Why I Read... YA!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Okay, let's face it - YA has taken the literary world by storm. It's popularity has soared over the last several years and it is no longer just for teenage girls. I have come across several literary bloggers who will not accept YA as legitimate high-value literature - I remember once reading a blog post from a girl who said she never followed blogs that even mentioned YA. However, despite the "literati," YA is quickly proving that it has a place in literature, in both the young and the young at heart.

Reasons I love YA:

* Revisiting those teenage years. I certainly wouldn't say that my teenage years were the happiest in my life. I was awkward (okay, so I actually still am), self-conscious, and definitely on the lower end of the social totem pole. But there is something so passionate about that time of discovering yourself and what you love. I love revisiting how that feels when I read YA.

* The first-love romance. I still remember just how absorbing crushes were when I was younger and just how it felt the first time I was called on the phone by a boy, held hands, was asked on a date, was kissed... While love has certainly become higher quality and more meaningful for me as an adult, I still love the way reading about YA relationships conjures up the memories of just how all of those firsts felt.

* Fun. I hesitate to say that YA is easier to read, because I don't want to give the impression that makes it less valuable. However, it is nice to pick up a book that I can read in a few days. It is nice to not beat my brains over what on earth the author is trying to say (although this does still occasionally happen to me in YA lit). YA literature can tackle important issues while still maintaining a high level of readability and entertainment. Who doesn't love a book that has it all?

* The community. I read many book blogs, but there is definitely a higher proportion of YA bloggers in my google reader. This isn't because I like YA better than everything else (because I don't, love it though I do) - it is because YA is everywhere on the internet. This makes sense, as it is a genre being marketed to a generation that spends a lot of time online. This has resulted in a fabulous YA community. The authors know each other, the bloggers know each other - if a YA book is coming out and you are a part of the community, you will probably hear about it pretty soon. I love that. I probably add more YA books to my TBR than any other genre because there is so much information available.


I want to preface this by saying that within YA there are several subgenres, many of which I will be focusing on in future posts. I am going to keep my three recommendations contemporary for that reason. However, be aware that contemporary YA is only a small slice of the delicious pie and to stay tuned for dystopian and paranormal recommendations in the future.

* The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - Easily one of the most moving books I have ever read, The Book Thief follows a young German girl, Liesl, through the devastation of Nazi Germany and the rocky terrain of human emotion.

* Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta - My review for this is going to be posted tomorrow, and this is a very difficult book to describe. All I can say is that it is a powerful story of family and friendship through two generations.

* This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen - Sarah Dessen is more on the romance-y end of the YA spectrum, but she writes with an understanding of the teenage mind that blew me away with this novel. This is the first Dessen I have read, and I am eager to get my hands on more. 

Want more recommendations? Visit...

Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing. This lady will not disappoint. She covers a broad range of YA literature, focusing on award-winning works. I know I can trust her recommendations.

Anna Reads. Anna's posts are concise and enjoyable, picking out just why she liked a book, often with a humorous twist. 


  1. I'm pretty new to YA, but I agree with your reasons. Great post!

  2. I'm not against YA but I rarely enjoy it. I think it's because I'm not into paranormal or dystopia and there seems to be a lot of that around at the moment. I do love The Book Thief though! :)

  3. I love this.

    One of MY favorite things about reading YA at my age is the 'fun-ness' of it--not necessarily the fun level of the book, but the fun that the authors seem to be having while they are writing the book and while they publicize the books. I really, really find it enjoyable to pay attention to some of these writers, and in turn I think it makes it enjoyable for me to pay attention to this genre even more.

    I'm almost finished with the Chaos Walking trilogy now (by Patrick Ness), and I must say that even though they are technically YA, they are some of my favorite books ever. Like, up there with His Dark Materials kind of favorite. If I wasn't open to YA, I would have never found them. :)


  4. @Pepca - Thanks! I hope you continue to enjoy discovering YA.

    @Sam - There is quite a bit of paranormal and dystopian and to be honest, at first I avoided it like the plague. I can't remember why I eventually caved and tried a few, but I was pleasantly surprised. I still prefer contemporary YA to the more trendy stuff, but it can be a fun little trip every once in a while when I'm in the mood.

    @Asheley - You put that so perfectly - it's not the book level, it's the subject matter that is fun! And the authors are all so awesome - I love interacting with them on twitter or the rare occasion when I can meet one at a signing. I haven't read any Patrick Ness but I usually like books that you have enjoyed so I am going to have to check them out! If they are even nearly as close as His Dark Materials I think they will be something I enjoy! I have really been wanting to read A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. I can't wait until it is released later this month.

  5. Oh wow! Thank you so much! :D I'm so incredibly thrilled and flattered that you think so highly of my book recommendations! :D *Glowing*

    Also- @Sam, for sure there are a lot of Paranormal (which I'm not a very big fan of ) and Dystopian (which I do love) books in the YA market, but there are also many, many other awesome options. My favorite genre is Contemporary. :) But seriously- if you need/want some recommendations of YA books that you seriously just have to love, lemme know and I'll hook you up. :) I take great pride in being able to give great book recommendations :P

  6. Also, L.L. again and for real- thank you so much for linking me! I'm thrilled and you have seriously made my night. :)

  7. I just thought of something you may/may not be aware of...the Alex Awards for literature??

    These awards are given, I believe, for adult books that have an appeal to YA audiences. I have found that the lists of winners/nominees are a great source for my TBR because they often fit in that 'in-between' place where I find myself sometimes...when I want an adult book, but maybe one that is not too terribly heavy. Everyone knows about Newbery and some know about Printz, but not many know about the Alex Awards, but they are so great. i hate to clog up your comments with a link, but I really think you will find this neat if you aren't already aware.

    Here's the link: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsa/booklistsawards/alexawards/alexawards.cfm#alex


  8. @Ashley - Seriously, you are so welcome! I love reading your blog. I'm glad it made you happy :)

    @Asheley - AWESOME! I am so excited to check those out. I think they will definitely supplement all the millions of books I want to read. Thanks for bringing that up!


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