My response to The Power of Young Adult Fiction published by The New York Times:
TIME magazine columnist, Joel Stein said, “The only thing more embarrassing than catching a guy on the plane looking at pornography on his computer is seeing a guy on the plane reading ‘The Hunger Games.’ Or a Twilight book. Or Harry Potter. The only time I’m O.K. with an adult holding a children’s book is if he’s moving his mouth as he reads.” (Newsflash: you’re a bully, Joel Stein.)
It’s really disheartening to know that grown adults are sometimes hesitant to pick up a book because others might judge them for reading something other than adult fiction. Judging a person based on what they read is petty and small – in fact, as library professionals, it is our ethical duty to uphold intellectual freedom and resist efforts to thwart access to materials based on age, sex, background, etc. I believe in the freedom to read — be it children’s fiction or erotica, if that’s your cup of tea.
I couldn’t agree more with Rosenberg’s First Law of Reading which states: “Never apologize for your reading tastes.”
Author Patricia McCormick stated, “We’re competing with Facebook and smartphones, DVRs and iPods – not to mention SATs and extracurriculars. We have to capture and hold our readers’ (limited) attention on Page 1 and sustain it until the end.” And McCormick was only considering the YA spectrum – in this world of instant gratification, I am pleased to know that people are still reading. Who cares what they’re reading?! I only care that they are reading.
I not only appreciated, but wholeheartedly concurred with the following comments:
“It’s because adults are discovering one of publishing’s best-kept secrets: that young adult authors are doing some of the most daring work out there. Authors who write for young adults are taking creative risks – with narrative structure, voice and social commentary – that you just don’t see as often in the more rarefied world of adult fiction.” – Patricia McCormick, Authors Taking Risks Isn’t Kid Stuff.
“So what do regular adults see in young adult fiction? It’s a different experience from reading, for example, literary fiction. Not better or worse, just different. The writing is different: young adult novels tend to emphasize strong voices and clear, clean descriptive prose, whereas a lot of literary fiction is very focused on style: dense, lyrical, descriptive prose, larded with tons of carefully observed detail, which calls attention to its own virtuosity rather than ushering the reader to the next paragraph with a minimum of fuss. That kind of writing can be marvelous, but sometimes you’re just not in the mood for it…Bottom line, there’s one thing that young adult novels rarely are, and that’s boring. They’re built to grab your attention and hold it. And I’m not as young as I once was. At my age, I don’t have time to be bored.” – Lev Grossman, Nothing’s Wrong With Strong Plot and Characters.
And, writer Ilsa J. Bick:
“Really, what it comes down to? It’s the story. YA or not, if the story sucks, people won’t read it. If the story is great and just happens to be YA, people will. End of story.”
(To read Bick’s full opinion, please visit her blog.)