Monday, April 12, 2010

Why I Read YA

After Dr. Irwin’s lecture last Thursday night, I started thinking about why I read YA.  I’ll be up front and say that I don’t read widely in YA.  My experience with these books is in the fantasy genre only.  I can’t think of any other YA book that I’ve read since becoming an adult.

So why go back to YA now?

Firstly, adult fantasy authors don’t really do it for me.  They have decent worlds, but I think in general they try too hard.  I love The Lord of the Rings, so it’s not like I’m averse to weird names, but most of the time I feel like fantasy authors are slinging around the most obscure words they can fathom simply to remind me that I’m reading a fantasy.  I don’t have that problem with YA fantasy.

There is also that pesky issue of leisure time.  I try to find an hour to read every night, but most days I’ve been reading technical material all day at work, and that is usually followed by some reading for class.  At the end of the day, my brain is tired, and reading a YA book is so much more relaxing.

Mostly, though, I think it comes down to making up for lost time.  As a personal preference, my parents don’t like fantasy.  I was soundly discouraged from reading or watching anything not firmly grounded in the real world.  I didn’t see Star Wars until I was 23, and I didn’t even know there was a book called The Lord of the Rings until I was 19.  (By the way, that’s 2003—2 years after the movies started coming out.  I was raised to be that oblivious.)

I’m not really that much like my parents.  I understand why they’re realists, and I respect that about them.  But I’m a dreamer and a mystic and an idealist. I’d much rather be in a spaceship or an elf kingdom. That’s how I find truth—by first seeing it in an imaginary world.

I was going to use this blog post to rant about the Twilight article we read last week.  (I take issue with anything or anyone who claims Twilight is a good book).  But I think Flanagan really does have a point.  When we feel that we’ve lost something, we cling to whatever gives us pieces of it back. Because I didn’t realize how much I love fantasy until I was an adult, I skipped right over all the wonderful YA books I could have been reading.  I read these books now, partly, to reclaim something I never had in the first place.

Hopefully that’s not too saccharine.  I apologize if my reminiscing made anyone gag.

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