Wednesday, September 14, 2016

In Defense of YA // Part #2

Note: There have been some bookish-community-related issues that have been bothering me lately, so my posts for September are going to be more ranty. Here is a list of my ranty posts so far: 

Also, if you’re looking for other posts from me, there’s still time to enter my giveaway. And if you haven’t read my interview on Victoria’s blog, feel free to check that out. 

Some of you may remember the post I wrote last year in response to an article telling adults they should be ashamed to read Young Adult books. Well, about a month ago, someone posted another article against YA, and I’m upset enough to respond once more, only this time I'm not feeling as nice or as tolerant. 

*awkward laughter all around*

For those of you who don’t want to read this latest article (Why young-adult-fiction is a dangerous fantasy) or give it pageviews, never fear. I really wish I could just annotate the entire piece, but for legal reasons, I can’t exactly do that. So I’m just going to summarize and respond to each individual argument. You're welcome. 

(Arguments in bold.)

YA fiction robs teens of the chance to become literate adults.

To be fair, he’s not saying YA fiction is making it so teens don’t learn how to read. But he is saying that YA makes it so teens don’t learn how to process and analyze what they read, which is essentially just as bad. 

About 75% of my reading diet is YA (probably more), and I got an 800 on the reading portion of the SAT (pre-2016 scoring method). But sure, if you say my reading habits are making me illiterate, I guess I’m illiterate. 

Of course, the SAT is not a perfect test, yet I do think it’s a fairly decent judge of how well a person can analyze reading material, among other things. I’m only 19, though, so what do I know? 

Young adulthood is not a legitimate state of being.

“Oh yes, back in my day, we went straight from childhood to adulthood.” Well, good for you. First of all, no, you didn’t. Secondly, when people did skip from childhood to adulthood a long time ago, they did so because they quit school at eighth grade (or sooner) and switched right away to their day-to-day job. They didn’t have those extra four years of school during that awkward, coming-of-age stage—those extra four years where they’re forced to live at home and still be young when their mind is telling them to establish their place in this world. It was the modern education system that imposed this prolonged state of adolescence on us, so as long as we still have high school, young adulthood is here to stay. But don't ever mistake it for a state of being that is to be looked down on or patronized. 

YA is “nothing more than gossip fodder” akin to the contents of the tabloids you find at the checkout.

I think anyone who says this with all honesty has either been reading all the trashiest YA they can find (because yes, some of YA is trashy—a lot of Adult books are trashy too), or they have been reading YA wrong. And I rarely accuse people of reading things wrong, because who am I to judge? But if you can’t read a wide sampling of YA and see that at least portions of it have worth and merit, then you're missing something. And while we’re at it, THE LORD OF THE FLIES is YA, so don’t give me any of this, “Teens shouldn’t read YA—they should read classics instead” nonsense. This is not a matter of either/or. 

Teens are reading less nonfiction because publishers think we’re too stupid (or maybe we’re actually too self-obsessed).

Somebody, restrain me. 

Let me introduce some useful concepts to you, sir. Here is the thing. Nonfiction is for learning, predominantly. Fiction, on the other hand, is more for escape (although you can learn a great deal from it). Teenagers have school. School is hard and very stressful. Also, there is homework. A LOT of homework. (I’m using short sentences so you can follow my logic.) Pardon me for suggesting this, but WHY THE HECK DO YOU THINK TEENS WOULD VOLUNTEER TO READ STUFF THAT SEEMS LIKE MORE SCHOOLWORK WHEN THEY ALREADY HAVE SCHOOLWORK COMING OUT THEIR EARS? 

I like nonfiction, but most of the nonfiction stuff I read is not in books—it’s in articles online. I have read one nonfiction book in 2016 so far, and I have two others on my TBR right now. I refuse to feel ashamed for not reading more nonfiction, even now that I'm not in school. 

I have no problem with nonfiction. If you drop an interesting nonfiction book in my lap, I will read it. But I don’t seek nonfiction out. Eventually, the longer I am away from school, the more I will want to read it. But I’m not going to force myself to read more nonfiction because I don’t want someone to think I’m stupid or self-obsessed. Honestly, teenagers ARE more focused on themselves BECAUSE THEY ARE LEARNING WHO THEY ARE AND WHAT THEIR PLACE IS IN THIS WORLD. That is not necessarily a bad thing. 

Get of your literary high horse. 

