Confessions of a YA Reader

I hadn’t read a YA (young adult) book since I was like 8 or 9 years old. I remember my mother being absolutely mortified when she found The Exorcist on my bedside table – I was in 5th grade. And so it continued – and by the way my friends, I finally did get to finish my mom’s copy of Rich Man Poor Man in 4th grade.

I had moved onto better things – Alex Haley’s Roots was one of my favorites. Then came the Stephen King addiction. Which brought on the Dean Koontz, John Saul, and Peter Straub, era. However, the horror genre abruptly stopped in 1984 with just one book.

Stephen King’s – Pet Cemetery.

Looking back now, I can say it wasn’t the book per se, but the dream I had the night I finished the book. It’s been 28 years since that dream – but I remember it vividly still. Too vividly. *shudder*

I haven’t read a Stephen King or Dean Koontz novel since. Nor have I read anything in the extreme horror genre.

At. All.

My reading appetite is, for lack of a better word, insatiable. So I explored all sorts of books.

But as I had children, my quiet time suffered. Too many nights I was just too exhausted to read more than a page or two. I’m sure many of you can identify with that.

As the kids got older, I had more time again – but I was low on books and funds. Those 5 kids of mine ate us out of house and home! My friend, ‘ Georgette’ (of the Jungle), sent me a box of books. And in it was a children’s book.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Who is this Harry Potter, I wondered.
I read it and was hooked.

Georgette sent me the boxed set of the first 4 books in the Harry Potter series and book number 5. I became Harry’s greatest fan. Georgette even gifted me with an awesome, laser sighted, Harry Potter wand! I ran around the house for days yelling ‘Nox!“ and ‘Expecto Patronum!“. I was very disappointed when the wand wouldn’t perform the Confundus Charm on the hubster. It sure wasn’t for a lack of trying on my part, that’s for sure.

My kids thought I had gone over the deep end…
I wonder what they would have done if the tattoo guy had not refused to put a lightening bolt on my forehead.

I read those books over and over until the pages were worn thin. Finally the series completed with the last 2 books and I thought the love affair with the YA genre would be over.

Then came The Twilight Saga. Yeah, yeah – I can hear you moaning and groaning from here. But I don’t care, I still love that saga. I even have what my kids call a “cougar cave” upstairs that is everything Twilight.

Ok, ok… ENOUGH! Stop laughing at me about my life-sized cardboard cutout of Edward Cullen and my slap bracelet that says “I ♥ Boys that *Sparkle*”! I was going to show you pictures, but now that you’re laughing… well – I’m just gonna take my toys and go home! ;)

Georgette introduced me to The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare as a wonderfully boxed 3 book hardcover set for my birthday a couple of years ago. Since then there have been many series of YA books; The Hunger Games, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the Gemma Doyle series, the Pendragon series, House of Night series, the Hush Hush series and on and on.

*Ahem!* Um, hey you. Yes, you over there. I can still hear you giggling at my Twilight fascination. You’re distracting me here. I need to stay on task.

I believe the reason why I am so enamored with the young adult genre is that they are easy reads – they are entertaining and just plain fun. It’s like comparing cotton candy to a bowl of sensible oatmeal.

While I do like oatmeal and I know it‘s good for me – sometimes I just need to get that sugar rush from the cotton candy too.

So, what’s your flavor of cotton candy?

18 Responses

  1. None of my suggestions are what you would call contemporary.

    On the fantasy side, Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone Of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath are two I enjoyed as a kid and still enjoy today. The classic SciFi “juveniles” by Robert Heinlein are always good and many are being issued as ebooks by Baen. Have Space Suit Will Travel, Farmer in the Sky, Starman Jones, The Star Beast, The Rolling Stones, and more, but my favorite is Citizen of the Galaxy. Like all good books aimed at older kids they lead to the Hard Stuff (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress for one good example). For older classics two from Kipling are always worthy: Captain’s Courageous and Kim.

  2. I’ve read all those books too. I’m an old lady. Old ladies are not supposed to be smart, read YA books, be tech savy, like reading science fiction or fantasy (I pray for Terry Pratchett). I also watch certain cartoons which happen to be very well made with jokes that no child would understand. Cotton candy is one of my favs, next to dark chocolate (75%), and caramels. People need to play, even in their heads. That’s a fact. Adult themes are in the newspapers so I don’t read those. Books that catch your interest immediately, cartoons, funny movies, and hearty laughter are for us KIDS and YA at heart. I depend on the Kindle free books of the hour and the review. Keep up the light-hearted good work Max and when your children try to put you in a home for the aged, tell them you’ll be bad.

