I recently read an article about how young adult novels have a huge percentage of its readers being adults. Yes, full grown human beings that don’t get the entire summer off and try to eat healthy. This is a fact that I’m so excited about!
I am one of those adults and I’m prouder than proud to read young adult novels. YA, Young Adult, New Adult, Middle Grade, whatever you want to call it. I love it.
Have you ever seen the reaction of some other adult when you tell them you read YA? It’s almost like they slipped a piece of fatty meat into their mouth and while sloshing it around with their tongue bit into a giant piece of fat.
There is this bias that if you’re an adult, you have to read “adult” novels. But why? I spend a lot of time reading novels written for adults and while a lot of them are really great, sometimes they can be so heavy (in the metaphorical sense).
Books have a tendency to take its toll on my soul. If I read too much of the “serious” stuff, I forget to be funny and goofy and a little bit silly. You’re just a shell of a human that knows too much about what’s going on in the real world and little about having fun.
When something weighs down on you like that, then you need something to lift you up and for me, I read YA. It’s not a guilty pleasure. It’s not some big secret. Young adult novels have just as much validity as any other novel you read. Someone took time to write that story and maybe it is focused towards a younger generation, but the message is something that anyone can understand.
Young adult novels are uplifting and soulful and really engage their readers in a story that make you feel like a kid again or like a young warrior, or a traveler through time. They’re just as good as an adult novel, but they’re so overlooked by adults sometimes.
Perhaps it has something to do with knowing what to read. So I decided to put together a quick list for any adult who would like to get into YA.
Start with the knowns. There’s a bunch of books out there that have recently been turned into movies. The Divergent Series, The Fault in Our Stars, The Hunger Games, Everything, Everything.
All of these great movies you’ve seen come out recently are all based on YA novels. If you’re interested in getting started with a good YA, start with those. They’re good enough to be made into movies.
Get out of your head. Probably the worst thing you can do when starting a YA novel is treating it like an adult novel. Don’t. Do. That.
If you want to enjoy the novel, then you need to go into it with an open mind. Don’t roll your eyes at the young couple who falls in love. Don’t think the novel is trite (unless other bookish folks say it is).
Keep your mind open and focus your energy on the story, not the subtext.
Recall what it was like to be a kid. Because these novels are geared towards teenagers, remember what it was like to be a kid in their position. Now, take that feeling and then continue to read.
Some novels will surprise you especially when the novel has some political themes. Oh yes, YA novels cover political topics like the #blacklivesmatter movement.
They talk about sexual assault, divorce, heartbreak, bullying, sexual identity, and so many more things that unsurprisingly children go through every single day.
Take that feeling you had as a kid and apply to all of these situations. Can you handle it? Maybe, but these kids in these books are able to.
It’s just a book! This is the last thing I’m going to say and then I’m going to shut up. YA is just a book. Like any other book, it’s just a book.
You don’t have to love it, but you don’t have to hate it either. If you walk away from reading a YA novel and you didn’t like it, then that’s fine!
But the next time you see an adult who happily is toting around a Morgan Matson novel, don’t scoff. The worst thing you can do to a reader is shame them for liking something they love.
Respect is the big key here and while I know I don’t have to say this to all the lovable people in the book-verse, we’re all here to support the bigger concept; to read more.