Yes, I Love YA

I can’t count the number of times that, when I have told people that I mostly read Young Adult books, they’ve turned to me and said something like: “Don’t you think they’re a bit trashy? When are you going to start reading real books?”

About three years ago, someone in the bookshop said that I was going to run out of YA books to read, and that I should start on adult. I bought a few adult books, and I did enjoy them, but fast forward to today and I’m still reading mainly YA. And wonderful YA is still being written.

I really hate the idea that YA and children’s books are somehow less worthwhile than the ones in the adult section. Okay, they’re pretty much all narrated by teens and young people. But what’s wrong with that? We have lives that are just as complex as anyone else’s, and we deserve a voice — we deserve to read about people who are also going through a period of testing boundaries and discovering yourself. In some ways, it seems to me the most interesting age a narrator can be.

Putting down YA books only puts down young people and their voices, when we should be doing exactly the opposite! When people start to say that we’re just mindlessly addicted to social media and don’t have any opinions beyond celebrities, it’s just discouraging us from speaking up.

Having a younger narrator doesn’t mean a book is any less worth reading, or any less interesting. In fact, YA books cover a wide range of complex, important themes but in a way that’s really accessible. Yep, a book can be readable and nuanced! Writing an awesome YA book isn’t any less work than writing an adult novel; there are just so many different genres within each of those brackets.

Maybe reading YA doesn’t require as much consideration as a novel with Victorian language might, but personally I think it’s really difficult to get a love for reading by starting straight with ‘classics’. I really appreciate that some people love them, but personally — and I say this as someone who has always loved books — they take me a while to get through, and a while to understand and get into.

But I’m not reading to learn life lessons, or how to write a book. I’m not even reading to improve my English. I’m reading to enjoy it. To experience stories beyond my own. Reading for pleasure doesn’t come from an adult telling you that you should put down the book you want to read and pick the ‘better’ one they’ve chosen for you instead. Discovering the stories that get you excited is so important, and it’s difficult to do that when your school limits what you can read by the complexity of a book’s sentence structure.

If you want kids to develop a love of reading, then let them read what they love. Perhaps reading one genre will lead to them becoming interesting in another, or perhaps they’ll just love that book — it doesn’t matter. Sharing stories is what matters.

I think that YA fiction is one of the most exciting, diverse genres — we definitely do still have progress to make, as we always do, not just within the books but in authors and publishing as well — and it’s so important for teens to be able to see themselves in books. YA can give a sense of belonging and validation. It can tell young people (and older people) that they’re not alone. There are just so many goddamn amazing YA novels out there.

So before you tell me that my favourite books are trash: maybe pick up a YA book yourself. You might actually enjoy it.

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23 thoughts on “Yes, I Love YA

  1. I absolutely love this – one thing I cannot stand is when someone is making the time and effort to read and someone says they’re doing it wrong. The way I see it, any reading is good reading and we should celebrate that in this increasingly technological age people, especially teens, are still picking up books! Why would that ever be a bad thing? Great post!

  2. This is such a great post and such an important topic. I feel like I’ve been told what I can and can’t read all my life, whether as a child being told the books I read were too old for me or now as an adult getting weird looks for picking up kids books and YA. Seriously, just let people enjoy what they enjoy and nourish a passion for reading, period.

    • *post recieves hugs very gratefully* aah THANK YOU, that is very kind! ❤ (by the way: not sure if this is meant to be the case, but I was just trying to click through to comment and I think your WordPress account links to your old blog url?)

      • ahh that’s ok! and dw, i changed my URL a while back but haven’t gotten around to fixing it (and probs won’t, i’m too lazy heehee)

  3. Lovely post! I agree with everything you said. I just hate it when people look down on YA when they haven’t even given it a fair chance. Like you said, there are so many wonderful YA books out there!

  4. Yes bless this post Eve! I get so angry when people look down on YA – it’s so disrespectful to the audience and the writers. I personally prefer YA over adult, not just because I’m still a teen myself but also because adult books tend to be pretty graphic when it comes to sex and violence (and I never know which ones will be and won’t!) which YA books usually aren’t. I feel like people who look down on YA just haven’t read the right YA books and just read one or a few crappy books and decided ‘WELL THE ENTIRE GENRE IS TRASH’

    • Aah thanks! Yes, definitely; writing awesome YA is IMMENSELY difficult and just as worthy as any other writer. Same, I just don’t want to read that stuff… I do enjoy some adult books but YA inspires me more! And, like, there are trashy adult books too.

  5. *LOTS OF APPLAUSE* honestly this is so true. ya is so good!! there are some trashy books but there are in every genre (*cough*fiftyshadesofgray*cough*). just. this post is GREAT.

  6. I LOVE THIS POST SO. MUCH. Even though I don’t read a ton of YA anymore (mostly because I don’t have a lot of free time left outside of school and I’m starting to enjoy adult/classics books more than YA now), I think it’s super, super important to just read what you love. The world moves so fast now and I see so many people pushing their kids to read more and more complex stuff at a younger age, which just makes them hate reading. I’ve met so many people who hated reading start to love it when they just find the right book for them, because reading isn’t about learning, it’s about expanding your imagination and maybe picking up some things along the way. I definitely think that if I hadn’t started with YA, I wouldn’t have gotten to the reading level I’m at now. Plus, when I’m in a reading slump, guess what I read? YA.

    • Thank you, I’m so glad you liked it. ❤ Yep, definitely; of course education is important but I think it can get but in front of enjoyment and then people just don't read at all. Even if someone doesn't read a lot of YA themselves, I think it's still important to respect what other people enjoy! 🙂

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  8. PREACH. I honestly have no patience for people who crap on YA. YA is literally everything.

    I am turning 24 in two weeks (*screams into the abyss*), and YA is still the genre I read the most. And by most, I mean 99% of the books I read are YA. They are the absolute best, in my opinion. They bring diversity (when you look for it, because like you said we still need to go a long way on that front), and magic, and relatability (sorry, books about divorced women finding themselves just don’t speak to me), and beautiful writing, and gorgeous worlds, and incredibly plots. Of course, adult books can do that, too. But I just think the WAY in which YA brings these things is just a little bit more special. I have hardly found any adult books that I love as much as YA books. And when I do, lots of people think they’re cross-overs, anyway.

    I think YA is incredibly important, for many reasons. I think giving young people and teens the opportunity to see themselves in fiction is more important than words could ever express. Knowing that you aren’t alone during a time when alone-ness is sometimes all you feel is so, so invaluable.

    So yeah. People who crap on YA don’t know what they’re talking about.

    • YES. I am so glad you liked this post!
      So many people love YA, and it brings so many good things to the bookish table. I honestly don’t understand why some people just decide to put a whole (and much loved) genre down.
      Of course books from other genres can speak to me too, but I do think there’s something really amazing about reading about someone who just gets you. So yes, ABSOLUTELY. YES TO ALL OF THE THINGS YOU SAID. *nods furiously*

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