A less-reasoned, more inflammatory take on this topic (http://goo.gl/SyscH) appeared here on G+ a few years ago, and I remember being one of many people who took the author to task, admonishing him to just let people read what they wanna read.

But now, I don’t know. I think now I agree.

Sure, this is possibly a hypocritical stance for someone who plays RPGs, reads comic books, and watches TV shows with vampires and aliens and such — all traditionally “juvenile” media.

Still, I feel like Americans are constantly infantilized, society basically fostering extended childhoods that last well into our thirties. The tin-foil-hatter in me thinks this is purposeful, as it keeps us in a very susceptible stage of our lives as consumers — you are never more irrational about spending than you are as a child. So, yeah, of course, let’s get lots of adults into reading YA books (and thus increase the audience to which we can market). And, yes, I’d even extend this argument beyond YA books and into other media and consumables as well.

Leaving the corporate conspiracy idea aside, I also feel like there is something to be said for reading at your appropriate grade level. I mean, sure, you read a Harry Potter novel once in a while, that’s cool. But as an adult, you live in a wider world; you (ideally) have more perspective and more experience to draw upon. Shouldn’t the books you read have the same breadth? The movies you see? The music you listen to?

At some point, don’t we have to grow up?

(FYI, I created this Collection specifically for this post. I’m sure it’ll be off-putting to some, but the idea has been rattling around my head for a while now and I wanted to just get it out.)

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2014/06/against_ya_adults_should_be_embarrassed_to_read_children_s_books.html

62 thoughts on “A less-reasoned, more inflammatory take on this topic (http://goo.gl/SyscH) appeared here on G+ a few years ago, and…

  1. Does it cause you to adjust your judgement if you learn that the majority of those adult YA readers, if they weren’t reading YA, wouldn’t be reading anything at all? Because that is the alternative, sanctimonious appeals aside.

  2. < ![CDATA[Does it cause you to adjust your judgement if you learn that the majority of those adult YA readers, if they weren't reading YA, wouldn't be reading anything at all? Because that is the alternative, sanctimonious appeals aside.]]>

  3. Dude. I read YA because the writing is typically easier for me to read because I have attention issues and dyslexia and because the options for stories in my favorite genres for adult women are pretty shitty. Also, it’s not infantalizing. Consuming media of a specific type doesn’t make you more mature or less. What about adults who watch cartoons with their kids and enjoy them? What about adults who just watch cartoons? Seriously, the attitude that reading something people find approachable, interesting, and that they can identify with (because, surprise, we were all once young adults) is bad is pretty uncool.

    Also, a lot of YA books address subjects that adult books don’t often cover, like bullying (still a problem for adults), abuse, sexual assault, gender identity, discovering sexual orientation… I could go on. They also tend to address them in a gentler way so that people who are more sensitive can absorb them. For past victims or people who deal with mental health issues, that’s valuable.

    Also seriously people can dress however they want. And read whatever they want. It’s not hurting you.

  4. < ![CDATA[Dude. I read YA because the writing is typically easier for me to read because I have attention issues and dyslexia and because the options for stories in my favorite genres for adult women are pretty shitty. Also, it's not infantalizing. Consuming media of a specific type doesn't make you more mature or less. What about adults who watch cartoons with their kids and enjoy them? What about adults who just watch cartoons? Seriously, the attitude that reading something people find approachable, interesting, and that they can identify with (because, surprise, we were all once young adults) is bad is pretty uncool. Also, a lot of YA books address subjects that adult books don’t often cover, like bullying (still a problem for adults), abuse, sexual assault, gender identity, discovering sexual orientation… I could go on. They also tend to address them in a gentler way so that people who are more sensitive can absorb them. For past victims or people who deal with mental health issues, that’s valuable.
    Also seriously people can dress however they want. And read whatever they want. It’s not hurting you.]]>

  5. Reading as recreation — something I do! — takes precious brain juice. Every moment, I can either read or kill zombies. I can read or look at pornography. I can read or run. Point being, there are more easily accessible recreational activities now than ever before.

