We Are All 14-Year-Old Girls

Publishers Weekly says that grown women are, increasingly, reading YA fiction. Yeah, we know. (Hides 'Twilight' under mattress.)

The enduring lure of the YA is no secret to the Jez community; see "Fine Lines", where the genre gets its due. (By the way, "Fine Lines" is coming back next Friday.) Harry Potter has long since made it acceptable to read a juvie title on public transport, and the Twilight phenom is not news. But it seems to have opened the floodgates: according to the PW article, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is another big crossover hit, as is Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games. Both of these deal with decidedly "adult" themes, but with the energy and optimism of YA prose.

We keep reading that the economy's prompting nostalgia and comfort reads, so it's not a shocker that people should return to old favorites - or even just want to return to a time when problems were simpler and you could throw yourself completely into a book. Lately, my reading seems to be evenly divided between Serious and Escapist; Simone Weil and a charming novel called the Tea Shop Girls. Comfort reads need not be cozy, though; sometimes the comfort comes from the sense that, however scary - see the forces of evil in Harry Potter or His Dark Materials - the fight will be won, problems are controllable, and more to the point, within the reader's hands. Invariably the protagonists of these books have the power to change things. Important developmental lessons for young people, but no small comfort to adults in times when we feel like the Gayles' house just before Munchkin Land.

One funny point the PW article makes is that the adult women buying these books are greedy: they tend to buy whole series at a time, unwilling to wait between books. I get it - we can afford to do this now, and know to seize our pleasures where we find them - but I wonder if we're not missing some of the point. After all, when you're younger time moves slower; don't you want to make the illusion complete?


Adult Readers In The Kids' Section
[Publishers Weekly]