Friday, February 19, 2010

Why I Read and Love YA

Since owning my Barnes and Noble nook, I've gotten a lot of questions about it. One of the many questions coming from my co-workers is "what type of books do you read?" My usually answer is "just about anything," because I will read any story that can hold my attention. I don't care what category it's shelved in at the store or online. I just need a compelling story of some sort.

A lot of times my answer is enough and they just walk away after asking a few more ebook/nook related questions. Then there are the people that don't take the "anything" answer to heart. They want to know what I've read recently and why I read so much. People who don't read on a regular basis never seem to understand where I can find the time for two books a week. I find the time, reading at any free moment I have a book beside me. It's what I like to do, so I find the time.

My normal response is I read a lot of Young Adult books or books for teens. They look at me like I'm from another planet. Mind you, out of 48 employees, only 4 (including myself) are girls and all 48 (okay, minus a few who just make video games because it's what they can do talent-wise) are video game nerds. Reading is foreign to them and Young Adult books don't even exist. Most have heard of Twilight and of course Harry Potter (and a few have read HP of course), but their knowledge doesn't go beyond those two series.

I've tried to put my love of YA books into words for them, but it's very hard. How do you explain awesomeness to someone who doesn't speak the language of awesome? I wish I could force each and everyone of them to read a few of my favorite Young Adult authors and books without judging the stories before they open to page one.

Beyond the amazing community of YA authors, their books are even more awesome than they are (if that's even possible). I think that adult fiction (and don't get my wrong, I still read my fair share of adult fiction) has boundaries that authors are afraid to break. In YA fiction, there are no such broundaries. Take Ellen Hopkins books as an example. Not only is her subject matters serious (sex, drugs, prostitution, cutting, etc) but written in beautiful poetry. How many books of this nature would get onto the New York Times bestsellers list in the adult category? Not many, unless Oprah was pushing it, in my opinion.

I feel like young adult characters are richer, deeper than most adult characters. I don't know if it's because teens wear their emotions on their sleeves and as adults we're taught to be stoic or if YA authors just put more time and heart into building a character that teens can feel for and relate to. I've also come to realize, due to most YA books being shorter (or generally YA books average less words), the authors don't have a chance to be wordy and long winded. They have to get to the point, choosing each word carefully. There aren't too many teen books that I've read where I've thought it could have been chopped in half and still have told the same story. Unfortunately, I find that in a lot of adult books I've read recently. Take out 10,000-20,000 words or more and the book(s) would be more cohesive.

Anyway, enough of my rambling about why I love YA books. I want to know why YOU love teen books?


lisa said...

as a fellow nook owner and young adult literature fan, i really appreciated this post. thank you!

i think for me, part of my lurve for YA lit comes from what you described as the ability to tell a story without all the extra "fluff" of an adult literature book. i genuinely believe that the depth of characters and plot in YA lit are much more rich and vibrant than a bulk of adult books.

Tami Klockau said...

Thanks, Lisa! Glad you enjoyed it. I agree with you regarding hte rich and vibrant characters and plots. Most of the adult books I've read recently could take a lessen from the teen section!

Leona said...

Most of the YA I've read was either as a YA, like Lion the witch and the Wardrobe, or because my kids were into it. I'm not good at remembering author's names. It took me until the sixth book to remeber JK Rowling's name. (I have a memory problem so it takes awhile to get it through my thick skull :D) But I did remember Harry Potter. Twilight I can take or leave, but my duaghter adores.

As for further expansion into the YA sector, on purpose and not because my duaghter was into it, has been brought about because of this website and the two awesomeness type people who run it :D Thanks guys for motivating and inspiring. Your contest in July for writing the most words everyweek helped me learn I can write on a regular basis and prepped me for NaNoWriMo. (I wrote over 64k officially and that doesn't count words I wrote on another story!)

Without your contest, I wouldn't have even tried! Instead, I have a great fantasy that will be fun for YA and adults once it is polished. I have more world building and there are lots of comments and notes I made during the NaNoWriMo month that need taken care of, but it's because of you I dared to finish it :)

When trying to explain why you love YA, maybe tell them all that you have said here. Rich characters, less fluff, etc. You guys are awesome!

Thanks again,