Why I Don't Read YA

There are a lot of popular things that I have chosen not to do over the years:

Ombre hair

The low carb diet 

Learn how to shuffle (dancing... not cards)

Disneyland Season Passes

Coach Bags

Carry around a small yappy dog in aforementioned Coach bag

And none of those things are necessarily bad things... they're just not for me. And I'm here today to tell you why I feel the exact same way about YA books. 

This is definitely not the popular route to take in blogging, or even the literary world, right now, but, as usual, I don't really care. And, right off the bat, let me tell you that I completely and totally understand why some people gravitate towards this genre. I mean, some people look really good with ombre hair, just not me. And Coach purses are great, well-made bags, I've just never found one that suits my tastes (I'm more of a Fossil girl myself). And the low carb diet is obviously a miracle worker, I just like cookies and pasta way too much.

And my opposition towards most YA books isn't derived from this up-and-coming camp that thinks they're corrupting today's youth. Let me tell you, today's youth is already pretty crazy- it makes no difference if they read about dystopias, vampires, love triangles, or other various situations that conjure teenage angst. In terms of appropriate content, again, they're making babies and getting caught with weed (or worse) the way it is. Does it cause depression or result in a lack of hope about the future of humanity? Not so much. Basically, today's youth will go through a hyper-emotional period of experimentation whether they read YA books or not.

My dislike partially comes from the fact that I feel like many of these books aren't challenging on a literary level. I've read The Hunger Games and The Age of Miracles (I don't care what anyone says, it's YA) and neither knocked my socks off. I've flipped through my students' books and looked at first chapters of others online and I'm just not overly impressed with the writing. Of course all books don't exactly have to be Pulitzer Prize candidates, but as a whole the dramatic, adjective-heavy, "I'm trying really hard to be _______" just doesn't work for me as a reader. Strike one.

Strike two: the subject matter. I know, I know, there's a plethora of topics that YA novels delve into, just like regular big kid books. But there's a lot of similarities and sub genres that simply aren't my taste. I generally don't do vampires, parallel worlds, wizards (unless their names rhyme with Shmarry Flotter), warewolves, zombies, fortune telling, or time travel. And then there's the teenage angst- the romance, the friendship issues, the family problems, the "I've made mistakes but I'm still a good person" plight, and just general "woe is me, no one understands me because I'm seventeen" nonsense. That being said, I do like coming of age stories, but not when they're being written to fit YA fiction, if that makes sense. For example, Catcher in the Rye; JD Salinger didn't write it with the intent of marketing it to teenagers with a boldly designed cover and aspirations of a series. It was authentic and genuine, he wasn't forcing it into a pre-labeled box.

Speaking of series writing- there are so many in YA! For the most part, I'm not a fan of  (JK Rowling and Laura Ingalls Wilder are exceptions). I don't like leaving a book on any sort of a cliff hanger; it's one thing to allow the reader to imagine the ending, but another to require that they read yet another book in order to obtain true closure. I know many would disagree with me, but I feel like series writing is a little gimmicky and sometimes seems like a total marketing strategy (and a very successful one). Plus, I have trouble with commitment- it's been years since I read the first book in The Millennium Series and have yet to return. 

As I read blogs and talk to people, I feel like YA fiction almost becomes an addiction, and I don't want to drink the Kool-Aid. So many pick up The Fault in Our Stars and BOOM! They've completely abandoned the classics and contemporary adult fiction. I guess it just makes me a little depressed that YA authors are the ones getting these impressive book deals when there are some truly talented adult authors with staying power that are overlooked because their novels may not sell as many copies. And that idea of staying power; my gut tells me that in ten years YA fiction isn't going to be nearly as popular as it is today.

Plus, I work with teenagers all damn day. I really, really don't want to go home and read books starring the hormonal little creatures I just got done hanging out with for seven hours. I see their drama and their growing pains front and center. I see the backstabbing, the drama caused by break ups, and the stress caused by familial problems all the time. On the more positive side, I witness the happiness of new relationships, the excitement over college acceptances, and the optimism that comes with a new job at Starbucks. I spend more time with young adults that I do regular adults; please don't make me read about them too. 

If you're a YA reader you've thought of at least twenty-seven reasons why I'm wrong and are starting to hate me. Good! You should be defensive about what you read. Knowing what we like is important too, though, and me saying I don't like YA is no different from someone else saying they're not into sci-fi, fantasy, or bodice-ripping romance novels. But I'm not completely opposed to the genre and have had my moments of intrigue when I've seen John Green books repeatedly. So, you YA lovers, convince me. I dare you.


