So, I’ve heard about this since a long, long time. I think a few months ago, I read somewhere that there was an article which said adults reading YA should be ashamed (or something roughly along those lines) and then yesterday, I read Paper Fury’s amazing post about another article which basically says YA books are adult books in disguise, which basically made me realize that I’ve been reading and hearing about this issue since a long, long time. And I need to get my opinions out, so here it is.
Now, I have a love and hate relationship with YA. About 60% of the books I read are YA and though I am constantly complaning about the cliches and typicalities of YA literature, I have certainly realized that in a sea full of typicalness, YA also does contain gems. And also, over the time I’ve come to realize that every genre has its own cliche and generalized trope; so YA as a genre shouldn’t get the hate it constantly receives.
Now let’s for a second concentrate on the age restrictions of genres/books. Doesn’t ring a bell? Because it doesn’t exist. I have never till date read any single book which boasts of being directed toward a ‘particular age group’. That is insane. I’ll tell you why? Because people have different tastes and preferences . You can’t subject everyone to the same type or same genre. That is an insane level of stupidity. And considering that YA makes up for one third of the main genres (MG, YA and Adult), that seems like a hell lot of subjectification to me.
Reading books is not about reading something at the right age. As much as the law forces down on us that we’re only adults when we turn 18, that’s not how it works with books. For me, what matters is that you understand a particular genre, you enjoy a particular genre, so you obviously READ THAT PARTICULAR GENRE.
But pushing down age limits on books and making them specific for particular people steals away the essence of the book, because each person – whatever may be the age – takes away something different from each book. No two people can be equally moved and affected by a book, and by a book – I mean any book. It could be MG, YA or Adult.
Making people feel bad for their choice of books is a horrible, shameful thing. And this sentiment derives from the basic logic that people have the right to be individual and choose their own books.
There is a difference between ‘I hate Mortal Instruments’ and ‘Mortal Instruments is a bad series’ just like there is a difference between ‘I’m an adult and now am no more interested in YA’ and ‘Adults reading YA should be ashamed.’ Whereas one statement declares your own personal stand on things, which you have a right to, the other one simply condemns something which might even be a highly, highly unpopular opinion.
There is NO such rule which says YA books can only be read by young adults, or that adult ones can only be read by adults. Trying to push down one’s own personal opinion and making a general statement based on that won’t get anyone anywhere; because reading depends on a hell of a lot more than the year you were born. I was thirteen when I first read A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, which is largely an adult book. And? I LOVED it. I didn’t care that it was an adult novel, or that my mom had forbidden me from reading it. I LOVED IT BECAUSE IT’S A BRILLIANT NOVEL. I didn’t think at that time about my age, of all things. And, also, if reading YA as an adult is wrong, then what about the millions of adults who read AND love Harry Potter? Harry Potter is pretty much middle grade (though it does mature slowly) so then why are adults reading it?? Surely they’re doing something wrong!? </sarcasm>
I do understand that there are a lot of YA books which might be really frivolous or pointless, and may not be good YA books. But then again, that’s that! They’re just bad books, not, bad books for adults. They’re in general, bad books. And generalizing and stereotyping a whole wide, diverse genre just based on some basic books/ a part of that genre is just plain stupid.
I think YA books can be read by ANYONE. I’m not talking about the ‘should’ factor, because it’s not in my place to say. Just as there is no reason to ridicule an adult who reads YA, similarly there is NO reason to comment about an adult who does not read YA. It all comes down to one, and one basic thing : Reading is a matter of personal choice.