I’m relatively new to reading Young Adult books, partly because when I was one, the books I read weren’t classified as such. However, a lot has happened since then, except for one thing: skepticism of so called adults with regards to (the literary merit of) Young Adult novels.
I guess that snobbism isn’t anything new in the bookish scene. What bugs me however is the fact that the ones that are skeptic about Young Adult, nine out of ten times classify it as a genre and believe this genre only consists of the Twilight Saga, The Hunger Games and every John Green novel. The only thing these novels have in common is a teenage lead character, because, the last time I checked, The Fault in Our Stars was about teenagers dealing with cancer, Twilight about romance, heartbreak, vampires and werewolves and The Hunger Games about a dystopian North-American society somewhere in the near future. If we do need to think inside a box, my literature professor has taught me ages ago that John Green’s books are romance or novels, Twilight is fantasy and The Hunger Games science fiction. But please correct me if I’m wrong.
However, I really don’t want to classify or put labels on anything, but I do want to get one thing straight: if you say that Young Adult is a genre, you don’t do any justice to the myriad of Young Adult books out there. Also, there is no need to be disdainful about popular YA books turned into movies. If you don’t like The Hunger Games don’t read and/or watch it. If you find The Fault in Our Stars too pretentious or annoying, try something else. Just don’t look down on a so-called ‘genre’ if you haven’t really tried it or don’t know anything about.
This doesn’t only go for Young Adult of course, the only reason I specifically mention it in this column is because somehow I have noticed some resistance towards it from (mostly) adults when talking about it. Somehow I always end up defending or explaining myself for even reading it. Fact is, last year, it were the so-called Young Adult novels that really moved me and made me straight up ugly-cry.
You don’t have to like Young Adult books, crime novels, canonical literature, romance, erotica and what not, but what I want to say to all the bookish lovers out there is that being an ass about a subject matter that you really don’t know anything about is never the way to go.
I don’t know, maybe, in a perfect bookish world, the snobbery would stop and we wouldn’t shame each other for our preferences. So, if you caught yourself saying things like “male writers tend to be better than female writers” or “oh my god, you don’t know who *insert canonical writer * is?!” or whatever, just think twice about it. Not cool buddy.
So if there were to be a moral to my ‘rant’ (or story) I guess it would be something like this: please don’t be a book snob and just try to be a wee bit open-minded every once in a while. You might be surprised.
Maritza Dubravac is our no. 1 columnist, writing about her bookstore life. Besides organizing the YA book club with us, she’s a mean cook and bakes the free tasties for those evenings. She also writes for Books & Bubbles, Hebban.nl about books and sometimes dabbles in food writing at Nadelunch.com.