Adults in YA: Why We Still Read, Part 5

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 have been reading YA books since I became a teenager and haven’t looked back since. The stories, to me, are told through a much more optimistic and sanguine lens depending on the content matter. Even the books that tackle more challenging and relevant topics such as race, sexuality and gender do so in a light that, while not shying away from the difficulties of these issues, shows them in a more upbeat fashion that celebrates differences and equality. All genres in YA are so widely represented and can still be engaging no matter how many times you’ve delved into the story lines with Fantasy being told through fresh, engaging points of view and Romance told through angsty, awkward encounters that everyone can relate to. In YA, there’s a story for everyone and a character that we can all see ourselves as, whether it’s the geeky kid in love with the girl next door, the shy girl that no one notices but kicks butt as a vampire slayer at night or even the dad that wants his kids to stay safe, there’s something for everyone. 

I don't think I'll ever stop reading YA. The sense of hope, how relatable the stories are, how much fun I have while reading them, isn't something I've found in other genres (and I've tried). I can be sure that whether I'm happy or sad, if I want something super romantic or super creepy, if I want to either laugh or cry the whole time, I'll find the perfect book for me in the YA section. 

Reading YA when you are no longer a young adult has a stigma around it that is unjustified. I'm 34 and Dystopian YA is my preferred type of books to read. I find these stories are captivating and easy to get lost in and are often better written than their "Adult" counterparts. As a high school English teacher, I find my students are always coming to me to discuss books and they love that I read the same books they do. In fact, today alone 3 of my students rushed up to me in the hallway to gush over the cover release for a new book coming out this fall. 

I am 22 and I have been reading YA for almost 10 years, with no plans to switch to “grown-up” literature anytime soon. I prefer YA over “literary” fiction because it is actually fun to read and not so convinced of its own literariness that the plot is almost impossible to follow. Additionally, I like it more than New Adult/Adult Romance or Fantasy because those often neglect the actual story in favour of explicit content. Most importantly, no other genre is as diverse as YA -- it’s amazing to be able to read about so many LGBTQIA+ characters, characters from different ethnic or cultural backgrounds, etc. If YA keeps developing like it currently does, I am still going to be reading it when I’m 30 (or 50). Thanks for doing this and disproving the assumption that everybody who is technically an adult is too old for YA! 

Even at 21 I still enjoy reading YA because, contrary to popular belief, it tackles very serious subject matter that not only teens can identify with. We are all just a collection of memories, and if we open up to it, it becomes easy to reach into your younger self and reflect upon the issues presented in Young Adult novels of various genres. After all, age often boils down to mentality. It can become easy for adults to identify with, the fast-paced, character-driven stories this age range presents, but only if they are willing. 

What does reading your age actually mean? Children's picture books are meant for children, however if you reread them as an adult, you will find quite a bit of philosophical meaning within the stories that a child may not fully grasp the actual depth of that meaning. There is a long list of children's books that are quite philosophical leading to metaphysical and ethical questions and thought. YA books are the same. A great many of them as well are philosophical provoking metaphysical and ethical thought. Regardless of the the genre of the YA novel, they are commenting on society figuratively, whether it be about the past, present or future and does not by any means make them less valuable to adults. If more adults read YA books, maybe they could begin to understand the fears and anxieties this age group feels instead of dismissing them as being too young or [saying] they don't know what it's like, when in fact they know more than what we as adults give them credit [for]. And just because the books in most instances are written by adults, that doesn't mean that the stories they are telling aren't a story they needed to read as a teenager. Sometimes adults forget or don't realize just how much some of these teenagers have to deal with at home, at times more than what many adults can handle. 

I am a 38 year old RN and writer, and read primarily YA. There is no age limit on enjoying (or writing) compelling, well told, gripping stories, and for those dismissing the genre as juvenile are missing out on some of the greatest tales of love, life and loss ever told. Stories like Five Feet Apart, The Hunger Games, To All The Boys I've Loved Before all broke boundaries (and box offices) in their respective ways, but are all YA titles that deserve attention and respect. I connect so much more to YA tales than most "adult" geared stories, and have no shame for the preference! Those who judge people for reading outside of their age bracket...I dare you to give it a try. You might be surprised. 😉 

I am 26 and I love to read YA as it helps me switch off from the real world and makes me have a rest to help my illness & from my caring duties. 

One reason I read YA books is to discuss them my teen daughter. We are both big readers, and having read some of the same books gives us hours of great mother-daughter book talk! Even before she was old enough to read YA though, I was reading YA fantasy. There are those books aimed at younger teens that might not be my cup of tea, but I've found that most YA fantasy has well-developed characters and plot-lines that rival many of the "adult" books I read. I also doubt I'll ever be so old that I've truly forgotten what it was like to be trying to figure out life in general, and I think a lot of people look down on YA books because the characters may make foolish decisions because they are still trying to get a sense of where they belong in the world and how everything works. Honestly, I know plenty of adults who haven't figured that out yet, so it doesn't bother me at all. 

I'm 43 and I read YA because I'm a mom of a 14 year old girl, and sharing books is one thing we enjoy together. Having a way to connect with my daughter is priceless. I'm a middle school language arts teacher. My students depend on me to help them keep up with book trends. I like to read! 

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

Part Three

Part Four

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