Should Adult YA Readers Be Ashamed?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Should adults be shamed out of reading YA novels aimed at teenagers? It's a huge week for YA books as the movie based on John Green's The Fault in Our Stars is dominating the box office. Washington Post pop culture opinions blogger Alyssa Rosenberg defends YA novels and the adults who like to read them.

Your Suggested YA Reading List

Here's what listeners - and our guest, Alyssa Rosenberg - nominated as "must reads" in the YA genre. Think we missed any? Add your suggestions in the comments below!


Alyssa Rosenberg

Comments [66]

Meghan from NY

I think that this doesn't make enough distinctions between reading because you like the book and it's fun, and reading for 'great literature' and important themes. There is absolutely nothing wrong with reading to read, just for fun, whether it's light or heavy. Book appreciation is completely a matter of opinion, and it doesn't make sense to try to make it be about the 'down fall of western society' or that it dumbs people down. Reading if for fun, enjoyment, and ENTERTAINMENT. Literally. Books are for entertainment. So if you are entertained by YA books, great; if you're entertained by adult books, or anything else.

Oct. 17 2014 07:06 PM
TK from UK

Seriously? I don't think a lot of these people have READ any YA books. Saying that YA books are more simplistic, toned down, more less complex and to engage with young people - these kinds of comments are rubbish. You only need to read "Across the Nightingale Floor" and Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori trilogy, or the younger YA book "Loving April" by Melvin Burgess to find successful YA that doesn't patronise teenagers or intelligent children. They convey a level of violence, grim and intellectually serious outlook that are pretty stark and brutal that don't appear in a lot of adult books.

As a child, I had an enlighten mother who signed consent to allow me to check out whatever books I wanted from the library, so long as I agreed to ask her questions about anything I didn't understand or I wanted to discuss - so absolutely NO censorship when it came to Literature. I started with the Classics (e.g. Bronte, Dickens, Poe, Shakespeare, Wilde, Louisa May Alcott, Daphne du Maurier, Anna Sewell, Frances Hodgson Burnett etc) aged 8-10 and got bored quite quickly (I read at a speed of knots), so I moved on to reading adult thrillers and crime (e.g. Richard Laymon, Stephen King, Graham Masterton, Tess Gerritsen etc). I discovered YA (Tamora Pierce actually) when I was 14 or 15, which was pretty late and well after being exposed to "challenging" adult books. She caused me to fall in love with fantasy and the urban fantasy genres, which I read alongside YA.

The concepts and tropes within YA are just as hard-hitting and complex as any adult book, but their use of language, and sophistication of lexis varies massively. I know a number of adults who struggled with "Sophie's World" but this was aimed a YA. To this day, I read eclectically and mostly adult literature BUT I STILL squeal with delight when Tammy Pierce releases a new book; (mainly because she writes strong female protagonists) as much as something which others consider more "weighty".

Sep. 15 2014 08:02 AM

I really second the Tamora Pierce recommendations. I love those books and return to them for comfort.

Jun. 19 2014 05:08 PM
polly from the Upper West Side from Upper West Side, NY

The Giver, by Lois Lowry. I have never met an adult or YA who didn't love this book as I did.

If entranced by The Giver, the reader can move on to the second in the series, Gathering Blue, or the third, The Messenger. The Messenger is amazing.

Jun. 16 2014 09:42 AM

The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman

Jun. 16 2014 05:39 AM
Corry J from Amsterdam

As a teacher of English I read the entire Hunger Games trilogy as well as the Giver quartet. I feel that these YAL titles could fit on any adult's bookshelf, without shaming this person. I loved to read those books and they took me back to the time when I read 1984 by George Orwell. I loved the sinister suspense.

Jun. 15 2014 11:45 AM
Diane from New York

I'm shocked by so many negative comments about Brian's interview with Alyssa Rosenberg. Ms. Rosenberg was thought provoking and articulate and Brian's interview, as always, was very well conducted. I am a librarian who values all literary genres and sees everyone's relationship with story of any kind as a valuable experience that, like viewing art, can give both pleasure and personal insight.

