Hi, my name is Jamie, I’m 31 and I confess to loving YA books.
There, I got that out of my system and I’m not ashamed. The truth is I have friends in their 40’s and 50’s that love reading YA books too, so it’s not just me. But why? I can assure you it has nothing to do with wanting to be a teen again. There is nothing I would dread more than being trapped back in my high school years. No thanks. It’s not because high school was the best time of my life. It certainly wasn’t. I love my thirties far more than my twenties, and immensely more than my teens.
I have my reasons for loving YA books. I assure you there are reasons for this madness. If you’re one of the many adults who load their Kindles with YA because you don’t want to be seen buying “unsophisticated” books at the book store, I’m here to tell you “it’s okay.” You don’t have to hide or be ashamed. Here are 5 reasons why I love YA books:
1. They are an escape.
Don’t get me wrong, I love reading books that keep me thinking for days, and even the ones that disurb me for days, but I can’t read those books all the time. After reading about incurable Alzheimer’s disease in Lisa Genova’s Still Alice, horrific fictional events from the holocaust in Jodi Picoult’s The Storyteller, and the psycho couple who make Bonnie and Clyde look like saints in Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, I’m ready for something a little less depressing. Cue YA. It’s not that YA characters don’t have struggles or fail to go through anything cruel or dark, because they do, but it isn’t too often that I put down a YA book and feel inconsolable. Except for maybe The Fault in Our Stars, thank you very much John Green. Usually YA books take me on a rollercoaster of emotions and by the end I feel satisfied and even good. Maybe because many YA books are fantasies they lend to that escape. I can laugh or cry and then, when the book ends, I can come out of it fairly quickly and go on with my life. At least I won’t be thinking about the Jewish mother cradling her child before they got shot in The Storyteller while I’m trying to go to sleep at night. For a few hours of the day I can delve into another life or world, and then come back out of it without being scarred.
2. We were teens once too.
We like what we can relate to, and we can relate to anything we’ve already been through in life. Guess what? We were teens too. We went through fly-by-night romances and dealt with awkward moments. While teens can’t relate to half of the things we’ve been through as adults, we can relate to them. YA books are the way we can do it without having to deal with the real-life craziness and hormones of actual teens.
3. They aren’t as graphic as adult novels.
Adult books can be sexually or violently graphic. While you may have secretly snuck a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey into your house, (Terrible book by the way. I’m in no way condoning it. I couldn’t even get through the first book) most of us aren’t up for graphic reads all the time. There are many adults who won’t even pick up a graphic book. Many adults, like me, aren’t cut out for intense gore or book porn. YA is toned down for its audience. There can be violence but it doesn’t get as gory and when characters have sex I don’t have to read about throbbing members and bodily fluids.
4. They are fast paced.
Sometimes when I read a YA book I feel like I’m windblown, like I just stepped out of a convertible. YA books move fast. They are generally a little shorter, not always, but mostly shorter than adult books, and they don’t have any fat on them. Sometimes when I’m reading an adult book, even the really good ones, I’m wondering why a chapter is moving so slowly. Is it for stronger character development? Was the writer just really connected to that unnecessary conversation? That never happens in YA. YA is as fast paced as the rest of our lives. They are visual, the plot moves along quickly and you grow attached to the characters before you’ve made it through the first couple of chapters.
5. We still deal with the same drama.
We like to pretend that as we grow older we conduct ourselves in a much more mature, reasonable fashion, but it isn’t true. Just read the mommy boards on BabyCenter and you’ll realize we never really escaped the high school mentality. Whether at work or in our social lives we deal with bullies, we deal with social hierarchies, we deal with relational issues and complicated friendships. High school drama never left us, it simply adapted to our new environments.
The next time you are in a bookstore, don’t be ashamed that while you’re grabbing a Donna Tartt book, you are slipping a YA book underneath. It’s okay. There are many of us right there with you.