Young Adult: Reading YA as an Adult

I’ve seen several times articles or thoughts about adults reading YA books. That doing so is weird, or that some read them because they’re “easier plots” or “simpler reads,” or for a bunch of other reasons, some positive, most negative. Reading YA when not a teen has a stigma attached to it, as if a True Adult shouldn’t stoop down to read such “childish things.” (This, I find ridiculous. I read just as many adult books as I read young adult books—there are plenty of “easier plots” or “simple reads” in the adult book range and plenty of complex plots and difficult reads in young adult.)

For me, there’s one major reason why I read young adult: I like it. Another reason is, I write a lot of young adult so I read a lot of young adult. But aside from those, there are two factors into why I still read young adult. The first being…there’s a lot of books out in the world. To be more specific, there’s a lot of young adult books out in the world.

By that I mean, I never, ever, ever, ever could have read every young adult that had ever been published in the seven years I was a teenager. Not even just the ones that interested me—I love fantasy and sci-fi and paranormal and dystopia and contemporary and most in between. And because as time goes on, there are just more of them. Sure, a few fall into the chasm of lost books that no one cares about anymore because NEW SHINY BOOKS arrive all the time, but for the most part, books stay on the shelf. Books are there forever once they’re out. The pile of young adult books to choose from just grows and grows. So every year, each new batch of teenagers has even more young adult books to choose from than the last had.

And with the boom of young adult in the last few decades, this is the case for me:

I’m not a fast reader. I own a lot of books. I own a lot of young adult books. And I still haven’t read them all. I likely won’t ever read them all (thought I’d like to at least read the ones I own). To attest to that point, I have a young adult trilogy that I’ve wanted to read since high school but haven’t gotten around to it yet. And it’s not because I don’t want to read that trilogy anymore. I’ll still read them once I’m in the mood, someday, I’m sure. It’s not because I lost interest in them over time so that now they sit on my shelves collecting dust—like so so so much dust, I seriously need to clean my shelves. The reason I haven’t read them is because…I just haven’t yet. Because there’s just so many books, y’all and I’m a slow reader. I always add to my TBR, young adult and adult and anything I find. There’s just more and more and more of them, all the time. So of course, I couldn’t have read them all while being a teen. So I continue reading those YA books I wanted to read then, now as an adult.

And a lot of those YA books I own, still unread? They’re the first fews books of a series that are still being published.

That’s the second factor. That’s the big one for me.

Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters books. Sarah J Maas’s Throne of Glass books. The Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson. Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle. All books that I started reading (or I now own but came out during the time) while I was between the ages of thirteen and nineteen and didn’t finish (or in many cases have yet to finish) until after my teenage years.

I’m now twenty-four. I started reading Cassandra Clare’s mega-series Shadowhunters when I was fifteen or sixteen (the optimal age for those books) and I’ll be thirty when the last trilogy starts being published (according to her estimated release dates she’s posted). THIRTY. I’ll be the age Cassandra Clare was when she started writing the books three years before City of Bones came out in 2007. THIRTY. And you bet, I’ll be reading them. Because I love that world, I like those books, and I want to see it to the end.

And look at Harry Potter. There are legions of adult fans who read them as children/teens and still reread them, still pass them down to other adult friends to read for themselves or to their kids. People started reading Harry Potter at different times in their lives, and the books came out over several years, so there were loads of people finally reading the last book at adult ages. I didn’t even read Harry Potter until I was in high school, years after Deathly Hallows had come out.

Also, when I like an author’s writing or world or whatever, I stick with them. I’ll read anything by my favorite author Victoria Schwab, whether she writes young adult or adult, until I die and I can’t read them or she dies and can’t write them. I started reading her books out of high school (when I had just turned twenty) and started with her young adult books, then with her adult books. But if I had been a teenager while first discovering her, nothing would have changed. I still would’ve continued to read whatever she put out while going into adulthood. I didn’t just think, “Oh, I’m an adult now, I need to stop reading those books even though I love them and love the author.” Because that’s ridiculous.

