Why I’ve Just Now Started Reading YA

In which I reflect on some aspects of my reading life, and share my thoughts on YA literature. 


I have mentioned my little journal where I write post ideas as they come to me.

IMG_1312

I opened it up today just to make sure I’ve crossed out all the ones that already got written, and came across something.

FullSizeRender

I immediately panicked: “Oh no! I already forgot what that means!”

But then I remembered, and decided I wanted to write about it right now.

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…

As you guys may or may not know, my reading journey started out a little rocky. I talked about it in this post, so I won’t reiterate here.

Once I could read and was confident, I started reading voraciously. My favourite series in the second grade and most of the third was The Babysitter’s Club. But in the second grade, I also attempted Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl for the first time. I only made it about halfway through, but that was okay. I enjoyed what I did read. In the third grade, I read Little Women. It took me a couple of months, but I really enjoyed it, and I felt so grown up reading such a big book. After I’d read that, I wasn’t as interested in children’s literature anymore. I still ended up reading a few children’s novels, but my appetite for classics had been whetted.

The Problem With Reading At a High Level for One’s Age

I would like to interrupt my story to give a shout out to all those who dealt with the struggle of reading above their age level. People may not realise how challenging this can be, so I invite you to stop and think about it.

In elementary school, I was scoring at a college reading level on tests. So it’s understandable that I wouldn’t find children’s literature very appealing. At the same time, there were a lot of things that I couldn’t yet grasp, thematically speaking, in books written for adults. The situations weren’t relatable to me, even though I didn’t really realise it at the time. When I reread those books now, I recognise that a lot of things sailed right over my head. (Here’s a letter to my past self, a silly girl who missed the point of a lot of books.)

I’m sure I’m not the only one who had this problem. It happens to all kids whose reading level exceeds their life-experience level. The themes and lessons I needed at that time, and the situations I could relate to, were found in books geared towards children/preteens. But the challenging vocabulary and complexity that I craved weren’t always found there.

Middle School

By middle school, I had read several classics, and had a few favourite children’s/middle-grade novels as well. I was experiencing a lot of anxiety at that time; I didn’t have a lot of friends and I wasn’t comfortable in my surroundings. It makes sense that I sought refuge in familiar characters, familiar settings, and plots I already knew. During this time, I reread my favourites over and over. I read almost nothing new.

I didn’t lack exposure to book recommendations during that time. We had to do a book report each month,  and the other kids chose YA novels, some of which sounded interesting to me (I, of course, did old favourites which I pretended not to have read before). Besides that, once a week we’d all shuffle off to the school library, where the librarian would do a slideshow with some book recommendations. From these sources, I would make note of books that piqued my interested, but I don’t think I ever ended up reading any of those books. I was stuck in my comfort zone, and most YA literature didn’t interest me, anyway. The only new books I tried were nonfiction.

High School

Halfway through seventh grade, I got pneumonia, and missed too much school to make up. So I started going to a homeschool partnership. I was able to take some classes on a campus with really small class sizes and generally nice kids. I also took some classes at home. It was all funded through the school district, and I followed the same curriculum.

With the smaller class sizes and more time at home, my anxiety got a lot better, and I started trying new books again. In high school, I had the greatest English teacher ever. It was her class that gave me my love for literary analysis. She was always recommending books to me—not just classics, but books that I would never have tried otherwise. She’s actually responsible, in a way, for this blog, because she was the one who encouraged me to try blogging. Her encouragement set off a chain of short-lived blogs, culminating in the one you are reading right now.

In that time period (second half of 7th grade-12th grade) I read a lot of the books that I have come to adore, including Les Miserables. I read a few YA books, but not many. I didn’t see the point of reading YA when I still hadn’t read all the classics.

But Things Are Changing

Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve been a lot more interested in YA. I feel a bit funny not having read most of the books that the book blogging community talks about. Plus, I keep reading reviews of books that sound great.

So now that I’m pretty much past the target audience for YA, I’ve started reading it.

What do I think of it?

I think it’s like literature in general. There are good books and bad books, awful books and phenomenal books. There are all different genres, and there are different levels of depth.

Have I come across YA novels that I found trivial, shallow, and really disliked? Yes. Do I think there are some problems common to YA novels? Yes. But I’ve also read ones that were truly beautiful and important (The Book Thief, for one, The Fault in Our Stars, for another). I know that there are many more out there that are beautiful and important, and I look forward to finding them.

 

So that’s all I wanted to say today. Just kind of a reflective post and some of my thoughts on the YA genre. (And also an explanation of why I am not cool and haven’t read most of the books you all are talking about.)

Have a lovely day!

