Monday, October 19, 2015

7 Things About YA

So, it happened again.  Another day another person declaring that reading YA as an adult is limiting.  And while, part of me wants to not even bother to address the layers of ignorance embedded in such a statement, let's try this again. 
1. YA is not a genre, it's an age category.  (You could also argue it's a marketing thing, since many books get sold as adult in one country market, and YA or teen in another.)  This seems like a nitpicky note.  But it's not, because YA includes under it's umbrella contemporary, fantasy, magical realism, literary, and a zillion other genres and subgenres.  Contemporary books share among them a similar time/reality setting.  YA books share a similarity in age of main characters (and target audience, although you rarely see a book about an adult tagged as YA, you will see books that focus on teens show up on the adult shelves). 
2. Reading level is a consideration in books marketed to kids.  However, it's a huge disservice to assume that things that are targeted for earlier readers cannot address important things. 
3. Corollary to that is that this assumes all adults read at an adult reading level in the language that they are reading.
4. And the other corollary to that is that YA is often not considered to be a different reading level of most adult books.  While Lexile measures are only one measure, let's look here where they note that Diary of a Wimpy Kid has a higher Lexile measure than Grapes of Wrath. The Wimpy Kid series is considered middle grade.  Steinbeck is considered adult. 
5. It has often been argued that a mono-book diet of any kind is unhealthy.  And I can see some scenarios where that would be true.  Certainly things like the We Need Diverse Books campaign, and Book Riot's Read Harder challenge have encouraged readers to think outside some of their automatic reading habits.  And I think that's a great idea.  But, this is where we get back to point one, YA isn't a single genre, it is a huge umbrella that encompasses many things.  (You could, for example, hit almost all of the Book Riot Read Harder things reading YA.)  So, that's not really a mono-book diet unless you are only reading contemporary YA that takes place at boarding schools. Or something. 
6. Again, I feel like this is the kind of thing people who have read one of a thing, or maybe, gasp, two, say.  Because then they can say I totally have read some and they were fine but really, how could you read only that? 
7. The other thing I think we forget about adults is that in most cases reading is entertainment.  Sure, you can (and maybe should) seek entertainment that surprises, excites, and expands you. But, I don't like horror.  It does nothing for me.  I understand that there are all kinds of really great horror movies and books out there.  I am going to be giving them a pass because that is not my jam.  Given the wide, wide range of things out there, I am not lacking for entertainment.  But I don't think people who like and enjoy horror are missing out or should re-evaluate their choices.  I'm quite happy that there are people out there who enjoy and appreciate that.  I don't have to take a moral stance on their ability to appreciate something that doesn't work for me.