Adults in YA: Why We Still Read, Part 9

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:

When I was little I was drawn to the YA section because I wanted to be like the Big Kids, but as I've grown older I think I choose to read YA because it's the section that makes me feel most at home and also most out of my comfort zone. YA dips into so many different character types and backgrounds, that for me it's hard not to want to read everything within the category. Also YA is the only place in the bookstore where you'll find a WELL WRITTEN historical fantasy romance book or a sci-fi fairytale death-galore book. YA gives me everything I want with diverse characters I can relate to, even if I am older than them. 

I still read YA because it’s not just for kids! The struggles and situations these characters go through are and can be relatable to people of all ages. Things like mental health, friendships, relationships and even fighting dragons isn’t just for children. It’s something that should be read about and talked about by people of all ages whether you are 15 or 55. And honestly, I’m still a young adult. So why shouldn’t I read it? Read what you enjoy! That’s all that matters. 

I read YA because I find the world, characters and story to be riveting and relatable. Whether you're a teen going through puberty or an adult having a midlife crisis, we all know and relate to those struggles and journey to find ourselves. Reading, like art and people, are very subjective, [so] not everyone will have the same personality and will like the same thing, so let's not shame diversity. [The] YA genre now [is] vastly more diverse and different from the "Twilight" era, but even so, it's quite demeaning to insult the book that has essentially paved the way for the other YA authors [and the] genre. 

Honestly, there are a variety of reasons why I still read YA at 23. One is the unending discussion around New Adult and how certain books would be better suited there (Hi, ACOTAR!). Another is a realization I came to in the past year which is that so much “literature” (and often that written by men!) is just so full of itself. My interest lies in well-written stories that focus on emotional aspects of being human, and authors in the YA sphere do that so well, something I have found lacking in adult literature aside from a few books. 

I read YA books for a couple of different reasons. I'm a high school English teacher, so I like reading books with my students and having books to recommend to them. But I also read them because I enjoy them. I feel like YA books are often more thoughtful and tackle more sensitive issues in an honest way than many books I've read that are supposedly written for "adults." I also like the sophisticated nature and storytelling techniques found in YA such as verse, letters, screenplay format, etc. that are not found as often in other genres. 
-@saracuse9, Age in the 30's.

There are several reasons why I read Young Adult books. One of the biggest reasons, I think, is because I'm queer (more specifically transgender and demi/biro). Because of having to spend my teen years figuring out who I am, I feel like I missed out on a lot, and reading YA is one way to live out what I wish I had done in middle and high school. Another reason is because so many YA books are very inspirational. With the push for more diverse voices in recent years, there have been so many well-written books on such difficult topics, and there are so many stories out there that make me want to get up and make change happen. Not to mention the community is like my home. Between the writers, readers, bloggers, and everyone else involved in YA, it's like a second family! 

"Grow up and read your age’"...No. Walk through life with a sense of lightness and play. The world is changing so fast that a sense of fun and a willingness to walk into new spaces is vital in work and life. YA dwells in the liminal space between youth and adulthood and to live a full and joyful life you need to keep navigating through that changing place. Keep hold of the magic, carry it with you in life, share it with others. Walk with Alanna and Mia and Laura and Anne and Hermione and Katniss and keep your heart full of sweetness and stories.

To me, reading is a hobby, something to enjoy. I read to spend time with characters I love on daring adventures and escapades.  So when I grab a book, I'm not thinking, "Is this my reading level?" I'm thinking (to paraphrase the recent internet phenomenon) "Is this book going to make me happy?"  Sometimes the book I grab is going to be challenging, dense writing that's 700 pages long. And sometimes, especially after a long day, that means I need a quick 350-page read that's just *fun.*  If that happens to be a YA book, so be it!  I'm not reading to impress anyone. I'm reading to relax, using whatever material does the trick. 

I read YA because it's amazing! YA books tell complex and exciting and diverse stories in ways that are surprising and less formulaic than a lot of adult books. Plus, YA stories deal with so many firsts -- first kisses, first dates, first friendships falling apart, first failures -- and the emotions that come with those are so raw and messy and hopeful and relatable at any age. I was a YA reader before I was a YA writer, but when I started writing books I knew there was no other type of book I wanted to write!

YA literature is not just for young adults. As a 26 year old (almost 27), I still read YA because there are so many amazing authors who create such vivid stories. When I choose a book to read, all I want is a story with a creative plot and dynamic characters. The supposed "target" age group does not matter. Some of the best literary worlds come from YA books. 

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

Part Five

Part Six

Part Seven

Part Eight

No comments

Please note that if your comment doesn’t appear right away, it’s because we have to approve it. Make sure to click the Notify Me box so you can check back once your comment has been approved! ❤️