Rather than reading YA, teens should be engaging with books from intelligent adult minds (in other words, those adults who write YA aren’t intelligent).

Don’t make me laugh. Please, I beg of you. 

I hate laughing. 

Teens shouldn’t be reading YA—they should be reading books about growing up and becoming adults (i.e. coming-of-age stories). 


Because Young Adult literature is never about coming of age. It’s only ever about young adults in various situations trying to find their place in the world as bad things happen to them and make them grow up and become adults before their time. So….um…yeah, absolutely no coming-of-age stories here. 

Publishers have been turning teenagers off to reading by producing sub-par literature. 

I refer you to my previous point about not making me laugh. 

In all seriousness, yes, sometimes publishers publish something in YA that makes a bunch of seasoned readers roll their eyes, but committed readers will always find something worthwhile to read. We are not quitters, and we don’t have the attention span of a caffeinated gnat. Give us some credit, please. Also, unlike what you seem to think, we’re deeper than your average melted ice cube. 

YA is causing adolescent behavior in adults (in reference to politics especially). 

No, actually, I think that’s poor parenting. 

In conclusion, don’t patronize teenagers. Just don’t. Young is not a synonym for stupid, and you would know that if you took off your “I’m a seasoned, worldly adult” sunglasses and actually looked at us. Sure, there are plenty of stupid people out there—stupid babies, stupid teens, stupid adults, stupid ninety-year-olds. Age isn't a factor. 

I don’t even care if you don’t like reading YA. If Adult novels are your shindig, then I respect that. But if you don’t like the food, don’t spit on it—leave it for someone else to eat and mind your own plate. The world is large, and you are small. It is not your place to shame people or police what everyone else is reading. 

Just a few thoughts. 

Well, that’s it for today, my little coffee beans. Have you read the article? What are your thoughts on the issue? What are some of your responses to his arguments?


  1. *applause* YES to all of this! Whenever I see articles like that, I wonder what kind of YA books the authors have been reading. Obviously they've read enough to think that they can generalize - or maybe they consider themselves above it without even having read any, which is worse. And besides the normal teenagers-are-stupid way of thinking, I don't really see what people have against YA. Do people criticize young children for reading kids' books instead of Moby Dick? Nope, at least not that I've seen. But then you call something YA and suddenly it's SO inadequate and SUCH a waste of time.

    1. *bows deeply* Same. I feel like they read a couple subpar books and a few synopses and then suddenly consider themselves experts on the subject. Which makes me a little embarrassed for them. (But only a little.) It frustrates me when people consider themselves authorities on genres or books they haven't even experienced for themselves. Ugh, I wish people wouldn't assume teenagers are stupid because they are young. Like, why? Why??

      Thank you for commenting! :)

  2. The person who wrote his post is clearly not an intelligent person. Those points were all invalid. HE seems to be the one who ought to read more books.

    1. XD In one sentence, you have better countered the article than I did with a whole blog post. It's so true. :P

      Thank you for commenting! :)

  3. I love this post! While I don't read many "typical" YA books, I believe there is much to be gained by reading fiction (YA, Teen, Adult, or otherwise).

    You made an excellent point regarding school work. School--especially high school--almost sapped the joy out of learning for me. School teaches students to work for test results, not for love of learning or for the goal of bettering oneself. If we instilled in children and young adults the love of learning, rather than working for a test, they might be more inclined to read "adult" books. At least these young adults are reading something of substance and not social media posts written in textspeak.

    *Crickets* Sorry for the long rant.

    Good post!

    1. Aww, thank you! Yes--every genre has something to offer. It's lame when just one gets picked on for invalid reasons.

      Thank you! I know my sister got burnt out of reading fiction for a while because she had to read so much for her literature class. I'm glad that when I was in high school, I got to focus more on the fun of learning, but even so, tests were such huge downers. I do feel like we need to overhaul the school system so learning can be fun and positive again.

      :P No worries. I like your rants.

      Thank you, and thank you for commenting! :)

  4. Great rant, Liz! Very much enjoyed it. I get really irritated how snobby adults on their high horses like to spit on concepts they think are "unintelligent." Don't get me started on what people say about anime.

    1. Thank you! I really enjoyed writing it! :P It frustrates me that adults down younger people. Like, they were young once too. What is their problem? Ugh, yes, people are gross about anime too, and women who write sic-fi, among other things. :( Poo.

      Thank you for commenting! :)