    Reading YA is easier (in virtue of word and sentence length, nothing to do with themes or quality), so takes less of that precious resource.

  6. < ![CDATA[Reading as recreation -- something I do! -- takes precious brain juice. Every moment, I can either read or kill zombies. I can read or look at pornography. I can read or run. Point being, there are more easily accessible recreational activities now than ever before. Reading YA is easier (in virtue of word and sentence length, nothing to do with themes or quality), so takes less of that precious resource.]]>

  7. I read a wide variety of “difficulties” of books, and I have no idea what an adult book even is. In many cases, the distinctions are marketing. What would the dividing line be? What’s a grown up way to read?

    For that matter, what’s a grown-up way to dress? Because I can tell you I see an extreme variety of grown-up ways of dressing where I live.

    Both of these seem to seek some absolute truth about people that doesn’t seem to me to exist. There is no apotheosis of grown-up writing no more than there is one of grown-up clothing.

  8. < ![CDATA[I read a wide variety of "difficulties" of books, and I have no idea what an adult book even is. In many cases, the distinctions are marketing. What would the dividing line be? What's a grown up way to read? For that matter, what's a grown-up way to dress? Because I can tell you I see an extreme variety of grown-up ways of dressing where I live. Both of these seem to seek some absolute truth about people that doesn't seem to me to exist. There is no apotheosis of grown-up writing no more than there is one of grown-up clothing.]]>

  9. Robert Bohl The distinction between YA and Adult is subject matter and reading level, as well as different emphasis on plot vs. other narrative elements. It does also involve marketing, but I don’t know that means there’s no way to know what is adult and what isn’t.

    But I know I am a believer in absolute truth, which is also an unpopular opinion.

  10. < ![CDATA[Robert Bohl The distinction between YA and Adult is subject matter and reading level, as well as different emphasis on plot vs. other narrative elements. It does also involve marketing, but I don't know that means there's no way to know what is adult and what isn't. But I know I am a believer in absolute truth, which is also an unpopular opinion.]]>

  11. I feel like there’s value to be had in challenging yourself with complex ideas and deep things. I also think more “adult” reading sometimes does just that.

    But I don’t think that’s the only way to scratch that itch. Nor do I think the latest John Grisham is actually any more challenging than Spiderwick, so “adult” isn’t a hard delineating line either.

  12. < ![CDATA[I feel like there's value to be had in challenging yourself with complex ideas and deep things. I also think more "adult" reading sometimes does just that. But I don't think that's the only way to scratch that itch. Nor do I think the latest John Grisham is actually any more challenging than Spiderwick, so "adult" isn't a hard delineating line either.]]>

  13. Brianna Sheldon Those are some great insights! I’d not thought about issues like dyslexia or what you bring up about available subject matter.

    As for cartoons and the like, I guess I’d argue that cartoons are just a medium, and can be targeted at different age groups. E.g., the difference between Rick and Morty and Hey, Arnold!.

    And let me make it clear that this thinking is not keeping me up at night or mobilizing my local congressman. Just an idle, unpopular thought.

  14. < ![CDATA[Brianna Sheldon Those are some great insights! I'd not thought about issues like dyslexia or what you bring up about available subject matter. As for cartoons and the like, I guess I'd argue that cartoons are just a medium, and can be targeted at different age groups. E.g., the difference between Rick and Morty and Hey, Arnold!.
    And let me make it clear that this thinking is not keeping me up at night or mobilizing my local congressman. Just an idle, unpopular thought.]]>

  15. < ![CDATA[I gotta say, I feel like arguing that there are lousy books intended for adults is sort of outside the scope of her argument. I mean, there are godawful YA books, too. I don't know that it matters.]]>

  16. Mark Delsing – I get why a lot of people like him. He does interesting things. But we’re on opposite sides of a divide here that I think I can see crop up in discussions about comic book characters and stuff. You’re a self-described believer in absolute truth and I make it a point not to assume my chair will exist before I sit in it.

