Friday, May 30, 2014

Armchair BEA -- Middle Grade/Young Adult

On today's Armchair BEA topic, Middle Grade/Young Adult: I have been surprised and interested to learn how many adult readers--and book bloggers--are passionate fans of Young Adult (YA) novels. I don't think I realized, before I became involved with the blogging world, how many readers over the age of 18 CHOOSE to read YA novels rather than adult fiction . . . not because they are librarians or teachers or parents reading along with their teens, but because they truly prefer, or particularly value, the YA genre of book over any other.

Now, I have certainly read some YA as an adult. Tpyically, these have been YA novels that have received so much popular attention or buzz that I was intrigued enough to read them, or in a few cases one of my book clubs selected them. These include The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, JK Rowling's Harry Potter series, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. And I enjoyed every one of these beautifully-written, compelling books. They are all wonderful novels; and although they may have been penned for teenagers or children, deserve the wide audience they've received. To me, these novels truly transcend the YA genre--they are simply great books that I would recommend to most readers. I know I am far from alone in being an adult who "crossed the border" into YA for these books. I remember commuting on the DC Metro during the years that each new Harry Potter book was released; I was always amused to see how many other commuters--women and men--were reading a copy of the latest in the series (that was back in the days before any of us had e-readers, naturally! I kind of miss the connection you'd sometimes make, back in the day, with a complete stranger reading a book that you loved, or were reading at the same time. But I digress....)

I've read some terrific Middle Grade books over the years as well. These I've read along with my children, when they have been assigned to them in school. Some of my recent favorites include Holes by Louis Sachar, Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan, and Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. I have read and very much enjoyed parts of Rick Riordan's Heroes of Olympus and Kane Chronicles series with my kids as well.

But I don't typically choose to read Middle Grade or YA fiction over novels written for adults. Please don't misunderstand me; I don't wish to knock the genre or imply that it is somehow lesser. We all have different interests as readers. My interests typically fall in the realm of literary fiction and historical fiction. I am curious, however, about those adults who prefer YA ... what is it about YA that draws you to it over other fiction? And what recommendations for recent YA books would you make for other readers who don't typically venture into the genre? One of things I've most appreciated about participating in Armchair BEA this week is hearing some terrific recommendations for books that lie outside of my usual reading interests. Sometimes it's a good thing to have a reason to travel outside of your usual boundaries--you never know what you might discover.


  1. I don't like saying they transcend the genre, because YA has a lot to offer. I do think the YA novels that have crossed over have a broad appeal.

  2. I read a lot of YA, not so much Middle Grade, but I'm hearing about some great titles today, so that might change. I read YA at the moments when, above all else, I want a great story. It seems like the best story tellers of our time are writing YA. I read a lot of other things, as well, including nonfiction, but when it's story that I crave, it is often YA that satisfies.

    Great questions!

  3. That is an excellent point about YA being so often a source of great stories. And, of course, to rope teens in as devoted readers you really need a strong storyline. Interesting that a number of recent popular movie adaptations seem to come out of YA novels!

  4. I read YA because it's fun. And sometimes you just need this awesome story that makes you feel all kinds of emotion.

    1. Fun & emotion.... Good things in a book, absolutely!