Read Whatever YOU Want To Read!!

Warning RANT up ahead….turn back now if you don’t want to read my rant….or skip to the bottom for some announcements….

Rant commencing in…3….2….1…..

This Slate article may be old news at this point but go read it, come back here and then we’ll talk….

Okay, did you read it? Good.

There are a few points in this article that I’d like to respond to.
1.) The age range of what is considered “Young Adult”. According to Ruth Graham (the author of the Slate article) says that “Young Adult” readers are between the ages of 12 and 17. Now, There are several novels that are considered “YA” that I wouldn’t let a 12 year old read because of content or language, or any number of factors.

2.)

“Adults should feel embarrassed about reading literature written for children”. – Ruth Graham 

I think the fact that the author is tossing around the word children is demeaning to the “YA” readers out there. By calling a young adult a child, you’ve just taken away that label of adulthood you’ve given them. I don’t think an adult should ever have to be embarrassed for what they read. I think if you are a parent you would likely read a book before you let your child read it, as my parents did with the Harry Potter series. After reading this article I asked my dad, “are you embarrassed that you read all of the HP books and his answer was a resounding no…and then he asked for an explanation and I pointed him towards the article.

I don’t think it is up to Ms. Graham to decide who should be reading what.

3.)  ***THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS POINT**** Skip to number 4 if you haven’t read The Fault in Our Stars or the Divergent series

“Most importantly, these books consistently indulge in the kind of endings that teenagers want to see, but which adult readers ought to reject as far too simple. YA endings are uniformly satisfying, whether that satisfaction comes through weeping or cheering”. – Ruth Graham 

No, I’m sorry. This is not entirely true. If this was truly the case ***Spoiler alert*** than John Green would not have killed Agustus Waters and Veronica Roth would not have killed Tris. I think this statement from Graham discounts the fact that “YA” readers can be critical readers, and that they are still in touch with reality. Real life doesn’t always have happy endings, and it doesn’t get wrapped up for you in a shiny red bow. There are lots of “YA” books with unsatisfying endings, but yet they remain fan favorites.

4.)  “And if people are reading Eleanor & Park instead of watching Nashville or reading detective novels, so be it, I suppose. But if they are substituting maudlin teen dramas for the complexity of great adult literature, then they are missing something.” 

I’m sorry but WHAT?!? This comment from the author makes me a giant squid of anger ( <— watch the video, you'll understand). 

By the way, this guy up here, yeah he writes YA for any and all readers that want to pick up one of his books. 
So now, she’s criticizing adults who read YA and adults who read detective novels. I read both. I (at 21 years old) still consider myself young…and an adult….and a reader. I think no matter what age you are, you can learn something from “YA” literature. Adults and young adults alike have a lot to learn from Gus and Hazel, and yes even Eleanor and Park. There is a lot that can we can all learn from Q and Margo Roth Spiegelman of Paper Towns; lessons about life, and rush judgments, and not getting to know someone complexly and deeply. Just because the narrator is in high school, or college doesn’t mean that someone out of that age group can’t learn a lesson or two. 
5.)      

But I remember, when I was a young adult, being desperate to earn my way into the adult stacks; I wouldn’t have wanted to live in a world where all the adults were camped out in mine.” – Ruth Graham