  17. < ![CDATA[Mark Delsing - I get why a lot of people like him. He does interesting things. But we’re on opposite sides of a divide here that I think I can see crop up in discussions about comic book characters and stuff. You’re a self-described believer in absolute truth and I make it a point not to assume my chair will exist before I sit in it.]]>

  18. Mark Delsing​ Aren’t books just a medium? And don’t adults sometimes enjoy shows targeted for age groups younger than them? (Avatar: The Last Airbender, My Little Pony, some Studio Ghibli works, etc.)

    I don’t believe that just because something is made for one group that means it’s not for others. If that were the case, most games (which are often created with men age 14-25 in mind) wouldn’t be okay for me to enjoy, and that’s pretty stupid.

  19. < ![CDATA[Mark Delsing​ Aren't books just a medium? And don't adults sometimes enjoy shows targeted for age groups younger than them? (Avatar: The Last Airbender, My Little Pony, some Studio Ghibli works, etc.) I don't believe that just because something is made for one group that means it's not for others. If that were the case, most games (which are often created with men age 14-25 in mind) wouldn't be okay for me to enjoy, and that's pretty stupid.]]>

  20. Let’s also look at the history of the world here. There was a time where different kinds of writing were more popular. Were people in those eras dumber? Are all societies where a writer who popularizes terse language doesn’t happen to come to popularity, bereft?

    Whenever I think about things like these stances from a global human history perspective, they fall apart for me.

  21. < ![CDATA[Let's also look at the history of the world here. There was a time where different kinds of writing were more popular. Were people in those eras dumber? Are all societies where a writer who popularizes terse language doesn't happen to come to popularity, bereft? Whenever I think about things like these stances from a global human history perspective, they fall apart for me.]]>

  22. Alex Mayo We probably shouldn’t assume, but it is interesting to consider wether dismissing YA fiction is the same as dismissing genre fiction. I know that, in college, professors would give me all kinds shit for reading, say, Harlan Ellison — despite his being considered one of the great American writers of the 20th century by many, many critics.

  23. < ![CDATA[Alex Mayo We probably shouldn't assume, but it is interesting to consider wether dismissing YA fiction is the same as dismissing genre fiction. I know that, in college, professors would give me all kinds shit for reading, say, Harlan Ellison — despite his being considered one of the great American writers of the 20th century by many, many critics.]]>

  24. < ![CDATA[Brianna Sheldon As someone who loves The Last Airbender, you have cut me to the quick. 🙂
    Still, is there a difference between the occasional indulgence and a steady diet? I dunno.]]>

  25. Robert Bohl That argument doesn’t make any sense to me. NO English professor is going to say you’re “bereft” because you read Hemmingway and not James. We’re not talking about a strictly stylistic difference; we’re talking about age groups.

  26. < ![CDATA[Robert Bohl That argument doesn't make any sense to me. NO English professor is going to say you're "bereft" because you read Hemmingway and not James. We're not talking about a strictly stylistic difference; we're talking about age groups.]]>

  27. Daniel Swensen To be clear, I didn’t say that YA infantilizes the reader. I’m saying that American society encourages infantilization, and I’m speculating that’s somewhat deliberate. Adults reading lots of YA is a symptom, not a cause.

    Again, this is me with my tin-foil hat on.

  28. < ![CDATA[Daniel Swensen To be clear, I didn't say that YA infantilizes the reader. I'm saying that American society encourages infantilization, and I'm speculating that's somewhat deliberate. Adults reading lots of YA is a symptom, not a cause. Again, this is me with my tin-foil hat on.]]>

  29. Core message: “Society should stigmatize a harmless activity that is generally beneficial but not as meritorious as some alternatives.”
     
    I only wish this opinion was more unpopular than it is.
     
    My book club’s last three books were The Brothers Karamazov, Middlemarch and Anna Karenina. Might society be improved if more adults made efforts to enjoy reading books like these? Maybe. But that’s not what’s argued in this clickbait. The entire frame opens via the very rusty hinge of “but if they are substituting…” What Jason said.
     
    Also, the author is either cherry-picking or YA illiterate. She assigns qualities to YA that could just as easily be assigned to the bulk of popular adult fiction. I’m not a huge fan of Harry Potter, but society should much prefer to see adults reading Revolver or A Swift Pure Cry, than The Da Vinci Code.

