Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Bias Against YA (+ Best Books of 2014)

You remember all those months ago when I said that I would make a video about the reactions people at my new job had to YA? All the dearest criticism I've heard? Well, folks, here it is. Indeed this video idea was in response to an article, suggesting that people should be less judgmental about their reading...

In the above video, I tell you about:
  • a man who said "That's embarrassing" re: reading Catching Fire
  • another man who said that the Harry Potter movies were enough for him
  • a woman who stoutly REFUSED the idea of The Goldfinch ever being considered YA (despite me not even suggesting that)
  • a woman who, when I said that I read YA, admitted to only ever having read something by John Green... you know... the savior of YA.
  • another man who said that he could flip to any page of any YA novel (that he was reading) and feel like he would still understand what was going on (aka said with a wry smile, like YA is that uncomplicated)
The only solution to the bias against YA I can think of... to recommend books to people on a case-by-case basis. I want to believe in those "YA Books for Adults" lists, but heck, if Catching Fire is something that doesn't "fit" within a coworker's perception of good literature and only Man Booker Prize Winners or The Goldfinch does, well, I've got to find something else up my sleeve than a casual list. (Plus those lists always rub me the wrong way. More than half the readership of YA is already adult. What exactly are you trying to imply with those lists?).

Maybe I ought to recommend something from my best books of 2014?

Or maybe my favorites are a little too young in taste in these cases? what to do, what to do :O.

Mind you, this is only MY COWORKERS. My brother was once like, "Oh, you still read all that?" *indicates large array of YA books* "I thought that you would've outgrown it." Or my mother, who doesn't like to read any speculative fiction, anything fantastical or "silly," which YA is to her. "Are you reading another one of those vampire books?"

*bangs head against desk*

What do y'all think? What's the best way to handle those situations and what books do you tend to recommend to people who are like Adult-Literature-Is-So-Superior-To-Young-Adult-Literature? How do you combat the bias against young adult literature?


  1. I know, it's infuriating when people think that YA means a picture book, or something along those lines.

  2. I don't really know what to do about it either. My closest friends are huge YA fans and one, after watching the movie, asked me the same about Divergent, whether I thought she'd like the book. I've seen people from my college post status updates, really excited about the Maze Runner; but I don't know. People in science, here, seem less... enthused? I don't really know how to respond, honestly, and it makes me be a lot less open with them because this is a huge part of my life and they're not very open-minded when it comes to YA.

  3. I always go with Seraphina when recommending YA books that break the stereotypes of simplistic and uncomplicated ;-)

  4. Wow.

    Although no one has ever said anything outright about this sort of thing but I've definitely got the occasional disdainful look. I find it extremely annoying when someone keeps putting down YA-Especially when YA is actually what gets most readers hooked on reading in the first place! I've never understood this kind of bias that people have, I mean literature is literature regardless of the target audience or the fact that it contains vampires/dragons. So silly. I love that you are taking a stand against this sort of thing. I mean, SOMEONE needs to tell them about all the awesome-ness that they are missing out on! ;)

  5. I don't read a lot of YA, so I'm probably not the best person to ask, but I'll definitely check back to read the comments to see what other peeps have to say because it is an on-going problem, and I'd like to find out how others have handled it. It's frustrating!

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads

  6. I need to reread Seraphina. I remember really liking it (and would agree with what you've said) and I'm looking forward to Shadow Scale, but I also would not be able discuss more thoroughly with someone. Need to change that ASAP. :)

    Kristin Cashore's works are my usual 'break the stereotype of simplistic and uncomplicated' go-to.

  7. Hahaha, I want to take a stand on this sort of thing. I don't know that I am. I did try talking more to the guy who was reading Catching Fire and said that about being able to skip through the pages and still understand the books; I got him to read more YA. But the others, it's a lot harder to fight. Especially when it's more the disdainful look, as you said, and more like 'no, I just don't enjoy that kind of literature' (and in her head: because it's not real literature).

  8. Ah, but it's good to have the perspective of someone who reads both a mixture of YA and adult literature -- you've got the perspective of both sides! As for the comments, I've mostly gotten sympathy. There's a suggestion to recommend Seraphina to people who think 'uncomplicated' and 'simplistic.' Otherwise, I think this problem baffles us all.

  9. I don't know...those are pretty negative/uncaring comments. A case-by-case solution might work, but they might just be the type of people that don't enjoy reading in general :/

  10. No! The person who adamantly said The Goldfinch was not YA LOVES to read. She reads many, many books. The guy who said "embarrassing" re: The Hunger Games went on to describe his love for Ian McEwan books and The Luminaries (the Man Booker prize winner last year, I think). The guy who said he could turn the page of any YA novel and feel like he knew what was happening is the one who told me about our local library and actually read some of the YA I suggested. The girl who'd only read John Green described her favorite novels and I can't remember what they are anymore but she'd read some interesting sounding things. Only the guy who'd said that about the HP movies - well, I don't know what he's read.

    These people are all readers, they're just giving negative comments about YA in general.

  11. That's crazy that the guy said "That's embarrassing" about reading Catching Fire. I guess I would just ask whether he's read any YA. You shouldn't have an opinion about a book if you haven't read it. Maybe give the person one of the books as a present. Have you ever seen the movie Metropolitan? One of my favorite movies, but there's a guy in the movie that argues about different books and he hasn't read them, but he reads literary criticisms about them. And then he says, "Well, I've never read the Bible, but I can still have an opinion about it." Anyway, makes me crazy.

    I enjoyed a lot of your favorite books. The Sky is Everywhere, The Raven Cycle series, Winner's Curse, Isla (which is my favorite), The Glass Sentence (and I don't read many MG novels), Silver Shadows, and Salvage.

    I still haven't read Before I Fall!! I read the Delirium series and loved it so I have no idea why I haven't read it yet.

    Great videos! ~Pam

  12. True. He's the same guy who even seemed embarrassed by Harry Potter (not the movies guy, though he did say something similar like 'the movies were enough to watch with his kids'). I think he is just judging without having read any YA. Maybe I could give him a gift of YA... you know any YA that'd match the expectations of a man who likes The Goldfinch and The Luminaries? And I haven't seen Metropolitan, but that scene sounds very iconic and true to this situation.

    Isla is AWESOME!! I'm so glad we have a lot of books in common :). And you need to get on reading Before I Fall! I liked it so much better than Delirium, honestly, but if you like Delirium, I can definitely see you liking Before I Fall. Feel similar in that "moment capturing" sort of writing style.

  13. I absolutely despise book shaming. As a teacher, I just want kids reading and reading widely! YA is my go to because they need something that they can connect to. There are so many great YA books that work with reluctant readers. YA Lit. is so vast with many different genre's that many kinds of readers can enjoy going to those shelves. The only people that should be ashamed are those that don't read period.

  14. Agreed! I've seen many articles say "no" to the idea of people "just reading" and being glad of that, but none of their arguments really hold sway with me. I'm pretty sure I've read some studies talking about how if you're an established reader at a young age, you'll continue reading later on -- and why on earth would that be a bad thing, even if you "disapproved" of what they were reading? I'm much of your mindset: give them the option to look through the VAST options of YA lit :).

  15. Wow. I've never run into anyone showing disdain over what I'm reading. If anything, they see me reading a YA novel and they ask me "Have you read Divergent?" or whatever book has recently been turned into a movie. The Mr. and I actually met up with his friend and wife last week when they were in town and his friend asked me if I'd read The Maze Runner, Divergent, and if I'd watched The 100. LoL I don't know how I'd respond if someone was that rude to me over my choice in books. I'd probably just shrink into myself and cradle my precious book.


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