Why Adults Read YA Literature

March 18, 2010

Looking for a good book to read? Stop by The Loft of the Evanston Public Library. But those are young adult books, you exclaim!

A recent article in The Los Angeles Times illuminates a variety of reasons why adults are reading young adult literature. Says Skurnick, who also reviews adult fiction for the LA Times and other publications:

YA books are ‘more vibrant’ than many adult titles, ‘with better plots, better characterizations, a more complete creation of a world.’

Add to that the bonus of getting to know the teens in your life and/or community better, or even just to journey along with young adults who question the world around them with a refreshing honesty and intensity. Says Johnson:

There’s something really wonderful about taking the journey with someone of that age. One of the main reasons I’m attracted to YA literature is just the openness of the characters…

Skurnick suggests authors of young adult literature are less caught up in the externals, or the need to fulfill an image of themselves as Very Important Artists motivated by prestigious literary awards. This, with a bit of a twist, is a sentiment shared by author Cory Doctorow, who writes for both adults and teens.

The lack of regard for YA fiction in the mainstream isn’t an altogether bad thing.There’s something to be said for living in a disreputable, ghettoized bohemia (something that old-time SF and comics fans have a keen appreciation for). There’s a lot of room for artistic, political, and commercial experimentation…  –Cory Doctorow

Or, as Skurnick says in the LA Times article:

YA authors are able to take themselves less seriously. They’re able to have a little more fun…That paradoxically leads them to create far better work than people who are trying to win awards.

I want to know what existential risks adolescents are taking, what brave choices, and yes, what mistakes they are making and how they respond to all of those. Don’t let superficial labels or mainstream opinion keep you away from what may be one of the most exciting book journeys you’ve had of late! Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Go straight to the Young Adult Section of your library!

Some recommended YA titles for adults:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Chanda’s Secrets by Allan Stratton
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins



Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

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