YA: NOT For Adults? Oh Heck No.


I just purchased a book I was pretty excited about.  So excited in fact, that as soon as I was out of the book store I took a picture of the book and put it on Twitter:



Shortly after my return home with my purchase, I was reading on line and discovered an article on The Slate Book Review called AGAINST YA, 

with a tag line that reads,

Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children.


Oh…. dem’s fighting words.

According to Ruth Graham, author of this *set my soul on fire* article, states that as adults we are better than this.


Errr… excuse me?
Ms. Graham, also feels that by not becoming emotion over books such as Fault In Our Stars is not because she is heartless, but because she is grown up.
Well… here is my response to that.
I love YA.  I am not ashamed.  There are times throughout my reading where I am devouring YA book after YA book.  Yes, I read many different genres, but YES, YA is among them.  When I was growing up we did not have the wonderful YA choices of today.  I remember I had Judy Blume (YAY Judy!  *knuckle bump*) and that is about all I recall.  I mean, Judy did a great job, but honestly most of her titles are more middle grade than YA.
Today’s YA is full on ENGAGING.  It is PASSIONATE.  And honestly, when I really think about it… I think that is what sells me.  YA character’s are emotionally amplified. They are out… saving the world, dealing with bullies, family members, and harder topics than honestly I ever dealt with.  They are teens so their emotions run HIGH and God Bless them…. I LOVE it.

YA character’s are emotionally amplified. ~ Sheila-age 40 something 😉 

If reading YA means I am not “grown up”, and/or “emotionally immature”  then so be it.  Because if being a grown up means that I am segregated in what I read… well to heck with that.  I will put on my pouty face, slam the front door, made annoying large bubbles with my gum, and sit on the step and read what I want to read.
YA, Sheila DeChantal, Book JOurney
Be sure to note that to the top left is all my Harry Potter books in Hardcover, paperback, and audio 😉


Over to you.  Do you read YA books?  Why or why not?  If you do, what do you think draws you to them?  How do you think YA compares today to previous generations?

83 thoughts on “YA: NOT For Adults? Oh Heck No.

  1. I say..READ WHAT YOU WANT AND TO H@## WITH EveryOne ELSE…sheesh…what a book snob she must be…

  2. This must be a popular topic, someone else just had a post about it also. I say if you like it, read it. Who cares what your age is. I am way past the age of the YA target audience and I still enjoy reading YA books. They are often very entertaining stories full of relevant issues. Like I commented on the other blog, the authors of these YA books are often older, so why can’t the reader be older also?

  3. Oh, My!! I am now going to act like a teenager and have a fit! Reading YA is one of my favorite genres. I like seeing them fall in love, I like seeing them make college and other life choices. What does the age of the reader have to do with the age of the people in the story. I am in my 50’s, so does that mean I can’t read a story about someone in their 20’s or 30’s?? Would that make me immature?

    I also read children’s books to keep up with what my granddaughter might like – what does that say about me??

  4. Perhaps YA can fall into these categories as well…?

    “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”
    ― C.S. Lewis

    “Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
    ― C.S. Lewis

  5. I should feel embarrassed for reading YA?!! Good literature is found in ALL GENRES. I love YA for several reasons. You’re right that it’s passionate and all absorbing. It also tackles subjects I want to know about because I have a teen and because I love the genre. I also read children`s books and middle-grade books. People will have their narrow-minded opinions. I say, let them be. Who cares what they think.

    I love that description of you putting on your pouty face and slamming the door…oh I got a good laugh out of that!

  6. Silly person, Ms. Graham, who thinks YA cannot be enjoyed as a “grown-up” while a mystery or fantasy is any better (which I happen to like as well)?. I simply agree with the other comments above. We should all read what we like.

    But if Ms. Graham’s post is really about touting literary fiction, that’s fine too, but let’s not be snobs about it. I enjoy those as well. I also like to read cook books and the Sunday New York Times.

    I read for enjoyment, for the story or for the concept; I read to appreciate the complex use of words or the simplicity of their juxtaposition.

    Adults who enjoy YA as a genre are indulging in the teen mind. How many of us remember high school vividly? There’s a reason for that. Many of our life directions were birthed in the maelstrom of teen angst and discovery.

    I doubt that adults who read YA, read it exclusively, anymore than we might read the entire list of Newberry Award winners and nothing else.

    It is adults who write these YA stories. I’m pretty sure they appreciate that adult audience just as the creators of children’s movies enjoy entertaining adults who have brought their kiddies to the matinee. What we pick up from the genre is different than our teen friends or kids.

    And doggone it. I think they’re fun.

