Why I Read YA
If you're looking for something exciting to read, I suggest browsing in the Young Adult section. Don't think reading about teenage drama is for you? Let me tell you, YA is so much more, and there is something for everyone.
I'll be honest. As a teen, I didn't want to read anything labeled as "teen fiction." Sure, I would read the occasional Sarah Dessen romance, but I wanted to read Very Important Books, written by authors like Kurt Vonnegut and Vladimir Nobokov. I wanted books that I thought would make me think or challenge me, and to 15-year-old Emily, the only way to do that was to read books like The Great Gatsby. Older me realizes that there are a lot of flaws with that kind of thinking, and these days when I'm searching for something to read, nine times out of ten I'll head to the YA section. And no, it's not because I work with teens here at the library -- it's because the books are outstanding.
YA fiction, or Young Adult, is a book that features a 12-18 year old person as the main character, but that's the only real guideline when it comes to writing a young adult novel. The book can explore any topic or be any genre, from realistic books set in high schools or communities to epic space odysessys or high fantasy adventures. YA these days often hits on relevant topics, like gun violence, police brutality, or LGBTQ issues in a way that is honest and personal. Authors like Angie Thomas, Jason Reynolds, Jenny Han, Adam Silvera, Sandhya Menon and countless others strive to create the diverse books we want and need. Let's face it: YA is on fire right now.
But the biggest reason why I read YA is because it isn't concerned with being a Very Important Book. YA is concerned with telling an incredible story while creating memorable and relatable characters. Authors who write YA books aren't bothered with writing think pieces mid-book or being pretentious because they're on page 100 already and there are still 8 plot points they need to get through. Big revelations are made along the way, and to me, that is the sign of superb storytelling. Days later, I will still be considering something a character said in the middle of arguing with a friend or a situation that happened in a book. In short, these books make me think just as much, if not more than, an "adult book."
With all that in mind, here are just a few of my favorite YA reads.