I had a blog post planned for this weekend which is now queued up in the "future possibilities" pile because I wanted to take a moment to reflect on a recent opinion piece written for Slate magazine. I saw it on Facebook this morning and honestly don't want to drive more publicity to the page so won't link it here, but in short the opinion was that you should be ashamed and embarrassed if you are an adult who reads young adult (YA) books. My opinion on this opinion piece is that is it the biggest wank I've read in a long time.
Now, I should preface this by saying I'm a big believer in everyone being entitled to their opinion. It's part of the reason I refused to weigh in heavily on the debate of pull to publish that I talked about in last week's blog post. However, in this instance, I don't believe that the person in question is entitled to share her opinion. Why? Not because she isn't entitled to feel that way, if that's her belief than who are we to argue with her. However, her opinion is harmful to others and I think that's what is wrong. I know people who never enjoyed reading at school, and never found the love of books that I myself was lucky to find at an early age. Some of these people have, as adults, discovered series like Twilight, Hunger Games and Divergent which have put them on the course to being book lovers.
Shaming adults for not reading hi-brow "literary" fiction makes people like this, people who are willing to read things purely for the escapism that books, in particular YA and NA (New Adult) books can give. Worlds where good triumphs over evil, where characters can be dragged to hell and back but things can be okay in the end (or at least, mostly okay). If we follow her advice and begin shaming adults for what they choose to enjoy, what happens to these people? The ones who don't want a book to be a slog to get through, the ones who enjoy a bit of fluff to read the way we enjoy romcom movies when we are over watching the terribleness of the world.
Think of it another way:- I watched Frozen with my seven-year-old daughter when it hit the cinemas last December. I enjoyed it. We went back and saw it again at the cinema when there where cheap seats. I bought the DVD when it was released. We love Frozen. I'd probably even watch it without my daughter at my side, just like I watched Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and all the other Disney classics for years before she was born. Should I be ashamed for enjoying a movie made for children? Should I be embarrassed that the story wasn't "highbrow"?
Personally, I love a good YA book. There is nothing like getting lost in a read that you can knock over in a day or two. Especially where the world is rich in color and detail. There's something nostalgic about being able to relive first loves, first kisses, first times.
My Daughter of Fire/Son of Rain twin series is a New Adult series, which according to the article is something to be ashamed about reading if you an adult. I love the concept of New Adult, of being able to relive the wonder of taking those first steps into true adulthood--negotiating relationships which can sometimes be tenuous, that period of adjustment where everyone starts to accumulate the baggage which they will carry through life with them, the woes of higher education and living alone--or with a partner--for the first time. It's a crazy time in our lives and while we're in the middle of it, we don't get a chance to enjoy it. Looking back, it's a time of so much personal growth and development that it's great to get a chance to relive it through the actions of the character of a novel.
My take on the article? Forget it. The writers seems like someone who only wants to read things that challenge her and that's great. For HER. I say read what you enjoy. Read what you love. If that's an 800-page tome which requires a dictionary on hand to decipher every second word than great. If it's a 200-page YA paranormal romance that's also great. Neither is better, just as long as you enjoy it. I'll leave you today with the following graphic which has never been more relevant than after reading the terrible article this morning.