Stop Bashing YA

At school more and more people have learned that I love to read. When adults (and even some students) find out I love reading, I get so uncomfortable and nervous telling them I read YA. Society and the stigma behind YA being silly and stupid really makes it hard for me to open up. Too often I've heard "Oh you read those books" or "You mean like Twilight?" I want to unabashedly and proudly say I read YA, but society's bashing of my favorite genre makes me so self-conscious. It shouldn't be that way. Stop. Bashing. My. Books.

If there's one thing that annoys me most, it's the contempt and snobbery towards YA. It is vastly unfair to call a wide genre such as Young Adult unsophisticated and relatively insignificant. Are there books like Twilight that give YA a bad reputation? Yes. (Not that I understand why because I enjoyed Twilight!) But I firmly believe that every book has the ability to impact and influence a reader in some way (and is it really a crime to leisurely read a book?)

Young Adult has so many important messages to send. Most recently they've explored PTSD in the military (I'll Meet You There), the double-standard for women and men in sexuality (99 Days), sexism in the military (Rites of Passage), body-positive images (Dumplin), and diversity (Under A Painted Sky) and GLBT (I'll Give You The Sun). The Young Adult genre has both sophistication and fun. Don't bash something until you try it. Young Adult books have opened my eyes to topics I never thought I'd read about. I feel I'm much more knowledgable about different cultures and various social issues among other things.

And why are people bashing Young Adult and by extension the people who read the genre? We like to read, since when was that a bad thing? It's much better than some other activities that other people partake in. Americans mourn the lack of readers, yet they shame some of the small population of readers because of what they read, and that is not okay. 

What are your thoughts on bashing YA? Do you ever feel self-conscious when telling people you read YA? How can we change this? How has YA affected you? 
Rachel is a teenaged unapologetic fangirl and perfectionist.

She loves reading for the escape it gives from reality and enjoys crying over books, swooning over characters, and laughing out loud over funny lines. She is a semi-recovering Netflix addict and a middle child of three.

You can find her on Twitter @yaperfectionist & Goodreads.

29 comments:

  1. I'm a YA librarian and I sit at the adult reference desk. Sometimes adults ask for books and while I'm checking the catalog, they ask if I read that particular author and I always say, "I'm the teen librarian so I only read teen fiction." I hate that I feel like I have to justify why I read YA because the fact is that I enjoy YA even if I wasn't a teen librarian. You are not alone & I'm still working on my YA confidence.

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  2. This is spot-on, Rachel! I honestly really hate how people nowadays judge according to what genre of books I read. If I say I love to read cutesy, fluffy novels, my cousin would often say: "You mean cheesy stories? Yuck!" I hate NA books and erotica, but if somebody tells me they enjoy reading them, I'd completely respect their opinion.

    "We need more readers in this society." They say that, but when they come across YA readers like us, they bash us like it's okay to be completely judgmental about it :(

    Jillian @ Jillian's Books

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  3. When I first started getting back into reading, I definitely felt self-conscious about reading YA. But I've gotten some of my close friends to read some of the bigger YA series and they love them too! Nowadays if people ask, I just justify it by saying that I review YA books and I love the genre! I'm still a bit scared to post bookstagram pictures on my account though because most of my followers are people from my personal life.

    - Jenna @ Happy Indulgence

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  4. thankfully such a behaviour didnt happen to me (excluding the people who are like: u READ?!) but it is really sad that people think a genre contains only one particular series or topic. I mean, there are billions of differnet stories and meanings behind those books and it makes me angry to think that fellow readers feel self conscious about telling their love for reading bc of society. I personally am pretty confident with people telling I read and maybe we could just get such people interested in books like you mentioned abov so they could change their mind about this beautiful genre (:

    great post!

    xo Anne @ anne-books.blogspot.com

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  5. YES. I had this one friend and she would always pull her nose up at the books I read (which is YA) as she only read classics/non-fiction. Then one day she read Eleanor & Park and The Sky is Everywhere and she realised YA isn't bad so I'm like HA. ;D Also, there was this one time we were at my grandparents for Christmas and their friends came over and I was reading Anna and the French Kiss and when the one lady asked me what I was reading she made a face, I'm not sure if it was if the title gave her the wrong idea or if it was just because it wasn't a classic or something like that, but I got so frustrated haha! People really need to learn to respects other people's tastes and interests and learn that not all YA is filled with mediocre writing/one dimensional characters etc.

