Why You Shouldn’t Be Ashamed to Read YA
Guest post: Angel Gouvas
There is the perception that YA isn’t real literature and that if you do read it, you should be ashamed that you aren’t reading ‘real’ books. It’s seen all over social media; there are many articles about it, and it’s still happening. The notion that ‘YA isn’t real literature.’ These thoughts mostly come from older members of the book and reading community. However, most of them also haven’t read YA – or if they have, have only read the most popular ones.
But what I think a lot of those people don’t realise is that YA is so much more than just about falling in love, or the woes of a teenager. It’s about all the adventures of being a teenager; finding out what life is, and finding out about yourself. Also it’s perfectly acceptable to write about teenagers in the first place – because you know that is the normal way of life.
Today, I thought I would share some of the reasons why you shouldn’t be ashamed to read YA – ever.
YA gets people to read
One of the main reasons why I find YA so fascinating and so well done is that it gets teens to read. I know so many people that disliked school reading so much, because it was always classics or something they weren’t interested in. And then picked up a book that was written for them – a YA book – and they were struck.
YA is able to capture something that I don’t think other readerships or genres do and that something turns so many people into readers. It’s a power that it holds; that it can inspire so many people to become readers. That all these teens can connect with books and characters in very heartfelt ways. YA is also so broad that there is something for everyone. From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary to dystopian. There are so many genres in this readership meaning you have so many options to choose from.
It’s more than just romance
Another thing that I see a lot of when people talk of YA is that ‘it’s all about romance and love triangles’ – but it’s not. There is much more depth than that.
One of the things that I love about YA is that you learn so much from it. A lot of YA focuses on coming of age and it’s those times that we learn so much, about others and ourselves. You fall into a world with these characters and go on the journey with them. Because you are with these characters in such a pivotal moment of their lives, you really get to see a change. And because it’s YA you as a reader are absorbing it more.
While there are many ups and downs regarding romance in YA, there is also some very real moments. We see breakups and heartache. We see people fall in love for the first time. And while not every character does have to fall in love – we do see it.
There are so many lessons that you can take from young adult novels that you can’t from other readerships.
While there is still plenty of room to grow, the need for and inclusion of diversity is increasingly present in YA books and in discussion around those books. We are starting to see more of the world included in YA books, and I think it is the push from the teen readership that has made this change.
Teens are coming together and begging for more diversity and for YA to be more inclusive. And it’s great to see. I love seeing the power that teens have; the voice. It’s strong and it’s only building. YA doesn’t shy away from things and is reflecting the world more accurately than other readerships and genres.
One of the main things YA does, and why you should never be ashamed if you love it, is that it is inspiring. It inspires people to read, to write, to create. So many teens read a YA and fall in love with the readership and then want to write books themselves.
YA books have inspired so many others to write, and I think that is so fantastic. Creating something is incredible. Just thinking about creating your own work is great.
Reading YA has also inspired so many people to become bloggers, reviewers, and to work in the industry. It’s creating a whole new generation of creators.
But it isn’t just inspiring creatively; it’s also a thigh-knit community that is accepting, welcoming and motivating. If you are feeling down, they are there. If you need some help you have people who want to hear from you.
And remember YA isn’t just for young adults – yes it’s aimed at teens, but adults can read it too. Adults were once teenagers; they understand the ups and downs, the coming of age. YA is about falling in love with the world and its possibilities, and sometimes with the characters too – and anyone can do that.
Reading vs. School
A couple of weeks ago I spoke about blogging and reading and the difficulties that you can sometimes have managing both. Today I thought I would talk about how to manage reading against school.
Whether you are in primary or secondary school, or even in university, creating the balance between study and reading is hard. It’s that feeling of knowing you have to do school work, but you just cannot wait to read that book beside your bed.
Finding a balance is so essential. To most people reading is an escape, and when you are feeling overwhelmed with school work, it’s great to pick up a book and fall into another world.