  30. < ![CDATA[Core message: “Society should stigmatize a harmless activity that is generally beneficial but not as meritorious as some alternatives.”   I only wish this opinion was more unpopular than it is.   My book club’s last three books were The Brothers Karamazov, Middlemarch and Anna Karenina. Might society be improved if more adults made efforts to enjoy reading books like these? Maybe. But that’s not what’s argued in this clickbait. The entire frame opens via the very rusty hinge of “but if they are substituting…” What Jason said.
     
    Also, the author is either cherry-picking or YA illiterate. She assigns qualities to YA that could just as easily be assigned to the bulk of popular adult fiction. I’m not a huge fan of Harry Potter, but society should much prefer to see adults reading Revolver or A Swift Pure Cry, than The Da Vinci Code.]]>

  31. < ![CDATA[Mark Delsing - What makes those age group categories meaningful? What puts a book into one or another? How have these standards held up over time? Are they applicable to other cultures?]]>

  32. Robert Bohl I don’t know how to answer your questions, because I feel sure you would dismiss any authorities to which I could appeal, as you don’t seem to acknowledge any authorities. 🙂  I.e., I think you know the answers to your questions, but in asking them you are making a point about the meaninglessness of authority.

  33. < ![CDATA[Robert Bohl I don't know how to answer your questions, because I feel sure you would dismiss any authorities to which I could appeal, as you don't seem to acknowledge any authorities. :)  I.e., I think you know the answers to your questions, but in asking them you are making a point about the meaninglessness of authority.]]>

  34. No I seriously have no idea how those values are arrived at or how they are applicable to people generally. You’re proposing scientific claims about what’s good for humans. I want sufficient evidence for extraordinary claims.

  35. < ![CDATA[No I seriously have no idea how those values are arrived at or how they are applicable to people generally. You're proposing scientific claims about what's good for humans. I want sufficient evidence for extraordinary claims.]]>

  36. It all seems rather arbitrary to me. Genres, including YA, are marketing categories for publishers. Why should we pay any attention to them at all?

    A number of books I cherish are Newbery Medal or Newbery Honor winners — you know, children’s literature like The Tombs of Atuan or Lloyd Alexander’s The Black Cauldron and The High King, or O’Dell’s The Black Pearl

    Classics like Dunsany’s The Char Woman’s Shadow and The King of Elfland’s Daughter are children’s literature. So is The Hobbit. Should we turn our noses up at them now because publishers have decided that they’re children’s literature?

    People should read what they like.

  37. < ![CDATA[It all seems rather arbitrary to me. Genres, including YA, are marketing categories for publishers. Why should we pay any attention to them at all? A number of books I cherish are Newbery Medal or Newbery Honor winners -- you know, children's literature like The Tombs of Atuan or Lloyd Alexander’s The Black Cauldron and The High King, or O’Dell’s The Black Pearl
    Classics like Dunsany’s The Char Woman’s Shadow and The King of Elfland’s Daughter are children’s literature. So is The Hobbit. Should we turn our noses up at them now because publishers have decided that they’re children’s literature?
    People should read what they like.]]>

  38. Robert Bohl Well, I dunno that anything I’m saying is scientific; we’re in a non-scientific discipline here, namely English Lit. There’s a body of critical thinking — one certainly not free of flaw or bias — that’s evolved over centuries about what we’re discussing here. All I can do is appeal to that, but that body would also, I imagine, recoil at your Hemingway comment, and so I don’t know that it could sway you one way or the other.

    See? Different universes!

  39. < ![CDATA[Robert Bohl Well, I dunno that anything I'm saying is scientific; we're in a non-scientific discipline here, namely English Lit. There's a body of critical thinking — one certainly not free of flaw or bias — that's evolved over centuries about what we're discussing here. All I can do is appeal to that, but that body would also, I imagine, recoil at your Hemingway comment, and so I don't know that it could sway you one way or the other. See? Different universes!]]>

  40. My point is that contained in what you’re saying is a theory that it’s better for human animals’ brains to read certain kinds of stories over others. That’s an incredible, extraordinary claim. So it needs incredible, extraordinary argument. You haven’t even supplied a definition of adult writing.

