Thursday, November 1, 2012
Why I Love YA Books
It's no secret that I'm an adult who reads YA (young adult fiction). However, I don't often talk about why I almost exclusively shop for my reading material in the YA (and MG) section of the bookstore. There is something special about young adult books today. I think in part, my love stems from the fact that when I was young I loved to read. However, I could never find those action adventure, fantasy and sci fi books that you see all over the YA shelves today.
In fact YA didn't technically exist as an official genre when I was a growing up. Were there children's books? Of course, but there was nothing specifically designated between children's chapter books and adult reading. And guess what happened when I hit my teen years? I almost entirely stopped reading. I could make excuses and say homework, friends, extracurricular activities, etc. all got in the way, but the honest truth is I couldn't find a single book I wanted to read. Adult books were too far above my reading level and there were very few children's books I wanted to read (R.L. Stine being a huge exception). The fact that I wasted so many of my valuable teen years not reading, to this day makes me so unbelievably sad.
In High School, I took a Science Fiction English class. This was probably the single best class choice I ever made. In that class we read a little known (or big known) book called Ender's Game. And while YA was by and large an unheard of genre, and Ender's Game was technically classified as adult science fiction, today you will also find it in the YA section because at its heart Ender's Game is a Young Adult book. This book, my absolute all time favorite, made me fall in love with reading all over again. I hungered for more stories about Ender and I read every single one available. At the time there was the back three trilogy, and a brand new debut parallel novel Ender's Shadow centered about Bean. And then nothing. I waited for sequels to the Bean series but again, I'd run out of books.
Lucky for me, within two years a movie titled Harry Potter came out. This movie led me to all the wonderful things in the world Harry Potter, and once again I found a series of books I couldn't stop reading. From Harry Potter, I soon discovered a whole world of other readers who were reading Young Adult books. This is when I discovered that YA was a thing and there was not only one book, but shelves of them, an entire section in the bookstore in fact, of things I wanted to read. They were books that excited me about the possibilities of what if and books that allowed me to escape into gorgeous and adventure filled lands.
If it was not for Young Adult books I wouldn't read today, at all. Reading is an escape for me. I while away many hours with my nose in all the wonderful YA books. There are so many in fact that I can't keep up. And in reading so much, I've discovered another piece of myself that I never expected to find. The more I read, the more ideas started forming. Until one day they burst out of me onto the page. I became a writer. For a little over two years now, in addition to reading YA, I have spent countless hours pouring words onto the page writing my own YA and MG science fiction. A talent and joy I never would have discovered without YA books. Writing is a part of me I never knew was missing. Had I never picked up YA books to start, I wouldn't be where I am today. For that I am eternally grateful. And that is why I love YA books.
So if you've never read a YA book, I highly recommend the next time you are in a bookstore wander over to that section. The covers are beautiful. The stories are inviting and fantastic. I dare you not to find one book that interests you there. There is literally something for everyone. Pick up a book and start your adventure. Who knows what you might find about yourself inside that YA book.
This post was inspired by Beth Revis Celebrate Books Contest where you can win a signed library of 50 YA books. Be sure to check it out!