I can’t help writing about the whole world of literature, may it be about a reader’s snobbery or book reviews. Recently however, my mind has been filled more with thoughts on the war between literary fiction and genre fiction as well as the reading habits of individuals. I might be on the verge of starting a trend here at Gathering Books. Oh well.
I have the UK’s guardian bookmarked in my computer for news on literature. However, recently I decided to check the NY Times book section and on one of those visits I stumbled on this article by Pamela Paul called The Kid’s Books Are All Right which discusses the joy of reading kid/YA Literature.
Admittedly, Gathering Books houses adult fiction and its administrators/writers are all well past the teenage years. Let’s face it: JK Rowling converted everyone into the world of YA literature. I suppose, for most, Harry Potter series was a defining moment in literature. While most of us have read a good amount of children’s literature, majority of children’s literature back in the 90s were classics or picture books (yeah, yeah, I’m almost 27). Harry Potter led to the proliferation of serials like Artemis Fowl, Percy Jackson, Twilight, and the most recent Hunger Games. What is interesting to note is that English Majors, serious readers, and even respected writers are forming book clubs discussing the merits of YA literature (and yes, they do have merit).
While not directly mentioned in her article, in the accompanying podcast Ms. Paul makes an interesting discussion on how majority of new fiction are literary fiction, less plot driven. She makes a comparison of how the latest fiction would discuss drinking coffee for 15 pages, while a book like Hunger Games would have led you to 10 districts in the same number of pages. I have to agree with her in this respect. Among the authors/contributors in this blog, I have reviewed more General Fiction than YA fiction, but I do have a YA pile waiting for me to dip into it – at any point I experience reader fatigue. YA novels are refreshing, less cynical and plot driven. The whole process of beginning, rising action, climax, and denouement is present in YA literature while for most literary fiction these parts of the plot are blurred (assuming they have a plot). Moreover, as the article puts it: “A lot of adult literature is all art and no heart,”
I’m loosely following the news in the world of literature, but with the little I know, I realized how everything is so tightly intertwined. The popularity of YA literature has sustained publication companies and maybe even bookstores. It’s also making seasoned authors more current as authors like James Patterson, Carl Hiaasen and John Grisham cross the genre line into YA literature. It also points back to the existing debate on literary fiction and genre fiction (plot-driven literature). I haven’t read any of the more popular YA literature with the exception of Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl, but having read a lot of Newbery Honor Books, I realize the simplicity by which a story is delivered is much needed after a dive into the abyss of literary fiction.
There are people who are snobs to YA literature—it’s too juvenile or too Twilight, but I do believe that YA literature deserves the same shelf space as any Murakami, Rushdie, and Mitchell. I did turn up my nose on Twilight (sorry twilight fans I tried reading it, I just couldn’t get past the writing style), but I enjoyed reading about Eoin Colfer’s boy genius, JK Rowling’s Sorcerers, and Bosch’s Survivalists. I think the secret to appreciating YA is to revisit ones love for stories and to search for the YA book that speaks to you. I don’t believe in joining the bandwagon of popular YA. There’s a YA book for every person and believe me once you’ve read one you’d find yourself buying a few YA literature for reading retreats in between adult literature.
I have nothing against literary fiction as I am a fan, but I also believe in plots. I’m quite democratic you see, always saying give a genre a chance (if you hate it, then find solace in the fact that your hate is founded). Do you read YA literature? Which ones are your favorites? What makes you read it? Share your YA literature experience. I’m a tad curious on the YA literature market.