  41. < ![CDATA[My point is that contained in what you're saying is a theory that it's better for human animals’ brains to read certain kinds of stories over others. That’s an incredible, extraordinary claim. So it needs incredible, extraordinary argument. You haven’t even supplied a definition of adult writing.]]>

  42. Robert Bohl The appeal to philosophical absence of knowledge seems unwarranted within the domain of discourse. Besides which, you state it is an extraordinary claim. A thousand years of lit analysis says otherwise — that is, that one is better than another is often taken for granted.

    And I say this as a dude with a philosophy degree: the sort of Cartesian uncertainty you want to start from is not the same starting place as this type of analysis requires, nor should it be. To use a silly analogy, you’re arguing physics in a biology class.

  43. < ![CDATA[Robert Bohl The appeal to philosophical absence of knowledge seems unwarranted within the domain of discourse. Besides which, you state it is an extraordinary claim. A thousand years of lit analysis says otherwise -- that is, that one is better than another is often taken for granted. And I say this as a dude with a philosophy degree: the sort of Cartesian uncertainty you want to start from is not the same starting place as this type of analysis requires, nor should it be. To use a silly analogy, you're arguing physics in a biology class.]]>

  44. Robert Bohl Why do I need to define adult writing? It’s not my concept. I didn’t define “YA”, either — that definition already exists.

    And, okay, maybe it is an extraordinary claim. Or is it? I don’t remember Horton Hears A Who being part of the curriculum when I was getting my English degree. Students at that level are beyond that, no? They’re not going to grow if not presented with more challenging material.

    I dunno, I think we keep circling around the difference between you and me in whether we believe anyone can truly know anything or not. Not that you’re not promoting me to think! But like Batman and the Joker, we could go ’round and ’round like this forever…

  45. < ![CDATA[Robert Bohl Why do I need to define adult writing? It's not my concept. I didn't define "YA", either — that definition already exists. And, okay, maybe it is an extraordinary claim. Or is it? I don't remember Horton Hears A Who being part of the curriculum when I was getting my English degree. Students at that level are beyond that, no? They’re not going to grow if not presented with more challenging material.
    I dunno, I think we keep circling around the difference between you and me in whether we believe anyone can truly know anything or not. Not that you’re not promoting me to think! But like Batman and the Joker, we could go ’round and ’round like this forever…]]>

  46. Mark Delsing Fair enough.

    Trash-versus-quality aside, Ruth Graham argues “YA endings are uniformly satisfying.” My experience of YA suggests that’s vastly overstated.

    I will admit my main discomfort comes from her value judgments around what individual adults ought to do for their own pleasure.

    If I don’t find that argument compelling as applied to potentially dangerous controlled substances, I’m sure as hell not going to give it the nod as applied to Tuck Everlasting.

  47. < ![CDATA[Mark Delsing Fair enough. Trash-versus-quality aside, Ruth Graham argues "YA endings are uniformly satisfying." My experience of YA suggests that's vastly overstated. I will admit my main discomfort comes from her value judgments around what individual adults ought to do for their own pleasure.
    If I don’t find that argument compelling as applied to potentially dangerous controlled substances, I’m sure as hell not going to give it the nod as applied to Tuck Everlasting.]]>

  48. Mark brought science to a lit discussion, not me.

    If you won’t give me a definition of adult writing, what’s the definition for YA?

    How can we address your claim without knowing what you’re claiming?

    All I have heard is that books that marketing people say are for children are bad for adults. With no definitions or explanations as to a theory for why, or even understanding what the root proposition is.

