July 27, 2011
Over the last two months, I’ve been working on a guest post for In the Library with the Lead Pipe about YA lit. It’s been a great experience (I’ve never had an editor before!), and I’m really proud of the final version of the article, “Are You Reading YA Lit? You Should Be.” Here’s the intro:
I’m a young adult librarian, but I didn’t read young adult lit when I was a teen myself. I was a precocious reader and desperate to be treated like a grown-up, so I read books for grown-ups because anything else was just too puerile for someone as obviously mature and sophisticated as I. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties, working on my MLS and realizing that I wanted to work with teens, that I discovered there was a huge, glorious world of excellent YA lit that I had completely missed. Now it’s almost all I read.
Outside of YA circles, I sometimes find myself having to justify my tastes to others. Yes, a lot of why I read YA lit is because I work with teens. But even if I were to switch careers, I would continue reading YA lit because it’s good. That’s not to say adult lit isn’t, of course, but YA lit has a freshness that I really enjoy, and it rarely gets bogged down in its own self-importance. YA lit is also mostly free of the melancholy, nostalgia, and yearning for the innocent days of childhood that I find so tedious in adult literary fiction.
I think the reason some grown-ups look down their noses at YA lit is because they haven’t read any of it recently, so they don’t know how good it’s gotten—or how different it is from what they might imagine it to be. While there are still books that deal with Big Issues, the “problem novel” of the ’70s and ’80s has been eclipsed by more slice-of-life contemporary fiction, romances, fantasies, mysteries, sci-fi stories, and genre-blending tales that defy categorization. For as much attention as the Twilight series has gotten, it’s certainly not all that’s out there.
I talk about what YA lit is and isn’t, how YA lit is similar to and different from adult lit, recent trends in YA lit, and grown-ups reading YA lit (plus some suggestions for adults who want to give YA lit a try). It’s kind of long, but I hope you’ll read it!
I want to say again how awesome it was to work with Lead Piper Brett Bonfield and my guest editors Candice Mack and Nancy Hinkel. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to write this piece with their insightful input and to be an ambassador for YA lit to a wider audience.
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