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  6. I think I read a ton of YA. I am not embarrassed about it but sometimes I am reluctant to tell some people because I am WAY past being a Young Adult. But you are right - these books cover some seriously important topics. I read a little of everything though but I do love YA. Great post!!

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  7. I read mostly science fiction (and although mostly not YA, where they cross over, absolutely) and there's a bit of the same thing, sometimes when someone asks what I'm reading and I explain it's science fiction there's a little bit of an eyeroll, and I used to be ashamed of it, but not so much any more, it reflects more on the person reacting to it.

    I mean, there's nothing wrong with not liking a particular book.... or in not being personally interested in a genre or classification, but you don't have to do it in a way that bashes the people who do like it. It's a fine line... no, wait, it's actually not that fine a line. You just have to not be a jerk and look down at people for having different tastes than you. You can say, "That's not really my thing, but enjoy!"

    Okay, maybe the line is a bit finer with specific books, like if you call Twilight crap or stupid or something, it may be your honest opinion on the quality, that you should feel free to express, but it also inherently suggests that the people who like it are liking crap. It's a little harder to get around that. But there's a quote I like to pull up from a successful comic author:

    "The head of the English department asked me, "Do you read any crap?"
    And I said, no, in that insufferable high school manner, no doubt.
    And he said, "You need to read more crap."
    The point was to read more for entertainment and for fun." - Gail Simone

    It's okay to like what you like. It's okay to like things that other people find inferior. It's okay to like things YOU find mostly inferior because there's one thing about it that's fantastic and you can't get enough of. What a lonely, grim world this would be if we could only enjoy things that are unquestionably and universally perfect.

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  8. This post is on point. I mainly read YA and I definitely felt self-conscious about telling other people when they ask because a lot of the time I do get the "you read those books" look. It's clear that Young Adult is more of a marketing tool than a genre and I think it's ridiculous that we feel the need to justify why we read YA books. There are a lot of misconceptions about YA books but the reality is is that some YA books carry a lot of substance and do tackle important subjects which can be utilised as a means of generating discussions about those topics.

    At the end of the day I'm a reader and no one has the right to dictate and judge what I should/shouldn't be reading.

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  9. I am so self-conscious about reading YA, and I hate that. There shouldn't be anything wrong with reading YA. It is an enjoyable genre that often has a lot of messages to lend. Even if it doesn't, sometimes reading YA just makes me feel good.

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  10. I love this post. As an adult that reads YA I hate this stigma. My husband and I run a YA book club at our local library and it's for high school ages and up and adults are nervous to come. I hate that. Also, I full agree with you YA has covered some really important topics. I don't see YA as for kids or teens. I just see it as the characters are teens in the books, but they are the same as any other books. Some are good, some I don't like as much, but they are just books. Thanks for posting this!!!

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  11. Such a great post, Rachel. Personally, I've never been the victim of "YA bashing" but as a member of the community, I'm inadvertently affected. There are so many wonderful genres of books out there, and YA is definitely one of them. I hate when people "stick their noses up" at YA books. Like you said, these books send SO many positive messages and tackle issues that simply need to be talked about! I will forever be a fan and a lover of this great genre. I hope more people will be open minded and give YA a chance.

    Julia Anne
    Peach Print

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  12. This is an amazing post, Rachel! I haven't had people bash YA directly toward me, but I've overheard plenty of people bashing it/reading in general... Like the people who somehow take pride in not having read since middle school. Why are people happy about that? Like you said, I'm 99% sure those same exact people that are bashing it are doing much worse things in their lives... *sighs* Anyway, I totally agree that there are books like Twilight with a bad rep, but there are tons of other books that cover really important themes and topics I'd otherwise no next to nothing about!! I actually have kept my reading and book blogging on the down-low because I'm afraid of people bashing my passion and love of reading YA. People need to realize there's way more to YA than Twilight and whatever other YA stereotypes they've associated it with.

