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  1. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Why Adults Read YA/Teen Fiction

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by Steerpike, Feb 25, 2015.

    The Guardian did an article on this: http://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2015/feb/24/why-are-so-many-adults-reading-ya-teen-fiction?CMP=share_btn_tw

    I think they miss the mark. Author Chuck Wendig summed it better in his response to this article, in which he said the reason a lot of adults read it is that "a lot of YA and Teen fiction is really, really good."

    Wendig expanded on his thoughts on this subject a couple of years ago, in which he said:

    Not that I always agree with Wendig, but in this case I do.
     
  2. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I love that an 18 year old is writing an article about why adults love YA books. Honey, you're still a young adult yourself. Maybe you shouldn't try to put yourself in the mind of an adult and figure out why they read what they read.

    I agree that YA books are generally just good books. Being written for a younger crowd doesn't make them any more or any less interesting. And in most of the books I've read, they don't "read" YA. There are a few novels (like the House of Night series by the Casts) that really play towards the teen audience, by overusing teen slang and teen trends. But for the most part, the books are pretty much ageless. Unless the story deals with losing your virginity or starting your period for the first time, they are very easy to relate to. They still include real feelings and real situations than any person at any age may go through.

    I don't really get why it's a big deal that adults read YA. I used to be embarrassed about it. I used to think... I'm 26. I shouldn't read YA. And I shouldn't write YA because it's cheap fiction. I'm better than YA.

    But there's nothing wrong with an adult who enjoys YA fiction. We don't criticize kids for reading above their age. So why should we criticize adults for reading below their age?


    (Please forgive any typos or confusing sentences. I've been mildly suffering from vertigo today, and I didn't realize how bad it really was until it was time for me to focus on something. Oh, the spins! It's like being drunk... but it isn't fun. :()
     
  3. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've said this a couple of times, but I don't see a great deal of difference between the YA and the Adult best seller lists in terms of literary quality. Like you, I agree with Wendig though. The stories appear to be (I have not read much YA and I am not including shit like Twiglet) more interesting than the generic crime dramas or sappy, genteel crap that fills the adult best seller lists.

    However, I would add that there is probably a certain amount of Peter Pan syndrome at play, as well as a reluctance to commit to the time sink of a larger, more complex literary novel, particularly given the modern epidemic of ADHD.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
  4. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    People can enrich or not enrich themselves as they see fit. No one is going to kill themselves because x% of the adult population prefers YA. Your friends who read the same YA you do are not going to judge you. At least some of the people who don't read YA are going to judge, whether you like it or not. This isn't entirely subjective. As I've said before, there is a very old and widespread institution that praises some types of writing over others. It's called academia. Yes, people argue about what constitutes a literary masterpiece all the time, but it's not that hard to figure out the sorts of things that make a novel stand out from being mere entertainment. From this perspective, if you are an adult reading primarily YA fiction, there are people who are going to judge you for it. You have to live with it. It doesn't and shouldn't really affect you.

    When we look past politics and morals and human survival, and take a more subjective look at the human soul, or mind, or whatever you want to call it, each individual is responsible for developing and enriching his or her own self. How you do this, or if you choose to do it at all, is up to you. If you want to read stories (YA) geared toward individuals who are biologically not as mentally developed as you (the human brain does not fully develop before 25, this is why your car insurance goes down), that is your choice. It's the same thing with the food you choose to eat, whether you choose to sit all day or stand, the types of friends you choose, and how you treat other people. These choices are yours, and they will only ultimately affect you. If you're insecure about your choices, you can make up the ideal that "no one should criticize me for doing X," but that doesn't change the reality that everyone criticizes everyone. My only advice is to make choices that you are not insecure about.

    Edited to add. Chinspinner is right of course. There are all sorts of junk everywhere. Mainstream adult bestsellers arent necessarily any better than YA, although, if we take two novels, each equally poor in quality and content, and both primarily meant for quick entertainment, it strikes me as unusual that an adult would prefer a young adult protagonist.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
  5. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    No, no it's not.
     
  6. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    can you explain? Do they teach mainstream YA fiction in colleges now? You know more than I.
     
  7. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Yes. In the third year of my undergraduate degree I could pick between three modules, 'Medieval Literature', 'Post-Colonial Literature', and 'Vampires in Contemporary Culture: From Dracula and Nosforatu to Buffy and Twilight'.
     
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  8. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thats right they do have courses like those.
    If you think that the majority of literature professors hold YA fiction in equal esteem to classics or even modern "literary novels," then I retract my entire argument.
     
  9. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't mean to sound like a snob, but 'Vampires in Contemporary Culture: From Dracula and Nosforatu to Buffy and Twilight'. Why vampires specifically? Why not just look at the development of the horror genre, or the development of the YA genre? I don't think that modules should cater so explicitly towards people's extra-curricular interests, and I cannot understand how this subject matter could fill more than one short lecture? Although I am intrigued...
     
  10. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    It's easy, if you don't know very much about academia, to think it's all posh know-it-alls dreaming about Ulysses and what Dante meant by Miranda while laying on river sides with a bottle of ginger beer and copy of Keats' poems idly tossed to one side; and if a copy of The Hunger Games came anywhere near them they'd laugh then throw it into the river - but that's not what it's really like.

