If you read–or particularly write Young Adult novels, then you’ve probably heard about that article over at Slate. The one with this tagline:
Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children.
Naturally, there’s been a tremendous backlash because…well, for various and obvious reasons. (Margo Dill over at The Muffin today shared her opinion, and it’s a fine one.) Mostly it all comes back to Graham’s remarks being offensive. Offensive in that elitist, snobbish, I’m-better-than-you-are-because-I-read-adult-and-meaningful-literature. But also, as any schoolkid can tell you, because nobody likes being told what they “should” read.
Let’s take a look at what’s on Cathy C. Hall’s bookshelf (or the floor, as I like to call it):
Margo Dill’s Caught Between Two Curses
Stephen Colbert’s I Am A Pole and So Can You!
Susan Spencer-Wendel’s Until I Say Goodbye
Nina Amir’s The Author Training Manual (Coming up this Wednesday on a WOW book tour!)
Suzanne Lilly’s Gold Rush Girl (Just finished! See my review on Goodreads.)
Becky Povich’s From Pigtails to Chin Hairs (next up on the e-reader)
So…that’s two YA’s, one picture book, two adult memoirs, and one non-fiction. And you know what?
I will read them on a train. And I will read them on a plane. I will read them on the street. And I will read them in bare feet. I will read them here or there. I will read them anywhere.
Because I’m an adult. And I read what I want.
(Have you got a read you’d like to recommend? Tell us what’s on your bookshelf! And you can sound off, too.)
I am midway through Jodi Picoult’s “Second Glance” and it’s really good.
“Freeman” by Leonard Pitts, Jr. is phenomenal.
“NOS4A2” by Joe Hill is brilliant but quite twisted/riveting.
Oh…Joe Hill. I keep meaning to read him and forget. So I’m going to reserve one of his books now. (‘Cause I loves me a big helping of twisted with a side of riveting.) 🙂 Thanks, Sioux!
I read the “Against YA” article. I guess we’re lucky to live in a place where we can express (and publish) our unadulterated opinions, no matter how snobbish or condescending. We’re also lucky to have so many choices! And like many of my 40-something peers, I choose to read YA (particularly realistic fiction) for the innocence and purity of the protagonist and her story. Reading for me is about escaping and entertainment. I don’t need to contemplate the meaning of life or ruminate over swanky literary themes. I just want a good story with a character whose emotions resonate with me. I read YA, and I make no apologies 🙂
Yep, Gwen, it’s nice to be able to say what you want–and I think sometimes, on *some* sites (not naming names, mind you), the writers try to be inflammatory, hoping an article/blog post will go viral.
Also, I don’t think adult literature has the corner on universal–and meaningful–themes. While you and I are reading a good YA or MG story for pure entertainment, we’re also exploring provocative themes (like the meaning of life!). 🙂
I just finished the very good WE WERE LIARS by E Lockhart and I’m now in the middle of the utterly creepy BIRD BOX by Josh Malerman. One YA Contemporary, one Adult Horror. I love being able to read what I want! 🙂
Amen to that, Madeline! I finally reserved one of Joe Hill’s books. I’m kinda afraid (but eerily eager) to read it. 🙂
Hi Cathy! Thank you so much for mentioning my memoir! You certainly have a wide variety of books to read. I haven’t been reading much of anything, all the way through that is! I just can’t make the time right now, and have a stack of books next to my nightstand. I pick one up every now and then, read a few pages and get too sleepy to continue!
You sound like the Beneficent Mr. Hall, Becky. He’s been reading the same book since…let me see, now. 2007? 🙂
I’m late to this party, but appreciate you providing the link to the post that caused such a dust-up. While the author is bashing . . . er, talking . . . about YA adult readers, she might do well to consider that YA isn’t the only genre out there with readers who prefer a happy ending. Here’s a direct quote from her post:
“These endings are for readers who prefer things to be wrapped up neatly, our heroes married or dead or happily grasping hands, looking to the future. But wanting endings like this is no more ambitious than only wanting to read books with “likable” protagonists.”
Hello! She just described pretty much every Romance reader in the known universe! Romance almost (though not always) provides a happy ending, and even those romances where a MC dies (few and far between) there is still plenty of marriage and happily grasping hands and looking into the future. Adult Romance readers WANT the happy-ever-after. And apparently so do a lot of YA readers, because it’s a thriving market.
The author strikes me as being one of those movie reviewers who hates every movie that doesn’t provide some deeper meaning. I don’t know if Eleanor Ringel still does movie reviews for the AJC, but I never cared for her reviews because she trashed a lot of popular, funny, happy movies because they weren’t “true to life” and had no “still waters” theme. Big deal. Why can’t books and movies simply entertain us?
Gak. Typo. Meant to say the author strikes me as being LIKE one of those movie reviewers. Oops.
Oh, I knew what you meant, Lisa. And you make a good point–many of us read to be entertained. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t larger themes within the stories! I’ve read your romance and yes, it’s happy-ever-after, but you also tackle bigger issues. YA, romance, heck, MOST fiction is much more than entertainment–we’ve come to expect that in a well-crafted story. It’s what makes them sell–and romance, as you said, sells very well!