Jun. 14 2014 07:57 AM
Joanne McGrath from White Plains, NY

Two more great ones: Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech and The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg. Smart and beautifully written; both a hit with YAs and very engaging for adults.

Jun. 13 2014 11:40 PM
Critic from nyc

Ms. Rosenberg's muddled thinking on the issue leaves out any probing questions: She failed to clearly define YA lit.? How is it distinguished from children's lit.? She seems to assume that there is only one reason to read---namely to be amused or as some kind of distraction. There is no sense that there is a connection between reading and study. I failed to hear her state one example of an serious work of fiction or non-fiction? What is being defined here as adult Lit. is mostly middlebrow works found on the NYTimes Best Seller's List. The question is why so few college educated readers fail to read serious works--Kafka, Borges, Kant, Hegel, etc.
In addition, what do educated readers in other nations read? What is the connection between what the public reads and how it functions? Far too many so called adult readers avoid reading anything assumed too complex and that is all they read---they would never read a scholarly book or a work of high intellectual content.

We are what we read. And once again American culture presents itself as the middlebrow culture it has always been which explains so much of why Americans at every level lack the intellectual skills the rest of the world more readily acquires.

Ms. Rosenberg proves being one of these Americans. Her questions nor her suggestions are very probing and the host as always lacked the skill to direct the discussion to deeper questions.

Just as adult films have been replaced by young adult films even when they are labeled films for adults, reading becomes something which consumes writing. Only in America do we find reading without "readers"---those who read to think and study.

Jun. 13 2014 07:22 PM
Michael from Queens, NY

And I can't believe no one has brought up this recent best-seller YA made into a movie: "DIVERGENT." Here is the official website for those, adults and young ones alike, to check out the trailer, preview the first few chapters, etc; about the movie.

Jun. 13 2014 11:47 AM
Michael from Queens, NY

"WRONG!!" That is my answer. I did not read the recent best-seller Young-Adult (YA) "Hunger Games" (on your must YA reads) until after I saw the movie last year and I am in my early-30's. "So what!?" Reading is fundamental and a joy. Unlike board games or dairy products, there is NO expiration date or unlike amusement park rides, an age requirement to enjoy books and or their movies; especially if it will help me understand my child/children or they me.

Jun. 13 2014 11:45 AM
Michael from Queens, NY

"WRONG!!" That is my answer. I did not read the recent best-seller Young-Adult (YA) "Hunger Games" (on your must YA reads) until after I saw the movie last year and I am in my early-30's. "So what!?" Reading is fundamental and a joy. Unlike board games or dairy products, there is NO expiration date or unlike amusement park rides, an age requirement to enjoy books and or their movies; especially if it will help me understand my child/children or they me.

Jun. 13 2014 11:45 AM
Michael from Queens, NY

"WRONG!!" That is my answer. I did not read the recent best-seller Young-Adult (YA) "Hunger Games" (on your must YA reads) until after I saw the movie last year and I am in my early-30's. "So what!?" Reading is fundamental and a joy. Unlike board games or dairy products, there is NO expiration date or unlike amusement park rides, an age requirement to enjoy books and or their movies; especially if it will help me understand my child/children or they me.

Jun. 13 2014 11:44 AM
Emily from Brooklyn

Robin McKinley. Surprised she didn't come up.

Jun. 13 2014 09:13 AM
Thinker from nyc

the entire discussion by Ms. Rosenberg and the host seemed a muddle on a number of levels. Mostly there was an unstated assumption that the primary purpose of reading--young adult or not---was to view it as edutainment. There was no acknowledgment of reading for study or for intellectual rigor. There was no mention of any serious adult reading-Kafka, Borges, Calvino, Pynchon, etc.--no mention of philosophy or any other college level work. So called adult reading as it is defined here is very middlebrow--NYTimes Best Seller List. Ms.Rosenberg and the host failed to probe any of what they stated. What does most of this reading measure up to? Reading without much thinking? Reading filled with clichés and worn out literary techniques? Children's literature becomes a focus in the early Romantic Period(late 1790's early 1800's). Why was it invented? Is the aim of current Young Adult literature to get students to move onto more complex literature or to introduce them to it? Or is it just another marketing ploy? Another way to consume? The connection between reading and study seems to have been lost here. I would like to have known what adults in other nations read? I would like to know what is the connection between what well educated adults in a nation read and how that is reflected in the nature of ideas held. If a nation of readers spent time reading through Plato, Descartes, Marx, Borges, etc. would the nature of their thinking change. What do you think our political leaders read? What do you think the media editors read? From my observations of America, few people who create American society have much connection to any tradition of "reading" for study. Ms. Rosenberg asked the wrong question and the fact she asked the question she did seems to prove my point precisely--Ms. Rosenberg and others may read but dose reading make you a "reader"?