    Universities are businesses, not institutions of snobbery, so they have to be 1) relevant, and 2) saleable to students. Not many working class kids are going to go to university, and stick the course of the three years of £40,000 and all the hard work even an undergraduate degree is if all they are doing is constantly reading endless dense, critical editions of Classics. No, that would be ridiculous in our modern world, especially with the recession - frankly universities need money.

    Instead, the way you attract the new students, and frankly new money, is study contemporary culture. There is something to be said for things like Hunger Games, or Harry Potter, or whatever. What does Hunger Games mean? Who knows? Maybe it's just an expression of fears about totalitarian governments, and a reaction to the Snowden exposure of NSA spying - maybe that's why it's popular. That's for critics to decide I guess - ultimately, and the best way have good critics of contemporary culture is to train them to be critical of contemporary culture.

    Vampires role in Gothic and Horror has changed from hideous monsters to sex symbols - the question the module wanted students to probe is 'Why? What does this mean about society?'

    It's actually amazingly hard to just look at the development of the horror genre, because there is just so much of it it you just see it as a single genre. Any lecture on horror, where do you start? Who do you talk about? Any brief over-view that just goes 'Fairy Tales, Early Gothic Romances, Romanticism, Dracula, Poe, Lovecraft, Ghost Stories, Stephen King' 8 subjects, 8 lectures, give an introduction lecture and a closing off lecture and you have a module worth, and that will be patchy at best, I mean, what about Vampires? What about, Psychological Horror? There is simply too much.

    Also, at university level you have to start specializing.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
  11. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    But vampires were sex symbols in Bram Stokers work.
     
  12. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Exactly. ;) They were even before that, with Coleridge's 'Christabel', and John Keats' 'La Bell Dame Sans Mercy'.

    For the record, I actually did Post Colonial Literature because nothing in my life needs to make any sense.
     
  13. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good, It seems we covered that module in three posts ;)
     
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  14. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You didn't answer my question.
     
  15. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Haha, only in basics but that'll be £9,000 please. :D

    Question? No, I think academics hold YA books with the same esteem a 'literary' contemporary works. Actually, I know they do. I also did in my last year Contemporary British Literature, with stuff like Sebastian Faulks and Pat Barker. Pat Barker and Twilight was being taught in the same institution that was teaching Kafka and Sophocles and Chaucer.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
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  16. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well then that boggles my mind but I'm not going to disagree with you. But I really don't get how anyone can compare Twilight to Chaucer. I must be missing something.
     
  17. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    It's all about what I said about universities being 1) relevant, and 2) saleable. Twilight and Chaucer are not being compared, well, unlikely they will be anyway. Twilight is not Epic Medieval poetry, Chaucer isn't a YA romance novel. You'll be hard pressed to find any academic that will compare them, especially in an essay. BUT an academic who is lecturing on Chaucer one minute can be lecturing on Twilight in another minute.

    You will, however, see Twilight being talked about through the lens of the tradition of Vampires as the Byronic hero, and so can be aptly compared to a more 'literary' novel like Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice or something.
     
  18. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm more interested in literary discourse . Academics write papers, yes? Are contemporary YA works like twilight as popular a topic as something like Chaucer? it sounds like maybe they are!
     
  19. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    There are plenty of anthologies of criticism on pretty much anything you could name. A friend of mine on this MA course is doing her dissertation on the TV show Supernatural, and I didn't think there'd be any criticism of Supernatural at all - barely even TV reviews to be honest. Within 10 minutes of searching through the uni library she found a collection of essays on Sexuality in the Supernatural TV show, and left me with my mouth hanging open.

    The only difference between that and my topic, Robert Frost, is because Frost is older there is more out there, and it's easier to find because all 'classic' writers have societies around them, with dedicated academic journals for their work. I can go to the Robert Frost society and have access to literally shelves of Robert Frost criticism. This isn't the same with something like Twilight or Harry Potter, but if either stick around and become classics the criticism around them will only increase, and become more accessible by way of dedicated academic societies.

    After a book that is popular passes the 'fad' stage and people are not living the books anymore it's up to the academics and literary critics to decide if it should remain taught and remembered. It's just the life of a book as an intellectual work. Sometimes a book can be brought back from obscurity thanks to criticism too, like The Beetle by Richard Marsh, which I studied last semester, and it's been published as a Wordsworth Classic to facilitate this revival of interest. If it sells enough and is picked up by Penguin Classics, it could mean it might become a central horror classic within a few years. Which is amazing, I think, because only 10 years ago The Beetle was entirely out of print.
     
  20. We Are Cartographers
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    .
     
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  21. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm very ignorant in these things. You mentioned "high art." Is that even a thing anymore, considering everything else you just said?
     
  22. Dunning Kruger
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    It's not the reluctance or the ADHD. Its the energy. I have a job and 3 kids and the job which involves reading complex information all day. By the time I sit down to read, I cant digest complex writing. Even as individual circumstances vary, I think that's the case with a lot of people. I cant write every day either for the same reason so I pick my spots. With that in mind I'll study complex literature to study structure, style, and other aspects. But only to improve my writing. For fun? I can rarely do it even when I want to and certainly not consistently enough to commit to a long book.
     
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