Who reads YA?


The other day I was in my local bookstore (ha-ha nothing new there) and I was perusing the Young Adult section. Another lady, roughly the same age, stood next to me staring at the same books. Every now and then she’d give me a sidelong glance. I thought maybe she needed some assistance in making her choice. So I offered my advice.

“I just finished reading this” I said, holding a top seller in my hand.

“It’ s a really great story if you’re looking for something new to read” I offered.

“Oh I’m not looking for, me my niece is turning thirteen, so I thought I’d look in the teen section,” she said with some undertones of judgment pulsating in my direction.

We continued to have a pleasant conversation and discussed what her niece did and didn’t like. After vetoing a few suggestions the lady happily left with my recommended books of “Fangirl” and “Eleanor and Park” (hello, commission please).

As she exited the store, smiling, my shoulders dropped slightly, did I belong in the YA section? I felt I suddenly needed a story, a rouse, or an alibi for why I, an adult, would be looking in the teen section. I don’t think I’m alone in this dilemma as according to a study by Publishers Weekly 55% of YA readers are adults and 28% of those are aged between 30 -44.

Since the largest purchasers of books are in this age bracket, maybe bookstores should make the YA section more welcoming to this demographic. Is this the reason for the popularity of eBooks in this age group (40%)? Anonymity. What do readers without an eReader (me) do, lurk in the shadows, with a trench coat, hat and dark glasses. I think the simple answer is for bookstores to change their signage from YA to YA and Crossover.


Do you feel guilty standing in the YA book section as an adult?


31 thoughts on “Who reads YA?

  1. I always thought I wouldn’t like YA books, and never even bothered to look at them. I’m an adult of 68. However, I’ve just read an eBook by A. Moran-Soley called ‘The Lost Heirs: The first story of Eshla’ and it captivated me from the start. I don’t really know why I never gave them a chance before, as I love the ‘Harry Potter’ and ”Lord of the Rings’ films. I’m not sure I would feel comfortable looking at that section in a store though.

  2. I don’t think you should ever feel guilty on what you read. I bustle my way into the YA section and own it until I leave 😀 I may be in my twenties, but I enjoy stories, no matter what age they are ‘supposed’ to be aimed at!

  3. I’m not convinced that I know what YA is as a genre reallly – it seems to be a catch-all that includes books very specifically about teen romance and other stuff that I can only categorize as ‘less offensive than a lot of stuff that’s supposedly for “adults” ‘. But maybe that’s not catchy enough as a genre title…

    • The content can vary so greatly that sometimes i wonder whether publishers read the books at all.I’d lol I’d love to see that title it would bring a smile to my face. i was in a new bookstore last week and all the section were labelled after coffees “Mocha” “Cappuccino” etc. I had no idea what was what.:)

  4. I hear about this so much! Luckily, most of my friends also read YA, so I’m not as embarrassed about it around them. I think Crossover is a good title, but beyond the age of the protagonist, what is making these books strictly YA anyway? I think we can all agree that they have far reaching themes and messages!

  5. I don’t think you should feel weird. You’re right, a lot of adults read YA. I’m actually more concerned that I don’t see boys in the YA section and all those pink books and girls in puffy dresses don’t help either. Boys avoid YA like the plague. Yet it’s supposed to contain choices for them too.

  6. I do sometimes, though I read more middle grade than YA. Stories are made to be shared with everyone, no matter your age. To me, demographics are just kindly suggestions, but that doesn’t mean we have to abide by the recommendations of society. There is so much to learn from books written at every level. We shouldn’t feel weird, but we do. I feel your pain.

  7. I do worse than read YA….I also still occasionally read some of my old elementary school books! LOL! Of course I read plenty of “adult” books but I do read YA, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Who cares what other shoppers think? 🙂

  8. I’m 39, and although I do read young adult, I tend to read more adult because there is little ‘true’ young-adult urban fantasy. I use my library a lot, and it was a more embarrassing when I ordered 10 adult paranormal romances and was served by a male librarian….. I must admit, though, when I scan the young adult section at the library, I do feel as though the school kids are eying me suspiciously…Before I found Goodreads, I read young adult almost exclusively because the covers grabbed my attention and I didn’t know I could order anything I wanted from the library lol. It’s weird, I always felt strange being over 30 and being a gamer, but nobody thinks twice about authors my age writing about teenagers. And that’s a good thing 🙂

    • Good point about the writing YA, I mean as a writer you have to do your research ergo read YA. Luckily adults don’t feel awkward writing teen novels or there would be none on the shelves.:)

  9. I’ve always figured a book is a book is a book. I don’t discount a book because of what section it’s in, but because of the type of story it contains. There are some plot lines I’m just not interested in reading anymore, but it doesn’t matter if i find them in the adult section, the teen section, or wherever, I don’t read them wherever they are. If, on the other hand, the story contains a plot-line that I find acceptable, or interesting, I’ll read it no matter what section it’s placed in.

  10. I think I would, but then as a 68 year old male I’d probably pronounced ‘weird’ and be ejected anyway. Do I read them? Well yes, now and then, but I read anything ‘now and then’. Their plots seem to me to be repetitive and don’t remain in my memory for long. Am I a book snob?

      • YA is the G rating of the movies, and I love kid’s movies! Many readers are looking for books that aren’t loaded with profanity and overdone, gross violence and erotica. Saying that, I’m getting ready to release a another YA series, but I have written what would be an R-rated novel. Yes, I had to give voice to my characters, using words that I personally would not say. My R-rated book is for a crusade, however, domestic abuse and date-rape drugs. My Paranormal Crime Series is age/language appropriate for YA. It deals with missing children, another crusade. I find more truth in fiction than exaggerated nonfiction. lol

  11. I agree with lorellepage above. Our library has the YA section facing all the seats. So all the real grown ups are sitting there reading the newspaper and other boring stuff, and I’m perusing the teen romances! Meanwhile, my kids are running havoc in the children’s section so I’m whisper-yelling to them at the same time. I do feel a bit like an idiot, but I don’t let that stop me. I love ebooks, but I like to see the books in paper, too.

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