t mean I’ve incorporated all the lessons of youth. Every time I read a YA novel, I’m learning something new and in a funny way actually growing up. And isn’t that a fundamental point of YA- staying young while growing as a person?

So there’s my list of reasons for reading YA! Do you read YA too? Why? Why not? Let me know in the comments!

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85 thoughts on “Why I Read YA

  1. Kat Impossible says:

    That was a great post! I, too, read more YA than adult fiction. Every now and then I accidentally read something meant for adults or where the lines aren’t as clearly drawn, but I rarely find myself seeking out those books. I don’t know if I am just looking at all the wrong books in the adult section, but I find YA to be the most progressive and inclusive demographic. That is another reason why I enjoy them so much.

    Liked by 2 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Thank you so much!! I’m glad I’m not alone 😉 hehehe my goodness I had the same thought when I first started looking at YA books- like maybe I’d just wandered into the wrong section 😉 Now I carefully vet the adult books I read and some terrible ones still slip through the net. Yes for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Zoe says:

    I read it, I’m 30 next year, and I damn well love it!!! Sometimes an excellent YA book can be a million times better than something that is directed towards “adults”. Some of the characters in YA can act a whole lot more adult than those in the adult books!!! I won’t deny that I read it, I’ve even got my 30 odd year old sister reading it! And as you said, everyone has a little Peter Pan in them. Fantastic post!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. crafty scribbles1976 says:

    I read YA along with adult fiction. Wait until you’re in your forties to contemplate why you read YA. lol It’s good to read some lighter fare, but there are great YA stories offering deep and complex issues. Next year, though, I will lessen how much YA I read as I’m finding more mediocre stories than good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      heheheh thanks!!! 😀 Yes definitely!!! Totally agree!! Sometimes I think they even tackle issues a lot of adult books steer clear of- they tend to be a lot braver sometimes. That’s understandable- I obviously read less of it now than I used to, but I’ll always be a mood reader, so I’ll just have to see what I fancy in the future 😀

      Like

  4. Naty says:

    Great post! Too many people being nosy and judgemental even with best intentions. YA is the most diverse ever, the only genre where LGBT characters can find a happy ending and black characters are portrayed casually. Adult literature is bound to be cynical and, as much as I love it, YA is where I go for hope & diversity.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek says:

    Oh no! The abject travesty and wrongness of it! Someone in their 20’s reading Y-A!😂😂😂

    Great post.👌

    I don’t read Y-A, though I’m in my 30’s so imagine the backlash I’d get if I did!😂 I’m a fantasy fan and prefer my fantasy darker, grittier, bloodier and more violent than what Y-A fantasy has to offer so I don’t read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. alilovesbooks says:

    I’m well into my 30s and I love YA. I really don’t believe there should ever be “acceptable” age ranges on any genre. YA is great if you’re looking for great stories that aren’t too heavy (although I’ve been surprised by how heavy and dark YA can be – literally just finished one with rape, domestic abuse and murder).
    If anyone does think they are too old for YA can I just say my 70 year old mum reads it and loves it. At the moment she’s on a Patrick Ness spree and also recently finished Red Queen 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Ahh yes I’m so glad you think that!!! 😀 I can’t ever imagine stopping with YA! Yes I totally agree- and that’s true- I just like the different take it has on a lot of topics. Hhahaha well that’s wonderful!!! 😀 All respect to your awesome mum!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Briana says:

    Weirdly, I’m not sure I’ve ever been asked why I read YA. I guess my having an MA in English literature kind of stumps people who’d want to ask “why I don’t read something else” because clearly I do? No idea. :p I also know a lot of non-readers, so they’re probably not in a position to really point finger at what other people are reading.

    I totally agree with you though. There’s lots of YA that’s very, very good, and honestly could have done perfectly well marketed as adult. (And I do see YA as a marketing category as much as anything else.) Julianna Baggott even said she wrote PURE as adult, but her editor thought it would sell better as YA, so that’s what happened.

    Also, sometimes I just relate better to YA. Now, I read more genre fiction than contemporary, and there are things in contemporary YA that didn’t resonate with me even as a teen. (For example, I had zero interest in going to prom, didn’t go, and have never regretted it. So a book about a girl obsessed with prom was just never going to speak to me.) But adult is frequently just really dark, and that’s not my experience or view of the world. It gets kind of draining reading some adult books where everyone has baggage or is cynical or is in an unhappy marriage or whatever. I’ve read some books where literally NO ONE in the whole book in a romantic relationship is in a good one. I relate much more to the optimism of a lot of YA books.

