Sunday, September 16, 2012



The Sunday Symposium is a new weekly feature in which I'll be discussing various bookish topics and asking for your commentary, as well.  This week's topic is one that's been in the news lately:  the growing number of adults picking up YA novels.

I know a lot of people who claim that Twilight was the book that got them back into reading.  I'll admit, it was one of the first series I read when I got the itch to read again, but it wasn't the one that started it for me.  No, that was Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series.  I had a friend who was just getting into teaching and she liked to keep up with what the kids were reading and she ended up recommending these books to me.  My love for young adult novels blossomed from there.

Apparently, this is some kind of trend, though, according to a recent study by Bowker:  "The Hunger Games and countless others are engaging a loyal following among those old enough to vote, drink and hold a mortgage."  I stumbled across a post on Facebook linking to the article, and I was intrigued to see the statistics:

"More than half the consumers of books classified for young adults aren’t all that young. Fully 55% of buyers of works that publishers designate for kids aged 12 to 17 – nicknamed YA books -- are 18 or older, with the largest segment aged 30 to 44. Accounting for 28 percent of sales, these adults aren’t just purchasing for others -- when asked about the intended recipient, they report that 78 percent of the time they are purchasing books for their own reading."
I've only recently joined that "largest segment aged 30 to 44," but I can definitely tell you I'm not purchasing those YA novels for anyone but myself.  (Well, I do hope my daughter wants to read them when she's older, but for right now, they're all for me.)

I do enjoy the occasional adult novel -- Jeaniene Frost is a must -- but I generally prefer the young adult genre.  Maybe it's the idea of reliving my youth.  Maybe it's the distinct lack of adult issues (bills, kids, etc.).  Maybe it's just the fact that some YA books are just way more fun than anything I've read that's specifically geared toward adults.  Whatever the reason, I like my YA novels.

And since you're here, I'm assuming you do, too.  So, what's your reason for reading young adult novels?  Was there a particular book that started it all for you?  Let me know in the comments and enter to win an ebook of a young adult novel of your choice!

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39 comments:

  1. Hm... there are many reasons for me, but one of htem is that adult novels, unless it's Urban Fantasy, just don't deal with issues that interest me. I'm 23. I don't really empathize much with the problems of 30-something career women/mothers looking for a husband or shopping themselves through New York or whatever. I'm not into Romance or Crime, and those are usually some of hte biggest sections at the book store. I'd rather think back to the issues I had in my late teens and immerse myself in that again, with a supernatural twist if possible. Also, since I'm European and our school system is very different, I enjoy reading about high school because it's very alien to me :P
    And those teenage years are great for conflict in a novel, in my opinion. So many new issues to deal with growing up! the books make me ask questions again that I had long since buried but maybe need to revisit. And they're fun ^^ And painful. I just enjyo them :) But I'm glad that more New Adult books are getting published! I haven't read characters around my own age in a long time because few books feature twenty-somethings.
    I couldn't say what book started it all. Twilight was certainly an influence, as it linked me up to more books in the genre and they started being available in my coutnry. But I never really stopped reading YA because when twilight came out I was still a teen, and there are many German-speaking writers who write great teen fantasy (Wolfgang Hohlbein, Ralf Isau, Kai Meyer...)!
    I'll shut my rambling mouth now, haha ^^''''
    Oh, and Jeaniene Frost is genius ;) Also for teens :P

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    1. I love your ramble! And you make a good point...those teenage years are rife with conflict and that makes for great storytelling. I'm glad for the new adult books, too. Makes me feel a little less pervy, crushing on a fictional boy, if he's at least of age. :P

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  2. What I love about YA Books is remembering and recapturing what it felt like to get butterflies when you were around the guy you had that crush on, your very first kiss, and looking to the future with such optimism and expectation. Those years of new and exciting experiences don't last forever and when I read YA books it takes me back to a time in my life when everything was new, fresh, exciting, carefree, and magical! I find it ironic that when I was a teen all I read in Adult books, and now that I'm an adult, my favorite genres are YA and New Adult. Twilight did get me into reading YA. After reading Twilight, I went crazy and have read so many awesome YA books!!!

