There’s been a buzz on the Internet for the past week or so after Ruth Graham of SLATE magazine published an article where she states that you should be embarrassed to read children’s books if you’re an adult.
As an avid reader of YA books, and now a writer of them too, I really feel I should make my own statement regarding Graham’s view:
I LIKE TO READ YA. I AM AN ADULT. I AM NOT EMBARRASSED.
When Graham in her article says Fellow grown-ups, at the risk of sounding snobbish and joyless and old, we are better than this, I immediately think she is snobbish and joyless herself. Literature is written to be enjoyed. I don’t appreciate being told that what I read isn’t worthy enough. For the sake of full disclosure: one of the books that I enjoyed the most last year, and surprised me with its addictive style, was a very hot romance novel! Another book I enjoyed was a much praised literary novel. So there you go.
I think I can safely say I am a very well-educated person – I have read the classics; I have studied literature; I have even enjoyed a rather advanced exam on James Joyce. All the serious accomplished stuff. But you know what? I like other parts of the literary spectrum too. I read widely, I call myself an eclectic reader. Proof can be found on my Goodreads account. And my favourite category for quite some time now has been YA. Why? Because YA has it all: history, drama, love, romance, sex, violence, fantasy, dreams, sorrows, pain, yearning, loss, achievement – you name it.
My job is often to try to make more people enjoy reading. If they read something that isn’t considered complex enough, so be it. Comic books? Fine by me. I just want people to read. If you start reading comics, you could still end up enjoying old Greek tragedies. I could go all serious now and say that I read a lot of YA so that I can keep track of books to recommend to those of my students who need to be lured into the brilliant world of literature.
But no, that’s not the main reason.
I repeat: I read YA because I love it. Simple as that. I’m too old to be embarrassed.
PS. Should I be embarrassed to write YA as well?