Years ago I worked in an office that took me 45 minutes to get to by train. That was right around the time Harry Potter had taken off and everyone was reading it. And, I jumped on the bandwagon.
So there I was, 30-something and reading Harry Potter in a train filled with people in business suits and thick novels, with names I had not heard of before. They were most definitely more serious literature than my own Harry Potter title. And, I was the only one that broke out into uncontrollable giggles when the Weasley Twins pulled any of their tricks in the books.
No, seriously — tears rolling down my face, trying valiantly to stifle my laughter in a funeral-quiet carriage with people in need of their first cup of caffeine — or if it was he evening ride home, ready to get home.
Here’s the thing: it was Harry Potter that got me ready to read again. At the time I was working in a legal publishing company and I was tired of reading — I didn’t care what it was, but my eyes couldn’t deal with words on paper nor could my brain. I hadn’t read a book in months when I picked up my first Harry Potter title.
That’s why this article is so frustrating (though this rebuttal a breath of fresh air) — it articulates why adults should be ashamed of reading YA with breathtaking snobbery, I think. Why is it wrong for an adult to enjoy a YA book? Especially if gets people reading again?
My mother is not usually a big reader, but recently she’s started reading — anything and everything from crime to YA, including Twilight (a couple of pages puts her to sleep, heh, but I think it still counts). Most recently, she’s read The Fault in our Stars and loved it — simply because it’s a good book. She’s going to be 60 next year, by the way, and I count YA as one of the reasons she’s enjoying reading again.
Everyone judges – I know I did. I judged anyone I saw reading a romance. It took working with authors who wrote wonderful, touching romances for me to understand why so many readers enjoy the genre. It’s easy to judge, I realised – I can’t imagine how I’ve been judged as a sci-fi and fantasy reader AND a YA reader – to some people I’m a lost cause essentially. It might be the thing to say: to let people enjoy and read what they want, but there’s truth to that, isn’t there? Especially if it gets people to read again?