I think that reading helps so much in relation to school and if you balance the two well, it’s a great thing to have in your life. Reading is a great way to expand your vocabulary, comprehension skills and see different outlooks on the world. But, you don’t want to be stressed about not doing enough school work, or not reading enough. You also don’t want to lose focus on one by getting too caught up in the stress of the other.
Here are some tips that might help you. They have really worked for me. You don’t have to follow these word for word, just find a balance that works for you.
- Read Prescribed Books First
I know, I know sometimes you don’t even want to pick these books up, but it is important. The one thing I had to say with this is read it as soon as you can.
Get your prescribed reading out of the way. As soon as you know what book/s you have to read for that year, read them. Write notes so you are ready once you get to it in class.
Depending on the size of the book, I would try and set a reading goal of forty to fifty pages of the prescribed book every day.
After that, you are free to read whatever books you want. You don’t have to spend the year or semester stressing about reading your book for English.
- Read on Public Transport
One of the best times I find to read is on the train. I get a good forty minutes in each way. I can sit down with a book or read off of my Kindle. It’s also a good amount of time to really absorb myself in a novel. While some of you might not have a great amount of time when you travel to and from school, public transport is a great time to read.
There are times when you are standing up for a whole trip and you don’t have room to hold a book – that is when the Kindle app on your phone comes in handy. A phone isn’t heavy and you still are able to read. While I don’t double up on books; I normally have two going at the same time. So my physical book and then the eBook on my kindle app.
Also, if I know I have less than 100 pages left on my physical book, I either bring another, new book with me or just read off my phone for that day. While the reading experience isn’t the same as a physical book, I still love reading via my phone; it’s practical while on public transport and it leaves room on my bookcase for more books.
- Creating Time in a Day
Another thing that I have found that has really worked is to set aside time in each day to read. This allows me the comfort of knowing I have a certain time that I can sit back and fall into another world.
Personally, I love reading before bed, so I set thirty minutes or so aside to read before I know I want to actually sleep. I treat it like homework in a way – it ‘needs’ to be done. This has allowed me to enjoy my reading and to not feel bad about it.
Creating a balance between reading and school can sometimes be hard. But, once you find that balance and it starts working – you can really enjoy it. If reading and falling in love with the written word is something that matters to you, then a little work to figure out how to keep it in your life against all the other stuff you have to do, is worth it.
How do you create a balance between reading and school? What do you find most difficult? What are some tips that you have? Let’s chat.
If you liked this book, you might like…
One of the best experiences for me is when I find a book that is similar to one of my favourites. It’s great to find new books that have similar themes or certain aspects to those books you’ve loved before. Sometimes it’s hard finding new books to read, not because there aren’t any, but because there are too many. With the overwhelming number of books in the world, it’s sometimes hard to find what you want, or to find something you think you will enjoy.
Today, I thought I would share some books you might have read, along with some books you might not have, however which have similar themes. These aren’t the be all and end all – just a few suggestions to get you going!
If you liked The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, then you might like Zac and Mia by A.J Betts. Both of these deal with terminal illness in teens and the things that come along in that experience. Nearly everyone knows The Fault in Our Stars, but Zac and Mia is homegrown. It follows seventeen-year-old Zac who meets Mia in a Perth hospital as they both undergo treatment for cancer. When they leave they can’t forget each other. It’s a story of their mysterious connection. Zac and Mia are very different, they find in each other a deep connection and thus they are tied together in ways they couldn’t before imagine or even understand.
If you liked Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, then you may like When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. These are both more than a romance story – they are about discovering who you are. When Dimple Met Rishi follows protagonist Dimple as she goes away to a summer program and meets the Rishi – the person her parents have set up her own arranged marriage with. It’s a shock to Dimple, and she is hostile at first. But, as time goes on and they get to know each other, things change.
