Rewind five years or so and I guarantee that you wouldn’t catch me browsing the ‘Young Adult’ shelves in my local library. Why would I do that? I’m an ‘adult’ (in the loosest sense of the word…) There are hundreds of thousands of ‘grown-up’ books for me to read now I am no longer a teenager.
Five years on and where do you think I can be found lurking in my local library? The Young Adult section.
But why? Surely the older I get the less inclined I should be to read these books aimed at teenagers? However a recent survey suggests that I’m not alone. More than 55% of YA readers are adults and this number continues to rise. Where there was once a stigma behind adults reading YA, I feel that this is less prevalent now and I for one am proud to share my love of the genre. As I now work as a School Librarian, I like to think that this further qualifies me to read Young Adult literature, but when all is said and done I shouldn’t need an excuse, should I? Just think of all of the fantastic books I would have missed out on, had I let that shiny YA label on the spine of the book deter me.
I sat down and thought about the reasons behind my love of YA literature and as it turns out there are quite a few. Here are my top 5…
- YA Tackles serious issues
Take The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. This has to be one of the most widely read YA books (by children, teenagers and adults alike) and it centres around two teenagers who meet at a cancer support group. Not forgetting the incredible 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher (a thriller revolving around a teenager’s suicide) I have also just read an amazing YA book, Like Other Girls by Claire Hennessy, which tells the story of a sixteen year old’s struggle to obtain an abortion in Ireland.
Whether it’s mental health, alcohol abuse, bullying, drug use, self-harm, murder, eating disorders; as a genre YA has it covered. And it often does so in a sensitive yet highly realistic way, educating the reader and often providing a hopeful spin on things towards the end. And let’s face it; we all need a glimmer of hope from time to time…
- It brings back teenage memories.
Georgia Nicholson in the rather marvellous Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging was basically me as a teenager. If there was any possible way for me to embarrass myself in front of my peers then it would have happened. Reading humorous YA such as Geek Girl brings back all of those memories and reminds me of what it was like to be a teenager (although unlike Harriet Manners I was never any good at maths…). So many of these types of books are identifiable and have often caused me to nod my head in recognition over things that I experienced during my glory years of 13-19.
- They are page turners.
If you’re aiming your book at teenagers then let’s face it, it needs to be exciting, action packed and full of drama. The last thing you want readers to declare of your book is that it’s ‘BOOOORING’ (said in exasperated teenager voice). When We Were Liars by e. lockhart, Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas are some AMAZING examples of some truly gripping novels and if you’re new to reading YA then I urge you to start with one of those three. You won’t regret it.
- There are SO many classics.
The more I think about it, the more I realise just how many books there are that were actually written for teenagers, but many of us adults consider these to be ‘classics’ in their own right, some more modern-day than others.
Just a few include:
I guarantee that whether you are a teenager or not you will have read and enjoyed at least one of these novels.
- They tend to be shorter reads.
‘I don’t have the time to read books.’ I hear this phrase uttered a lot. And leading a busy life with two jobs I can completely identify – but this is where, for me, YA fiction really shines. Books come in all shapes and sizes, but on the whole if I’m picking up a YA novel I tend to assume that it will be shorter and much quicker to read than its adult fiction counterparts. If I’m having a reading slump or struggling to fit in much reading into my schedule then I usually reach for a YA book. Something that will engage me, entertain me and very importantly get me my reading mojo back.
So let’s stop judging people for their choice of reading material. It doesn’t matter what you read; as long as you enjoy it. As for me, I’m ready for adventure, ready to fall in love with some intriguing characters and ready to be entertained…So guess what? You’ll find me in the YA section.