Thursday, May 7, 2015

Why Reading Articles About Books Makes Me FURIOUS

Okay, so it's not all articles. And I'm not (totally) furious. But I do get pretty worked up. I like reading articles saying how reading is helping communities, and that libraries are getting extra monies (okay, I'm making that up, but I think it should be a thing that happens more).

It's articles that say "Things You Should Know About YA" or "Why YA is Great/Not Great/insert adjective here" or "Why Genre Fiction isn't Real Fiction" or ANYTHING along those lines. These are the ones that really make me mad.
***(to clarify, not reviews of specific books. Those are important, and it's awesome that people express their love/hate for a book. It's the lists that justify why/why not to read a WHOLE CATEGORY or TYPE of book)***

I always click on the YA ones, ready to be excited someone is finally rebutting the horrible Slate article that happened that one time, and then I just get mad all over again by reading the comments and people trying to tell me that YA is a marketing scheme, or it's adults who don't want to challenge themselves, or that it's all fluff. I get so angry. And I hate that.
It's taken me a while to formulate exactly why I get angry though because my love for YA and kidlit runs so deep. But I'm going to [try] to muddle through an answer, and I sincerely hope this article will not make anyone angry. Because I hate being angry.

I don't like someone telling me what MY books are. Every reader is different. MY books are important to ME, and I know why they're important to ME. No one else should be able to tell me that MY books (the ones I'm reading) are a marketing scheme or dumbing down or less significant than any other type of book.


They are MY books and I will be reading them because I want to be. I'm tired of seeing argument after argument for or against a certain genre, category, type, or any other grouping of book. Because all books mean something to someone, and everyone has a reason for reading what they're reading. Even if I totally hate a book or a specific genre, I will NOT judge a person EVER for reading a certain thing.

My books are important to me. I have a lot of reasons I love the categories I do, and I don't need to feel like I have to tell everyone to justify why I'm reading what I'm reading. Some of the books I read when I was younger shaped who I am. My parents were huge influences on why I'm such an avid reader. My friendships I made in high school bonded over Meg Cabot and Sarah Dessen books. I was a camp counselor, and I love working with kids. I have a huge family, and having fun is important to me. There are a million more reasons I read what I read, but the beauty is that they're MY reasons, and I don't owe it to anyone—an article, a commenter, or the guy side-eyeing me in the library when I'm checking out teen books—to explain why I'm reading what I'm reading.

In my past life, I used to judge. In high school, I judged the Twilight craze and all who followed it. I read it when it first came out and thought it was okay, but nothing great, and I didn't enjoy the writing. I thought it was boring and generic. And I TOTALLY judged all the girls around me.
It was so wrong.
Who cares? They're reading what they want to, and that's AWESOME!

In college, I was in a strict "no e-reader" phase. I was a huge advocate of the print book (still am) and kind of side-eyed people who preferred e-readers (especially in class. I mean, taking notes on an e-reader seems impossible to me, a huge annotating-the-books kind of person).
But they're reading! And it's right for them! So who cares?

I'm really going to stop clicking on atricles that claim "Here's Why You Should Love YA" even though DUH I agree and totally want to read it. But I get too frustrated at all the people trying to tell me what MY books should be and why or why not I should be reading them.


  1. Every genre has a place and plays a part whether we read it or not. I read a little of everything myself and agree that no one should tell us what genre we should read. I think the coolest moms and grandmas read YA with their grandteens and I enjoy it on my own frequently. The only thing that I take issue with are books that claim to be a particular genre to sell books or to appeal to the adults who will review them. As a consumer I like to know what I am buying and not every book with an adolescent main character is YA and appropriate for teens. I have been working up a blog post for awhile on just that. :)
    Nice post.

    1. I agree! I don't want the book to tell me "it's like john green" when it's a sci-fi/dystopian book about something totally different and not similar writing styles.
      The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime is a wonderful book with the MC as a young person (I believe he's somewhere between 12 and 15?) but the book is geared toward adults. It's a more challenging read (I think teens could totally understand and read it), and it makes me think about how people choose to market what books to what ages. It's more serious than (most) YA, but there are certainly books for teens that are more serious. Interesting discussion! :)

  2. I totally get where you are coming from with this!!! I'm seriously right there with you. I love YAL, but over the last couple years I've delved more deeply into the category, I have also come to realize WHY I read it as well. I got a BA in English and I'm getting an MA in Creative Writing right now. I like my classics (though I like YA more), but I think what I like most is analyzing literature. This semester I took a YAL class that challenged me to apply theories to the books that we were assigned and I can't tell you how much that made me more appreciative of the literature I read. ANd that's why I argue that certain YAL titles should be canonized. ANyway... I hope this doesn't come off as spam, because I really don't mean for it to, but I wrote a post over my experience with the class that I think you might find interesting.
    You Read YA Lit?

    Amanda @ Of Spectacles and Books

    1. I'd love to read your article, and I'm heading there now! :)
      I feel like college helped me think about why I like YA as well, even though all we did was classics, but it made me appreciate the different kinds of writing and storytelling.

  3. I completely agree with this! Having said that, I find that most of the articles aren't too bad - it's the comments that are rude and disheartening. People don't have to justify their reading choices - it's enough that they are reading at all.
    Beth x

    1. Oh totally! I'm glad there are people saying HEY these are cool! But it always leads to this big huge thing and people argue and there's so much drama! I just want people to read what they want and be happy, the end! :) :)


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