I have fielded this one quite a bit lately. Usually it’s someone who has never picked up a piece of teen fiction in their life and in their arrogant superiority says something like this, “You’re thirty now. When are you going to start reading more mature books?” Usually I blow this off and think that they have no idea what they are talking about but recently I met a fellow reader who was concerned for my current taste in literature. She commented on how I used to focus on serious books and she was appalled that I had moved backwards, to teen fluff. I was forced to sit down and seriously contemplate what I was doing and why.
I came up with a couple of different things. I was raised to believe that books should have redeeming value. There should be a good reason to read them. So as a child I devoured huge amounts of classical literature, reading things well beyond my years. It shaped who I was as a person. I never fit in with my peers and didn’t really understand them. I was thankful for this. I have a solid background and foundation to build from. However, I found myself drawn more often to science fiction and fantasy as I grew older. Some of this was because I have an extremely active imagination. The rest because I loved the chance to escape from reality.
As i started to move in this direction with some of my reading, I was disturbed to find that most of these books were way too adult for me – and I was an adult! It was the last thing I wanted to fill my mind with all the time. I felt like I was running out of things to read. I was given recommendations for lots of books, most of which I had to stop reading because I found them disgusting or they were shallow and not worth my time. While there were some exceptions to the rule, for the most part, I was really frustrated. Then Harry Potter happened.
Immediately I was drawn to it due to all the controversy surrounding it. I picked up the first three books and read through them quickly and then read them again. I went out the next day and got number four. I was in the line at midnight for the release of book five. I thought they were the exception.
The Twilight happened and the teen book scene erupted. I quickly began reading these books because they were an escape, relatively clean and had compelling story lines! Then I began to see that many of the authors were telling important stories through these books in a way that adult fiction seemed to have mostly forgotten. While the writing tended to be a bit more simplistic it was an actual story! Not some mundane bit of drivel about some housewife’s inner struggles but a REAL story with heroes, villains, monsters and real people all put into the mix together.
As a teacher, the last thing I want to do when I get home is read something heavy, depressing or dull. I want an escape and teen books seem to be where it’s at lately. If you’ve written this section off, I’d recommend taking another look. You’ll never know what you’re going to find.