November 11, 2014

I confess... I don't tell people I like YA

Inspired by this post by Jessi from Novel Heartbeat I'm writing this 'discussion' today. I have also read a few tweets and online articles about people judging YA or whatever genre in general lately. The fact that there are some really ignorant and mean people walking this earth, is nothing new to me. No, this made me think about myself and the way I see YA literature and how I feel about it.

Let's start at the beginning. When someone asks me what I like to do in my free time, my answer is: I like to read. Most people's reactions are something along the lines of:


or:


Then they ask what genre I like to read. My standard answer is: anything fantasy. I leave out the 'young adult' part because people see this genre as something for teens around 13 or 14 years old. Young adult is seen as a genre that doesn't deliver "great plots" and is basically the "kiddie pool" in literature as we can read in Slate's article Against YA: Adults should be embarrassed to read young adult books (and many other articles). Hell, some people even comment with 'YA isn't even a genre'.

I don't want people to see me as someone who reads "soppy" or "badly-written" books. Because that's not what they are. The most wonderful and life-changing stories I've read are from the YA section at the bookstore. People tend to forget that The Hunger Games, which everyone saw and loved, was originally a YA trilogy. It's not because YA's target is young adults that a) it's not a beautiful and well-written story and b) I can't read it because I'm an adult now.

I don't want to hide what I like to read anymore because it feels like I'm lying and I'm not a liar. Yet I don't know how to cope with reactions like the following:


or...


When someone looks at me like this I immediately feel dumb while in fact THEY are the ones being dumb and ignorant. It is why I've always left the 'YA' part out of the conversation... because I don't want to see these reactions. But I also want to be honest and tell the world what I love to read most so here's my question: how do you do it?

Do any of you feel like this sometimes? Do you admit you read YA and that you're a proud reader?

10 comments:

  1. I am totally the same! I don't usually tell people what I'm reading is YA it's like "it's a fantasy about an assassin" or "historical fiction set during the Victorian Era about a fighting zombies." YA is just a way to market and stock books. It's nothing to do with the plot. I recently saw this video of Patrick Rothfuss commenting about how people look down on fantasy and other genre fiction and it perfectly sums up my feelings about YA. Yes, there is some simple and crappy YA out there but is also terrible classics and Lit Fic. We shouldn't be judged by the lowest common denominator and regardless of what we read we should feel proud of it!
    Cassi @ My Thoughts Literally

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    1. I felt like it's mostly non-readers that would look down on a certain genre but it turns out it's everyone. It really breaks my heart and I wish it was different.

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  2. I admit it and I'm proud of it. I really really really don't care what other people think. It's their loss if they choose to ignorance and stupid judgement :) You should stand up for the things that make you happy.

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    1. These comments, yours too, have really inspired me and encouraged me to think about what I want and like and if I really should care about others. Thank you very much!

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  3. I often feel like YA is the 'RomCom' of the book world. Why apologise for what you enjoy? YA might not be my favourite genre, but I do read it and I do enjoy it. And then I find people who feel the same and I share it with them.

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    1. I am glad that I met people online who like YA just like I do and that we can talk about those books. IRL there's no one who shares my passion for reading. I feel like I can be myself in this community whereas people from my school or whatever don't get what it means to me and therefore don't understand the genre(s) I like.

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  4. Why can't all the hate for YA just stop? I have found that most of the time, the people who criticize my choice to read YA have not actually read any themselves. They think that just because it was meant for teenagers means that it is a bunch of stupid romance and fart jokes. I think the underlying issue is that people underestimate teenagers and their ability to comprehend literature. I believe that teenagers are actually getting smarter, so the books that they read are too. If you really take the time to go to the YA section of your library or local bookstore, you will see that all the romance books that were popular ten years ago are now being ignored. That is because the teens (and adults) who read the books are getting smarter, so the books are getting more complex to adapt.
    Well, that turned into more of a rant than I wanted it to.
    Thanks for the interesting discussion!
    Tessa @ Crazy for YA

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    1. I get what you mean, and it's true: every generation gets smarter (it's actually scientifically proven) and the books we read have to be somewhat complex to be able to stir our emotions etc. Thank you for your comment!

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  5. I don't know if my comment went through so I'm just going to try this again...
    Basically, while I'm glad that YA is gaining recognition and starting to become more popular, I'm really disappointed that adults are looking down on it. There is NOTHING wrong with YA. There are books that deal with so many serious issues! Reading a book written 200 years ago does NOT make you more cultured or educated than me. Sorry. I think reading is reading, and reading a classic doesn't make you better than someone who reads YA.

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    1. I agree with you on so many levels. I think our society makes classics look like educational books that will teach you a million life lessons while other genres are labeled as 'stupid', 'without depth' and 'just entertainment'. I need to learn to stand up for my beliefs and do what I want, read what I want to read. Thank you so much for this comment!

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