"The only thing more embarrassing than catching a guy on the plane looking at pornography on his computer is seeing a guy on the plane reading “The Hunger Games.” Or a Twilight book. Or Harry Potter. The only time I’m O.K. with an adult holding a children’s book is if he’s moving his mouth as he reads.You can find the full article here.
I’m sure all those books are well written. So is “Horton Hatches the Egg.” But Horton doesn’t have the depth of language and character as literature written for people who have stopped physically growing."
I kind of agree with him, at least as far as my own reading goes; I don't judge people for what they read but I do cringe a little too when a grownup tells me I should read a book written for a 10 year old. And I'm sure it's a wonderful book. Really, I am. I have nothing but respect for the passion of YA and children's authors, booksellers, librarians and readers. But I'm not going to read the book.*
When I was a teen there was very little YA literature- nothing like what there is today. When I finished with middle-reader chapter books I had these choices:
- science fiction,
- Sweet Valley High,
- adult books.
- I haven't read that much and
- I'll get flamed for a thousand years,
Maybe the difference is perspective. Books written about growing up from an adult perspective, for an adult reader, often have a little bit of maturity to back up the melodrama, and a little maturity goes a long way. These books don't just recount the horrors of adolescence but try to understand how those experiences made the grownup the person he or she has become. As adult myself I appreciate that insight. I find it missing in books that are more inwardly focused and focused on the moment of growing up, before insight is achieved. I think of books like Asta in the Wings, or Me and You, or The Heart is a Lonely Hunter as great coming of age stories lacking in excessive melodrama. I understand that teens need fictional characters to relate to, especially those teens with chaos and dysfunction in their lives. I am glad that kids have books that show the pain of childhood, jagged edges and all, so they know that whatever they're going through, they're not alone. And if that helps you, great. I wish I had some of those books when I was a kid, and today you have lots of choices. But I don't need to be dragged back into that.
I think I don't read YA because it feels like going backwards. I want to move on in my life and I want my reading to reflect where I am now, not where I was when I was 15. I wonder if that may be what Stein was really getting at but didn't say. It's not a matter of the quality of the writing or the craft or the complexity of the ideas. It just seems weird for grownups to be so stuck on childhood. If you like angst, grownups have plenty too. Why not read novels about middle aged angst? I can give you some suggestions if you need them.
That said, what you read is your business and I respect differences in taste and have no wish to shame anyone for their reading. But we may have to agree to disagree on this one.
*unless it's a bona fide phenomenon and I have to read it for work. In which case I'll love it and hand-sell it with wild abandon.