  1. Wow, you read my mind as I was just about to draft a similar post. Quite a few of your reasons resonate with me as I've never really been into YA either even though I've tried and even liked a few books over the years.

  2. I agree. I just can't get into them. Mainly because I'm a grown ass woman.

  3. I agree - for so many, it seems reading YA is an addiction. And sometimes I feel like certain YA book bloggers read only YA because they can substantially read more books in a year and it seems like it's a big contest to see who reads 150-200+ books a year.

    The whole 'series' thing with YA drives me crazy too. What ever happened to just good stand-alone novels? Seems it's just a big money grab for most of the series out there. I have enjoyed the odd YA here and there (like The Fault in Our Stars), but they've never made me want to only read YA.

  4. I like the old school YA stuff: The Giver, Ender's Game, A Wrinkle in Time, and Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials. Now those are some books that rise to a philosophical and literary challenge. His Dark Materials blew my mind. I keep trying some of the newer ones and I don't like them (Divergent, etc). They're all the same. I do love me some Harry potter though!

  5. First off, I'm just really glad that of all the ones out there, you do like Harry Potter! Not every book or genre is for everyone and hopefully most readers get that. I like to think I'm smack in the middle of this debate. There are YA books I love, but I like adult books just as much. As an adult reader of YA, there are some that appeal to me and some that don't. And even though I love many different series (YA & adult), it really is beyond frustrating to be left hanging part way through all the time.

    The only thing I can't stand is when YA gets put down in a way that judges and criticizes the people who do read it (which you totally didn't do, thank you!). It's not for everyone and I get that, but I don't want to hear some critic going on and on about how there's something wrong with me because of the books I read. Other than that, I say live and let live. :)

  6. I like both :P :) But in the last time I am more into Adult fiction. Depends on my mood :) Great post! ;)

  7. I really like this post. I love that you have an opinion and you aren't afraid to put it out there. A lot of blogs (at least the ones I read) are very blah in that they don't like making waves or taking a stand and all the commenters boringly agree. It's okay to disagree! It doesn't have to turn into a food fight if people aren't jerks about it. So like I said, I love that you feel how you feel, no apologies.

    That said, I'm a YA girl all the way! I like that when I read, I can escape. In the case of YA, it's usually an escape to a situation where the answers are so obvious, but the character doesn't know what to do, thus making me feel oh-so-smart, which is just how I like it. I'm re-reading the Jessica Darling series right now. (Although with some of the sexual stuff, I'm not sure exactly how YA it is.) It's so smart, so snarky, and since it was written in the early 2000's, I'm loving the nostalgia. (References to things like Miss Cleo, James Frey, Boy Bands, oh my!)

    I like that I read some of the same books as my students (not Captain Underpants or weird sci-fi cat series, but some books). I can genuinely recommend books they will like and they get giddy seeing me read something they suggest. I loved Hunger Games, and only read it because so many of my kiddos were reading it when it first came out.*

  8. You seriously are reading my mind. I just drafted a post on why I decided to stop reading ya books. I have been reading it for a while, it used to be good. All these new books have consistently dissapointed me. I am so happy to see someone post about this. Just like someone else said everybody is afraid of saying they do not like ya. I totally agree on all these ya books getting movie deals. I just want to read a ya book that does not make me dissapointed.

  9. I think there is a difference between the genre of YA books and the current trends in YA. I can understand your argument against the current "fads" in YA. It is time to find something other than vampires/werewolves/other unnatural creatures, dystopian novels, and the classic high school love story. AND please please please stop with the series! I don't know if there is a "harder" definition of what is YA than that the main character needs to be 18 or younger, but if you think of it that way then "Please Tell the Wolves I'm Home" is YA, as is "To Kill A Mockingbird" and many other great novels. AS King's Everybody Sees the Ants is one of the best books I've ever read and it is YA and it covers serious topics. There are good YA books out there but they aren't always the most popular. I also recommend Between Shades of Gray for another amazing YA novel (historical fiction). YA literature is like adult literature, there is the quality literature and there is the mass market, paperback stuff.

  10. What a great post. Very funny. I can't believe that I've missed the whole ombre hair trend. I do read a little YA, but not compulsively (I haven't managed to read any John Green or Rainbow Rowell-yet, but they are on my TBR). I really dislike the werewolf/vampire stuff so luckily that keeps vast swathes of books from getting anywhere near my TBR, and for that I'm somewhat grateful that it's so popular.