“Fake Readers”

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.

-Jenn

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13 thoughts on ““Fake Readers”

  1. “A good book is simply a book no matter the genre” – I really like that quote because it is so true.

    I only began to feel the stigma of reading YA books after I graduated from college. I felt, as an English major graduate, I should be reading Literature. I took that to mean reading anything older and considered a great masterpiece. I started back to also reading YA fiction and it was a breath of fresh air.

    I tell my students that reading is reading, and it doesn’t matter what you read if you like it. Fiction, non-fiction, YA, mystery, romance, comics, articles, newspapers – I doesn’t matter. And you’re right, we are better than calling each other names and “fake readers”. Reading should be something we encourage people to do – not shun.

    Extremely well written post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! Yeah as a fellow English major I can relate to that pressure. It’s sad that this is something that we have to fight against. But, it’s awesome that we have such a strong community working together to promote the love of reading. Thank you for being a part of that! 🙂

      -Jenn

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  2. Remember- many classics like To Kill a Mockingbird were initially dubbed “young adult.” Whatever critics of the time were saying then, audiences don’t seem to care now, because they are still enjoying the book! I am in my 30’s & a new mom and still come back to this genre all the time because there are so many good books in it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! I wish people would remember this. Judging something based on a label can limit your scope and really make you miss out on some great things. I don’t think I will ever stop reading YA. I like other types of fiction as well but I will never underestimate middle grade and YA lit.

      -Jenn

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A book’s genre is so heavily determined by marketing anyway- if more young people are buying books, it’s smart to market to them. And it’s silly to think that no young people are smart enough to recognize a good book, from a fun book, from a bad one!

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  3. So true. It shouldn’t even matter if something is “literature” (in the sense of writings so beautiful, they should be remembered, archaic stuff), as long as people enjoy it. I don’t enjoy the classic stuff that would be considered that type of “literature”. And “fake readers”?? Do you participate in the act of reading? THEN YOU ARE A READER. Ugh. Condescending humans.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A “fake reader” sounds like someone who pretends to like reading, not someone who genuinely enjoys a certain genre of book and likes to post/review/blog about it. Even within the YA genre it can feel like there’s a certain stigma around some books – TFIOS is okay because it’s popular, but any other cliché romance novel is unrealistic and stupid. Twilight is for preteen girls who aren’t intelligent enough for other YA books. Nobody is forcing anybody else to read these books, so let them read what they enjoy.

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    1. I think there is not a bad genre, but bad (or por) writing. Most YA novels I’ve read are not good, they are a copy of a copy of a copy, but there are some others that really stand out, all within the same group. The same goes for Romance, people look down on romance, and they look at you funny when you tell them you like to read it, or to write it. But it is not them. YA novels or romance novels do not suck, nontheless, some authors do, and this causes people to believe it.

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