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Bookish Confessions: I'm too old for YA?! | aka That Guardian Article

By 14:00:00 ,

Hello my lovely little narwhal friends! I'm bringing you a lengthy Bookish Confessions post today. I had to wait over the weekend to do this because I was a bit annoyed and couldn't really talk about this topic objectively!

Too old for YA? Okay so I'm not.

I'm not too old. I'm 24 (for a little longer). In fact, no one's too old. The wonderful thing about this bookish community is that we don't judge, right? I've talked about YA before, but as you know - I freaking love YA - so I'm taking this chance to go for it again and look at it from a slightly different angle.

I don't know if you were on the Guardian's website last week or saw angry comments on twitter, but Cait @ Paper Fury wrote a wonderful response to this article in their 'books blog' which talked about why 'most YA fiction is grown-up fiction in disguise.' It made me feel judged though I'm sure that wasn't what they set out to do (but really it did make me feel like I was doing something wrong by liking YA as someone 'too old').

A lot of people obviously pointed out that some things in the article were just silly and not true (no, nothing's necessarily terribly wrong with marketing if 80% of YA titles are bought by adults over 25 - the publishers weekly article from which that statistic is plucked is actually quite nice and informative). But even the guardian article could serve as a conversation starter for us in a few things. So is it a bad thing that it was published? No, of course not.


{Here's a few thoughts I had while reading the article - and thinking about specific 'problems' mentioned it.} 
1. YA is not marketed at adults. It is marketed towards teenagers. It's why it's in the Teens, Children's, or Young Adult section. Funny how that works.
2. the fact that YA portrays sometimes more mature characters doesn't mean actual young adults can't read them! I'm sorry but that's stupid.
3. YA is actually kind of stigmatised. (Any kinds of books kind of seem to be, for teenagers.)
4. There are books that are marketed as YA sometimes that actually grapple with themes a bit darker or that have a pace and theme more geared toward adults - that may be kind of a mistake on the publishers' part but doesn't mean YA isn't for teenagers. (although YA does sometimes include really dark themes - but it's still done a bit differently in YA versus fiction aimed at adults.)
5. We should never, ever, ever dumb things down for teens. That is so not what YA fiction is about. YA grapples with such important issues for teens. And being a teen is difficult. They need their literature to reflect that, in my humble opinion as someone who used to be a teenager, not so very long ago. 

There was a story I wanted to tell you about my reading habits when I was a young adult, or at least within the brackets of the intended audience for YA (oh so long ago).

I read through the kids' section (which included YA - though not a whole lot of it) at my library by the time I was about ten or eleven. After that I ventured out into the adults' section which was massive and had everything. I started with Margaret Atwood because... she was the first author I came across who had a dozen of her books in a row on a shelf. (I started alphabetically going through the shelves, of course.)

ANYWAY. So that's where I stayed for the next decade. Reading adults' books as a kid. I understood them, I got things out of them, and I learned a lot. But I never felt like I could tell anyone I read - especially as a teenager, I didn't even talk about it to my friends. I wasn't a popular kid by any means, and because I was quiet and got high grades I was already labelled a geek, a nerd, a teacher's pet. So of course I wasn't about to tell anyone that I read books for fun. It just wasn't cool.

To sum up: As a young adult I didn't read young adult.

...This is turning out to be a much longer post than I thought so I might make this into a series of posts in the following few weeks.

But for now: instead of some of the things pointed out in that article, I'd like to bring up a few other topics that we can discuss in the comments or in later posts.
  • Why is so much of YA marketed towards girls and young women? (or do you think it's in fact marketed equally towards both sexes/genders?)
  • Why is it that it's not cool to read books?
  • If you're a teenager or you read a lot of YA as a teenager - do you feel like YA caters more to adults and not to teens?
  • Why can't peer pressure be about positive things? (little Annika wants to go into social commentary...)
So... what do you think - about the article or about any of my points here? I'd love to hear your opinions in the comments or in a post of your own if you feel like you'd like to do your own discussion post - because I do feel there's a lot to say on the topic of YA.

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