    Liked by 2 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      hehe that’s so funny- my degree seems to have the opposite effect on people! I suppose they think “you can read other books- why do you choose to read YA?” hehe that’s true. Occasionally I meet some people are just perplexed by the whole obsession in general.

      Yes I do agree with you there- I think I see a lot of books crossing from YA into adult all the time- I think they just want to get it to a wider audience potentially.

      I definitely get that. And prom’s really not a big thing in the UK, so that subject was a bit beyond me. Plus, I went to girls schools- so a lot of the in-school drama was unrelatable to me (but that’s just me). Yeah I *definitely* get what you mean. I’ve had that experience too- and sometimes I just think “why did I read this” when it’s about adult things I still don’t relate to, even as an adult (or if I relate to them, I want to read about them even less- bills are no fun in real life- why would I want to read about them?!) I love the way you put it 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Zezee says:

    I agree. There are some gems out there that were awesome to read and sometimes I need a break from adult books, which aren’t often optimistic. Also, YA and even middle grade are just such fun when the adventure is played up well in the plot.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. dragonsandzombies says:

    Yeah, you read whatever you like! I hate it when people are like ‘it’s not aimed at you, you are not allowed to read it duh’ .. or when you have to justify what you pick.

    I tend to go back to childrens books sometimes and i am almost 30. Haters, try telling me I can’t 😀 i will call dragonfire upon you, dracarys! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. delphinethebabbler says:

    I love all of your reasons here! Even though I’m 22 I still feel as though I’m a teenager and can relate to the characters in YA novels. They are always enjoyable and never to bland! Mixed with a bit of contemporary here and there, YA keeps me sane and able to deal with reality! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lois says:

    YES TO ALL OF THE ABOVE!!! I couldn’t agree more with you, especially with you comment on the fearlessness of YA. They don’t shy away from exploring anything and everything. On top of that I find that YA, especially fantasy, more engaging. There’s a balance between the world building, action and character development and they don’t drag on and on with pointless, irrelevant information. The pacing is usually consistent and it makes it that much more engaging.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Ryann the Reader says:

    Yes yes yes to all of these! I read a lot of YA, too! I find it to be the most inclusive, and I just usually enjoy it more than adult books. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. John W. Leys says:

    I’ve thought for a long time that too much is made of the difference between “Children’s” literature, “YA” literature, and “Adult” lit. Sure, authors will write with a particular audience in mind, but that doesn’t mean that people outside of that demographic can or should enjoy the books as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Nel says:

    I barely read YA now as the stories aren’t as good as they were when I was a teenager growing up, in my opinion. I like to read a lot of fantasy, urban fantasy and sci-fi (when I’m not being a romance junky) and some of the YA novels nowadays just have a whiny or angsty voice in my head. It really has to be written very well for me to like it. That being said, I still have some favorites and I still go back and read the ones I adored when I’m feeling some kind of a way. Great post as usual! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Sophie Li says:

    Hello! I absolutely love this post!
    This question is something I occasionally ask myself as well, usually after finishing a YA book that I did not like. But I always go back to YA.
    I agree that adult fiction can be draining sometimes for the reasons you mentioned. I admire that there is value in writing realistic fiction about Real Adult Life, but if I wanted to experience real adult living, why do I read books? 🙂 Frankly, YA is so much easier to read, not in terms of the vocabulary, but in terms of the quirky characters, or the witty dialogue, or the fantastical and imaginative plot. And frankly, part of me wants to relive my childhood again 🙂
    I am also a twenty-something monkey by the way 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Thank you so much!! Hehe yes, I’m the same!!!
      Yes, I do agree- I do find value in a lot of adult books, but a lot of the time, that’s not what I want to read about. Yes, for sure!! I totally agree!!
      hahaha glad I’m not alone 😉 thanks so much for your comment!!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. FranL says:

    I don’t read a lot of YA but I do venture into the genre when there’s something there that I want to read. I think that the difference between YA and adult fiction is really more about marketing than anything else. Publishers release books in the genre where they think they’ll sell the best. A lot of successful YA books weren’t necessarily written with teen audiences in mind, but they were released as YA because someone at the publishing company thought they’d sell more copies. , Don’t get me wrong, plenty of YA books are written with a teen audience in mind. But a lot more are written as adult novels that happen to have a teen protagonist. Often these are eventually released as YA. If “To Kill A Mockingbird” or “The Catcher in the Rye” came out today, there’s a chance that they’d be in the YA genre. That doesn’t diminish the literary quality. It just means that they’re in a different section of the book store.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. luvtoread says:

