I was never ashamed of my love for YA literature until I entered college as an English major.
In high school, I was one of the few students in my school who read on a regular basis, let alone enough to make the teachers lecture me on why I cannot read in class. So, anything I read was okay. I was reading, and reading a lot, so no one but me wanted to judge what I read. Or, if they were judging, they were keeping their opinion to themselves.
Then, I got to college. Becoming an English major was an easy decision. I was an avid reader, a creative writer, and an all-around bibliophile. English was the only thing for me.
In the midst of the crazy amount of reading I had for classes, I still found some time, however limited, to read the books I was interested. Most of the time this means YA literature. I remember the first time I went to a holiday party for the English department, and everyone was talking about how they were hoping to catch up on some reading over winter break. Most were reading classics or the newest literary release. Someone asked me what I was planning on reading, and when I told them the name of the YA books I had waiting on my shelves at home, they stared at me in confusion.
I quickly added, “They’re just some YA books I have lying around. I just wanted some light reading for break.”
“What’s YA?” one of them asked me.
“Young Adult literature.”
With this, they nodded and kept talking about the books they would be reading.
I didn’t mention the YA books that I loved for a long time after that. Whenever I did bring them up, usually with friends and people I trusted, the conversation often went towards how they didn’t like YA literature, as if it is all the same.
It took me a long time of sitting with these thoughts and interactions to realize that the shame I so often felt for reading YA literature was ridiculous. I remember one interaction in particular, when I had just had enough, and when a professor asked me what I was reading, I told them the title of the book, and upon their confused look, I said, “It’s a YA novel. YA literature is kind of my thing.”
With this, I had claimed it as my own. There was no judgment they could put on me, because I had embraced it. To my surprise, this actually elicited a genuine interest in my interest in YA. I then got to talk to them about why I loved it so much, why it meant so much to me and to others, and the community that was built around YA literature. It was a great conversation, and since then, I’ve had many more like it, all because I chose to embrace it as part of my reading identity instead of shying away from it.
Sometimes, I can tell that fellow English majors still judge my reading choices, but since I’ve decided to embrace my reading choices, I have actually found more English majors who also enjoy YA literature, who often tell me they have felt the same way and also kept quiet about their reading habits because they felt others judging them.
So, fellow English majors and fellow YA readers, embrace your reading choices, whatever they may be. And for the love of god, do not judge what others read. Its their life, let them read what they damn well please.
Until next time,
Your Pemberley Reader