Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by Eternity Books, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts! The topics are posted monthly, and you can even submit ideas for future topics, so be sure to check it out!
This week’s topic is “Should readers read books that aren’t for their target age?” (suggested by Aria @ Book Nook Bits)
Should Readers Read Books That Aren’t Meant For Their Target Age?
Alright, hold my beer while I climb up on this soapbox here.
My answer here is multilayered, so I will start with the most relevant to me, and that is reading YA/MG book as a thirty-something adult. Which is pretty much all I do. I would hazard that 90-95% of what I read in a year, on average, falls into the YA category. These are the stories I love the best and the ones that always resonate with me the longest. Especially in today’s market, the gap between YA and Adult is pretty thin, often having to do more with the writing style and perhaps an extra dose of cuss words and sexy time, which I certainly don’t require to enjoy a book. In fact, I would hazard that I have read just as many Adult novels that didn’t contain “adult content” as I have YA that did. Because, when it really comes down to it, the defining difference is the age range of the characters in the books themselves.
I also find that “Adult” authors often try to write more complexly, not always to their benefit. I don’t WANT to read the hidden subtext and try to figure out your symbolism, Karen. Just give me a badass assassin, her sexy love interest, and a plot to overthrow the corrupt local monarch and I am here.for.it. The adult books that I tend to enjoy the best, especially in the scifi/fantasy genre, are often also YA authors (such as Jay Kristoff and V.E. Schwab), and it shows in their style. At the end of the day, YA just seems to have a greater ratio of exciting adventures and feels that will make me cry, and that’s what I want in my books, thank you very much.
Now to part two of my answer: younger readers that read above their age bracket, such as MG kids reading YA/Adult. And again I am unequivocally okay with this. I grew up in a household where both of my parents were huge readers, and where reading was something we all did every day. Never once did my parents censor anything I was reading, or tell me I couldn’t read something. Instead, they would constantly recommend and pass along books that they thought my sister and I would enjoy, which means I grew up reading L.E. Modesitt Jr, Mercedes Lackey, Nora Roberts, Lavyrle Spencer. But these were mixed in with The Babysitters Club, the Redwall books, Tamora Pierce. If I didn’t understand something, I’d ask, or I wouldn’t even care and I’d just brush over it.
I definitely read some heavier content at a younger age, but those parts didn’t even register with me until I was much older and rereading them. I mean, we had to read both Animal Farm and Night in eighth grade, and neither of those are YA. In fact, it seems like somehow “classics” are allowed to transcend any rules regarding whats “appropriate reading for youths”. Regardless, I can’t think of a single book I read that I couldn’t handle, and maybe that’s because my parents kept me happy with a steady and constant stream of books they knew I could. I wasn’t adversely affected, I wasn’t traumatized, and I am a far better and more broad reader now because of it.
IN CONCLUSION, read anything and everything you can get your hands on. Read anything and everything of the genres you enjoy. Basically, read anything and everything. Thank you for your time.
*Steps off soapbox*