Hello, there!! Inertial Confinement agreed to write a guest post for our blog here. It’s about YA, and the impression everyone has about it. How it is not mature enough, blah blah blah. I must say I agree with it wholeheartedly! 🙂
Let’s all welcome our friend here, and please share your opinion!
We’re all adults here, so let’s get serious. We need to have a serious discussion. We need to read some serious literature, then open up some serious dialogue to guide our minds in a more serious direction. Did I mention we’re being adults here? And that we’re serious? Not just serious. Seriously serious. Put your serious faces on. I’m serious.
I’m convinced this is what it means to be growing up. Becoming an adult.
Seriously, grow up! Stop laughing! Try and be a little more mature!
Having now reached that good old age of you-should-be-embarrassed-to-be-caught-in-the-YA-section-of-a-bookstore-and-for-heaven’s-sake-do-something-about-your-hair-what-is-wrong-with-you, I am now realizing some of the literature I am reading is considered “Young Adult.”
I can’t tell you for sure how much YA I read as a young person because when I was a young person, I read just to read. I read books that blew my mind. I read books I didn’t fully comprehend or relate to. I read books that changed my perspective on my view of life. I read literary fiction. I read science fiction. I read romance. It did not occur to me there were books I was supposed to be reading, and books that I shouldn’t read. I often read books without even checking the genre first because books were wonderful and stories were wonderful and I was a reader of books. Not just books–I was a reader of books, magazines, recipes, poetry, manuals, and backs of cereal boxes.
But then there comes a day when you decide to log onto the internet and your whole blissful ignorance is shattered. Dun, dun, dun. There are books that are considered “trash” and there are books that are considered “serious.”
Do you want to be considered serious? Are you a mature adult? Well, then, you need some serious literature! Hurry! Pick up your copy of Swann’s Way and take a number so you, too, can be on the path to becoming a Serious Adult™!
Sometimes I wonder if the word “serious” will cease to have any serious meaning now-a-days because it’s seriously being thrown all over the place.
What makes a book “serious” anyway? Who sets these standards? And why did I ever let myself think I wanted to meet these serious standards? And seriously, I probably should do something with my hair.
But you know what? I’m about to let you all in on a little secret. My favorite part about becoming an adult was when I stopped becoming an adult. Becoming an adult is a transition that never ends. Becoming. Becoming. Becoming. Wait, when did I get old?
It’s too confined. It’s restricted. And what exactly is the prize when you reach the end? I think Neil Gaiman drove this point home in his novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane:
“Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences. I was a child, which meant that I knew a dozen different ways of getting out of our property and into the lane, ways that would not involve walking down our drive.”
I’m done walking down the drive. I’m tired of all these proverbial paths. I’m done becoming an adult. I’m ready to end this transition and just be.
Perhaps nobody who catches me in the YA section of my local bookstore will ever take me seriously. Ruth Graham sure won’t. [See Graham’s article on Slate: AGAINST YA (http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2014/06/against_ya_adults_should_be_embarrassed_to_read_children_s_books.html) ] But why should I care what book snobs think of me anyway? As the Indigo Girls would say, “I spent four years prostrate to the higher mind / Got my paper and I was free.” Yes, I just quoted Indigo Girls. Yes, I still expect you to take me seriously. Or not. I’m really not so sure anymore.
I enjoy reading, and I will continue to read what I enjoy and while reading for my own enjoyment, I will read what suits my mood, whether it be the lectures of Richard Feynman, the newest Murakami novel, or some random book I happened to pick up in the section marketed toward Young Adults.
And if you find yourself braving the YA section of your local bookstore among the more sophisticated folk, you can arm yourself with this relevant C.S Lewis quote I’m about to drop like it’s hot:
“Critics who treat “adult” as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
In other words, if you’re avoiding YA because you’re an Adult™, you really need to grow up.
FUN QUESTION TIME: Have you ever been embarrassed about what you read? What do you think of the process of “becoming an adult”? What makes an adult?
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I plan on hosting guest posts on Fridays, If you want to be featured on my blog, just email me at email@example.com or tweet me at @EvolutionofNoah