  49. < ![CDATA[Mark brought science to a lit discussion, not me. If you won't give me a definition of adult writing, what's the definition for YA? How can we address your claim without knowing what you're claiming? All I have heard is that books that marketing people say are for children are bad for adults. With no definitions or explanations as to a theory for why, or even understanding what the root proposition is.]]>

  50. Is the intention at all interesting to anyone but me? Maybe the fact that YA fiction is adults-speaking-to-youth and “adult” fiction is adults-speaking-to-adults makes it easier to evaluate YA fiction as an adult? For myself only, of course, YA fiction doesn’t interest me exactly because it doesn’t seem to be speaking to me. It rarely even seems to be speaking to who I was as a youth, which would make it more attractive.

  51. < ![CDATA[Is the intention at all interesting to anyone but me? Maybe the fact that YA fiction is adults-speaking-to-youth and "adult" fiction is adults-speaking-to-adults makes it easier to evaluate YA fiction as an adult? For myself only, of course, YA fiction doesn't interest me exactly because it doesn't seem to be speaking to me. It rarely even seems to be speaking to who I was as a youth, which would make it more attractive.]]>

  52. Robert Bohl The Wikipedia article is more than that, dude. I will grant you that I can’t find a definition of “adult” fiction, mostly because I think it’s simply any fiction not specifically written for children/teens. But you go ahead and shake your fist in the air claiming victory, 🙂

  53. < ![CDATA[Robert Bohl The Wikipedia article is more than that, dude. I will grant you that I can't find a definition of "adult" fiction, mostly because I think it's simply any fiction not specifically written for children/teens. But you go ahead and shake your fist in the air claiming victory, :)]]>

  54. So, I was not entirely joking about my “I don’t trust your judgment if you say that people should be reading Updike, of all things” comment above, but I think there’s a deeper argument to be made here – several, really.

    The author argues that reading YA asks you to put aside your adult self. Even if this is true – and I don’t believe for a second that it always is, because readers vary in how they engage with books, as Daniel Swensen pointed out – I think there’s actually enormous value in reclaiming aspects of our teenage selves. Teens can be jerks, but they can also be clearsighted, idealistic, passionate, and willing to take risks that our adult selves find too dangerous. I definitely call on parts of Teenage Jess in my research career, let alone my reading life!

    I’m also really troubled that we shouldn’t read things that aren’t aimed at us. In fact I think people should be seeking out books that don’t just reinforce their comfortable prejudices. Adults reading YA? Awesome – I hope it helps them see teens as human beings instead of playing generational status games. It delights me in the same way that I’m delighted when I see, say, men reading romance novels or white Americans watching telenovelas. 

    This article honestly just reads to me as a status play on the part of the author. “Look how excellent my taste in books is! I am name-dropping authors who are prestigious and say certain things about me as a person. I am valorizing ‘stories that confound and discomfit [me]’ because that is a reading experience I think most distinguishes me from other people, especially other women.” It doesn’t help that the author is cherry-picking her examples; I’ve certainly learned “weird facts” from YA, and encountered characters with whom I cannot empathize.

    To be clear: I’m not actually a particular fan of YA. If you read my book reviews, you’ll see I read widely and voraciously. Right now I’m finishing Zola’s Rougon-Macquart series, so you can see I love my “serious” novels. I am, however, highly skeptical of the supposed value of “adult” literary fiction, much of which I find labored, precious, and self-involved. If you made me choose between the supposed deficits of YA and the deficits I see in the litfic world, I’d choose simplistic, heartfelt empathy over labored, precious self-involvement any day.

    Fortunately both characterizations are just exaggerations of the worst qualities of the genre – not a reflection of everything that gets written – so I always have plenty of great YA and litfic to read!

