Is Young Adult fiction real literature? This question is one that seems to always be present in the bookish community. Recently there has been a great deal of controversy over whether readers of YA are “real readers.” So, I wanted to take some time and discuss my thoughts about the subject.
On May 23rd Steve Donoghue made a video titled “Last Week in Booktube.” (Note: Booktube refers to the community of readers and book bloggers who post reviews and vlogs to YouTube.) This video caused a great deal of controversy. In the video Steve talks about booktube and popular booktubers attending events such as BEA (Book Expo America). He goes on to state that he believes many Booktubers are “fake readers” and that he can tell what a real reader looks like and they apparently do not fit the mold. His comments seemed to be condescending towards readers of YA and the booktuber’s who feature mainly YA literature on their channels.
Many individuals in the book blogging and booktube community alike took this opportunity to speak out against this criticism. Many were very angry and made their feelings known. Now I would like to speak my mind about the situation at hand.
This concept is one that is close to my heart for a multitude of reasons. Primarily, I am an avid lover of YA literature. YA fiction is by far my most read category of literature. Therefore, I find it saddening that members of our community of readers would attempt to tear others down. However, this condescending mindset is not something new to readers of YA fiction.
YA fiction is often looked down on as a lesser form of writing. It is seen as fluffy fiction just for preteen and teen girls. The YA world is stereotyped at times as shallow and vain. In high school and early on in college I felt the effects of this stigma. I was embarrassed to shop in the YA section. I didn’t want to read my novels in public for fear of judgment. It was through the bookish community that I finally became comfortable with my reading preferences. The book bloggers and vloggers treated YA fiction as an equal to adult fiction. There wasn’t a hierarchical system where the bloggers were concerned. A good book is simply a book no matter the genre.
This weekend I had the opportunity to attend a Rick Yancey (author of the 5th Wave series) book signing. I took this opportunity to ask about the stigma from an author’s perspective. Yancey stated that he has not felt a stigma in the publishing world. However, did acknowledge that critics at times can look down upon the genre in a condescending way.
We have become the critics. We have the opportunity to voice our opinions and share our love of a wonderful craft. We should work to accept preferences as preferences. Liking one thing does not make someone better than anyone else.
Throughout my experience in the bookish social media world I have found the community to be welcoming, caring, and engaging. I have grown to see the community as a great collaboration of people of all races, genders, sexuality, nationalities, and social classes discussing a common interest. I believe this is why Donoghue’s words struck such a cord in the community. We are better than this. The diversity of the bookish community is what makes it amazing. It is also a great way to become exposed to literature one may otherwise never read.
So, I will continue to read my YA and Mr. Donoghue can read his adult fiction. Who knows maybe one day we can refer books to one another. In the meantime read what you enjoy for yourself without fear of being judged.
Have you felt the effects of this stigma? What genre do you prefer to read? Let me know in the comments below.