Why do so many adults read YA?

12232938Personally I usually don’t really like YA (young adult), but I know a lot of adults do, why?

Now generally a book is considered YA if the main characters are adolescents, so in the book they are doing things that adolescents do. So, why do adults like reading about what kids are doing? Is it a nostalgia thing? Is it an escape from “adulting?”

The language in YA is usually very simple, so they are generally pretty easy reads. If you are reading for enjoyment you likely don’t want to slog through difficult text so it’s understandable to want something simple. Simple language also often makes things a quicker read which I guess could be another appeal. Adult books can be pretty easy reads too though so that can’t be the only reason some people choose YA?

Now there are some YA books that I love, though most of those I read when they were traditionally “age appropriate” for me. In fact I am scared to re-read the ones I love in case now that I am an adult I realise that they actually suck. The Lovely Bones is an example of a book in that category for me.

I think I have two main issues with YA, not all YA books have these issues but a lot do. Firstly, I like to read about things that could actually happen, so I am generally not a massive fan of fantasy etc. There are exceptions but it’s certainly not my go-to kind of story and so many YA books are fantasy etc. Secondly the “love” in YA just annoys me enormously. Why do all these kids claim to be “in love” with every kid they ever date? We certainly didn’t do that at school! Is this an American thing? A lot of these books do seem to be by American authors. Anyway, it really bugs me and usually a huge chunk of the story is focused on this kind of nonsense.

Now for a slightly controversial question… Is love or hatred of YA related to level of education? Now you could argue that those that have been through intense education/have highly intellectual jobs need more of an escape and would be more likely to read YA, but that isn’t my experience.

So, why do you all like YA so much? I really don’t get it! Or, if like me you don’t really like YA, what is it specifically that you don’t like?


14 thoughts on “Why do so many adults read YA?

  1. My answer will be my opinion about it – why do I like to read YA?
    I would say, that main reason why I pick YA books is, that I need something easy, a book that I can relax while reading it. Just like crime books, these are perfect, quick reads where I don’t have to think about too much. And, like you said, language often is a reason too. English is not my first language and sometimes, when I pick up an adult English book, I’m struggling while reading it. I have to wait for translated version – which I may never get 🙂
    I would not agree that reading YA is in any way connected with education. I know many well-educated people who read YA.

    I think it’s important, that you read a variety of different books. Because in that way, sooner or later, you get tired of it. I’m noticing now, that I hate most of YA books now if I’m reading it. I always (even when I was younger and target audience for this genre) hated romance in it. But now, I can’t stand it. And this is the main reason why I’m trying to avoid YA books now. I’m just tired of it and want to read something else, something more “mature”. But, let’s be honest, even the books for “adults” can be pretty bad and lame 😀

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  2. I read a lot of different genres, depending on my mood. These days I don’t tend to read so many YA novels, but I do enjoy a good fantasy/dystopian, and occasionally they cross over.

    I agree there are a lot of YA/NA books that are definitely aimed at a younger audience or that focus heavily on romance, but equally there are some that don’t. I think you could say the same about adult fiction as well. There’s a huge range of choice, subject matter and writing style – from classics and heavier literary fiction to beach reads and chick-lit. ‘YA’ and ‘NA’ cover a lot of books.

    I don’t agree that whether or not you like YA is linked to education – and especially not if you’re implying that people with a better education are less likely to read YA? At the end of the day it’s personal choice based on individual tastes, and just because you enjoy one particular genre it doesn’t mean you can’t also enjoy another.

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    • I don’t think that adult books have the same amount of romance in them as YA books, unless they are supposed to be romance books. Most YA seems to have some element of romance but the majority of the adult books I read have none at all. I think you would struggle to exclusively read YA that doesn’t contain romance but with adult books it’s easy!


  3. Great post, this is a question I often ask myself because I’m not a YA lover. I never got into YA fiction, really, maybe a couple of books but I basically remember my reading journey going from Matilda, to Gone Girl to American Psycho and here we are…

    I never even thought of The Lovely Bones as YA as millions of people love it, including my mum who hates YA books.

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  4. I really don’t get it either. I’m one of the few who never really reads YA. Even when I was a ‘YA’ I preferred adult fiction more. I am 26, and it is frustrating because I don’t know anyone my age who does not read YA. I have people who I am friends with on Facebook who look for book recommendations, and everything I recommend gets turned down because it’s not YA…..I just want to know why they can’t branch out? They seem to be wrapped in their ‘YA security blanket’ and are afraid of change. 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️


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  5. When I read, I don’t really care what age range it’s targeted at. I’ll quite happily move between adult, YA and children’s novels. For me, it’s always been about the story. If the synopsis interests me then I’ll pick it up! At 25 years old I’ll happily read YA or children’s novels, and at 15 I was happily reading adult novels.

    I feel like adults can still happily pick up YA because while we’re not that age any more, we have been that age and know what it was like for us. Saying that, my favourite YAs lean towards Sci-fi and fantasy, so if you’re not into them I can see why you wouldn’t read much of it!

    I don’t believe liking YA has any connection to education levels. From your post, I’m not sure which side of the argument you’re on. I think it’s a personal taste thing!

    I’m curious, are there any YA novels you’ve read recently that you do enjoy? And how do you feel about children’s novels?

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    • In terms of kids novels I of course love Harry Potter! I haven’t re-read any other kids books as an adult. Salt to the Sea is YA and I love that but it covers other genres too and it’s the history aspect of it that I loved, not the kids!

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  6. For me a lot of the writing feels…not weak but…I don’t know. I know cliches exist in the fantasy and sci-fi novels I read, but they always seem more glaring in YA. The romance is a big issue too. I’m also not a fan of the “only teens can save the world” trope. I do continue to try YA books that catch my interest but most leave me frustrated. They just don’t deliver a lot of the depth I get from other genres or even age groups – I’m a huge fan of middle grade.

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  7. Great Post! I’m 22 so I’m kinda in the middle range. I’ve recently graduated from university and now that I have more free time on my hands I’ve been trying to get back into the YA genre – just because it seems to be the most popular with the greatest amount of releases this year. Unlike reading something hefty from Dickens or Balzac, YA is, as you say, very simple to read but the amount of clichés are ENORMOUS! Every girl falls in love with a guy, but then another guy comes along and the novel becomes structured by this whole love triangle thing which seems real ONLY in print – such situations weren’t this popular in my high school, that’s for sure.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I look forward to reading more from you soon!
    Happy Reading 🙂

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