  55. < ![CDATA[So, I was not entirely joking about my "I don't trust your judgment if you say that people should be reading Updike, of all things" comment above, but I think there's a deeper argument to be made here - several, really. The author argues that reading YA asks you to put aside your adult self. Even if this is true - and I don't believe for a second that it always is, because readers vary in how they engage with books, as Daniel Swensen pointed out - I think there's actually enormous value in reclaiming aspects of our teenage selves. Teens can be jerks, but they can also be clearsighted, idealistic, passionate, and willing to take risks that our adult selves find too dangerous. I definitely call on parts of Teenage Jess in my research career, let alone my reading life! I'm also really troubled that we shouldn't read things that aren't aimed at us. In fact I think people should be seeking out books that don't just reinforce their comfortable prejudices. Adults reading YA? Awesome - I hope it helps them see teens as human beings instead of playing generational status games. It delights me in the same way that I'm delighted when I see, say, men reading romance novels or white Americans watching telenovelas.  This article honestly just reads to me as a status play on the part of the author. "Look how excellent my taste in books is! I am name-dropping authors who are prestigious and say certain things about me as a person. I am valorizing 'stories that confound and discomfit [me]' because that is a reading experience I think most distinguishes me from other people, especially other women." It doesn't help that the author is cherry-picking her examples; I've certainly learned "weird facts" from YA, and encountered characters with whom I cannot empathize. To be clear: I'm not actually a particular fan of YA. If you read my book reviews, you'll see I read widely and voraciously. Right now I'm finishing Zola's Rougon-Macquart series, so you can see I love my "serious" novels. I am, however, highly skeptical of the supposed value of "adult" literary fiction, much of which I find labored, precious, and self-involved. If you made me choose between the supposed deficits of YA and the deficits I see in the litfic world, I'd choose simplistic, heartfelt empathy over labored, precious self-involvement any day. Fortunately both characterizations are just exaggerations of the worst qualities of the genre - not a reflection of everything that gets written - so I always have plenty of great YA and litfic to read!]]>

  56. The last two books I finished are Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and King’s The Gunslinger. I’m pretty sure the former counts as adult literature (because it was hard) but I’m not sure about the latter. I mean, it certainly wasn’t marketed as YA, but it’s not a hard read and it’s sort of an exploration of power-fantasy.

    I know I feel better about including books that take work to read in my own life, and I do recommend it to people — especially people whose relationship to reading was harmed by compulsory education once they get over that damage, but I don’t buy that Harry Potter is badwrongfun.

  57. < ![CDATA[The last two books I finished are Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov and King’s The Gunslinger. I’m pretty sure the former counts as adult literature (because it was hard) but I’m not sure about the latter. I mean, it certainly wasn’t marketed as YA, but it’s not a hard read and it’s sort of an exploration of power-fantasy.
    I know I feel better about including books that take work to read in my own life, and I do recommend it to people — especially people whose relationship to reading was harmed by compulsory education once they get over that damage, but I don’t buy that Harry Potter is badwrongfun.]]>

  58. “YA endings are uniformly satisfying.”

    The last YA series I read ended with a broken and abused child soldier dealing with the moral and emotional consequences of the decisions she made and the ones that were made for her.

    This is about as accurate as saying “adult endings are uniformly satisfying and they are poorly written” after looking at the selection in an airport bookstore.

  59. < ![CDATA["YA endings are uniformly satisfying." The last YA series I read ended with a broken and abused child soldier dealing with the moral and emotional consequences of the decisions she made and the ones that were made for her. This is about as accurate as saying "adult endings are uniformly satisfying and they are poorly written" after looking at the selection in an airport bookstore.]]>

  60. This argument is crap. 

    And let me be clear, it is crap on every level. 

    It is crap logistically, as YA is a marketing genre, not a critical assessment. Others have covered this. 

    It is crap ethically, as it makes a false claim to authority based upon an artificial and often damaging definition of adulthood. Where it verges towards having a point in the realm of commodification it verges off of tackling the actual issue of how we market and consume into a hair-chested-he-man ethic of adult that is itself just a marketing tool for bullshit identity products.

    Is there a problem with how we don’t challenge ourselves? Sure. How we expect to be given things? Absolutely. Including, apparently, how we are just fine with letting marketing bullshit define who we are and what we should read as an ethical self marker. I read Ulysses, therefor I have put away childish things. Go me, clearly I deserve to rule the world and judge others with my long pipe in my hand. How about instead we ask how Updike or McCarthy are just as much bullshit for the soul as Roth, but because one of those makes books that are marketed for XX’s “Most Interesting Man Alive” and the other for teenage girls, we have to belittle one. 

    Seriously, fucking McCarthy….