  3. The entire day is spent reading and responding to serious stuff. We all need a break. A good story is a good story, doesn’t matter what “genre” it comes from. The purpose of recreation, including recreational reading, is to provide a break from the toils and tribulations of the adult day and rejuvenate both our bodies and our minds.

    Besides, you are only as old as you behave.

  4. I like YA because the characters are actually likable. They have clear themes and tend to be low on sex and violence.

    I also need palate cleansers to balance out the heavier stuff I read.

    I like dystopian YA (Hunger Games, Divergent, Matched).

    I read Twilight and like them (the movies sucked but the books were good.)

    I also like superhero books, but I haven’t found many of those that I really have liked lately.

    • I love your choice of words, ‘palate cleansers’. That’s so true. And I adore superheroes, but like you I haven’t found too many good books.

  5. I have read all the same books and even added The Host which I read quite a while ago and is going to be made into a movie. Hey, who says I have to read from only one category!!! Reading is fun and takes you into new worlds with how you see the characters and how the author sets the scene. Oh, and by the way, while totally loving the Harry Potter series etc., have to admit I also read all the 50 Shades too, LOL.

  6. I think you should post a picture of you with your wand. I still remember your disbelief – “You really got me a wand?!?”

  7. If I did not have children (16 &12 now), I would have probably never picked up Harry Potter, Twilight or Hunger Games. All three series have been enjoyable to read. The best part is that I have been able to share something with my children. The most important is the joy of reading. We went to the midnight release of the Harry Potter books and then to all the movies. It was fun to pass the book from one family member to another and try to keep secret what happened until everyone was finished. Just because a book is labeled YA does not mean that it should be restricted to those under 18.
    P.S. I’d love to see your pictures!

  8. I read any and all of Diana Wynne Jones and Robin McKinley. Patricia Wrede’s books are a delight. There’s lots more — others will suggest. YA is a pleasure, and often very well written, too. And don’t let Disney pre-empt the classics. Go back to Alice in Wonderland and The Wind in the Willows. And the library will have a section of books which have won the Newberry Medal, and runners-up. Check those out. I enjoyed Kelley Armstrong’s Darkness Rising and Darkest Powers series, too. There’s a wonderful and vast choice out there. These books are cotton candy in one sense, in that they aren’t horrific or bleak or hyper-sexual, but in another sense they are not frivolous at all: they teach, by example, important virtues like courage, compassion, kindness, endurance, perseverance, and goodness in the face of enormous challenges. Keep reading, and read out loud to your children and grandchildren. (This will also provide great cover for your YA reading habit. You are checking these books out to make sure they are suitable for the tiny tots.)

  9. Read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and then come back to me and tell me YA is an “easy” “cotton candy” read.

    Please don’t demean a genre. YA is not defined by its quality of writing. YA is a genre which features young adult protagonists, and to discount young adults of their intelligence is doing a great disservice to society.

    • I apologize to you for making you think I was demeaning the YA genre as a whole. I don’t believe I was demeaning at all. This tends to be my favorite genre and as it is one that I recently opened up too – I consider it my guilty pleasure.

      While I am aware that there are plenty of heavy and deeply meaningful YA books, I am also aware of the other ones who sole purpose is to entertain. Those are my “addiction”. Something I can pickup and read a few pages in between chasing grandkids, doing housework or yard chores – something light that doesn’t require all my brain cells to fire at once. But most importantly, something I just simply enjoy.

      Believe me when I say that I did more than enough heavy reading as a young child to fill many adult bookcases.

      At the age of seven I was reading at senior high and college level. I scored perfect 100’s on several Regents exams throughout high school. My IQ has tested out at 132.

      And I have 2 children who fall in the IQ range between 70-80. I also have an autistic grandson, who is musically gifted.

      To be sure, I would be the last person to “discount young adults of their intelligence”.

      So runa, let me rephrase this … what’s your guilty pleasure?

  10. I sold over a 1,000 books in June at price points of $2.99-$5.99. My $5.50 eBook had over 700 sales, so the money I made would be worth more than someone who sold a couple of thousand at 99 cents.
    So I should be on one of the lists. I’m sure there are a bunch of us out here making money who aren’t on it.

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