    I’m in my 30s and love reading YA! But, I also enjoy reading other genres as well, and I have noticed myself getting weary with YA lately – but I think that’s just because I’ve been reading so much of it. One of my friends recently told me that I reviewed too many YA books on my blog – I wasn’t really sure what to say to that.
    I love reading YA because so often it is a cleaner read. There usually isn’t as much graphic sex or violence, nor as much bad language. It just depends. I also like that “coming of age” storyline, and discovering ones self that YA so often focuses on. Some of my favorite books are YA. I just like good reads regardless of the genre.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      I can understand that!! I do read a fair amount that makes me weary too. Yeah I wouldn’t know what to say to that either, to be honest.
      Yes for sure! I definitely agree with you there- it’s one of my favourite narrative structures- so I won’t be giving it up any time soon. Yes!! I agree!!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Never Not Reading says:

    Good list! You’re totally right about adult contemporary, it can be so bleak. Sometimes I just want to read something cool that doesn’t feel the need to critique every aspect of the world I live in. But I also find that adult contemporary CAN be more outrageously hilarious than YA, which is why I read more of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Kristina Steiner says:

    Great reasons! I agree with you completely. I enjoy reading YA books as well and I couldn’t care less who thinks I’m too old for it. The fantasy books aimed at adults seemed to be less innovative, imaginative and creative; YA is simply better.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Meggy | Chocolate'n'Waffles says:

    The “genre whore” comment had me laughing so hard! I don’t get why we love put things into strict categories and look weirdly at people who dare check the boxes to expand their horizons! I don’t need to be a kid to reread Harry Potter or Goosebumps, I don’t need to be a teen to read coming-of-age stories. Read what the frigging hell you feel like reading!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. bethanmaybooks says:

    Omg Wideacre is a dreadful book! I’ve read a lot of PA (wideacre trilogy, her Tudor series and her wars of the Roses series) and I haven’t heard great stuff about her lately. I’ve always been a bit lenient with her writing because I thought she was trying to retell the stories of string historical women… But I don’t think I’ll be going out of way to read any more of her books any time soon 😦

    With regards to YA though, I often find myself reading them without realising? I’ll be reading a book, and it’s not until I finish it and go to read what other people thought that I find out it’s a YA xD

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

    Well, well, well. This was definitely a thorough post!! Everything you had to say was sooo on point. Those are probably the only reasons why I haven’t yet closed off the door to YA-land. There are definitely some REALLY amazing authors and books worth checking out even if we’re 100 years old. Personally, I’m very picky with the YA I read, fearing that I might land on one that I thought would be amazing but then would only traumatize me with its awfulness. 😛 Fantastic post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Thank you so much!! And thank you for all your awesome comments!! YES!!! That’s very very fair!! I feel like (with the obvious exceptions) I’ve gotten better at vetting my books in general- so I know what kind of traps that these can fall into (eg any sign of a love triangle and I’m outta there 😉 ) Thank you again!!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Nicola @ Thoughts on Fantasy says:

    So many good reasons!! I often see people mentioning that they won’t read YA, or have them asking me why I read it, and sadly all those naff, tropey, clichéd examples are the ones that first come to my mind so I also begin to wonder: why do I read those? But then I remember the brilliant ones and I don’t feel bad anymore. You’re right – when they are done well they are amazing!

    Also I had to smile reading your reason of adult books being too bleak. I think I had a similar experience when I was young, which meant I would religiously stick to the YA section of the book store. It took me ages to realise there was a non-YA fantasy section, and longer to trust it enough to give it a go, and then still longer to dare to touch the other non-fantasy ‘adult’ books 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Thank you!! Yes I have the same problem. Especially cos people will often cite these examples too, and it’s quite hard to defend when you have Twilight thrown at you. I kind of flounder for a bit- but like you said- then I remember the awesome ones!!

      Thank you!! hehehe yes!! I was the same!! I had exactly the same problem- I was just worried it’d be another adult book about divorce or something equally grim (which of course YA books discuss, but they’ll often have *some* element of hope) 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nicola @ Thoughts on Fantasy says:

        Haha yes, definitely not easy to defend if people are throwing Twilight at you! And I’m glad to hear I wasn’t alone in my wariness 🙂 It’s interesting you mention divorce – I recently read a book by a celebrated author I avoided as a kid to see if I’d judged unfairly… the main character turned out to be divorced depressed alcoholic who spent most of the book wallowing poetically in his own self pity and doing very little else. Fortunately I now know there are much better adult books, and even some hope-filled ones, but I can see how as a kid that one would have scared me off!

        Like

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