  7. I read the article and who is this woman telling me I can’t read YA books. I am 28 years old and I love reading YA books. I am not embarrassed at all when I read them. Some of my favorite authors write YA books. I have been reading YA books for a long time and will not stop reading YA books. I get that the author of the article doesn’t like reading YA books. But don’t say other people who are older then YA books are meant to be read should not read them. Or feel embarrassed by reading them at all.

      1. I agree with you about the Harry Potter books. It is really a great and wonderful series to read. And it is also what got me into reading when the first book came out in 1997. Would never of read the series if my mother’s friend had not given me the first book.

          1. I just loved reading them! Have read them over and over again. Had only had the first book in paperback. Than the second, third, fourth, and fifth in hardback. Than went and brought the first five books in paperback in a box set.

  8. oh heck, I’m still reading picture books! I just love a good story and if happens to be “written for children” so much the better. The story will most likely be free from sex. Oh, maybe that’s middle school books. 😉

    I feel that people who look down on other people, for any reason, are insecure in their own choices. I’m not embarrassed to be reading Harry Potter or Mr Putter and Tabby books and if you ask what I’m reading be prepared to sit awhile.

    Does Ms. Graham know that James Patterson writes middle school books and Dean Koontz has written picture books?

    Hand me a book with an interesting storyline that is well written and I’ll read it. Well, it may take me a little bit of time to get to it but I’m not going to snub it.

    Gina, a book dragon
    because books are a treasure worth protecting . . . ALL books, all reading!

  9. I rarely read YA but when I do I usually enjoy the experience immensely. I totally understand the appeal. Reading is about the emotional experience (the journey) and the appreciation of the art form in context, and variety is the spice of life.

  10. I started reading young adult books so that I would have recommendations for my students…..I continue reading young adult books because I love them. They have some of the most “real” and beautiful dialogue that I have ever read…..AND I READ A LOT!!!! I don’t read to “look smart” or impress people…..I read what makes me happy; sometimes that happiness is wrapped up in a package called adult literature and sometimes it is a pretty little package called Young Adult……and pssssttttt…..don’t tell anyone, but sometimes I even read picture books!!! Double gasp!

  11. So I’m a huge jerk when it comes to YA fiction, I rarely like it. I dislike about 99% of what is out there and that’s okay. There are a ba zillion books in genres I do like, so its not like I’m going to have nothing to read. With that being said, I don’t think there is anything wrong with adults reading YA. I think its no better or worse than any other genre, and I would rather see a grownup reading The Hunger Games in public over Fifty Shades of Grey, which should be read in the privacy of your own home, along with any other pornography you enjoy. My rambling point is this, nobody should care what anyone else enjoys to read.

    1. I like the comparison of Hunger Games to 50 Shades 😀 I never thought to be embarrassed on what I read in public… I am always out there with a YA… and will be all week at camp too 🙂

  12. I was not always a YA reader, but I’d like to think it was to my benefit to add them to my stacks. One thing I like is that I can better suggest books to my son, books he may also find enjoyable. Adults write YA, and I hardly think they feel silly writing them or enjoying books in the genre.
    I’ve heard the chatter about this, and it’s so stuck up. One of they joys in reading is the huge variety we have…this woman is a stick in the mud!!

  13. I am so surprised that this is even still a discussion. All books have their place and time, and good writing (and good stories) is not defined by audience age, genre, length, etc. Sad that people are so narrow minded.

  14. There are definitely very condescending, arrogant people out there who look down on adults who read below their age level. They’re opinion of readers like us/me follows the “they’re not ‘serious’ or they’re completely uneducated so can only read at a child’s age level.” Give me a break! I can’t even describe how hot my blood boils with this. I honestly don’t want to read adult drama. It’s rare. There’s already enough of that in life, on TV and surrounding us pretty much everywhere. Besides—I enjoy kids’ books—the entire spectrum!

    Someone makes a VERY ignorant comment and I’ll tell them they don’t know what they’re missing. Guaranteed, they think Disney World’s a waste of time, too.

  15. Loved your post! Yes, I read YA, but not often enough. There is great YA these days, and reading these books helps us understand our kids better. 😉

  16. You know, I just read pieces of that article and I find this person truly obnoxious. And the truth is that even picture books are often written with adult readers in mind, so claiming kidlit is written solely for kids is just plain ignorant. They are typically written ABOUT kids, but in many ways, they are simply great stories. I love most of what I read, and I pretty much read all kidlit (except for non-fiction and a very rare adult novel), from board books through YA. I’d like to tell her what to kiss! lol

      1. Yep, a heated one at this end! lol Well, for a minute, anyway. I have never understood the embarrassment people feel, and why they had to make “adult” covers for all the Harry Potter books, etc. I was and am totally proud of the books I read and my interests, and will ALways proclaim how grateful I am to not want to grow up in EVERY way. I never want my inner child to die, or my love for the simpler things in life. I feel sorry (and get aggravated by) people who can only think/feel/act like an “adult” is SUPPOSED to be like. Phooey! *sticks tongue out and wiggles fingers from my ears!* 😉

  17. I don’t really read YA anymore, but I did for ages. Up until a few years ago (at 35). So I was super ticked at her article. The nerve. Readers should support readers.

