Reading YA as a (Somewhat) Grown Adult

by Jessica on April 6, 2018

By Rebecca

Confession: when I was little I had this deep fear that when I grew up I would only be allowed to read boring books and I felt like I had to read as many good books as I could before I grew up and it was too late. You see, to a kid, books with blocks of text and covers without pictures looked boring and that was all I ever saw adults reading. I was sure that if they had the option to read kids’ books, they certainly would. Who wouldn’t?

To be fair, as I’ve gotten older I have developed a deep love for “adult” books. And yes, “adult” is in quotes because, really, what does that mean in terms of literature? I read many different genres from mystery to fantasy to straight literary fiction and even nonfiction. But I’ve never grown out of the love I have for kids’ and YA books.

So what is the age to stop reading YA? Well, in the words of Cady Heron, the limit does not exist.

For me, reading YA is the experience that reading should be. There’s adventure and tenuous relationships and imagination. It’s so easy to get caught up in the story, especially since they tend to hit the ground running. When I read a YA novel, I don’t have to slog through the opening chapters waiting for the action to start. That’s the kind of pace that makes reading fun!

And while I know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, YA books really do get the best covers. I think we can all admit to that.

But there’s more than that.

These days, YA novels have become one of the most honest forms of literature. They tackle issues faced by real teens and real families. Occasionally, they just happen to be set in outer space. It’s a form of escapism that also helps readers relate and work through their own struggles. To be honest, some of the most relatable characters I have found in literature happen to be the heroes and heroines of YA novels.

Sure, there are people who give me looks of surprise when I, as a grown adult, say I still read YA. Just like there are people who think reading in general is a waste of time. We all know not to trust those people, right? But it made me think I needed to hide the fact that I still enjoy reading YA. I wouldn’t always admit when people asked me what I was reading, but would choose an “adult” book that I’d already read. But the truth is that I enjoy reading YA and even if some people don’t think it’s valuable, it’s valuable to me, and that’s the whole point of any book.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I shouldn’t let anyone’s opinion get in the way of my reading experience.

Just because you don’t happen to be a teenager anymore doesn’t mean you’ve outgrown YA. The books I read as I was growing up were the ones that made me into a reader. Nearly every adult bookworm starts as a kid bookworm. It’s usually not a trait that develops later in life. So why would I want to stop reading those books? Why should I feel like I have to, especially if I’m still learning from them?

At the end of the day, a good story is a good story and it doesn’t matter who the target audience is. Reading for pleasure means you have the freedom to read what you want, not what everyone tells you to.

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