Adults in YA: Why We Still Read, Part 3

If you're an avid YA reader, there's no way you've escaped hearing about the stigma that surrounds the genre -- the fact that people who read YA even though they're older than the "targeted market" are often seen as immature, nostalgic, or stuck in their younger years. Recently, after our university newspaper posted an opinion piece in which the writer talked about how we all need to "read our age" -- meaning, basically, that we should break away from YA and focus on the classics such as Dickens -- we decided to send out a Tweet and ask if there were any other YA readers that were over 18 out there. Not to start trouble or stir up angry feelings, but just to see -- just how many "out of the age range" YA readers are there? Our Tweet was as follows:

SOS! 🗣 Do you read YA even though you’re 18+? If you do, please DM us or reply to this Tweet — we have a post idea, and we need your help! #replytweet

— The Book Bratz (@thebookbratz) March 14, 2019

Well, it's safe to say the response we got was absolutely overwhelming. We got nearly 1,000 people over the age of 18 who wanted to tell us why they still read YA even though they're past the "marketable" age-range for the genre. We had so many amazing responses that we wanted to take the time to share them all with you -- but since there are so many, it turns out that we had to make it a series! For 10 whole weeks, we're going to be sharing 10 reasons (100 in total!) why "older" YA readers stick with the genre, and why it's important to them. So without further ado, here are 10 readers above the age of 18 who explained to us why they still read YA:

I read YA because I find great solace in watching a young adult character struggle through the same turbulent life decisions I made -- and get it wrong. Nearing my late twenties now, I can confidently say I took the wrong turn at almost every opportunity, so having a character do the same and still come out okay gives me great hope for my own future. 

When I was a teen I tended to read only adult novels because as a voracious reader I’d gotten it in my head that I should be reading “that caliber of writing” -- what rubbish! I found adult books to be depressing as an adult and they tended to only be dark and gritty. I read to find hope and escape from our dark and sometimes depressing real world. YA novels are filled with hope, and kickass women, and people searching for who they are and who they could be AND are still perfectly well written. YA has everything I want and need from literature and I’m proud to read a lot of YA books yearly! 

I read YA because I teach teenagers. We have a new English curriculum that allows us to read 10 minutes [a] day. I read with them! It’s absolutely amazing. I have an hour a day to read! It’s a dream. However, I was once one of those people who looked down on YA literature. However, I’ve seen the error of my ways. My students love these books and I want to share their love of these books. 

Novels have the ability to note only shape minds, but to prove to people that they are not alone in what they might be feeling or experiencing. A lot of people find comfort in reading and young adult fiction can help people in what might be one of the most turbulent times of their lives as they transition into what people call the "real world’"and have to discover how to live and look after themselves. Young adult novels follow characters in a thrilling stage of their life, on the edge of something new and exciting. Reading about these experiences, about change and how to deal with change, can be rather therapeutic and can help people understand the change and challenges they are currently going through. Like teens themselves, YA takes risks. YA books are companions, they're comfort blankets, they're an escape. If writers want to reach that level of intimacy and companionship it can only be achieved if the book itself is reflective of the target reader. But that does not mean that people beyond the target age can't yearn for that sense of companionship, and that's what YA books are; they're a friend. 

I'm a 28 year old mom that reads YA. Why? Because I connect to the stories more than any other genre/age group. Young Adult is able to bring topics to light that other genres can't and the stories are so mature and diverse that it's easy for me to relate to the stories. Young adult has a voice that everyone should listen to.

YA stories are powerful, as their themes are often unfiltered, raw and honest due to the age of the characters -- many of whom are experiencing key life defining moments for the first time. As we age, we tend to become more rehearsed/constructed/rigid in our views and how we approach the world, our lives, and others, and there is something about the willingness to accept, question, and live freely, without abandon, as characters in YA novels do, that satisfies a desire in older readers of this genre. The ability to once again be those young selves and approaching life with the same vulnerability and experiencing all that helped shape who we became -- first loves and first heartaches, sexual awareness and desire, mental and physical health highs and lows, good/bad decision making, first drinks, smokes and sex, etc. -- is a gift. To restrict readers of YA to a specific age group, or to infer one graduating out of the age group should grow up or be more serious in their reading, is to confine the hearts and minds, and a lonely way to live. And for me, personally, YA stories that explore love, loss, and life are powerful reads because we all want to step away from the reality of our older lives and worlds, and remember what it was like to live and love as we once did; who we once were, forever etched on who we are. 
-@dmsreadwrite, 43

I read YA for a number of reasons but the main one is books don’t have an age limit. Everyone should be able to enjoy books regardless of age and genre. The story lines of YA novels are incredible and the characters develop so well over time. Even though I’m in my mid-twenties, I find YA characters more relatable than a lot of characters in adult novels. 

I read YA even though I am 26 years old because it's still fun! It's a genre of books that deal with a person's potential, and who doesn't want to hear that they can do anything, even if they're told you cannot by the world, society, culture, or even your family? YA is about hope, love, potential, power, and the ability to harness all of these things for ourselves. This is why I read YA. I need to hear this myself from time to time. 

YA isn’t a genre, it can take you alien planets, fantasy worlds, other countries and other times. YA literature just proves that age is but a number and being strong and brave and powerful isn’t something you have to wait to inherit, it is something you become. YA shows the young adults of today’s world that we can stand up against adversity, big or small, and we can be the change. 
-@ClareTansell, 23

Finding out "who you are" doesn't end when you turn 18, so why should reading coming of age stories -- either light and fluffy or dark and twisty -- end when you mature past the "advertised" age group? YA protagonists (and antagonists) are some of the most complex and resonating characters I've ever read about. Why should I give that up just because I'm 40? 

What are your thoughts about reading YA past the "age-appropriate" market? If you have something else to add on this topic, feel free to comment down below and share your opinions! Also be on the lookout for another post next week, where we share even more thoughts from other 18+ YA readers!

Check Out The Previous Posts:

Part One
Part Two

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