Ruth Graham, a journalist with Slate, ignited quite a firestorm with her piece, “Against YA,” back in June. By claiming that adults should be embarrassed to read YA, Ms. Graham set off a backlash that ricocheted even into the hallowed halls of Booklist, ALA’s book review journal.
In the August issue, Michael Cart responded, taking Graham to task and demolishing her arguments one by one. Now, Mr. Cart is a long-time proponent, author, and reviewer of YA literature, so I knew he would have a great response.
And he did! I’m PROUD to read YA, too. But I do think he missed one point. Graham’s column lambasts adult readers of YA, insisting that they would be better served by reading literary novels written for grownups. But why can’t we read both? Why assume that because we read one, we don’t read the other?
Plenty of people read both – you can enjoy both Collins’s The Hunger Games and Atwood’s MaddAdam as a fan of dystopian fiction, for instance. Not to mention that the books Graham uses as examples are almost all popular blockbusters and not necessarily even YA literature. (Don’t flame me – I love John Green too, ok?)
Let’s not get into what constitutes a “good” book, okay? If Ms. Graham really only reads literature with a capital L, then I feel for her. There are plenty of wonderfully written YA books and plenty of poorly written adult fiction – Fifty Shades of Grey anyone?
But I don’t castigate anyone for reading what they choose. Reading is nutrition for the mind – and just as I don’t eat only organic vegetables and bran muffins, I don’t read only literary fiction. I might never have survived one absolutely terrible bout of the flu without Janet Evanovich, for instance. Sick in bed, miserable, and unable to even think about serious reading, Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books made me laugh out loud – and feel a lot better. Sometimes we need high quality protein and high quality literature in our diet, and sometimes you just really need a Krispy Kreme doughnut and some trashy genre fiction.
Let’s get over this need to classify books as “good” or “bad” literature. Did you enjoy reading it? Then for you, it was a good book. ‘Nuff said.