Beyond the Blurb | Why Age Shouldn’t Matter When Reading YA Books

Morning, everyone!

I’ve come to terms that people will question why I, a 30-year-old reader, love YA books. They won’t understand how I started reading those titles, why I continue to do so even when I’m not the target audience, or why I champion these books and authors. And I’m okay with that realization. I truly am. I don’t need to explain why I read them.

What I’ve had enough with is the shaming or the expectation of adult readers must be excluded from the YA community. Now, I don’t want the adult voice to silence the teen voice. No, that’s not my intention or opinion here. What I want to discuss is how age shouldn’t be a factor when reading YA titles.

A Serious Age Gap in Publishing Pushes Adult Readers to YA

The most popular YA book that came out in my teens was Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight. Yes, I fell hard for it. And I can’t stand it now. Although, I like watching the movies when there’s nothing else on. It wasn’t the best series or the strongest representation of that age category. But it shows how teenagers and young adults (18-25) desired this kind of enthusiasm in reading. Still, to this day, young adults and adults (18 and older now) crave these titles. Even though we have the new adult category, it is sorely forgotten by publishers and even authors.

I still need angst in my books and strong and female leads who make mistakes, who I can relate and connect to, who aren’t afraid of making those hard decisions, and who’ve suffered alongside me. But I also desire to see characters who have the same scars as I do. Dealing with mental illness, sexual assault, and trauma also go hand in hand with YA books. Yes, adult books do discuss those topics, but YA authors bring that intensity to their books. They won’t shy away from the tough and emotionally draining topics like oppression and sexual assult/slavery or trauma.

 

We Older Readers Never Encountered This Kind of Passion in Publishing Before

Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and other blogging platforms are at the forefront of the YA phenomenon, which isn’t dying down anytime soon. Sure, the Millennials experienced Harry Potter, but not all of us were included in that craze though. I found my people in the YA book community. I felt included, understood, appreciated, and accepted. But somehow we adult readers are sometimes shunned from saying we adore YA books.

 

Adult Books Don’t Provide the Same Reading Experience as YA Titles Do

There. I said it. Sometimes, adult books suck. I don’t want to read about losing a child. I want to explore how the main characters overcome their PTSD. I don’t want to read about weddings when I can’t stand when someone touches me. I want to understand how people can live with their pain and not let it define them. Do I find that in most adult books? No.

 

YA Books Allows Us Readers to Discover Who We Are

It’s about discovery. YA titles allow readers to see themselves in characters. And I wish I had that same connection to adult books. But I don’t. When I read Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows, I understood that I had PTSD long before my first diagnosis. I figured out that I needed help from a professional when I read more YA series. People realize who they are when they find their niche in publishing. And unfortunately, adult titles haven’t helped in that department.

 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a 15-or 30-year-old reader. Enjoy YA books. Don’t let your voice overshadow teens’ voices though. Age should never factor into the love of reading. And we shouldn’t shame other readers for loving YA titles. Read whatever the hell you want!

 

What do you think about this topic? Are you an adult reader who loves YA books? Do you feel like we face more shame than what’s needed? Do you believe we’re facing an age gap in publishing?

22 thoughts on “Beyond the Blurb | Why Age Shouldn’t Matter When Reading YA Books

  1. I work in a library and a couple of months back a member of the public asked me for recommendations on what to read. I said I wouldn’t be of much help because I read YA primarily. They just looked at me and said ‘well aren’t you too old to be reading that stuff’. I’m turning 23 next week. 23. But apparently I’m too old for YA. God that annoyed me so much. At the end of the day… read what you want, if you enjoy it then so be it!

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  2. I’m categorized as new adult/adut but I just can’t handle all of the mainstream topics (wedding, divorce, having a child, losing a child) that often discussed in NA/A book! Everything is so grown up and honestly, I’m not even ready for that. Reading YA book allows me to explore those gap that I’m still searching for, like handling horrible past, dealing with trauma or mental illnesses, and finding your true purpose. It’s just so weird that these topics rarely appear in NA/A book as if hitting a certain age will immediately make you understand yourself or clear out your problems BECAUSE IT IS NOT!

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  3. I am 40 and I still love YA books. Not all of them, but I still come across them all the time. The majority I read is adult, but I love shaking things up with a YA book every now and then. In fact, sometimes all I want is to read some YA. It’s just a different reading experience. That young person is still in here somewhere and I like to indulge her every now and then!

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  4. As always, what an amazing conversation starter. Age shouldn’t define who can read a book. We all relate so differently to each new novel. Love that you found your passion and connection to these books.

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  5. Great post! YA is so relatable and there’s definitely a gap with no new adult. I just turned 18 and am having a bit of a existential crisis over being “too old” but I know I’ll just continue to read and love YA

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  6. YAAAAASSSSS! I am so sick of people saying to me “oh – you blog about YA???” when asked about what books I review. You are so right – adult book don’t have the level of passion and intensity that YA seems to. I love reading about flawed characters who, despite adversity, come into their own and find their voice. It inspires me in my own life and helps me trudge through when work gets me down. Books don’t discriminate against age. heck, I even enjoy reading books that are “technically” middle grade. Read what makes you happy and don’t judge others for what what they read. ❤ ❤ ❤

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  7. I have grandchildren, but I love YA books. A good story with well-developed characters is always a pleasure. Just because the characters are young doesn’t mean the themes and plot are only for young people! I recently read Kelley Armstrong’s A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying and thoroughly enjoyed it. Other favorites include Sarah J. Maas, Maggie Stiefvater, and many more. 🙂 Do I recommend them to my grands–yes, because I love to share good books.

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  8. Wow Siobhan, I loved all the points you made here. I am in my early twenties and don’t see myself outgrowing YA anytime soon.

    To second some of your points — the stories coming out of YA today that are being championed, were not necessarily stories that were around 10 years ago! Now, we are seeing so many diverse voices being published – voices from the mental health and lgbt+ communities and stories about different racial backgrounds and body types, it’s incredible.

    I’m sure this has something to do with many adults reading YA, either because we didn’t have these stories as young adults ourselves, stories weren’t being marketed widely or pushed by publishers until recent years. Now as adults we can indulge in stories and “see ourselves” so to speak.

    I’m so glad you were able to figure out you needed some help from reading books — it really goes to show the power of books! Love this post & can’t wait to read more from you.

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  9. I completely agree with everything you mentioned in this post of yours.

    I’m an adult (24f/t) and while I didn’t feel the shame of being an adult who primarily read YA in the past few years, the ‘shame’ snuck up on me all of a sudden around (I want to say) 3 months ago. Since then I haven’t really been as into the YA scene–which is a shame in itself because the YA view point is amazing.

    Loved what you had to say, Siobhan.

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  10. Thank you so much for this post, I literally was nodding my damn head while reading the entire post because SAME.

    “We Older Readers Never Encountered This Kind of Passion in Publishing Before”

    THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS! I was even too old to experience Harry Potter. I was 13 years old when the first book was published. I honestly didn’t even know about the series’ existence until the THIRD MOVIE was coming to DVD because I worked in a movie store at the time (and was 20 years old at that point).

    I grew up reading Nancy Drew and the Babysitter’s Club… and then transitioned to classics. I didn’t begin reading YA until I was in my 30s, and I am honestly devouring the stories I wish I had when I was younger.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love you, woman. 💜

      I didn’t get into the HP scene until much later too. Frankly, I was more interested in the movies at the beginning. So yes, YA definitely holds a special meaning, and I’m so happy you understand that.

      Same! I was a late YA reader. I feel more connected with that category than any other.

      Liked by 1 person

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