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  13. Oh boy. Either I've been oblivious or I'm very lucky, because I never felt ashamed or self conscious about reading YA. I have a lot of friends who read as well, but those who don't has nothing to say about it or they're too polite to say anything. When people do feel skeptical about approaching YA, I just give them a recommendation of a book that I enjoyed and I know would be a good representation of how much YA has evolved over the years. It's almost like saying "don't judge a book by its cover".

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  14. SO MUCH YES. I have a post titled Why I Read Young Adult scheduled for, errr, sometime in November, so that should already tell you how I feel about the subject haha. I love YA, and I feel like it's often more aware of and open to social and cultural issues than other books. And there are so many vastly different genres, writing styles and idea in YA that it's stupid to generalize YA anyway.

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  15. I actually don't really hesitate to tell people I read YA, even though I knew there are negative stigmas toward it. Probably because the only people who ever ask about the books I'm reading are fellow readers themselves, and my cousins and my friend all read YA too. So they get it. I do know though, that when I'm talking to my older cousin, she sometimes judges them too harshly. I know we shouldn't like age people, but you know, teenagers act differently. They make mistakes; they make you angry. They're still LEARNING. And I think a lot of adults who read YA forget that.

    It's funny, I was actually talking to my coworker/friend last week about YA and how we both feel it's becoming more geared toward adults than actual YAs. And I think adults need to start remembering that this isn't their genre, and first and foremost it's not FOR them. Am I saying they can't read YA? Not at all. I just think people need to remember that it's going to be different from adult books. The characters are younger, and therefore, have a lot more to learn and gain from experience.

    I think the negative stigmas may not be as bad as before? Maybe? I'm not sure about that, because I've never dealt with it IRL, probably because people don't usually ask about my reading habits unless they're readers themselves. Anyway, this was really interesting to think about! And I'm glad you shared it, Rachel. :)

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  16. This is super annoying. I hate when people say stupid shit like that. I've tried to call out people on it in the past. But you know what? They are clearly missing out, so *shrugs*! It's sad though that YA is associated this one series which has a bad reputation globally. :/

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  17. I do get really self-conscious when people find out that I love to read YA as well as some of the more classic stuff. Most people know I read classics but they don't know I read YA and when they find out it's usually something like 'Oooooh. That's cool I guess'. You can totally see that they're thinking about Twilight and The Hunger Games and Divergent in a non-deep way. You can learn so much from reading YA even if they don't tackle heavy topics. I just don't understand why there's a stigma against reading in general! Why are you considered a nerd if you like to read? Books are the most amazing things in the world! They can take you on journey's without leaving the comfort of your home. They can expand your vocabulary and your knowledge about the world. They can help you develop your own opinions towards topics!e Is that really such a bad thing? I just don't get it! Great topic!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

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  18. I read anyways! In public I mean. I think that's what would stop all this snobbery. Like I honestly don't care if someone asks what I'm reading and I say it's this and it's YA AND NO SHAME BECAUSE people who are snobbish like that only do it to feel like they are above others by reading another genre. Nope that is not me, I will shamelessly recommend YA books during book club!

    I mean come on. Isn't Fifty Shades considered adult? If anyone confronts you about reading YA, Rachel, just confront them and ask them "what's so bad about YA?" And then tell them what you're currently reading and how AWESOME IT IS. And then bring up Fifty Shades of Grey if they bring up Twilight or some other YA they think is "stupid"

    SORRY NOT SORRY

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  19. I read everything but my favorite is YA. I don't let it bother me if my reading selections aren't high brown enough for some because most people who judge you for what you read, barely read at all.
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review
    Follow me on Bloglovin'

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  20. As an adult who is way past the YA age group I still love my YA books the most to me it's just books with characters in their teens I don't look at it as specified for a particular age group etc. Luckily I haven't had to deal with any genre bashing individuals but I would definitely avoid them..usually someone who bashes an entire genre and their readers has no knowledge of the genre except what they have "heard" about it and they have decided to streo-type in my opinion.