If you liked Divergent by Veronica Roth, then you may like Disruption by Jessica Shirvington. These both explore the notions of living in a world very different to ours, where humanity works differently. Disruption follows protagonist Maggie as she tries to plot her revenge against those who have taken certain things from her that have changed her life. It’s a world where a microchip tells you everything, including who you should and will end up with.
If you liked Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell then you might like Queen of Geek by Jen Wilde. These books explore the notion of love, finding yourself and they are geeky to the max. Queens of Geek follows three friends as they make their way to SupaCon. Charlie, Taylor and Jamie are in for an adventure. Charlie is a YouTuber turned movie star who went through a very public break up. And while Taylor likes to blend in with the crowd, SupaCon might just change that.
Have you read any of these books? Are you planning on reading any of these now? What are some books that you read because it was similar to another book? Let’s chat!
Why I Love Being Part of the YA Community
One of the reasons I love YA so much is because of the community it has inspired. When I started reading YA and blogging six years ago, the YA community wasn’t terribly big. But, over the years it’s become something that has inspired books, movements and so much more. Through the rise of Twitter and Instagram a different way of talking about books has been created, and you can now connect with people who you wouldn’t necessarily meet in real life.
By just reading YA books, we have created a community that is there for each other across all aspects of life, and a community which lifts each other up when we need it. There are times when yes, the community does disagree on things, but that is what life is. It is a real community that allows for healthy debate and different opinions.
Today I thought I would share some of the good things about being part of the YA community.
Being able to talk with other YA lovers
One of the things that I hear a lot of the time is that people don’t have others to talk books with. And sadly it’s all too true and common. I found at the start of high school there weren’t many people who did read or who wanted to talk about books like I did. Being a part of the YA community means there is always someone out there who wants to talk to you about books. And even though this community is online, you don’t feel that sense of isolation that you might feel in real life.
You can talk about the books that you love, that you hate, that you have just read. You can bounce ideas off of each other. You have all these like-minded people who love what you do and it’s fantastic.
Creating friends through Twitter and blogging
Because there are so many YA lovers out in the world, there is a high chance that you will like someone enough to make friends with them. Loving YA and being on social media is a great way to find people who are likely to think the same as you.
Over the years I have made some incredible friends just because I have talked about the books that I love.
The creativity that surrounds us
While not everyone that reads wants to write, there is still an appreciation for creativity. And just by reading and discussing books we let that creativity fly.
I love going onto my Twitter timeline to see all these different blog posts, graphics, and even discussions that are happening live. It’s so great seeing so many young people who love what they are reading and love what they are creating, and want to talk about it.
Since I started blogging and joined the YA community it has only made me want to read more. There are so many amazing books being published and I see them online all the time. I went from reading maybe twenty books a year to over 100. I also write so much more now than I did before; whether it’s blog post or a fiction piece, and the community pushes me in the best possible way.
Another thing that makes the YA community great is that it means there are always new books to read. You could tweet for recommendations just before going into a bookstore and there will be a YA lover waiting there – in the online world – to help you out.
I can make lists upon lists of the books that the YA community have brought to my attention. Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter series is one of my favourites of all time. The Winner’s trilogy by Marie Rutkoski is also a series I found because of the community.
Or if you are looking for a certain book, but you don’t know the title – there are just many people that are willing and want to help. It’s like a big family and we are there when others need us.
Having other book lovers to go to events with
When I first started going to bookish events, I would sit by myself and just enjoy the event. But now because of the YA community, I have people to go with. I have people who will enjoy it with me. Who I can talk to when things are quiet, or when the event is over.
It’s having those friends who love books just as much as you do, who sit by your side at an event, that you all enjoy together, that makes YA all the more special.
Being a member of the YA community has changed over the years. It’s become bigger, and it has also become better. It’s having people that love YA just as much as you. It’s being able to talk about YA freely amongst people who you know won’t get annoyed, because they want to talk about YA too. It’s about loving what you read and having a space where that love is understood and appreciated.
What are your favourite things about the YA community? What has been a highlight for you? Let’s chat!