Thursday, March 6, 2008

i don't wanna have to shout it out

Who said this?

"Whatever whoever chooses to read is their business, of course, but adults whose taste in recreational reading ends with the YA novel need to grow up."

Would you believe this came from Roger Sutton's blog? I like that he often writes sort of off-the-cuff things that create lots of discussion on his blog. This sentiment, however, raised my hackles. Yes, I do read adult literature, but for the most part, my recreational reading absolutely stops at the YA novel. And I have no intention of outgrowing that/growing up/etc. From the looks of many of the comments to his post, there were many other people who took issue with this statement. What do you think? Are you surprised to hear this sentence from the mouth (well, from the hands-typing-on-the-keyboard) of the Horn Book's editor?


Jess said...

I read that yesterday and was totally surprised. I do read many "adult" books, but like you, most of my recreational reading is YA (or up to it). And I'm not really interested in growing out of that, either.

kristin said...

I'm pretty shocked, too! I don't argue with the idea that people are better off if they branch out now and then, and read different kinds of books-- like, if you mostly read romance, it might be refreshing for you to read a mystery, or if you mostly read grand literary fiction, it might be refreshing to read a romance, or if you mostly read YA, it might be refreshing to read grand literary fiction. But "grow up?" Is he just talking about Harry Potter and, I don't know, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? What mature issues and themes exist that don't appear in really good YA literature? He's basically saying that YA lit is, by nature and definition, childish (in a bad way). Immature. Certainly some YA is "easy" and "light" compared to adult lit. But not all! It's serious literature, you gorram jerk!

Ahem-hem. Back to that YA novel I was writing...

Cassandra Mortmain said...

Holy cow! I totally missed that blog post, and I am really freaking annoyed by it. And I am normally such a fan of Roger!

There's some small validity to what he's saying- part of why I enjoy YA books, for example, is that they are quick and easy to read, and they don't MAKE me work to figure them out. They can also, usually, be relied upon to value narrative and plot in a way that high brow literary novels often don't-- but the same can be said of most of the classic Victorian novels that I studied in school and are held up as masterpieces. Which, honestly, is part of why I've always enjoyed Victorian lit as well, and also part of why I am attracted to genre fiction-- all of the aforementioned fields contain glorious writing and literary flourishes, but they can also be counted upon for PLOT. And I like plot!

That point aside though, what Roger fails to acknowledge with his "grow up" comment is that WHAT one choses to read and HOW one reads it are two VERY SEPARATE THINGS. I went on an ill-fated date lately with one of those "I believe everything the NY Times says about ART" people and although his recently read books were no doubt more "literary" than mine, I can guarantee you that he read No Country for Old Men with but a tiny fraction of the care, intelligence, analysis, acuity, and, yes, MATURITY with which I approach even fluffy books like Princess Mia.

I would not deem someone who reads Flannery O'Connor blindly because "that's what's done" any more inherently "mature" than I would deem someone who exclusively reads YA lit. What matters is HOW a person engages with their reading, not what they chose to read. As long as their brain is on, any reader is mature in my book.

Julie said...

Wow, that is weird, especially after you explained who Roger Sutton is. Then I was like, what the heck?? I've just come back to the world of YA and can't wait to keep exploring it. So no intentions of "outgrowing" it. I can't wait to be the mom who starts embarrassing her kid in the YA section of the library or bookstore!