Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Why No One Should Ever Read YA
Another day, another think piece about how Young Adult literature is a heaping garbage fire destroying our country one teen and/or adult at a time -- from someone who's read approximately one half of one modern YA book, of course. As a YA writer and reader, I don't even feel angry anymore. I just feel sad for the writer and anyone they may have influence over.
So here's my list of 9 Reasons Why No One Should Ever Read YA
1. All of it is total crap
I mean, we all agree that writers like John Updike, Lewis Carroll, Philip Pullman, CS Lewis, SE Hinton, Maurice Sendak, J.D. Salinger, Charles Dickens, Madeleine L'Engle, William Golding, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Anne McCaffrey are the absolute worst, right? Talentless hacks, the lot of them.
2. Shaming people for what they read is a great idea
In a country where 60 percent of America's prison inmates are illiterate, the cost of illiteracy is $20 billion per year, 44% of American adults do not read a book in a year, and some states actually base their future need for prison beds on how well current elementary students are performing on reading tests, we should definitely be discouraging people from reading what they like.
3. Teens have terrible taste
They made The Beatles and Rolling Stones famous, after all. They're pretty much at the forefront of almost every cultural phenomenon. Maybe it's the fact that they're at the height of mental capacity with the most gray matter available compared to any other stage of life. Obviously, so tawdry.
4. Nothing can be learned from YA books
Just because they discuss social inequity, life & death, gender issues, racism, sexuality, self-confidence, suicide, consequences of choices, self-acceptance, the importance of one person, bravery, and/or the value of friendship and strong family relationships, doesn't mean they have any actual value to the reader.
5. They're totally fun, which is definitely the worst thing reading can be
Research has shown that "reading centered on reading books for fun creates kids who love to read." Who wants that? They might as well be watching reality TV, amirite? Forcing people to read books that make them feel like they're being punished, because you like it or because they're "important" is obviously the best way to make someone a reader.
6. YA books are unrealistically hopeful
Even in the darkest of dark moments, there is still hope, the feeling that everything is going to be okay. The endings are satisfying, if not necessarily happy. And if there's anything that destroys people's lives, it's closure.
7. The main characters are usually likable (even when they're flawed or even actual psychopaths)
And literally no one wants to spend hours on end with someone they actually like. Kindness, optimism, and good intentions are the absolute worst things a character could have. If you don't finish a book with the feeling that humanity doesn't deserve to continue surviving, the author has misled you.
8. YA books change lives (and change is bad?)
People have reported that YA books have helped them overcome depression, gain self confidence, be more open-minded, make real-life friends, empowered them to stand up for themselves, cope with tragedy, inspired them to pursue a hobby, and even *gasp* read more. But change is bad, so that's terrifying.
9. Accessibility is for plebes
Books that entertain, keep your interest, and can be understood upon the first read might as well be printed on the backs of cereal boxes*. If they can't read at a PhD level, they shouldn't be reading at all! If you have to read a book less than four times to fully understand what the author was trying to say, it's not real literature.
*Actually, can we make this happen? Oh man, could I do with a fab short story on the back of my Cheerios. And they have the money to pay the writers!
*sigh* That was exhausting. Here's another idea: How about we just let people read what they want to read and not shame them for it? That could be fun.
Sarah Nicolas is a recovering mechanical engineer, library event planner, and author. She lives in Orlando with a 60-lb mutt who thinks he’s a chihuahua. Sarah writes YA novels as Sarah Nicolas and romance under the name Aria Kane. When she’s not writing, she can be found playing volleyball or drinking wine. Find her on Twitter @sarah_nicolas.
14th -- Jennifer Galasso
16th -- Chris Bedell
22nd -- Rosanne Rivers
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