Seven years between thirteen and nineteen is not a lot of time to discover all the young adult books available. And to stop reading them just because you turn twenty would be silly. And that’s not even mentioning the people who started reading young adult books at the age of thirty or fifty and love them. All of it is great. Read what you want and read it without shame.

Maggie Stiefvater posted a great thread today on Twitter (which is the reason I started thinking about this topic today) that I like. I think there may be an even deeper reason to why adult adults (the people who started reading young adult at thirty or fifty) gravitate toward YA. This is an interesting take on the topic, I agree with it. But I think the vast majority (as you can see from even her poll at the start of the thread) are freshly adult adults. Her first books came out when those 18-24 years olds were young teens. The first Raven Cycle book came out when those 18-24 years olds were 13-19 (and her first YA books were published much earlier than that, which likely led people to the Raven Cycle books to begin with). They probably followed her as a writer and continued to read her books from teenhood to adulthood, as I think is most common, and is exactly as I did.

The point I’m trying to make is that there’s this weird “mystery” to why so many adults read young adult books and it’s really not that big of a mystery. Young people still read them after phasing into adulthood. It’s really as simple as that.

(I very well could be wrong. I don’t have any data to back me up. This is just an opinion post.)

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BookTube-A-Thon 2017

BookTube-A-Thon was recently! Actually, a while ago, at the end of July. Anyway, it’s one of my favorite events to take part in, having done it now three years in a row. The main challenge is to read seven books in seven days. And I did not accomplish that — but, I did accomplish all the other reading challenges and read quite a lot for a single week, so I’m proud of myself.

My official count is six and a half books read. Which isn’t terrible! That’s awesome! But also so close that is makes me so mad! I had an opportunity to have a fun night away and instead of saying no, I did it and ended up spending almost 24 hours of that week not reading. I definitely could’ve made it to seven had I not done it. But it was still fun so I don’t regret it. I still read more than I ever usually do in a week.

Here’s the breakdown with challenges:

  • Read a hyped book:
              The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis – 3/5 stars

  • Read a book with a protagonist very different from you AND read a book with a person on the cover:
              Binti by Nnedi Okorafor – 4/5 stars

  • Read a book in a single day AND read a book entirely outside:
              Saga, Volume 7 by Brian K Vaughan – 5/5 stars

  • Read a book you bought because of the cover:
              Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli – 4/5 stars

  • Read seven books:
              This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab – 4/5 stars
              The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket – 4/5 stars
              Vermilion by Molly Tanzer (the half a book, but I’ve recently finished and gave it 4/5 stars)

I also switched Seven Brief Lessons on Physics in for Behold the Bones by Natalie C Parker because it was shorter and I wanted to get my sixth book in on the last day!

Anyway, I had a good time reading — this is the second year of getting six and a half books in (the other year I only read three) but I’m still happy with the results. Next year, I’m totally making it to seven! I’m determined!

2017 Favorites: January

The first month of the new year is over—does that mean it’s officially no longer “the new year”?—and here is what I loved in January:

This Is Us

Though I started watching This Is Us late in 2016, I’m adding it to January’s favorites because it just returned this month from winter hiatus and it’s the first time actually watching while it aired. The show is about a family of three siblings set both in modern day and back to when they were kids, focusing on the parents. It’s one of the most emotional shows I’ve ever watched (I literally cry every episode) and it’s so well-acted and written and shot. It’s just great.

Ex Machina

One of the films I’ve watched so far this year came out last year, but since I just received it for Christmas, I watched it for the first time. Since seeing the trailer, I’ve wanted to watch this film but couldn’t because it never played in a theater near why I live. After finally seeing Ex Machina, it instantly became a favorite. The film is everything I’d want in a film about an AI. The performances by Alicia Vikander and Oscar Isaac are phenomenal and the plot of the film is, even if it is a little predictable, fantastic. It’s visually stunning, the effects are incredible and the set design is near perfect. The film is unnerving and like nothing I’ve seen before. One of the best films I’ve ever experienced.

