Rambling Wednesday: Why I Read Young Adult

If you're a fellow book lover, like myself, then you've probably heard this question a number of times: "Why do you choose to read young adult books? Isn't your reading level up to adult?" To which I usually just respond with a quick "I can easily relate to characters because of our similar age group."

 My short response is due to the fact that if you have to ask why I like to read the young adult genre only because of my assumed reading level, I doubt you'll understand my reasonings anyway. But since this is a book blog which is read by awesomely bookish people I figure I'll give a go at explaining why reading young adult books is my ideal choice to pass time.

"She turns a page. She loses herself in fiction. In that way I suppose she and I are both lost here."
-Lauren DeStefano

First off I just want to address one of my major pet peeves people make about reading the young adult genre: My choice in these books has nothing to do with my "reading level" or any other nonsense about age or intellect. All different kinds of people read young adult literature (Yes, literature). It doesn't mean that we are inept or can't comprehend an "adult book". All it means is that we enjoy the content that most books in the young adult genre have. Okay now that that's off my chest, let's get onto why I love these books so much.


I love feeling the connection between characters and myself. Especially when I start a book about a character that I think I will have nothing in common with because we are from totally different social groups. But as the story progresses and I get the chance to see the real them, I realize (as cheesy as it may sound) we're not so different after all. 

"I feel so completely crazy sometimes. I don't know which way I'm facing. All I can do is just shove all this shit to the side and try to move forward."
-Nic Sheff

In Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, Brittany Ellis has the perfect boyfriend, the perfect friends, the perfect reputation and is absolutely beautiful. After reading that on the synopsis I thought, yeah her and I are totally one in the same. But as I read the book I found out that Brittany's life wasn't so perfect, it was actually pretty far from it. She felt just as trapped and conflicted as I did. True, we may appear totally different, but our insides are just the same. 

I don't only read to discover unknown connections that I have with people from different cliques, but also because the characters and I usually have the same feelings. So many times while immersed in a good book I come across characters putting my thoughts and feelings into words. It's like the author went into my brain, pulled out my disorganized thoughts and wrote down what I couldn't find the words to say. Not only does it make me feel not completely alone, but it helps me understand a little bit more about myself too.

"I'm not choosing, but I'm running out of fight."
-Gayle Forman

As mentioned in previous blog posts, school was the farthest thing from ideal for me, I feel like I was robbed of my teenage experience. So when I choose to read young adult books it gives me a glimpse into what was so mercilessly taken from me: The best friend that would have answered my phone calls at three in the morning; the explosion of butterflies I would have gotten when the cute boy in math class looked my way. Or even the bad things like mending a broken heart with ice cream or failing biology because I refused to slice open a frog.

Even though I couldn't live the teenage experience first hand, I had and still have the opportunity to read about it. Whether it's now when I'm safe at home with my loving parents and dog or when I was back at school, sitting in a bathroom stall reading my loneliness away during lunch. I read it, I read the teenage experience. And not only was it a lesson about growing up, but the books also provided me with friendship.


For so many years I looked to Meg Cabot's Mia for advice and acceptance that my piers should have given me. I relied on Harry Potter to be my defense when my parents or I couldn't be. I mean if I accidentally swing the hardcover of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at your head that probably will hurt a little.

"I'm starved for a different light, a different sun, a different sky."
-Lauren Oliver

The young adult book's characters offered (and still do offer) me friendship that I lack with people my own age. Their stories gave me refuge while I tried to escape the seven hours of horror that I was guaranteed to go through five days a week at school. But it also offers knowledge, whether it's of my own feelings that went misunderstood or unsaid, or even the knowledge that there are good people out there; that they're not all going to be like the people from my high school. I guess you could just say that I read the young adult genre because it helps me feel a little less strange, a little less broken and a lot less alone. 






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(If you made it through that crazy long post you are truly awesome.)

11 comments

  1. What an amazing post. I'm not an adult, but I can read adult books, and you're right. It has nothing to do with intelligence or comprehension. It's because we become part of the book, experiencing what the protagonist is experiencing.

    That part about having a best friend to call at three o'clock? So true! Sad to think that I might not have that type of relationship with someone in real life, but once I open a book, who cares? The outside world disappears.

    And fantasy, sure it's not real, but I can't really imagine an adult going to Narnia, or being The Boy Who Lived (well, they wouldn't be a boy...).

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  2. Dude, this post is truly awesome.

    I certainly don't get why people still think that if we read YA it's 'cause we're not intelligent enough for adult books.

    I remember back when I was 12 and until 16 all I read were adult books, and I thought I loved them so I was not prepared for YA, it hit me in the face, I loved it and I never went back.

    And although my HS experience wasn't as bad as yours sounds, it's still very awesome that we can get to live more experiences (not just ours) but many others that are better, worse, sadder, happier, more complicated, etc, trough books.

    Loved the post!

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  3. Aw, I really loved this post, thanks so much for writing it! I totally get what you mean about the stigma attached to reading YA at a not-so-young adult age. I'm 21, but frankly, I'd rather read YA. It's more fun. I do read some adult lit, usually urban fantasy, but I do prefer YA. I think for me, it's cause I've always loved it. I read YA from a very early (possibly too early) age, and you know what they say, if it aint broke don't fix it. If I still enjoy reading YA why should I move onto adult fiction just b/c of my age or intellect level?

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  4. LOVE this post! I agree with you completely. My mother is always judging me for reading my "cult teenage fiction" and saying I need to read the classics. But to be honest most of the classics just don't resonate with me. But the YA books do. I love the characters. I love the stories. I can connect with it so much easier because its similar to me.

    I especially liked what you said at the end about not being able to live the teenage experience but having it vicariously through YA books. Which is SO true. Most of my knowledge of a "normal" teenagers life is from the books I read! I'll say something and my family will say "how do you know that?" and I'll say "well I read it in a book once!" Haha. :)

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  5. =))
    YA seems so alive and colourful to me. Beating hearts and sparkly stars.
    YA is not big in France. Teens and kids don't read here. So people leave me alone. But they put YA books in the kid section. And I'm the only 19years old there. With the 10 years old.
    To my friend, I'm the girl who reads for fun and not for school. They look at my shelve and say: " Oooh you have pretty books. How is that possible?" "Yeaa..it's YA." =))
    I learned so much from it. The books I read make me. I can feel it everyday in what I'm doing and the way I react.
    Have a nice day. (Yeeaa there is good people out there...somewhere. Here. On your blog =))

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  6. Oh Katie - this was a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing this with all of us.

    I am almost 30 years old & get asked all the time why I read YA. I used to be embarrassed by it. I hated walking in to a bookstore & going straight for the teen section. Somewhere along the way though, that feeling left me and I am now the adult standing in the YA section giving others advice on what to read, ha!

    No matter what genre or age group you read, you should read it for personal enjoyment & satisfaction. Every person takes something different from a story. I love YA because even though the characters may be teenagers, the issues are still so real to me -- they are just written in a different form.

    I wish I had books when I was younger. I really do. But I am making up for it now!

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  7. Katie! You just describe what i feel about books. I totally love your post!!! I specially like the little quote that you put between paragraphs... And hey I'm 22 and read YA and like it! It's definitely way more fun. When in adults books you get Luc, Jace, Daniel, Adam, Dash, Conrad, Nash, Ash, Sam, Damon, Will and a number of hot totally sweet bad boys?

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  8. Fantastic, beautiful post, Katie! I have also gotten that 'Aren't you reading adult books yet?' from my English teachers, and have always replied that YA is so much more fun. The long answer I wasn't articulate enough (or brave enough) to give is yours in this post. Anyway, thanks for sharing this and long live YA!

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  9. awesome post! that's exactly why i read ya. bc like you i've somehow mist out those teenaged experiences.
    So you pretty much described my thoughts on that matter. Thanks! It really is a great post :) YA rocks ;-)

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  10. First, this was a beautiful post. Not just because it touched all of your wildly bookish friends but because of what you laid out for us to see. I agree. I love YA books. I have always loved YA books. I was reading them when I was way too young and to some I'm reading them when I'm way too old (I'm only 24!)but I digress.

    I also did not have what you would call a normal teenage experience. I got through high school, but I spent my junior year flip flopping between 5 different schools and relatives houses. I understand what it is like to call your books your best friends. It isn't lonely. It is growing with characters and sharing their experiences. How can that be lonely?

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  11. Ok, so first I really wish I could give you a hug. I'm so sorry that you had to go through all that in high school. If we'd gone to school together you would have been welcome to sit at my lunch table. In fact I would have insisted because you're that awesome.

    I read YA because it's what I like to read lately. As a future teacher I want to know what my students will enjoy reading. If you guessed that's what I tell people, and not the "real" reason well then you guessed correctly. Good job. No, the real reason for YA is because I like that I can relate to it. I'm only 22 so reading adult books about marriage/divorce isn't really my thing. I'm still in the swoony stage with my new boyfriend so at times I feel like a high schooler. When I'm in that kind of mood I want to read a cute YA romance that leaves me with goosebumps not something adult and serious. I'm not ready to grow up just yet but even when I do, I will never be too old to read YA fiction.

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