Adults in YA: Why We Still Read, Part 10

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 (plus a bonus author!) above the age of 18 who explained to us why they still read YA:

I’m 25 and YA is my favourite genre. I think part of the reason I still read YA books is because they’re very entertaining without the “heavier” literary style of some adult books. Another reason is because I’m dealing with trauma that I experienced as a teenager and haven’t fully recovered from yet, and YA novels often deal with similar trauma. I also think that as someone in the generation of “Am I an adult yet?”, people my age have to deal with adulthood that’s so very different from our parents’ lives at our age. We still feel like a teenager in some aspects, so reading teenage protagonists makes sense because we can still identify with them.

I should start by saying that I've been part of a "YA for not so YA's" book club (yes, that's its name) for several years now, hosted by Avid Bookshop, my wonderful local indie bookstore. Like many mid-range millennials, I devoured Harry Potter throughout middle and high school and fell deep down the rabbit hole that was the Twilight series. But then I majored in English in college and found myself mostly reading what was assigned to me for the next 4 years, so once I graduated and had more free time, it made sense to return to what I had loved. As a genre, YA offers books that are more diverse and empathetic and interesting than the overwhelming majority of "literary fiction" meant for adults. YA pushes the boundaries of the publishing world in a way that literary fiction does not, both in terms of the authors it promotes and the content of its books. There's also something really magical about the key time in a young person's life where they are being challenged and pushed to find themselves and smack in the middle of becoming who they're going to be that I love to read about. 

You had asked why I still read YA novels, considering I am quite older than the targeted demographic. Two main reasons: 1) I thoroughly enjoy this category of books as they tend to throw the reader right into the the story at the beginning, while at the same time providing background/world building information. Many adult fiction novels take a bit too much time building up to the story; 2) I'm a high school teacher and I like to keep up to date with which books my students are reading by actually reading the books they enjoy/recommend. These books, whether fantasy, contemporary, mystery, rom-com, etc., provide a glimpse into the issues that this age group face and how those issues have changed since my time, in turn allowing me to attempt to understand them on a different level. 

I am a 21 year old college student who absolutely adores YA. I have always loved reading since I was little, but YA is what really made me an avid reader back in high school and I haven't stopped reading them since. Although the YA genre is usually targeted towards a high school audience, it has really come a long way with the topics it addresses and the audiences it captivates. In many ways, I feel that the YA genre is becoming more and more diverse than NA books, making it more relevant in the world we all live in today with stories ranging from fantasies, contemporaries, historical fiction, sci-fi, and even romance that target and celebrate audiences from all ages, races, and the LGBTQ+ community. YA has really pushed the envelope in striving to include people of all walks of life and to create a more unified community, addressing real-life situations and topics while creating a temporary escape for the reader, which is why I always reach for those books.

I still read YA at age 35 because it allows me to escape for a while. I love losing myself in a good book now and again. Plus there are so many amazing new voices in YA that are just waiting to be discovered. I love going to the bookstore and just walk up and down the aisles of the Young Adult section and pick random books off the shelves. 

I'm 20 and I love reading YA because YA has some of the BEST stories out there. Just look at all the amazing films that have been made from YA books! For example, Hunger Games, To All The Boys I've Loved Before, Maze Runner, etc. None of those movies would have existed without these books. If you watch a TV-14 show or a PG-13 movie, why wouldn't you read a YA book? 

I look back fondly on that period of my life, and I feel like I’ll always be young at heart. I like to think of YA as young adult and up! The genre is enjoyable for so many more age groups than young adults. 

What makes me love reading YA literature most of all is the fact that they’re coming-of-age stories, and we’re still coming of age. We never hit a certain point in our lives when our growing, maturing, and learning about the world stop, and the young adult genre acknowledges that. YA books accept that I have ideas and perceptions that can be changed. Being reminded how to see the world with new eyes gives me faith that my world and reality can also change one day. 
-@MBelleTower, Age 31

I still read YA because it helps me learn about the current events that are happening and how it can affect someone who is younger than I am. It helps me be more empathetic and understanding to others. It helps me realize some important life lessons that I forgot about and encourages me to be better. I read it because it makes me happy and I can relate to it on a deeper level. No matter what genre it is, it’s one that has always made me happy and my love for reading grows because of it. 
-@pll_lover13, Age 19

I never felt books were places for rules or restraints. It's all words so you have no visual or realistic limitations. Age groups in my opinion work as a marketing guide but when used too strictly can cut you off to a much wider audience. I read YA because the stories and characters interest me, and they don't have to be exactly my age to do that. If I'm expected to relate just fine enough to read about a detective with a ghost companion or a thousand year old vampire in an adult book, why not in YA? 

I haven’t been a young adult in over twenty years, but reading YA fiction still inspires me. It’s full of hope; it tells our future leaders that we can still change things. It paints readers a clear picture of what the world could be, even if it doesn’t look that way now. As a kid, I needed these stories to transport me away from difficult situations. As an adult, I need the reminder that despite the rainiest days, there’s the inevitability of sunshine. 
-@kellycoon106, author of GRAVEMAIDENS

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! We'd like to reach out and thank the 100+ people that came forward to share their words with us. We are incredibly grateful for everything you all helped this post become! It was a pleasure and an honor to work with all of you. <3

Check Out The Previous Posts:

Part One
Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Part Seven

Part Eight

Part Nine

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