    Lindy Gomez

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    1. Yep, I read to relive my youth vicariously through fictional characters, too. :)

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  3. Twilight was definitely one of the books that made me love YA, but I discovered those books when I was in like sixth grade... I didn't start actively reading until two years ago when I read Anna and the French Kiss. For me that was the book that made me love YA and since then I've been reading YA like crazy. And the reason why I read YA is because Adult is just too much for me right now. It's not that I can't handle the mature topics... it's just that I don't want to. But I'm proud to say that as of late I've been reading a few adult books!

    Great post! I think I'm going to go and read your other posts like this one. (:

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    1. Great to get an actual young person's perspective! :) And I'm glad that you're branching out in your reading choices but also not letting anyone tell you what you should read.

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  4. I'm hopping on the bandwagon and saying that Twilight got me reading. I never read before I read Twilight! My friends kept telling me to give it a try and once I did, I didn't know what to do with myself! I fell in love and I needed more!!! After reading the Twilight series over 20 times (not even exaggerating) I found her other book The Host (which is fabulous) and The Mortal Instruments series as well as the Hunger Games. And I am now a YA book drunkard. But Twilight started it all for me, even though I've now found A LOT of better books.

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    1. Bahaha..."YA book drunkard"!!! That makes two of us! :)

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  5. For me it was a class I took dealing with Children's literature when I was took some graduate level classes. I read speak for that class and it blew me away. There was also some talk about popular books such as the Traveling Pants, and so I read those too. After the whole Twilight madness, I have pretty much stuck to YA, although in the last few months some more adult books have crept back in.

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    1. I broaden my horizons every once in awhile with an adult novel, but I mostly stick to YA, too. That sounds like an interesting class...one that I might actually enjoy! :)

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  6. I just identify with the characters of YA books more sometimes. It all depends on the story really. Plus I think a part of me wishes that I could relive my teen years, so I live vicariously through the characters. The book that started it for me is The Outsiders.

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    1. Ya know, I still have not read The Outsiders. Sometimes, I think taking honors and AP classes caused me to miss out on some great books. The regular classes got to read things like The Outsiders and The Great Gatsby, while I was stuck reading Tess of D'Urberville and The Secret Sharer. Don't get me wrong, I liked Tess, but I still would have like to read and discuss those others. And I completely agree about identifying with the characters in YA novels...but for my part, it's probably because I'm STILL not ready to grow up yet. :P

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  7. I don't know why I like YA novels so much. I've often wondered that myself. Perhaps I am just trying to feel younger, lol.

    I've always been into reading. There wasn't one specific novel that made me love YA. I've always loved YA even when I was a YA =) x

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    1. Agreed...I've always loved YA and my love for the genre has only continued to grow right along with me. :)

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  8. I like the more complex YA books. Love dystopia and paranormal. And a lot of the great series are YA.

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    1. Very true...a lot of YA novels make best-sellers.

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  9. I'm actually a teenager, and I love escaping into books. That's why I read fantasy. I think the book that started it all was Entwined by Heather Dixon. But that doesn't mean I didn't like reading before. I just used to read kid books.

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    1. I adored Entwined! My 4yo loves the story of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, too...and makes me read it to her before bed EVERY night. :) And that's a normal progression...children's stories to YA novels...I just hope you never grow to old for YA. :)

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  10. I generally read YA paranormal only. I think YA writers have a good grasp of what paranormal readers want. My first YA paranormal was Twilight, but I have since read tons more. I like the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent best.

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    1. Love the Soul Screamers series! I used to be the same way...paranormal all the way. But there are some great YA contemporary novels out there, too. ;)

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  11. Really great post Jen! I enjoy reading these. I read YA because I am a Young Adult! Lol! :D

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    1. Aw, thanks! I love reading all of your answers! And yay for another young reader! :D

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  12. I read YA for the fantasy and dystopian novels. There is such a wide variety of books being written in these genres that it is hard not to love then. These are the golden years of the YA and MG genres. We might as well enjoy them while we can.

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    1. There has been an influx of YA novels, and I agree that this might lead to some mediocre books, but I don't want to be too quick to say that these are the "golden years" of the genre. I hope that it still has plenty to offer those coming of age to read these novels soon.

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  13. I like them for the same reasons you listed, among others I'm sure. I like the lack of adult issues, I like the fact that emotions run high in YA novels, and I like the fun factor. I don't think that there was any one book that got me interested in YA. I was always a fan of kid's books for whatever reason. Then I took an adolescent lit course in college and realized that YA was so much more than it had been when I grew up. But I can probably point to Harry Potter and John Green's books as some that stand out when I think about what made me want to read more and more of the YA stuff.