Signature Fonts

Advertisements

34 thoughts on “Why I’ve Just Now Started Reading YA

    1. Haha, I probably wouldn’t have on my own, but my mom would check them out from the library for me. She always checked out a lot of books in a good variety, and there was never any pressure if I decided I wasn’t interested in one. It really made reading fun for me and made me want to tackle the bigger books.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t blame you. That’s a great thing to try getting your kids to do. Mum doesn’t read as much as my sis an I so we got into it more on our own. But we’re so glad we did (^_^) And now mum reads more, too.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Very cool! I am glad you are expanding your horizons! I, myself, would like to read more books like Les Mis (I have let you down. Haven’t read or seen it. A problem which will soon change! :D). I find it great to read beyond your comfort zone. It is challenging, and takes a bit of bravery as well! To be honest, I felt a bit like this before I dived into the four-year reading slump. I was reading The Mark of Athena by Rick Riodan (GOD BLESS HIS SOUL) and I lost interest. I should have taken a break, but instead, I decided the cause of the losing interest was that I grew out of his books, when in reality I needed to slow down and take a tiny break. My God is that not true about losing interest. AT ALL 🙂 The reason I am drawn to YA is because of its complexity. (BTW I am not blaming you for what I am about to say :P) I feel as if some people think YA is “childish” and “only for kids”, as if it were Dick and Jane level reading. But the truth is, YA is so much more. YA is about young adult characters and is not a genre. To say that anyone who reads YA can’t read complexly or understand and perceive the world in a new light is clearly mistaken. Have you seen how dark Harry Potter gets? How about Divergent, The Hunger Games, Clockwork Princess, The Maze Runner, THE FRICKEN HIGH ALMIGHTY LORD OF THE FRICKIN RINGS! Yeah! Frodo is considered a young adult in Middle-Earth! And when critics read Tolkien’s work, guess what they said? It was a children’s fairytale that went too far. It was outrageous, they said. *sighs* *recollects self*

    Sorry, I realize now I went on a ramble. *meh*

    The truth is, YA is like any other form of literature. Sure, it can be very fictitious at times, but so can NA and some of the classics! Changing who the main characters are and how they interact with the world around them doesn’t mean the reader can’t see the world in a more complex way. That is why we have literature. That is why we have art. To understand and to grow in who we are, who others are, and what it all means. (I probably should have made a post of this on my blog. Yeah, smart choice :D)

    Basically, I am happy you are expanding your horizons! Yay! Okay, Imma stop talking now bye.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. *gasps about you not having read/seen Les Mis* (I’m kidding! Most people haven’t and it’s not a big deal. Not everyone has to be as obsessed as I am!) SO MUCH YES TO EVERYTHING YOU SAID ABOUT YA!!! I feel like you should post about that sometime. You have great thoughts and make great points.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is very similar to my experiences. I was so intent on reading the classics by a young age that now as an adult, I struggle with YA and even 20th-century adult literature. I am more used to the English of Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë than I am to that of Ernest Hemingway or most YA authors. I have a number of books that I’m reading at the moment and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables is actually one of the easiest for me to read simply because the language is more complex and archaic; strange, I know.
    I am trying to read more YA and 20th-century literature now. The Book Thief was amazing, and I just finished the Looking Glass Wars #1.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As usual, I relate so much to this! There are many things I am extraordinarily bad at, but reading is something that came as naturally to me as breathing. When I was tested at four years old before starting primary school, my reading age was that of a fifteen year old. I had a horrible, horrible teacher who was constantly pissed off that I was so advanced that she made it her personal mission to belittle me every chance she got. I remember once, she picked on me out of the whole class, saying “well Francesca, since you’re so smart, you can tell me what the time is”. I hadn’t learnt how to tell time yet so I just said I didn’t know, to which she smirked and replied “yeah, not so clever now are you?” TO A FIVE YEAR OLD. It was like she felt threatened by my ability, because she was used to being the all-powerful authority and she didn’t like that I understood more than I should. I ended up being terrified to go to school, and having nightmares about her every time I went to sleep. I used to purposefully mess up on my spelling tests just so she would stop singling me out, but when I did that she would just lord it over me that I wasn’t smart enough to get 100%. So eventually my parents pulled me out of school and I was homeschooled for the next seven years. Now, my mission in life is to become the BEST primary school teacher ever, and cater to all children of all abilities. I want to make sure that no child in my class ever has to dumb themselves down to fit in, or think that they can’t read a book for an older age group just because they’re theoretically not at the right reading age. Wow this has turned into a massive rant haha sorry! In short, GREAT post, you are always so refreshingly honest and I am always so amazed to discover you have written my exact thoughts down… it’s uncanny. Keep up the fabulous work! Much love ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good for you to channel your negative experiences into a positive drive to accomplish something that could benefit others. And your parents were really, really smart to not put up with you being treated wrongly.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you for sharing! I have unfortunately met a lot of teachers like yours. Rather than being proud of and nurturing their students, they try to squash them because they want to be the unquestioned smartest person in the room. It’s ridiculous. I’m sorry for how your teacher treated you, but glad you could use it as inspiration to be a truly awesome teacher. Your students will be lucky to have you. And thank you so much! Glad you could relate so well. 🙂

      Like

  4. I remember myself when I was ten, reading the Witcher series (if you’ve never read it, it’s a quite dark fantasy, completely inappropriate for a child at that tender age); then myself at the age of thirteen, reading Schopenhauer and Freud and Bettelheim; then myself aged seventeen, reading Bhagavad Gita and feeling adult (I’m Polish, we don’t actually get other religions than Catholicism in Poland, so I was feeling egdy; now I feel stupid).

