People Shouldn’t Be Ashamed of What They Read

CS Lewis quote

There’s a lot of buzz right now about an article that came out a few days ago discussing the topic of adults reading Young Adult books. The tagline of the article, which you can read here, was: “Read whatever you want. But you should be embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children.”

Well that is quite the inflammatory statement.

As someone who reads an extensive amount of YA fiction, I was at first insulted by this comment. While not all YA books are fantastic, some are incredibly complex and amazingly-written stories. They’re not all about high school drama, and in fact the best ones feature themes that are universal and certainly not age-specific: courage, self-confidence, empathy, and love. I could go on and on about how great YA books are but instead I’m going to refer to you a blog response by Lynette Noni that addresses specific statements in the original article in a very fair, honest way. I totally agree with her and think she defended YA readers and books wonderfully.

What bothered me most about this article was not the specific YA-book bashing, but the heart of the argument: that readers should be ashamed of what they’re reading. I think this is the most damaging part of the article. In a time when less and less people consider themselves readers, should we really be mocking people’s reading choices? No. The reason many people (including some of my own friends) decide they don’t like to read is because they are required to read the ‘serious adult fiction’ mentioned in the article, don’t enjoy it, and then decide they just don’t like to read. That is very sad.

What’s wrong with reading escapist fiction? Or books with uncomplicated heroes and villains? Or romances that make you swoon? Absolutely nothing. If books get people reading, regardless of the type of book, that is the important part. Yes, there are classics and ‘serious adult fiction’ books that are incredible, life-changing experiences that shouldn’t be missed. But, ultimately, no one should be ashamed if they prefer YA, fantasy, romance, paranormal, or anything else. These types of books are popular, they get people interested in reading, and that is good.

No one should be ashamed or vilified for what they are reading. Don’t worry about age-restrictions or what other people think you should and shouldn’t read.

Life’s short – read what you want to and enjoy it.

 

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5 comments

  1. I totally understand why people are in an uproar, I got highly annoyed myself while reading the article. However, when I took a step back I realized that this article was probably written specifically to elicit that very response. The more people spreading the word about how angry they are, the more people clicking through and reading the article. I think it was a publicity stunt on Slate’s part to bring in traffic, which is why I decided I wasn’t going to post about it. Meanwhile, of course, I’m mulling over a Part 2 to my Amazon/Hachette debate, because that debacle continues to infuriate me!

    1. I think that is a great point – the article was so ridiculous it almost had to be a stunt at some level. I do think it’s good for people to talk about not being ashamed of what they read, since there can be some negative attitudes out there towards adults who don’t read ‘adult’ books or ‘serious’ literature. You should definitely do a follow up on the Amazon post! I learned a lot from reading that since I hadn’t heard of it at all. Since then, I’ve only been buying from B&N and am checking out some other local bookstores nearby. The whole thing is really upsetting.

      1. That’s true, I actually spent a long time semi-hiding my love of sci-fi and fantasy, because I’m not stereotypical sci-fi/fantasy person, lol. Good to hear your feedback on that, maybe I will do a Part 2 after all. 🙂

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