Lady Macbeth

I often watch more trailers for films than I watch actual films. However, I know immediately that I will and need to see Lady Macbeth. In the trailer, it’s described “Imagine Alfred Hitchcock directing Wuthering Heights” and if that’s not the most spot on description of a genre perfect for me, I don’t know what is.

Say Hi

Say Hi is a band I heard a long time ago, while still in high school, and loved the songs “One, Two…One” and “Back Before We Were Brittle” but only this month have I bothered to listen to more. Current favorites are: “Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh,” “Northwestern Girls,” “Such a Drag,” and although the beginning is awful to listen to with headphones in: “November was White, December was Grey.”

Books + 2017 Reading List

Books are a large part of my life—I read them, I write them, I buy them constantly (probably too much). I dedicate a lot of my space to books: I’m always carrying one around, bringing one to family events and long car rides, and I have a moderate collection (the most recent count was 250+) so most of my room is full of books. I love books. Books are great, man. Hop on this train.

Since finishing school and focusing more time on art and design, I decided to rearrange my space. Moving my office and all my art supplies and the giant drafting table I use into my bedroom has made it seem much smaller, but I’m starting to like it. I’ve spending a lot more time in it now that all my things are in one place instead of the office downstairs and the drafting table/art supplies in the other room. Moving is what I’ve been doing in my spare time (taking several days I should’ve been writing or working) the entire month of January. And as of today, the 25th, I’m still not completely done—I have a pile of art supplies on the floor and my desk is a mess. The point is, I took this time to not only rearrange my life, but my books too. I scanned their barcodes with the Goodreads app to create a list of all the books I own—which I could add to every time I bought or was gifted another book. (This is how I learned I owned over 250+ books, a few of which were duplicates, I don’t know how or why.)

I wanted to categorize the books I owned and see how many books I have by different people, like female authors, LGBT+ authors, POC authors, and any combination of those, and see how diverse my collection is—I have a guess that it isn’t as diverse I would like them to be, something I need to work on. But I also want to look at the characters and stories within those books and categorize them by the same, which I think would have more diversity because it’s what I’m drawn to read. Anyway, I plan to use the Goodreads app to help do that now that all of them are in one place and I can search for them easily. (This especially helps with friends and family for gift reasons—they can go on my profile and find that list to search which books I already have!)

Speaking of books, I’ve compiled a list of books that I want to read this year. As I’ve said of my goals for 2017, I have a goal to read 35 books. Though I’m usually more aggressively specific about when I read each book—I used to decide which specific books I would read within each month at the very start of the year, which made it difficult to follow and less fun, so now I’m taking a more relaxed approach. I just have a single, long list in no particular order (though some land roughly when they are released and/or a time of year I’d like to read them—like I want to reread the first for A Series of Unfortunate Events books sooner so I can watch the Netflix show and all those comics/graphic novels are probably during the summer, which is when I like to read them.)

Also, I know there’s 37 books on the list, I promise I can count. I’m just planning on wanting to skip one or that I won’t get to a few or I might want to swap out with a different book. See, totally relaxed.


2017 Reading List:

  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
  • Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
  • The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
  • The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket
  • The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket
  • The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket
  • Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
  • A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
  • Rooms by Lauren Oliver
  • This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
  • Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
  • Beowulf by Seamus Heaney
  • Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
  • Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare
  • The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley
  • The Graces by Laure Eve
  • The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
  • Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
  • The Strange Maid by Tessa Gratton
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R Tolkien
  • Vermilion by Molly Tanzer
  • Behold the Bones by Natalie C. Parker
  • Lumberjanes, Volume 3: A Terrible Plan by Noelle Stevenson
  • East of West, Volume 3: “There Is No Us” by Jonathan Hickman
  • The Walking Dead: Volume 7: “The Calm Before” by Robert Kirkman
  • The Walking Dead: Volume 8: “Made to Suffer” by Robert Kirkman
  • The Walking Dead, Volume 9: “Here We Remain” by Robert Kirkman
  • Pax by Sara Pennypacker
  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman
  • Wildwood by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis
  • The Copper Gauntlet by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black
  • The Bronze Key by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black
  • Conversion by Katherine Howe
  • Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd
  • The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen