Are Young Adult Books for Adults Too?

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Young adult books are marketed towards kids between 13-18, yet even in my 20s I cannot stop reading them. At first I thought it was just my mom, sister, and myself who loved them despite no longer being young adults. A type of book that the three of us all could read in our busy schedules and all relate too; making it easier to discuss the stories we were reading. However I soon discovered that so many adults love to get their hands on these books. I suppose my question now is why?

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Why do we feel the need to pick up young adult books and fill our shelves with them? Why do we gravitate towards reading about teenagers instead of books targeted specifically towards adults? There are tons and tons of books out there, in all categories and genres. Books for children, teenagers and adults. So what makes young adult fiction call to readers over the age of 18?

Why Do Adults Love To Read Young Adult Books?

If we look at the Young Adult genre, we can take a few guesses as to why it is so captivating for adults. The first being they’re just fun to read. The way they are written is so intense and chock full of drama that you enjoy the experience reading the story without getting too down about it. And this genre spans tons of categories — fantasy, romance, sci-fi, realistic fiction, etc. This means that no matter what you like to read, there is a young adult book out there that is an easy choice for your next read.

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Readers can relate to this intense drama, because everyone has gone through their own coming of age story. Reading these young adult books is like an escape back into your own teenage years. Most readers are able to identify and relate back to the story or characters, even if the drama is ramped up just a bit-or in some cases a lot- for entertainment purposes. These authors write about emotions that the adults have already experienced and gone through, making it an easy genre to relate to.

Related: Never Sleep Again: Young Adult Authors Who Kept Us Up at Night

Most people love to look back on their teenage years with rose colored glasses and see the broader picture of their life. This is the time in which most of us experience our firsts: first time driving, first kiss, first taste of freedom, etc. Now as we get older, we have less and less firsts and only the memories of them to look back on. When reading young adult, you get to almost feel like you are expiring adventure and freedom again for the first time.

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Young Adult Books: Making A Statement

These books also tackle some pretty hard core subjects. From political statements to personal revelations, they dive into complex issues but provide a simple solution to the problem. This combined with the familiarity of the coming of age story is a dangerous and addictive combination that is designed to draw the reader in.

I also find the specific way all young adult books are structured, is really a way to keep readers attached. They’re written with the intent that you won’t ever put the book down. As a teenager I read a lot, but half my reading was required reading or even supplementary reading for my school work. That made putting the young adult books down easy and it limited how much of them I read.

But now, as an adult, I have a bit more time. Granted it feels like I have less time than ever. I don’t have all of the extracurriculars, and required reading and homework I had as a teenager. Instead I fill my hours either working away, or I will read. I read all the other books I wanted to read as a teenager now, because I am finally catching up.

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These are only a few of the reasons why young adult books are great for adults to read, and why we are drawn towards them. If you want to do some reading on a more scientific/clinical approach to this topic, there is an amazing research paper by Portland State University which dives deeper into the subject. Hopefully this helps you feel less self conscious the next time you grab yourself a young adult novel to devour at home. Never be ashamed of what you enjoy reading- young adult, new adult, or otherwise.

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