Jun. 12 2014 10:22 PM
Tracy Lawson from Dallas Texas

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher examines teen suicide in a stark an unrelenting narrative from the grave.

Jun. 12 2014 07:01 PM
Christine Brown from MIllington, NJ

As a middle school librarian I often read young adult fiction. I describe it as an relaxing TV show - I can read The Giver in just a few hours and have a thoroughly enjoyable time. I loved the Hunger Games because of the theme that warfare is truly damaging to the psyche of soldier. I read Wonder in a two hour plane fight and was moved to tears. How can we say that Michael Connelly, whom I also enjoy, who writes very good adult mysteries is more valuable than these books. I read serious books too - Little Bee, and The God of Small Things for example. I love biographies. I think the argument should be that we should all read more!

Jun. 12 2014 03:28 PM

OK! just one more YA book:

"The diary of Anne Frank"

Jun. 12 2014 02:44 PM
Emily Horner from Brooklyn

The trouble with a lot of writing about YA -- both defenders and detractors -- is that people often don't scrape the surface beyond the most popular bestsellers. The Hunger Games is an interesting exploration of performativity and surveillance in reality-TV culture, but I won't claim that the prose is particularly special; The Fault In Our Stars is a very good book but it doesn't quite measure up to all the hype it's getting.

"The Brides of Rollrock Island" by Margo Lanagan, and her short story collections;
"Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe" by Benjamin Alire Saenz;
"The Midnight Dress" by Karen Foxlee;
"Butterfly" by Sonya Hartnett;
"Postcards From No Man's Land" by Aidan Chambers;
"Code Name Verity" by Elizabeth Wein;
"Black Helicopters" by Blythe Woolston;
"Midwinterblood" by Marcus Sedgwick;
"True Confessions of a Heartless Girl" by Martha Brooks...

I don't read YA because I need an escape from reality or from dreary adult literature. I read YA for the same reasons I read adult literature; for all the pleasures and insights and difficulties of experiencing other worlds and other ways to see the world.

Jun. 12 2014 02:18 PM

Brian, you really need to screen your female guests for vocal fry. I can't listen to your show anymore.

Jun. 12 2014 02:01 PM
tom LI

Shame is kinda harsh, but if its all an adult reads...they might be stuck in the past, and have not learned how to adequately deal with adulthood. Which IMO seems to be a recent development with these alleged adults, children of the Boomers, who are slow to mature and engage in being an adult with adult know the Cos playing, Bronys, video game obsessed, comic con sycophants, who still let mommy dress them. And she gladly does.

But then there's the idea that these YA reading adults are at least reading! Which ain't often the case these days...

Jun. 12 2014 01:09 PM
Allison from New York

I think the question needs to be reframed. If we read books to discover truths about ourselves and the universe, enjoy the beauty of poetic prose and experience catharsis with the characters, then the book is literary and has done its job, regardless of the age of its intended audience or its protagonists. The bone that I would like to pick is with people who read exclusively for entertainment, and never challenge themselves with difficult or "depressing" literature containing themes or topics which with they are unfamiliar and vocabulary that doesn't stretch their knowledge.

Jun. 12 2014 01:06 PM
grrlscientist from perched atop your bookshelf

eek! your question has got my brain on overdrive as more and more excellent YA book titles come to me.

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon
"The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak
"If I Stay" by Gayle Forman
"Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card (there are 4 books in the series, and this is the first, and most excellent of them all. the next 2 books are quite good, although not as good as the first. the fourth and last book is rather boring, if you ask me.)

ok! i'll step away from the keyboard now!

