Why I read YA and What Led Me Here

YA young adult fuelled by fiction fueled by fiction

My name is Beth, I am an adult (sort of) that reads YA. 

For as long as I can remember, my nose has always been in a book. I remember when I was a kid I was obsessed with Franklin and wanted to read every single one of the books about him. Then I graduated to chapter books and so on and so forth. When I was a middle grader, I loved fantasy. I was all about the fantasy. I loved Harry Potter, anything by Cornelia Funke, the Serpent’s Egg series, etc. Loved it. As I became a teenager, I “outgrew” dragons and magic, and had to read more things more “grown up.” This translated to stuff like any and all things by Sarah Dessen, The Book Thief, and the Twilight series. 

Again, when I became an “adult” I had to read more “adult” things too. I abandoned young adult literature, relegating it to a shelf in my past. Until this past year, the only YA I had read since I was a teen were The Hunger Games and Divergent. I thought that reading was about growing and moving forward, not looking back—each genre (middle grade, YA, Adult) a step toward maturation. While to some extent that is true, I didn’t grasp the importance of a good ol’ change of perspective every once in a while. 

In the fall there was a controversy surrounding adult readers of YA—an article was published shaming them! At that time I wrote a post about it. Since then I’ve been reading even more YA, and reflecting on my thoughts about what reading it means to me.  

People read books for all sorts of different reasons, and take away different things from each book. Some people read books to learn, to better themselves, to be challenged. Some people read for the escapism factor, to have fun, to be entertained. Some people read for a combination of the two. Neither is right or wrong! I think the best part of YA is that it can do all these things. It can be fun and exciting, but draw in tough and challenging themes in an accessible way. For example, All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is an amazing YA book that came out earlier this year. It’s very popular and for very good reason. This book talks about first loves, parents, school, friends, all that good stuff. But it also explores mental health issues and the support systems and structures that society is sorely lacking. 

Adolescence is such an important time in life. Everything is so powerful,  meaningful, and life changing. Everything is a first. Every character is on the verge of growth and development. That’s what makes it so interesting.

If you had asked me a few years ago what I thought about YA books, I would have turned my nose up at them. I was too high brow for that. Now I see the merit in them—for myself and for others. YA has this unique ability to make people super excited about reading (fandoms anyone?). If you look around the internet, the most excited and passionately vocal readers are often talking about YA (maybe not exclusively, but they usually touch on it). It’s because of these excited readers that I brought YA back into my life. And I’m so thankful.

I realize that YA is not for everyone. There is no one thing that really is for everyone! But YA writers today are churning out some amazing stuff, and I’m so glad that I’m not missing it.

In March, Bewitched Bookworms did a post about why YA rocks and I totally agree. 

… Because it makes me excited! The stories draw me in and get me hooked! 

… Because adolescence is a microcosm for life as a whole, really. 

… Because coming of age stories are awesome, always have been and always will be.

… Because there are so many kick-butt heroines gracing their pages.

… For a change of perspective.

… Because emotions are heightened. THE FEELS. ALL OF THEM.

… Because… It’s amazing

Do you read young adult books? Why or why not?