Posted in Ramblings

Why are adults reading YA?

I’m going there

Hi, I’m Consu, I’m 24 and I read mostly YA

While the letters stand for Young Adult, this genre is for and about teenagers (which is great, don’t get me wrong). So why is it that most adult readers in the book community stay at that stage and don’t pick up “”adult”” novels?

Jeann (@happyindulgence on twitter) posted this the other day:

aaaaaaaaaIt was so on point that it inspired this whole post

Let’s break this argument down:

1-The market gap for readers in their 20s is real.

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As someone smack in the middle of it I can hardly find any books with protagonists my age and the ones I do find are full of sex and mostly lacking any kind of interesting plot (not that smutty books are bad, but I prefer my books with less nudity and more swords). We almost never get to see heros that are in college, or sweet love stories happening between planning your thesis and going clubbing.

Why? What does everyone have against people who are setting out on their own at an appropriate age? and instead writing about children in positions of power that will probably fuck them up psychologically and (maybe) physically? (I’m looking at all those YA with children in the military)

2-The powerful female main character seems to die after she turns 18…

You all know what I mean, as soon as a girl turns into an adult she becomes one of three things:

  • a frigid bitch who is clearly working for the villain
  • a sexual object for the male to put all his repressed issues in
  • a mom, also to put his issues in but she is the same age or older and so: unfuckable.

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Women in most adult books have no agency or are looking for somebody to save them. It’s like literature reverts to the “princess in the castle” trope, because apparently it’s okay to tell a teenager that they are powerful and they can change the world but when they grow you have to remind them that the world is run by men and they should accept that and work for them-Imagen relacionada

Now, this is an issue that stems from the lack of female writers, men write the world they see (or want) and we read that.

3-Are really most writers male?

3.1-“but I see so many female writers! You have JK Rowling!”

We’ve all heard some variations of this, Firstly, yes there are more men than women, secondly Rowling is an outdated reference and also she doesn’t write for adults and also she was told to hide the fact that she was a woman so she could sell more books (we all know this but people like to forget that fun fact)

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According to a 2017 study done on the New York Times Best Seller list, there’s always been more male writers


We are getting delightfully close to that 50% but we still have way more books written by men, because, historically,  men have had more books published

3.2- “That’s because women don’t write!”

Writing that hurt my brain

Why wouldn’t women publish just as much as men? That is a great question that most people ignore. As I mentioned before, JK Rowling was encouraged by her publisher to cut out the “Joan” so she could actually sell copies of Harry Potter.

Resultado de imagen para female writers gifAccording to The Guardian Books by women priced 45% lower, study finds “Analysis of more than 2m titles shows that on average, male authors’ work is strikingly better valued” So why would anyone enter a business where she knows her work will be discredited and undervalue just for the fact that she was the one who wrote it?

And so we get saddled with thousands of books written by men who have had little interaction with the female experience. Obviously they would pain their hero as a man as well (a great deal of writing is projecting) or try and fail to write a strong woman, because the women they see are either written by other men or they are all family/partners.

Another huge thing for me is the variety in genres

No, YA is NOT a genre

Young Adult usually has themes of believing in yourself, finding the hidden power that was inside you all along, fighting against injustice in the world and defending your beliefs no matter the cost. All of this comes in any genre imaginable, YA can be a murder-mystery, or a fantasy set in an imaginary world, or a contemporary tale, or a historical action-packed novel. Any genre you can think of can be YA. The only difference are those underlying ideas that you can change the world, no matter the scale.

Imagen relacionadaAdult books seem always so resigned, it’s like they’ve lost the will to fight. They are about adults frustrated with their reality and tired of everything but instead of trying to make things right, they get a divorce and fuck a woman way younger than them.

To be fair, there are a few books that do try to make the world better, but even they have an air of cynicism about them, of trying despite the world and the people instead of trying for them.

And all this is doubly so for stories with queer authors, authors of colour and disabled authors that try to tell their own stories

Let’s not forget that this problem isn’t just agains female writers but aslo agaisnt any kind of deviation from the abled-allo-cis-het-white-male (which is an awfully small portion of the population if you think about it, and yet)

In the words of great author Marie Lu:

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Is all hope lost? Will we always be reduced to the wild teenager or the quiet adult?

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Thankfully, not. This trend in adult books is slowly (ever so slowly) shifting. More authors are speaking out about the difference in treatment, about their pay and the hoops they have to jump through to get published.

There’s no denying that we still have a very long way to go, though. VE Schwab, one of my favorite authors often gets her adult books put in the YA section just for the fact that a woman wrote them and so, publishers and retailers assume it’s YA, because women only get so far, obviously.

I have hope that, over time, we will egt much more diversity on the adult genre but the publishing business needs to realizes all the untapped potential that lies there and for that to happen we need to speak up. Here’s my small way of doing so: support all good adult-fiction authors out there, buy and promote their books to the best of my ability and call out bullshit when I see it.

Also support the platforms that are trying to make publishing a better enviroment, I’m most familiar with WeNeedDiverseBooks but there’s a few more out there that are working hard

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Let’s all try and boost adult fiction writers so that we will have more stuff to read in the future

and in the mean time, enjoy any books that make you happy 

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Book lover and hockey goalie from Argentina. Trying to figure life out

9 thoughts on “Why are adults reading YA?

  1. I agree with all of this, but I also feel like YA is so broad as well? Some books feature kids in high school worrying about their first crush and some books feature characters in their early 20s in almost softcore porn stories *COUGH*A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES*COUGH*. Adult Fantasy is fine but I feel like YA is where all the inventiveness is happening!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m only just edging out of the YA age bracket, so I’ve not started feeling too weird about it yet. Not that there’s anything to feel weird about! The YA category just offers so much in comparison to other categories, I’ve certainly never seen the same level of variation and diversity in any other section.
    As for female authors getting their books labelled as YA – wow that irritates me. It just makes me want to bang my head against a wall! One of my favourite fantasy series, Chronicles of Ixia, began as an adult series. After the first book had some success in the YA community, Maria V. Snyder was basically forced to change the content level of future books in order for her publishers to market them in the YA section. Women! Can! Write! Adult! Fantasy!!! Hehe, sorry for the little rant there, thanks for writing a great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fantastic post! I’m actually way over the YA age (41) and I still read a lot of YA! I think for me it’s because YA is almost always about self-discovery, and maybe that’s something we never really fully grow out of? Like, do you really ever have full self-actualization? Probably not. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a wonderful post Consu! I agree with a lot of your points! The themes that are explored, alongside the diversity among YA (both in terms of story & representation) are just some of the many reasons I continue to read it! Also, that chart you included about the gap between bestselling authors was shocking to me (it honestly wasn’t that long ago). And yes, I’ve recently seen discussion on twitter about female SFF authors and other female-written titles often mislabeled as YA, or just b/c a YA author wrote it (often an adult novel) people assume its YA. Loved reading this post!! 😍💞


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