    It is crap in terms of literary analysis because there is no literary analysis here. Simply a list of books we’re supposed to dislike and a random sampling of books we’re supposed to hold in awe, compared without any basis other than a malice of rhetorical intent. We’re not comparing 50 Shades of Grey with Grave of the Fireflies here, we’re trying to compare Divergent with Updike. (BtW, Updike is shit.) That’s not analysis, that’s sending in a 500lb bag of shit to land with a splatter on top of a 100lb bag of shit and then declaring victory. 

    Seriously, I narrowly avoided getting an MfA in Comparative Literature, have been in writing workshops with big name authors, have read every Pulitzer, Booker, and Nobel prize winning work that’s available in English and this article is so much bullshit that it makes me feel contempt for the internet for hosting it. It is bad. It is wrong. It is manipulative drivel. In a just world it would be an ex-article. It would kick the bucket, shuffle off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and join the choir invisible. 

    ::sips coffee: 

    Now, lets talk about why A Brief History of Seven Killings won the Booker. Certainly we all read it? And before it won?

  61. < ![CDATA[This argument is crap.  And let me be clear, it is crap on every level.  It is crap logistically, as YA is a marketing genre, not a critical assessment. Others have covered this.  It is crap ethically, as it makes a false claim to authority based upon an artificial and often damaging definition of adulthood. Where it verges towards having a point in the realm of commodification it verges off of tackling the actual issue of how we market and consume into a hair-chested-he-man ethic of adult that is itself just a marketing tool for bullshit identity products. Is there a problem with how we don't challenge ourselves? Sure. How we expect to be given things? Absolutely. Including, apparently, how we are just fine with letting marketing bullshit define who we are and what we should read as an ethical self marker. I read Ulysses, therefor I have put away childish things. Go me, clearly I deserve to rule the world and judge others with my long pipe in my hand. How about instead we ask how Updike or McCarthy are just as much bullshit for the soul as Roth, but because one of those makes books that are marketed for XX's "Most Interesting Man Alive" and the other for teenage girls, we have to belittle one.  Seriously, fucking McCarthy.... It is crap in terms of literary analysis because there is no literary analysis here. Simply a list of books we're supposed to dislike and a random sampling of books we're supposed to hold in awe, compared without any basis other than a malice of rhetorical intent. We're not comparing 50 Shades of Grey with Grave of the Fireflies here, we're trying to compare Divergent with Updike. (BtW, Updike is shit.) That's not analysis, that's sending in a 500lb bag of shit to land with a splatter on top of a 100lb bag of shit and then declaring victory.  Seriously, I narrowly avoided getting an MfA in Comparative Literature, have been in writing workshops with big name authors, have read every Pulitzer, Booker, and Nobel prize winning work that's available in English and this article is so much bullshit that it makes me feel contempt for the internet for hosting it. It is bad. It is wrong. It is manipulative drivel. In a just world it would be an ex-article. It would kick the bucket, shuffle off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and join the choir invisible.  ::sips coffee:  Now, lets talk about why A Brief History of Seven Killings won the Booker. Certainly we all read it? And before it won?]]>

  62. One possibly-useful definition of YA lit that I thought of last night was simply authorial intent; i.e., did the author explicitly say that they wrote their book for age range X and topics aimed at age range X. So, The Gunslinger is an adult book, regardless of reading level, because King says that’s who he wrote it for.

    Honestly, I get the “YA si marketing” thing, but I don’t know if a book is ever marketed to YA audiences regardless of author intent. Does that happen? The reverse seems to happen quite a bit these days.

    And again, great responses, everyone. Thanks for taking me to school.

  63. < ![CDATA[One possibly-useful definition of YA lit that I thought of last night was simply authorial intent; i.e., did the author explicitly say that they wrote their book for age range X and topics aimed at age range X. So, The Gunslinger is an adult book, regardless of reading level, because King says that’s who he wrote it for.
    Honestly, I get the “YA si marketing” thing, but I don’t know if a book is ever marketed to YA audiences regardless of author intent. Does that happen? The reverse seems to happen quite a bit these days.
    And again, great responses, everyone. Thanks for taking me to school.]]>