Jun. 12 2014 12:30 PM
Susan from NYC from NYC

I absolutely support and indeed love all young adult and children's literature that is well written, evocative and delivers a truly involving an satisfying experience. Much of young people's literature is, in fact, far more sophisticated in its concepts than a lot of what is produced for the adult market--consider The Giver and Gathering Blue.
However--as regards dumbing down and simplification, I do have a very big beef: Mary Poppins.
As a child I devoured the Mary Poppins books, over and over and over again. Along with The Secret Garden and Fog Magic (by, I believe, Julia Sauer) and The Chestry Oak (by Kate Seredy), they were my favorite books. The Mary Poppins books I read had almost nothing in common with what children think of as Mary Poppins today--unless they were lucky enough to have read the books before they ever came into contact with Disney's complete destruction of Travers's character and vision. The books I read were highly spiritual and mysterious--they were grounded in poetry and symbolism and experiences that were never explained--and therein lay their power and beauty. What Disney reduced this to was a travesty--and as much as Travers's love of her father may have informed some of the story, as Disney's latest interpretation of her motives has recently assured us (in case we might have heard about how much she hated the whole idea of his movie), I feel that he has entirely spoiled, even destroyed, for generations of children, a beautiful and profound literary experience. PL Travers knew this and apparently needed the money enough to finally give in to old Walt and his sadly misguided daughters. I hope that some day some film maker will be inspired to make another attempt--if only to consign Disney's version to the trash heap. Apologies to Julie Andrews, who did her best with what she was given.

Jun. 12 2014 12:24 PM
grrlscientist from in your computer

my suggestions:

"The Handmaid's tale" by Margaret Atwood
"Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame
"Charlotte's web" by E. B. White
"The Giver" Lois Lowry
"The Lord of the Rings" (trilogy) JRR Tolkien
“Pippi Longstocking” by Astrid Lindgren
“A Series of Unfortunate Events” by Lemony Snicket

Jun. 12 2014 11:51 AM

I just think that the argument that YA is bad for you is stupid. It betrays a total ignerance about the genre. How can you connect with you're kids if you're not reading YA with them? And Secondly I just think that their is a cynicism in most so-called adult literature that is not as refreshing as the fresh naivety of YA. I for one enjoy reading YA and I'm a adult! Does that make me a dumb person? Their are plenty of really bad so-called Classic Literatures (like Moby Dick for example) so to critisize YA to me just seems really ignerant. And what's wrong with liking a good book anyway. I agree with the other writers that a good book is a good book. Not too mention the total disrespect you are giving to the authors of YA by saying they're books are bad! I personally like to read the whole spectram of books from Beverly Cleary to Dan Brown. So what are you saying? that were dumb or should be ashamed?

Jun. 12 2014 11:51 AM
Drum from Brooklyn

I agree with Frank Fourth from Harlem, it is good to read YA literature to be able to have literary discussions with your child. Some of these novels have some pretty heavy subject matter and it is good to have an understanding of what might be influencing your child's views, along with their likes and dislikes. I have enjoyed both the Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies, and I think it is good that I understand Katniss and Tris, their strengths and faults, and discuss them with my daughter as they are stong female characters.

Jun. 12 2014 11:29 AM
grace from sleepy hollow, ny

Isn't it amazing that many of the Y/A books mentioned feature young female protagonists -- The Hunger Games, Twilight, Fault in our Stars. I guess that makes them more "simplistic" than movies featuring young male comic book heroes.

Jun. 12 2014 11:28 AM
Taran from Manhattan

Could you please share the summer reading list your guest just mentioned? And let us know where to access it? Thanks!

Jun. 12 2014 11:17 AM

can you post a list of the books your guest recommended at the end of the segment?

Jun. 12 2014 11:17 AM
Mike from Corona

Way to be a smug "literary elitist"! Don't encourage reading, It's best to discourage personal choice and experimentation. I hope its uncomfortable on your pedestal at the Washington Post.