    And then, when I was nineteen and on my first year at uni, I’ve picked up Twilight and read all four volumes in three days. (It was the finals week, you understand.) And it was so bad I’ve enjoyed it. After that I actually found some YA novels I really liked, like John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice, which was a bit childish but nevertheless funny and interesting. Since then I’ve read several dozens of YA novels and usually either stopped reading after first fifty pages or read an entire series in a couple of days, two weeks tops. I’m not ashamed of that 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m continually in awe of how much I can relate to you. Where do I even begin? Haha. This is such a great post. I read a post the other day discussing the stigma surrounding adults reading YA books and it really did make me question the reason behind that. Especially now, YA books deal with a lot of ‘adult’ issues and they go beyond the conventional paradigm to make us view things in a different way. But like you say, not all YA books are perfect, and the same can be said for adult books. I’ll admit, for a time I stopped reading YA, and there was another time I read nothing but YA, but I was a completely different person both of those periods. When I stopped reading YA, it was because teachers were forcing classics down my throat and making me quote Shakespeare, so of course I forgot my love for YA. But okay, moving on. 🙂

    We are so similar! It’s uncanny. I read ‘adult’ books when I was a kid, not because I thought it made me look smarter, but it just appealed to me a lot more? Maybe it was because of my experiences as a child with a lot of family problems going on at the time. I wanted to know more about their world, what conversations they had and what I should prepare myself for. I tried to read a range. And like you, I had to take to take a lot of time off school because of health and my random injuries, so I couldn’t boast of having many friends. I still preferred books though 🙂 And I never thought YA was childish. I just wanted to know everything I could.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Lovely post!

    (And yes to the problems with reading above grade level. Like librarians refusing to give you a book because “You’re in fourth grade. You can’t possibly be able to read this.”)

    For some reason I’ve always been a pretty eclectic reader, though, so I’d just read children’s books and young adult books and classics and didn’t really put much distinction between them. I agree with you that YA is like any category of books. Some of it’s good. Some of it’s not. But it isn’t like everything “written for adults” is a literary masterpiece automatically!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I remember being in third or fourth grade and the librarian telling me I shouldn’t read one of the later Harry Potter books for the same reason, despite the facts that they are a) for children/YA and b) I was sailing through them. Then in 5th grade, my teacher forced me to read picture-books to achieve some quota of points. The so-called “Accelerated Reader” program they made us drudge through was quite the opposite of its name.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I can relate to SO MUCH of this. (Maybe one day I’ll write my own post on similar experiences.) Went to public school K-12 (hated 80% of it), and by 6th or 7th grade, I had completely moved on from fiction (even non-fiction) aimed at tweens/teens. Definitely preferred to re-read the classics (Little Women, Alice in Wonderland, Charles Dickens, etc.) a hundred times than try The Outsiders or The Babysitters’ Club. Just not to my taste. Some of that I tried…epic fail for me. Partly it was because I got easily bored with a lot of the subject matter. I simply didn’t care if some lame girl couldn’t get a lame boyfriend. To me, there were so many bigger, more important things to think about. One of my favorites in high school was a novel by a Canadian author (Brooks…Martha Brooks, I think?), that was called Two Moons in August (pretty sure…?) that was about a girl trying to find her way after her mother died. It’s not a great work of writing, but it’s insightful in some ways, and very relatable. The characters felt like real people with actual problems that mattered.

    So by the time high school was over, I’d read several classics, several “grown-up” series (Agatha Christie, along those lines), and some stuff that people my age had read (but not much). And I was totally okay with that. As an adult, I’ve found that trying to read adult books makes me feel more and more like not being an adult. Life is so complicated anymore – personally I don’t want my entertainment to be full of people complaining about their mortgage, their divorce, their troubled children – wow, give me something fun and light-hearted, like the latest urban fantasy! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Have you read The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner? I read it recently (and reviewed it on my blog – if you’re interested), and think you’d enjoy that. A great example of YA done well, in my opinion. Really enjoying your posts today 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love that you’re not dismissing YA completely. There are so many people who think they’re too good for YA and who think because it’s for teen girls it somehow has less value. I can’t stand when people do that, so I’m really happy you’re open to reading the genre and recognise that there are lots of good YA books out there.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Wonderful post! I appreciate your blog a lot because it’s not all YA – I think the blogging community needs more classics. I try to read a wide variety of books and try not to be swayed to read something I’m not interested in just because everyone else is reading it. It’s true that with any genre there are great books and not-so-great books, and discovering new things you like is always very exciting!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Wonderful story, I admire your reading and choice of books when you where at a very young age. I didn’t grew up reading books, and I have only been reading mostly YA Books. Well, I think YA is for everyone and it is filled with so many amazing books! 😊😊😊

    Liked by 3 people

What are your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s