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    1. Ugh, so while I was toiling away at my calculator in accounting classes, you got to take a class on YA lit? Not fair! :P Wish I'd realized my true passion earlier on. The fun factor has a lot to do with why I read YA, as well.

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  14. I started reading YA books at a rather young age. I used to despise reading because my mom would always yell at me if I didn't read, and she'd make me read historical books for my age at that time. Then I started the Warriors series by Erin Hunter and I finished the ones out so quickly, and fell in love with the world of books. My cousin (who was close to me) was also a reader and she read YA books. Since she noticed how quickly I finished the Warriors series, she recommended YA books. I'm not sure if it was healthy for me to read YA books at age 11, but oh well. The first YA series for me was probably the Iron Fey series.

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    1. I don't ever think it's a good idea to force a kid to read a particular book or genre. It's better to let them figure that out what they like and let their love of reading grow from there, even if all they're reading is comic books. But that's just my opinion. My parents fostered my love for reading by buying my Sweet Valley and Babysitters Club books. I don't think they regret a thing. :) And I think a big chunk of YA these days is geared towards the 12 and up age group, so most of it wouldn't have been too detrimental. :P

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  15. I started reading them as a teen and I keep reading them in my twenties because I've read adult books, and I miss the innocence of YA novels.

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    1. Ah, the innocence. I do so enjoy seeing young love grow and how naive the characters are who are experiencing it for the first time.

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  16. I am 30 years old, and I just never stopped reading them. I am not a fan of overtly sexual situations or heavy language, and YA suits that for me. Other than those two things, I don't honestly have a reason. YA is just what I love and what speaks to me, and I am not in the least bit ashamed of it. I think if others in their 30s and older would give it a chance they would love YA as much as I do. I have read plenty of adult books that I have thoroughly enjoyed, but none that I have loved like I do YA's. Why mess up a good thing because society says I should read for my own age group. I say Nuuh!

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    1. I don't think we should be ashamed of it either...from one 30yo to another. No one can tell me what to read. Only I decide that! :P I don't mind sex in books, persay, but I definitely can't get on board with the erotic stuff that I've seen around lately. I lean more to the innocence of new love. It's just so much sweeter. :)

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    2. No shame! Yeah, I don't mind sex either, but I can't do the raunchy, explicit type. I get embarrassed when I am alone at home and one of those pops up. Pitiful! But the new love, shy kind I can handle and I think it is sweet. Oh, and hello my mutual 30 year old YA lover. It is nice to meet you! :)

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  17. I loved HIS DARK MATERIALS!

    I have never, ever given up reading children's books, but I had trouble finding newer YA titles that I liked until I read THE HUNGER GAMES a few years ago. Since then, I've been amazed at the quality of stuff that's being published in this genre. I love YA because there's so much less posturing--you can just get right to the good stuff: adventure, emotion, and the thrill of discovery.

    Love this series you're doing!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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    1. Thanks, Wendy. His Dark Materials is one of my favorite series EVAR! Wish they'd done better with the 1st movie and continued with it, but it's probably better the way I envisioned it, anyway. :)

      There is definitely some quality YA to be had. I remember struggling to find something new to read after HDM, but now I can't find the time to read everything I already have on my shelves. Funny how that happens. :)

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  18. Hi my name is JennRenee and I am 36 years old and am addicted to YA. 95 percent of my books are YA. I am one that was started by Twilight. I am not ashamed or afraid to admit it. I think what draws me to them is the lighter issues, the drama and passion... I like the insta love, its unrealistic but aren't most fiction?... I think they are easier reads, nothing too detailed or deep but still creative, and I like the more innocent route, for the most part YA is lighter on the violence, steamy scenes, and language. I like to keep my mind clean. So to sum it up, they make me feel young again. :)

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    1. *all together now* Hi, JennRenee!!! I'm right there with you...not ashamed AT ALL. My older sis (38) only reads YA on her Kindle or takes off the "embarrassing" covers in order to read in public, but I couldn't care less. I read what I want, dammit!

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  19. I love Sherrilynn Kenyon's CON series and decided if she could spin a great YA novel that I should check out some of my other favorite authors. sdylion(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. There are definitely some very talented authors in YA. Glad you crossed over! :D

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