Jun. 12 2014 11:13 AM
Yun from bklyn

We've often cried as a society about how disconnected we are from our teenagers/young adults and how to communicate with them. Parents and teachers of young adults would be remiss if they excluded themselves from this genre. It seems so obvious a way to communicate with our young adults!
I've (as a teacher) used graphic novels with relish for this purpose and this fosters great discussions and avenues to really get to understand and relate to our young thinkers.

Jun. 12 2014 11:13 AM
Ethan Cutler from New York

No one has mentioned that the value of a YA book--or any book--is not held solely in the text of the book. If a reader reads a book and takes something wonderful from that book, so be it. As John Green has said, books don't belong to their authors; they belong to readers.

Jun. 12 2014 11:11 AM
john from office

Smart woman, why does she distract with the high-low speech??

Jun. 12 2014 11:11 AM
Cynthia Herzegovitch from East Harlem-Work

Sometimes when people were young they did not have a joy for reading and this allows them to re-discover reading and its enjoyment and leads to other reading. I agree with those who say that denegrating YA books is rediculous - many of them tackle hard topics in a very sensative and honest way. Isn't the point to encourage the love of reading and where books can take us? Plus it gives adults an avenue to connect with the kids in their lives!!


Jun. 12 2014 11:09 AM
David from Manhattan

I think the YA phenomenon (whether it's writing or movie) is more a part of the entertainment spectrum. Read some classics, modern classics and tell me that the writing and language are the same. They are not. Art is not so immediate, it asks the audiences to think and to do some work, and then ultimately to take pleasure.

Also, just because a main character is young does not mean it is YA. Huckleberry Finn and Catcher in the Rye are not YA because they have young protagonists.

Jun. 12 2014 11:09 AM

What about all the adults who read comic books? The comic books were renamed graphic novels (by the comic book readers) to make them sound as if they are something other than comic books (there are exceptions, of course—Maus—but few), An adult reading mostly YA books or comic books would have a hard time reading what I've read recently: Jose Saramago's novels: Raised from the Ground, Blindness, The Double, as an example (Saramago was a Portugese novelist who won the Nobel Prize in the 1990s). I've read many YA books and they are for young adults—life and literature are more complicated than can be depicted in YA novels and comic books.

Jun. 12 2014 11:08 AM
genejoke from Brooklyn

Ridiculous question. Although I do not read any YA fiction, I have read comics my entire reading life. I also read Philip Roth, Richard Dawkins, Shirley Jackson, Carl Sagan, Huxley, Asimov, Dostoevsky and anything related to science.
This is NOT a problem, at least people are reading!

Jun. 12 2014 11:08 AM
Joe Weston from Greenpoint

With all due respect to your callers who are championing YA lit, the need to call something adult literature, young adult literature, kids literature, etc, is part of a grand "defining" process that has much more to do with money than the act of reading. I'm much more interested in a book like Anna Karenina, which can and should be read by all ages, than a book specifically marketed (key word here) as Young Adult Literature.

Jun. 12 2014 11:04 AM
Gogogo from nyc

I once interviewed at a very very big publishing house here in NYC. The publishing house is very well known for children's books...Guess what?
All the editors, authors and people in charge of seeing the publishing of the children's title are intelligent, smart, witty grown-ups.
They are very well educated grown ups in the publishing industry. They care deeply for the education for young minds.

How insulting to the profession of publishing and to the culture of READING some of these views are.
The culture of reading is dying and being replaced by bloviated views.

Jun. 12 2014 11:03 AM
Tee from NJ

And my last word on this: While my son, now 21, was growing up, I often read what he was reading at every stage so we could discuss and share our thoughts. There are MANY reasons to read across the "age line."

Jun. 12 2014 11:03 AM

Patricia McCormick just called in! She's a WIDELY respected YA writer--we use Sold in our high school, and she's written many serious and beautiful books.

Jun. 12 2014 11:02 AM

So I guess the word should be "simpler," not "simplistic"?

