Whether it's nostalgia for their youth or trying to make sense of that rich period of their lives, 55% of YA (young adult) readers are actually adults. When asked why he thought this was, Australian author and winner of the 2006 Lloyd O'Neil Award for contributions to Australian publishing, John Marsden said:
"I think a lot of them are trapped in a kind of ongoing adolescence in a sense. I think it's harder for people to grow up nowadays especially men. There's an old joke that boys in Australia are in a rush to reach 18 and once they get there, they stay there forever. And there is that sense now that yeah, I think growing up is harder... adolescence is such an intense period for so many people and they want to make sense of it even after they've moved out of that part of their lives. But also, YA fiction, it's very accessible, it's very immediate. There's a real energy about it that you often don't get in adult fiction. There's often a very strong storyline. So if you're looking for a read that is just something you can step straight into and read without necessarily putting aside six months of your life like you might if you wanted to read Proust or Dostoyevsky then there is this kind of immediacy about it which can make it very attractive."
Once upon a time it would have been shameful to be caught reading a YA title. I specifically remember long train commutes to and from work in the big city where you would catch an adult reading the latest Harry Potter book behind the disguise of the Financial Times. So, why has it become 'avant-garde' for adults to read YA fiction? At YA events such as book signings and author talks, a staggering number of attendees are aged 18 or over – showing that the prior social embarrassment of adults reading books for young people is over.
Accessible, immediate, and full of an energy not often found in adult fiction, a good YA read lends itself to a strong story line. If you're looking for a read that is easy to pick up and get into, without setting aside 6 months of your life to finish it, then YA could be the genre for you!
YA novelist, Steph Bowe, says that:
"YA tends to be less, there's less negativity... there's ultimately some positivity in the end largely, overall compared to with a lot of adult literary fiction. It is very, not necessarily darker but it ends on a darker note. And I think a lot of the time, adult readers are very nostalgic about their youth so they kind of want that romanticised version of being a teenager."
The ideal for any book, is to provide it's reader with escapism and YA offers it's readers that in abundance. The world that C. S. Lewis created in The Chronicles of Narnia, for example, has been offering adults and children a place to escape to since the early fifties and is as popular in today's culture as it was back then.
It could be argued that book series are what brought YA titles into the hands of adults. With the writing in these books often evolving and becoming more mature with every book, series lend themselves well to children who then grow into tweens, teens and young adults meaning that as they grow and develop, they can continue to read the books that engaged them as children. Harry Potter being the most obvious example here. The books started off in the children's fiction section and as the characters developed and grew within the book, so did it's audience. Many have argued that books one through three are age-appropriate for children 8+ but the themes of the books become much darker and sinister from the fourth book, The Goblet of Fire, wherein the story line turns from being relatively light-hearted to the death of Harry's school friend, Cedric Diggory. From hereon, the books become much more teenage orientated with it's characters experiences of love, death and everything in between.
YA definitely has widespread appeal and with evocative veins and an escapist heart, we recommend that everyone pick up a YA title this summer; whether you're a young adult looking for thrill and excitement of the unknown or an adult longing to relive past emotions and experiences.
Here's our Top Summer YA recommendations...
For Fans of C. S. Lewis & Harry Potter:
For the Survivor in You:
For Positivity and Empowerment:
For Summer Chills:
For Truth Seekers:
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