March 30, 2010

YA only

I discovered the YA online community through Kiersten White's blog. From there, I started reading Stephanie Perkins's blog, and from hers, I found Natalie Whipple's. Now I read 20-25 blogs regularly and many, many more occasionally.

I love the writing blogosphere. It's allowed me to connect with like-minded individuals who are equally serious about this whole writing thing. I don't have a lot of people like that locally, so I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities and renewed confidence being part of the YA blogging community has afforded me.

But one of the things I'm not a fan of is that many (many being a very imperfect guestimation) people within the community seem to read YA only. I think part of this comes from the fact that in many mainstream circles, YA is not given the respect it deserves, so YAers feel particularly (and rightfully) fierce about protecting and supporting their wonderful genre. Beyond that, it is important for YA writers to read within the genre for professional reasons.

But I think diversity in our reading choices is important, too.

There are so many amazing YA authors out there, I could keep busy reading well-written, intriguing YA for years. But sometimes I feel pressure (from within - no one has made me feel this way) because I haven't read all of the YA books everyone is buzzing about. It's like - Oh, I need to read The Secret Year! Hush, Hush! Shiver! Beautiful Creatures! Wicked Lovely!

I haven't read any of those titles yet. I want to. But they are on my to-read list along with about 50 other books, so I'm not going to get to all of them this year.

We all have our favorite genres, but I've discovered some of my favorite books by wandering Barnes and Noble without regard to section. Granted, there are genres I won't read (horror, crime), and sometimes I do get caught up on certain authors and want to read them-only for months, but that's fine because, really, whenever anyone reads anything, not only is it fine, it's amazing.

And know that I didn't write this blog to offend. I'm not talking about anyone in particular. I'm not suggesting everyone within the YA community does this. We all have a right to read whatever we want. People should read things they enjoy, whether it's all in one genre or not.

All I mean to say is, it's good to try new things.

8 comments:

Rachel Bateman said...

I totally agree with you! Even though I write YA, I still enjoy books across many, many genres. Even more than that, though: I learn and grow as a writer by reading stuff outside of my own genre. Sure, I might read a ton of YA, but I through other genres in there every few books.

Abby Stevens said...

Thanks, Rachel. :-) You put it perfectly. I was (and still am) a little nervous about posting this because I don't want people to take it the wrong way. I'm glad you understand where I am coming from!

Anonymous said...

i skimmed some of those titles you listed... youre not missing much...

-Heidi

Marquita Hockaday said...

I agree with what you are saying, mainly because I want to be the kind of author that crosses genres like Joyce Carol Oates and James Patterson (though I don't want to write like him :) ) And I try and read adult books and YA books- sometimes at the same time. I must say, I do feel pressure to read more YA,like you said, in terms of research. Anyway, great blog post and I understand EXACTLY what you mean.

sandy shin said...

I agree. Though YA is my main genre, I do occasionally read outside of it. One thing about YA, however, is that it has so many subgenres that sometimes, I feel like I am reading outside of my subgenre (I primarily write/read YA fantasy).

Phoebe said...

Great post, Abby. I think it's really important to be widely read. Of course, I'm sort of recently coming out of the other end of it--I finished graduate school a little less than a year ago and realized that, oh my god, I don't have to read tons of poetry I feel lukewarm about! And after slogging through Ulysses for a grad seminar, I've been more than happy to reward myself with lighter reading--for awhile it was Star Trek novels, then historical romances, now YA. Of course, just about anything is lighter reading after Ulysses!

I wonder if it's like that for a lot of YA writers though--if, like me, they go through this sort of thing in stages or waves. If one is writing in the genre, it can be tempting to immerse oneself in that genre for a time, too--but it can be hard to tell from the outside if that's permanent. Also, they might just be more vocal about the YA they're reading--they might be more likely to bring it up in blogs, for example, if that's what their readers are interested in. Reporting bias, as it might be.

Sarah Enni said...

This is a great post. The best way to write is to be inspired by the best writing around, no matter what genre. This would also be beneficial to the YA audience -- writing for kids, middle grades and YA is important because it opens doorways to new types of books they can explore in the future.

And I agree with Phoebe about the reporting bias!

Abby Stevens said...

Marquita - I want to be the type of author who crosses genre-boundaries, too. I'm sure everyone does, I think some people are just more aware of the 'box' genre can put you in.

Sandy - Excellent point. YA is interesting in that it encompasses a wide variety of genres. Voice and age alone can, in many cases, define a novel as YA, regardless of genre conventions.

Phoebe - Your reporting bias theory is one I'd not thought of, but like Sarah, I think it has merit. So I suppose I'd encourage YA writers/bloggers to at least *mention* other genres they are reading. Even if they don't spend as much time on them, a mere mention could spark interest for their readers, and help erode the notion many of us seem to share that it's all YA, all the time out there.

Sarah - Yes! Absolutely! Read the best, read what you love, no matter what the genre. :-)

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