I was that teenager. You know the one. The one that thought they were so cool. The one that read adult books because they wanted to be grown up. I spent most of my teen years trying to be older. I think part of it was childhood trauma that made me grow up fast but we’ll not get into that.
We’ll get into the teenage thought process of being grown up. We were on the edge of adulthood and somehow we all wanted to grow up faster than we should have. We should have attempted to enjoy our teen years. I know that wasn’t always easy. Being a teen could be difficult. Some of us were forced to grow up because of life. Some of us went through stuff that is too dark to mention.
But a lot of times we wanted to be grown up and we missed the fun that could exist. Like young adult novels.
When I was the target demographic of YA novels I tended to avoid them. Since middle school I was reading adult novels. Juliet Marillier became my favorite author during my fundamental years. When I was a teen you either were reading Harry Potter or books far above your grade and nothing in between.
So now that I’m an adult, I’ve started getting back into book genres that I’m not a target audience for. It can be almost more embarrassing to read a YA novel at 28 than being caught reading something spicy. It almost seems a bit low brow after years of trying to read books more intelligent than I am. But at some point you hit your limit and I’ve missed a lot of the fun and interesting YA novels just because I thought I was better than them.
I’m not. You’re not. And we should enjoy YA novels at any age.
Still a Lot to Learn
YA novels tend to have a moral, a story, or a focus that you can learn from. The “coming of age” trope is typical of Young Adult novels. You might think you’ve already “come of age,” but there can still be a lot to learn from YA. Especially stories of those of different backgrounds as yourself.
Read LGBTQA+. Read stories from ethnicities different from your own. Learn how others grew up. Learn what troubles they go through. And not only will you learn about others, you might even learn a bit more about yourself.
Interesting Stories with Reliable Formulas
Sometimes you want to read books you know the flow of. YA novels tend to have a formula which isn’t a bad thing. You get the set up, the conflict, and an air tight conclusion (unless it’s a series). The stories ebb and flow through this format with interesting stories and ideas, but still lead you down the same formula path. This can be a great relief after reading so many adult books trying to be something different which can be terribly exhausting.
Read a book that was just trying too hard to be special and it made your brain hurt? Too many times. It’s why I’ve slowly stopped liking a lot of adult novels. It’s starting to remind me of the pretentious nature of my teens. And I’ve slowly slid back to reading YA a bit more.
Does this mean that all YA are formulaic? No. Of course not. Hell, some are still just as pretentious as adult novels. But you tend to know what you’re getting into with YA. Fantasy romance set in high school? You can kinda feel out where it’s going and just settle into the story.
Sometimes you need that. Not everything you read has to be Avant Garde. Sometimes it can just be comfy.
Letting People Enjoy a Good Read
In the end, if you’re someone who rolls your eyes when your adult friend reads YA, you’re a bit of an ass. Reading is supposed to be fun. You can hate a book. You can advocate for better books and stories. But you shouldn’t hate the individual for loving a genre that brings them comfort and joy. We need more people reading. It’s good for your soul as well as your mind. Reading can help cure ignorance. So let people read! Let them read YA and cheesy stories about teens.
Sometimes it’ll help them have a childhood they might never actually had. Sometimes the easier read makes them feel less self-conscious. You never know why it’s their favorite genre, but at least they’re reading.
Start Reading YA
If you’ve always been interested in reading YA but feel self-conscious because you feel like you shouldn’t be reading teen novels, make a book club! Get a group of friends together to read YA. You can read books you all are interested in and learn more. Talking about the books will give a level of understanding you might not gleam yourself. You’ll also see how much more YA novels are. They aren’t just teen stories.
I’m currently in a YA book club. It’s part of the reason why I got back into YA. We dive deep into the stories of people different than us. We’ve had books we’ve loved. We’ve had books we’ve hated. It’s been a great mix and fun to talk about with friends.
Read what you want! Read all the time! Enjoy the stories told by authors in as many genres you like.
Let me know your favorite YA books or if you understand where I’m coming from in the comments below. I feel like I can’t be the only person that avoided YA like the plague as a teen.
Ignore this if you like, I understand, but I've hit a bit of a financial wall with a lot of medical problems hitting me and then the impending debt. I've already hit my deductible limit and another 6k on top and it's only the end of February. Oof. So if you have a dollar to spare I'd appreciate it. Thanks and also thank you for reading my blog!