From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Confessions of a YA Addict

Hi. My name is Erin.

(Hi, Erin...)

I'm nearly 24 years old and I...


I love Young Adult fiction.

Whew! It feels so good to get that off my chest!

Okay, perhaps that was a bit on the dramatic side, but that's how it feels sometimes. I cannot tell you the number of times I've been trying to explain to someone a novel I'm reading, and I've finally just resorted to sighing and saying, "It's Young Adult." And then they stare at me like I'm a head case.

It doesn't happen all the time, especially not around my fellow book nerds, but it happens far too often to be ignored.

Usually, if I then go on to explain that I also write Young Adult, I'll get an understanding nod or whoever I'm talking to will at least stop staring at me like I'm nuts. Leading me to believe that it's perfectly okay to read Young Adult if you also write it--have to do "market research," after all--but it's a little strange for a twenty-something to read YA just because they like it.

A few years ago, my local library went through a huge remodel. To prevent the invasion of younger kids in the YA section, which had apparently been getting on the teens' nerves, they moved the whole section to the back corner of the library. They made it into a "cool" space for the teens to hang out, decking it out with restaurant-style booths, bright colors, and a giant glass garage door to section it off from the rest of the building. If I had still been in my teens when they'd done this, I would have been over the moon.

Northwest Library garage door

As it was, I was in my senior year of college.

The way the YA section had been set up previously, it had been sandwiched between the Large Print and General Fiction shelves. As someone who was no longer a teen, it was easy to be inconspicuous when the section was mixed in with everything else. No one ever gave me a second glance.

But there's something vaguely awkward being a twenty-something browsing the shelves in a neon-colored room with a garage door, set way back in the library away from all the other books, so I have to walk past all the people using the computers who give me funny looks as I head in the direction of the YA room. Don't get me wrong, no one at my library has ever said anything to stop me going to the YA room. In the long run, I doubt anyone even cares. But with people's tendency to stare and my tendency to over-analyze such behaviors, I've gotten into the habit of rushing into the YA room, searching out whatever specific author or title I'm hunting, and then beelining my way out of there as quickly as possible.

I hate doing this. I like browsing, but I dislike the awkward staring more. I've always loved reading YA, and I love writing it as well. There's something about the teenage experience that continues to fascinate me. I hate how there's this unspoken awkwardness toward an adult loving Young Adult novels. I hate that I feel so out-of-place in the YA room at my library now and how this very slight age gap between teens and me also puts a gap between me and the "real" adults.

What's the moral of this story? Read what you love. Ignore the awkard stares or the comments or the raised eyebrows or whatever it is you receive when you're judged for what you like reading. No one should make you feel out-of-place around books.

I have a goal to progressively spend more time in the YA room at my library, learn to ignore the stares. Perhaps someday I'll actually sit down and write in there. But while I'm still getting used to the YA room, my love for the genre is still there. That's definitely not going anywhere.


  1. I'm just looking forward to the day when I start making some money from my writing, so I can include all these YA books as tax write-offs! ;)

    Also, the awkward staring is part of the reason I got a Nook. Totally life-changing, lol.

    Great post!

  2. No worries Erin, I'm 34 and LOVE YA fiction! Ha! Not something you necessarily grow out of :)

  3. I'm with Michele. I'm 30 and I love it too! Matter of fact, that's pretty much all I read. Nothing else really holds my attention. YA is fast-paced and full of romance most of the time. More people should try it. They might be surprised! :)


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