Before we go into this discussion, I need to rant. I read a blog post about a month ago (someone that I do not follow and I don’t believe follows me) that had me so angry I was literally shaking. Like our parents tell us: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” And that’s just what I did. I let what was said slide, I wrote a rant post getting all my feelings out, and then I deleted it. No matter what I believe personally everyone has a right to their opinion. BUT I didn’t appreciate that I was essentially being made to feel like a “less important” reader because of the books I choose to read.
Holly @ The Nut Free Nerd recently made a discussion post titled “Well at least you’re reading something” which made me realize I’m still not over that bloggers comments, but I am, however, calmed down enough to talk about it rationally and without anger. So here it goes:
The post I’m referring to was a discussion talking about why adults read YA. Being an adult of 35 (yes, I’m prehistoric and practically ancient) and I read a lot of YA books. I fit the category, so I read on. Throughout the post she said she didn’t understand what adults found so interesting when the characters are dealing with teenage issues, when the plots and worlds are fantastical and disassociated with the real world, and there was nothing to offer on an intellectual level. Ok, I can live with that. My feelings are only slightly bruised but I’m fine. BUT, it was when this person almost outright said that any adult who reads YA books isn’t smart was when I was cut, sliced, and barely breathing. She referred to the fact that her group of friends only reads literary fiction and text books, basically placing them on a higher pedestal than those who choose to read anything other than those things. My blood literally boiled! I shut off my computer so I wouldn’t say anything mean and just walked away. This may not have been her intention but that’s how it came across to me – and it hurt.
As i’ve said before, people are entitled to their own opinions, but when those opinions belittle others or make them feel “less” is when it becomes an issue. Here I am, 35, married with two kids, College education, honour roll throughout both high school and college, owner and operator of a small business and a manufacturing company – I’m a very smart person! So why am I, as a 35 year old woman, reading YA instead of textbooks? It all comes down to WHY I read in the first place.
I read to escape! My life is chaos, filled with stress, work days that can last anywhere between 8-18 hours (no joke), mom duties, house responsibilities, and so much more. When I finally get the chance to sit down with a book I don’t want to read about more problems that mirror my own!! I don’t want to read adult fiction where there are marriage problems (not currently having those so don’t fret! Actually today is my 9th wedding anniversary!), family problems, money problems – I’ve got enough of that crap on my own!! Real life adulting is HARD! So if I can sit down for an hour and read about fairies, space travel, monsters, dimension hopping, crime solving, princesses, assassins…… YES PLEASE! I read for pure entertainment, enjoyment and escape. I want to feel like I went on adventure and visited new places and worlds. I want my emotions to be kicked in the face and left in a puddle of tears in the end. I want to feel invigorated and have my adrenaline pumping.. Whether that comes in a YA novel or adult doesn’t really matter.
Having said all that, does it mean that I don’t read or enjoy adult literary fiction? Yes, I do! I read everything from YA contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, graphic novels, historical fiction, non fiction, literary classics, text books and more. I myself choose to read a very wide variety of things so that I can get different perspectives, information and life experiences. I grow my imagination by reading fantasy, I reminisce on my youth by reading contemporary, I learn more by reading non fiction. I gain sensitivity and understanding when I read novels that include different cultures and sexual preferences – the possibilities are endless! I honestly get just as much enjoyment out of YA fantasy and literary fiction (just an example) but they’re just for different reasons. I LOVE learning and can spend hours attached to a computer or book researching a topic.
What a person chooses to read is irrelevant! It does NOT determine their intellect. The point is that they’re reading, for what ever reason they choose. If you want to only read literary fiction, classics, textbooks, Shakespeare – go ahead! If that’s what you enjoy then, by all means! I just don’t think that it’s fair to look down on a person because they choose to read Harry Potter, Illuminae, and A Court of Thorns and Roses. There are SO many books out there – literally something for everyone. The fact alone that you’re reading makes it (and you) wonderful. Do you have to read to learn and enrich your mind all the time to make your reading relevant? No! Absolutely not! There’s no shame in reading! There’s only the love of words.
What about you? Why do you read? What is it that you hope to gain out of your reading experience? Have you ever felt like your choices aren’t relevant due to the genre and/or classification? Let’s talk!
Until next time, happy reading!