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  21. YES!! Thank you for this post!!! I do read some Adult Fiction, but I read more YA than anything else. And YA Contemporary and YA Fantasy are my go-to genres. I HATE telling people that YA is my favorite because I feel like I am automatically being judged. I even feel like I have to justify myself by mentioning some adult fiction books that I love as well. It's like people don't take me seriously as a reader because of it. I will tell you that the experience that made me the most mad was a comment someone had made on one of my Amazon reviews. This was an adult fiction book that got rave reviews (I can't even remember the name of it right now), but I was not a fan. I mentioned in my review that while the writing was beautiful, the plot was very slow and it seemed like nothing was happening. Someone commented on my review and said that people should not take my review seriously because she could see in my profile that I reviewed mainly YA books. That infuriated me! Just because I read a lot of YA, that doesn't make my opinion less valid when I don't like a adult fiction book. Ugh, crazy!

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  22. Yes! I feel strange telling people I read YA (since I am an adult) normally I just say kids books. I don't know where this stigma came from. Yes Twilight was a YA book, but Fifty Shades is an adult book, does that mean every adult book is like that? Of course not! (Thank goodness!) I wish they'd realize that just like any other age range the books are all different!

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  23. I'm really upset that students don't respect YA. THESE ARE YOUR VOICES, DON'T SHUN IT. I hate when people put YA in a box, like it's a one shoe fits all genre.

    A friend of mine came over yesterday and was perusing my bookshelves to borrow some books nad she asked if I read anything besides YA. I like what I like, and I'm not ashamed of it!

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  24. YES TO THIS. I always hate when people stereotype YA and think that it doesn't have much depth or complexity. It's a shame because some YA books are even more complex or full of depth than adult books, so it's not fair to judge. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post Rachel and, as always, fabulous discussion! ♥

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  25. I've received that same "You mean like Twilight?" response, and it bugs me so much. I mean, I actually will always love Twilight because it got me into reading YA... but that's not what the genre of YA should be based on. And I despise the negative connotations. It's so frustrating as an adult (in my 30's even) to feel any sort of embarrassment about reading YA. I've definitely had a lot of looks or comments because I'm so far from being a teen. They obviously just don't get it. And really, they're the ones that are missing out, so I guess we should just feel sorry for them.

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  26. This post is FABULOUS. I get that sometimes too, being an adult that reads YA. Actually, even my parents thought it was weird, until I started recommending books to my mom, and now she basically only reads YA. And then my DAD read Sweet Madness that my mom won on Goodreads, so now he isn't making fun of it either! So if people stopped being so damn judgy, they might actually find that not all YA books are the same.

    It's like me saying "I hate ALL adult books because Fifty Shades of Grey is such crap, they must ALL be crap." Well NO, no one thinks that! So why would ANY genre be that way? GR. I love this post, and I really hope people snap out of it. I DO think it has gotten a bit better than when I first started- or maybe I just care less? Either way, it works ;)
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

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  27. I have never run into this problem myself. My friends know I love to read but they've never made fun of me for reading YA. They jokingly laugh at my book obsession because I always have a book on me. But I always know they mean it in a light manner. I also don't understand why people have to be so negative over people especially adults reading YA because like you said, they always have deep messages they carry. And sometimes, I find that New Adult or Adult books lack that part which is why I love YA more :)

    ~Karina @ A Reader Under The Sea

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  28. Posts like this really do remind me how blessed I am to be where I am. Most of the people I know were incredibly accepting of me reading and blogging, and on top of that were perfectly okay with it being YA as well. Mostly, people here do read YA, and even adults do as well! I do think it is annoying that people keep bashing it as a genre especially when they haven't read any themselves so they don't even know what they are talking about...

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  29. I absolutely love this post, and I agree 100%. My mom, unfortunately, thinks the same way too. She would usually be like "why are you reading books about dragons and magic? You should read those philosophical and "sophisticated" book like Lang Leav." UGH. She say dragons and magic with so much contempt and disgust that I sighed everytime. Why do people hold these kind of standards against YA? The next time someone says that, I'm making them read Throne of Glass and see if they can handle the deaths >:(

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