There was a time when I was embarrassed to tell my friends that my leisure time consisted of reading YA (young adult) books. I felt like I should be reading 101 Ways to Invest for Retirement, or a book more geared towards “adults.”
These were all adults reading young adult books.
What’s interesting is that Publisher Weekly found that 55% of readers buying YA books are actually adults. The genre’s biggest readers aren’t young adults like I assumed. Everyone is reading these books because they’re addicting.
Maybe it’s the writing style, or the characters, or the plot – or maybe it’s the whole package.
Adults, YA: What’s the Connection?
I spent a lot of time trying to find out what attracts me and my friends to YA books, and it came down to a lot of different things.
Keep the Serious for Real Life
Real life is hard. Real life is serious. Readers don’t want to read about serious topics – they want to be able to escape. This escapism is a large part of the reason YA does so well with adult readers.
And we’re not just talking 18-year-old readers.
People want to escape, and while this genre may be a bit over the edge for some readers and oft filled with drama, this is a good thing in the eyes of most readers.
They’re Daring from the Start
Fun and exciting, the authors in this genre dive right into daring storylines. Adult books have a tendency of dragging on the start of the book, leading to a slow and serious start that pushes many readers away.
When time is limited, adults want to dive into a book that gets them hooked immediately.
The daring nature of the YA author allows the adult (whom is often in a serious situation all day long) to escape from their real life quickly with daring storylines.
Anything is Possible
Adult books are more grounded. The impossible is never attempted, and this leads to a boring book with little imagination. YA books still maintain this high level of possibilities; the feeling that anything is possible is still alive and well in this genre.
There is a sense of reliving feelings, too.
Being an adult doesn’t negate the reality that people will have to:
- Choose a new path in life
- Act differently in different situations
- Find their identity (no matter the age)
Adult books seem to keep these hardships away from the forefront, but YA books help ease these natural reoccurrences in life.
Lack of Violence, Erotica and Strong Language
There is enough violence and strong language in the news every day. YA books do a good job at keeping violence (strong violence), strong language and erotica away from the main storyline. There are always going to be touches of each, but it’s not as prominent as in adult books.
Instead, these points are replaced with a sense of hope in most novellas.
Characters Have Flaws and are Relatable
Harry Potter and The Hunger Games are hits not only because of their storylines, but also because they have such deep characters. The main characters have a way of garnering the reader’s empathy.
I find myself rooting for characters, and when I can root for characters, I am hooked into an engaging storyline.
You can often find yourself in many of these characters, and it’s magical to see there is an author that has captured your childhood without ever meeting you.
Until adult books find the magic that’s in YA books, there will always be a drove of adults flocking to the YA sector of the bookstore.