Jun. 12 2014 11:01 AM
Jess from Brooklyn, NY

It's not that YA novels are more simplistic than novels aimed at adults (although, to be fair, some are); it's that they are unabashedly interested in /plot/, while most modern literary fiction seems to avoid it at all costs--lest it be considered /genre./
John Green talks about how he likes to write for and about teens because they feel things so much more intensely, in part because everything they experience is new--first love, first loss, etc. etc.--and therefore doesn't come with the layers of cynicism that comes with age. More than that, though, as an English teacher, I have to say that he's sort of a teacher's dream. He (and other authors, like Rainbow Rowell) is incredibly thoughtful about what he's doing. He has themes and big ideas that he wants you to read and dissect, and if discussing a YA book gets a teenager prepped to dissect Dickens or Shakespeare, then what more can you want?

Jun. 12 2014 11:00 AM

No one should be shamed for reading. There are so many people who don't read books after graduating from school. (sad but true). There are so many Genres in YA, there really is something for everyone's imagination. Books don't have to be stodgy, or "classic" in order to be a good read. YA books may open a readers mind to try something else when they put the book down. I know so many readers of the Hunger Games and Divergent, who have gone on to pick up Margaret Atwood. There are so many terrible books in "adult fiction" so pointing a finger at YA just seems short sighted.

Jun. 12 2014 11:00 AM
Charlene Floyd from Manhattan

Of course "adults" should read ya books. For example, last night I spent half an hour reading The Book of Lost Things to my 16 year old daughter. It's great. We have LOTS to talk about because we read many of the same books. (How about Tell the Wolves I am Home"? amazing book!!!--read it with both my kids and again incredible discussions)

Sharing books is such a wonderful way to connect with our kids. We loved reading Divergent series, Hunger Games... etc.

After my daughter fell asleep I went to bed and read a few chapters of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall.

Jun. 12 2014 11:00 AM
Jim B

If it's good enough, it tends be regarded on its own terms and, somewhat narcisistically, not seen as an example of the genre that produced it.

Jun. 12 2014 10:59 AM
JWB from Chelsea

YA is just a marketing strategy, as the guest states. The "PG-13" rating, if accurate, reflects maybe less focus on graphic sex & violence- well, sex, anyway.
My picks are not brand-new, one classic, and not strictly YA.
A Wrinkle In Time
His Dark Materials Trilogy( Golden Compass/Subtle Knife/Amber Spyglass)
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell
The Book Thief
Anybody reading for pleasure is a good thing.
Happy Reading!

Jun. 12 2014 10:59 AM
Tee from NJ

Oh, and BRAVO, Patricia, on the line right now! (To denigrate ya as "simplistic" really just reveals a complete ignorance of the genre.)

Jun. 12 2014 10:59 AM

Good YA read - "Feed" by MT Anderson. I dare adults to get through the cyberspeak!

Jun. 12 2014 10:59 AM
Jen from Montclair

I don't have a lot of experience reading YA as an adult, but I agree that it is a category created by publishers for marketing. It seems to me that when people say they think it is shameful for adults to be reading YA are allowing marketing executives to decide what is ok or not ok for them to read. Personally, I don't like the idea of letting someone else decide what what I can or cannot read. As well, does that mean it is shameful for adults to read something like Tom Sawyer? I think this argument breaks down pretty quickly.

Jun. 12 2014 10:58 AM
Mary from New York

If it's a good book, who cares how old you are? I'm 47. I've read all the Harry Potter books, all of the Hunger Games, even a Lemony Snicket book. I also read The Fault in Our Stars having no idea it was considered YA. All I knew is that it was a best seller and a great read.
And to the caller Andrew who said it's a decline in literacy. Get off your high horse. Have you read any of the HP books? Those are hardly simple reads especially once you get past the first two books.
Are books we had to read in Jr. High and High School like Lord of the Flies, Separate Peace, To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye etc. - clearly aimed at Young Adults contributing to the decline in literacy. Please. A good read is a good read. Period.

Jun. 12 2014 10:58 AM
Laurie from nyc

I used to read some of the best literature- mostly fiction - from great authors, current writers, no matter how complex or long. That was before sustaining two brain injuries. Now I cannot focus, remember, or internalize those (often long) stories and places I felt I inhabited. Often one a week.