Listen, this post is not supposed to be some sort of academic response to the Slate article, if it was I wouldn’t be using the “Giant squid of anger” gifs, there is nothing academic about giant squids of anger. This is just to say that a reader is a reader. Whether that person is reading “YA”, detective novels, or non-fiction…or a YA non-fiction detective novel. No one should dictate what you read. You read what you like to read. When I was in middle school, I lugged around my dad’s World War Two books in my back-pack and read them during silent reading when everyone else was reading the books of the day and no one was telling my “you are a “young adult” that wasn’t written for you. So I guess what I’m asking is, why the double standard? 
I guess I just don’t think that what another person chooses to read should be looked down upon by someone, and you certainly shouldn’t be embarrassed by what you choose to read. Authors write for an audience, I don’t think that John Green, Maureen Johnson, or Suzanne Collins would look at an adult and say, “sorry, I wrote that for “Young” adults, you can’t read that.” Of course they wouldn’t! They write so that we can read. Regardless of age, race, or gender authors write so readers can read. Writers write so that hopefully you can find something in their books; whether that is a momentary escape from reality, a lesson about relationships, or even in some cases making a friend because of a common interest in authors and books. 
Readers read so that at the end of a really hard day at work, or a really stressful Monday ( you know what I’m talking about : p ), or just needing to relax at the end of the night we read. We pick up a book and step into a world of someone else’s creation. A world void of phone calls with complaints on the other end, a world with out computers freezing up at the most inopportune moments, a world where you aren’t mowing the lawn. We read so that for a little while at least we are living someone else’s life. We are Q on the search for Margo Roth Spiegelman, we are Hazel in Amsterdam with Gus, or we are Rainbow Rowell’s Cath, trying to navigate college without her twin sister….and yes, those are all examples from YA novels, some of my favorite YA novels. 
Writers write so readers can read. It’s as simple as that. 
(that sort of segues to my next point) 
Camp NaNoWriMo starts in just under three hours and I’m so excited! I’m going to write a novel, for anyone who wants to read it. Whether they be an adult or a young adult. I don’t care who reads it, as long as someone does. Who am I to say that people can’t read what I or someone else writes. That’s not up to me or anyone else to decide. If you are out of the 12-17 year old range and you want to read something that is labeled as a “Young Adult” novel go ahead…if you want some recommendations check out the authors and books that I linked to, I promise you you won’t be disappointed. 
Sorry about the rant, this article just kind of made my blood boil when I read it….anyway, getting ready to start writing in a few hours, I’ll post a word count update as soon as I can. 
Blessings and happy reading, 
Megan 


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3 thoughts on “Read Whatever YOU Want To Read!!

  1. Britt says:

    Just finished reading the Slate article. Wow. She sounds like a few reading teachers I've met.

    I can see a little bit about her point regarding YA lit as some of it really isn't that great, but to say that an adult should be embarrassed by reading YA or children's lit is pretty ridiculous. I'll be honest-Twilight makes me cringe and I couldn't get past a few pages in both Divergent and A Fault in Our Stars, but I don't think less of people who read or enjoy those books. Everyone's tastes in literature is different just as everyone's tastes in food, music, or styles are different. If we were all fans of the same literature there wouldn't be much diversity in story.

    For the writer to say that children's stories don't deal with adult issues and have “too happy of endings” is ridiculous as well. Case in point (spoilers ahead):

    1) Narnia. In The Last Battle, the majority of main characters are killed in a train wreck and Narnia is destroyed. They end up in Heaven, but still…practically everyone died and a whole world was destroyed. And not everyone ended up in Heaven (remember the Ape, the Cat, Rishda and Tash?)
    2) The Hobbit ( yes, this was released as a children's book.). Thorin's greed nearly destroyed everything and he eventually died in the end, along with his two nephews. I'm not a Tolkien expert, but wasn't the line of Durin pretty much wiped out in one battle?
    3) Avatar: The Last Airbender. Yes, I know it's a cartoon, but this “children's story” along with its sequel, The Legend of Korra, dealt with so many adult issues it was practically an adult show. It discussed genocide, abuse, murder, suicide, abandonment, and war. Heck, the season one finale of Korra showed the villain be offed by his brother in a murder/suicide boat explosion. The stories there had more complexity than any other story I ever came across, literature or not, and this show has an awfully big adult following (even though it's a kid's show.)

    It's too bad that the author of the Slate article is more pre-occupied with the genres that people are reading rather than the fact that people are reading. Yes, I know we need to exercise good judgment when choosing books, but we also shouldn't knock a book away just because it's YA or a children's tale.

    Like

  2. Britt says:

    Oh! One more thing.

    Did the Slate article author mention The Hunger Games? Can't remember off the top of my head, but I don't think she talked much about it. That's a YA novel that covers some pretty complex and hard-to-read stuff. Not much of a happy unicorn prancing in a rainbow meadow ending in that one…

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  3. Megan Marie says:

    Nope! Not a single mention of the Hunger Games series.

    Like you there were a few points that I did agree with (especially the quip about the Twilight books). But the few points that I highlighted are the ones that really struck a chord.

    I love the examples that you shared from several books that were released for “children” or 'young adults” that went on to become iconic pieces of literature. My feeling is, at least adults are reading.

    Like

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