  18. Screw her. It’s like an adult telling their older children to not read baby/younger books. Reading is reading. That is what matters. Some YA fiction are like hidden teaching tools from the adult to the young. There are messages/morals/ethics that are taught in them. YA can remind us of things we take for granted.

  19. I both read and write YA so I suppose I can consider it research for my writing and not be embarrassed at all? Or maybe I should be doubly embarrassed by my writing YA AND reading it? I’m confused now…maybe I’ll just continue to read wonderful and engaging tales that pull in readers of all ages and I won’t worry about someone who’s tastes are different than my own.

  20. YA is so much more rich and complex than it was when I was a teen. I love the fact that modern YA authors respect the intelligence of their readers and trust them to handle more complex and challenging topics. And yes, at age 47 I am an unabashed reader of YA. I enjoy all kinds of literature — if it tells a good story and offers engaging characters I consider it a worthy use of my time.

  21. People have been in a TOTAL rant about this, especially on twitter. While I completely agree with you, I think the article was a publicity stunt – they knew it would get people fired up, and the more people fired up, the more people clicking their links. Such is media today.

  22. Some of the best story tellers of our time are writing YA. Because “literature” has not been about story for a while (it’s been about things that are more easily discussed in a master writing workshop). I sense the pendulum is starting to swing back toward story in literature, but, for now, I’m going to keep reading YA.

  23. Great post Sheila. I enjoy YA. I am usually attracted to them when there is a lot of buzz, i.e The Fault In Our Stars, The Hunger Game Series…I’d like to pick up the Divergent series.

  24. I’m not a big YA fan…I usually stick to just the “crossovers”. But, that’s my choice and what I enjoy. And, guess what, if you enjoy YA, then you should read YA!! My favorite quote from that article was “Live and let read”….too bad Ruth Graham can’t just DO THAT!!

  25. I read YA and I write YA. And I’m damn proud of it. I also read NA and adult. Basically I read what catches my interest. And as far as not crying at The Fault in our Stars being the grown-up thing to do… my poor hubby had a couple tears falling down his cheeks just from the movie preview and he’s NOT a crier. Being a human being, I feel the emotional plight of people in general. Those feelings are no less valid or realistic just because the subjects are teenagers or children.

  26. I blogged about this topic this morning-it’s everywhere right now (CNN even did an article on the original article, lol). I’m an adult, who has children and a BA in English, and I like to read YA books once in a while. It’s not my favorite thing to read, but sometimes I enjoy escaping into reading wonderland with a good teen fiction story 🙂 A good book is a good book. Period.

    1. Thats awesome – I will have to find the CNN footage… I am sure, as one commenter said, that this is part because the author of the article wanted this sort of response… thats ok.. its been fun chatting about it.

  27. I guess this is a pretty hot button topic for us, huh. This woman needs to get off her high horse before she falls in all that crap. No one should ever be embarrassed for reading. Period.
    The fact is that many books that are categorized as YA are better written, more complex and far more interesting than the highbrow junk being fawned over by critics. If I have to choose between John Green and Jonathan Franzen, there’s no contest. It’s Green every time.
    Pic think this writer may have been seeking some attention in trying to pick a fight. I hope she’s ready for what she gets.

  28. Ruth Graham seems remarkably insecure with her own adulthood. Being a grown-up shouldn’t mean closing your mind and only reading about people like you. Part of the magic of reading is the ability to expand your horizons, and that includes being able to experience literature for all ages, cultures, genders, etc.

  29. Wow! What would she say about me? I still read board/picture books, and I like them!!!

    Ruth Graham needs to lighten up and not judge people.

  30. Oh I HATE when people “book shame”! Read whatever you want! And if you are still 30-something and occasionally re-read your Babysitter’s Club Books for nostalgia- well, nothing is wrong with that, right?

  31. Oh I HATE when people “book shame”! Read whatever you want! And if you are still 30-something and occasionally re-read your Babysitter’s Club Books for nostalgia- well, nothing is wrong with that, right?

  32. I remember 20 years ago that YA wasn’t really that great to the point that I had to read adult books. I feel that as long as somebody is reading in whatever sort of format or genre that they choose to that they shouldn’t be shamed.

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