Now, no longer possible to sustain the energy to do so, I've turned to my wonderful local NYPL children's librarian who has given such wonderful books as The Book Thief, Wonder, and manyothers. It is a joy to be able to read one again - and some of the YA books are marvelously written, engaging, and much more than "young love" or overly dramatic morality tales. I am so grateful to have back my reading life and love.

Jun. 12 2014 10:57 AM
Fred from Brooklyn

Is this about subject matter? If you want to read a book about vampires - and there's nothing wrong with that - you have to read YA, because "adult" fiction tends to exclude sci-fi and fantasy.

Jun. 12 2014 10:57 AM

I read both YA and adult fiction. I believe that some YA lit can take you to a place of purity and emotional truth that is a really powerful. Take the book Wonder or the Fault in Our Stars. Even Twilight had a pull about young love. I think it just opens up your world and takes you back in time in a way that is reflective and even therapeutic.

Jun. 12 2014 10:56 AM
Mary from New York

If it's a good book, who cares how old you are? I'm 47. I've read all the Harry Potter books, all of the Hunger Games, even a Lemony Snicket book. I also read The Fault in Our Stars having no idea it was considered YA. All I knew is that it was a best seller and a great read.
And to the caller Andrew who said it's a decline in literacy. Get off your high horse. Have you read any of the HP books? Those are hardly simple reads especially once you get past the first two books.
Are books we had to read in Jr. High and High School like Lord of the Flies, Separate Peace, To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye etc. - clearly aimed at Young Adults contributing to the decline in literacy. Please. A good read is a good read. Period.

Jun. 12 2014 10:55 AM
Tee from NJ

As a writer of ya fiction, I walk a thin line. I can't read too much in the genre out of a fear it will unduly influence my own writing. That said, if more people read Lois Lowry's wonderful The Giver the world would be a better place. And why does it matter anyway what the "genre" is? Should I also, at my advanced age, also give up listening to punk rock? Never!

Jun. 12 2014 10:55 AM
Gogogo from New York City

This caller "Andrew" is very snobbish, very judgmental and very "clairvoyant"(!) apparently - he knows everything about the people reading YA.
Wow, what an horrible point of view "Andrew."
He just sums people up based on their fiction taste.
I don't even want to know what he thinks of the "adults" who write the fiction for young minds.
YA has an element of magic, naivety. They are not weighed down by adults experiences, they take a lighter approach to things...

Jun. 12 2014 10:54 AM
Robert from NYC

Alyssa Rosenberg is WAY off the mark in claiming criticism is not about assessing the quality of works.

Her definition of how she sees her role -- examining what people like and why they like it -- amounts to social commentary. That has its place and can be valuable and interesting, but it is not criticism.

Jun. 12 2014 10:54 AM
Frank Fourth from Harlem

Adults should read YA so they and their children can discuss the books with each other!

Jun. 12 2014 10:53 AM
Jen from Brooklyn

YA is not a genre. It's an age range with genres imbedded. Adults should challenge themselves beyond trash for gossipy high school kids. That said there are some quality YA novels out there. Just not that many.

Jun. 12 2014 10:53 AM

If you're reading, I say good for you. Many adults leave school without ever reading another book. I know many adults who enjoy Disney/Pixar movies, should they feel ashamed for that too?

Jun. 12 2014 10:52 AM

There are well written books for both young adults and adults. Does it matter? Isn't a well written story just a good book?
It seems insulting to the writers, who are adults, to say that there's something wrong with YA novels.

Jun. 12 2014 10:52 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The only two works of fiction that I ever read that I can still remember were the Bible and Brave New World. I don't see the point in reading fiction when there is so much truth in reality to discover.

Jun. 12 2014 10:49 AM
Gogogo from nyc

now we're shaming people for reading books? in a time of declining readership, this person needs to Go!
You never know where a book will take you. It starts with Judy Blume and ends in Alice Munro!

Jun. 12 2014 10:48 AM

Truly a straw man argument--adult readers of YA lit need no defense. There are mindless reads in adult lit too. What's great about YA lit, whether realistic or fantasy, is its emotional immediacy. If it also has depth of character (and most do) and beautiful writing and a non-formulaic plot that surprises, what's the problem?

Jun. 12 2014 10:46 AM

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