I hope y’all are getting through the dog days of summer alright! Today is my LAST day of summer classes and as you’re reading this, I’m probably taking my exam or I already finished it! WHEW!
Today I wanted to talk about something that’s been prominent in my life lately. If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you know that I’m a huge reader and that this blog initially started out as a Young Adult book blog. I started reading Young Adult fiction around 8th grade, and was a heavy YA reader for all four years of high school. I had never been so infatuated with something enough to want to talk about it with anyone and everyone – thus the start of my blogging journey.
But recently, especially after finishing freshman year of college, I’ve noticed something, something so slight that has actually been happening all year. I think I’ve grown out of the Young Adult genre. I didn’t think this would ever really happen. I mean, yes, you grow out of picture books at around 2nd or 3rd grade and move onto Chapter Books, and then you move onto the Middle Grade genre once you hit 4th or 5th grade. You grow out of Middle Grade fiction and move onto Young Adult – all that wonderful romance and teen angst stuff.
But growing out of the Young Adult genre? It seemed like an impossible thing. I think as young adults, we’re exposed to the Young Adult genre but also to the adult genre simultaneously with required reading at school (the classics). In high school, I read about 80% YA, 10% New Adult, and 10% Adult/Classics.
Now? Now, when I walk into bookstores, I’m always checking out the Adult bestsellers. I’ve been purchasing even nonfiction books. Never in a million years did I think I’d be reading non-fiction for fun.
There’s a lot of reasons why I’ve “grown out” of the Young Adult genre. Once I had started freshman year at college, it was really difficult to relate to a lot of the high school characters in YA books, especially in contemporary. Being back in the high school setting just didn’t give me the same thrill as it had before. In fact, it was actually kind of annoying and just boring to read about high school when my real-life environment had moved on. It gave me the mentality that I had to move on with my reading tastes as well.
It’s a little different with YA fantasy and sci-fi since there’s a lot less emphasis on high school, but even then, sometimes the main character’s narration just feels young or juvenile. It’s a sad but true reality of mine. It’s just more difficult to empathize with 17 year-olds after experiencing college for a year.
Another reason why I’ve “grown out” of the YA genre is something that hit me when I was at a networking dinner a few months ago. I was talking to a professional from a Big Four accounting firm (also my mentor) and another fellow student who was also networking. It was a networking dinner, so people were making small talk while also appearing professional in little groups. My mentor had started talking about these books with my fellow peer, books I had heard of but had never read. These books were adult classics, but mostly financial business-y books, so what did you expect? Of course I hadn’t read these books, I solely read YA! I nodded along after they discussed each book. SO. AWKWARD. One of the most cringe-worthy situations you can get yourself into. Seriously. It went something like this:
“Hey, have you read xx?”
“I’ve heard of that book! I haven’t read it though. It seems great, I’ve heard awesome things!”
“Oh okay. You should read it. You’ll learn a lot.”
…. And that’s it. That’s where the conversation ends. There I was, nodding along, saying I had heard of the book, but haven’t read it. And then there was my mentor easily chatting up my peer who had read an abundance of business books. The sad truth is, if you want to relate to older adults who will further you personally and professionally (I’m speaking from a business major’s perspective, keep in mind! If you’re an English major, this is probably different), you’ll need to start reading the books everyone is talking about, i.e. the business books.
This is why I’ve recently picked up pretty much all of Malcolm Gladwell‘s books. That’s not all I’ve picked up though – I’ve also picked up a lot of Adult fiction. Another sad truth: a lot of adults who read for fun probably aren’t reading Young Adult fiction. Most likely, they’re reading Adult fiction.
I’m completely against the theory that the Young Adult genre is only for teens, but a lot of adults read Adult fiction more often than Young Adult fiction. As an aspiring business professional, I care about my career first. Therefore, I have the obligation to pick up the books that will benefit me the most next time I’m at a networking event.
Sure, I’ll still pick up YA every once in awhile – in fact, I had just read a super teen-angsty John-Green wannabe book that was just what I needed after reading a series of “intellectual” non-fiction/adult books. I think it’s important to have a great mix of genres under your belt because giving recommendations are always fun, but I think my ratios of reading genres are going to change drastically within the next few years. In fact, looking at the books I’ve read for 2016, only 65% of them were YA/MG. The other 35%? Either Adult Fiction or Non-fiction. Crazy, right?
What I’m curious to know is, do you think you’ll grow out of the Young Adult genre? Have you grown out of the YA genre? I’m also curious to find out if, in a decade or two, once I’ve settled into a well-paying job and have free time and no one I need to “impress”, will I revert back to Young Adult as my go-to reads?