Reader Spotlight: Guest Post by @sofiaecasanova

My Changing Perspective as an Adult Reading YA

You know, I didn't think I'd aged that much until I recently celebrated by twenty first birthday and I realised I was no longer a teenager. I'm. Twenty. One. How did that happen? It feels like I aged faster than the speed of light and now I'm no longer the dancing queen.
But has that changed the fact I read YA? Heck no. But has it changed how I view my reading of YA? I think so. There's something so comfortable about reading YA, and having studied some creative arts subjects in university, adult literature is sometimes too difficult for me to wrap my head around. Most days I want to curl up with a YA book and feel at ease with soft romances, cool sci-fi operas, or a fantasy world where people have magic because who doesn't like magic? 

Since becoming an adult, I felt a sudden pressure to read adult literature such as literary and historical fiction, non-fiction or the classics. Not following the Stella Prize or Man Booker Prize shortlists felt like a crime, even though those books are phenomenal. As belittling as this perspective may be (and how close I have come to socking someone in the face for telling me YA is inappropriate for me to read), it's important to remember that people will enjoy a variety of books in their reading life. And while I do enjoy other genres, YA has always been my go-to genre because, quite simply, I love reading it.
But now all I can think to myself is: Am I allowed to read YA anymore? Have I changed too much to read YA? Here is how I now tend to view YA since entering the realm of adulthood. 

Instead of immersing myself as the protagonist, I start to feel nostalgic.
There is a level of escapism that comes with reading YA. Maybe it's the idea of a world divided by factions, or a place where AI's take over a space ship and have you question your morals *cough* Illuminae *cough*. I know for sure if I were in The Hunger Games, I'd be the first to go. Just take away my glasses and I have nothing going for me.

Or maybe it's the first time getting drunk, or holding someone's hand, or having your first kiss after saving the world from a zombie invasion. It's these moments that give me that warm fuzzy feeling of contentment rather than heart palpitations. I only really started reading YA contemporary and SFF this year, and if anything, they brought me back to reading and reminded me of who I used to be. The nostalgia is real, yo.  

The thought process behind decision-making is so different compared to adult literature and that's what's awesome.  
I'll usually find myself covering my eyes to hide from second-hand embarrassment or gripping the pages screaming internally because young protagonists make decisions that 21-year-old Sofia never would. These decisions are, more often than not, reckless, irrational or sometimes insane, and that's what's so beautiful about them. 
I recall Randa Abdel-Fattah saying at #AllDayYA that those things we feel at sixteen or seventeen are so intense and new and we experience so many things for the first time. We never get those moments back and while these characters are wading through this uncertain time of their lives, we're making slight connections to our own lives. It's incredible. 

Of course, there's always that awkward moment when I agree with the parent instead of the teenager.
I feel like a backseat driver with these characters sometimes, especially when the protagonist sees their parent as a problem. I totally get that perspective because that used to be me, but now, all those strict rules on alcohol, drugs and curfews make sense. Or I've actually aged 100 years and I'm now babbling incoherently about agreeing with my parents. They are right sometimes, you know. 

While I am no longer the target audience, I feel no shame in reading YA.
Long gone are my days of being seventeen and experiencing high school drama, even if they do feel like yesterday. Rather than feeling like YA is for me, I've placed myself in a situation where YA is a genre I can read among others like sci-fi, fantasy, literary fiction, etc. There is no shame in enjoying YA; there are a lot of adults who read it and it's a dominating genre in my book collection. 

YA novels make great page-turners and bring forth a strong collection of voices and literary masterpieces.
There are some fantastic voices in YA that might not be found in adult or middle grade literature. We just celebrated the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and look at the profound impact of that series on so many readers to this day. Other amazing stories like The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak, The Mortal Instruments trilogy by Cassandra Clare, The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and Cassandra Jean. The list goes on, and where would some of us be without these stories? 

So maybe I do agree with my parents sometimes and I enjoy reminiscing on being seventeen. But there is no right or wrong book for you to read. If you enjoy the classics, go for it. If middle grade is your thing, read the heck out of it. And if YA is your go-to genre like mine, then why stop reading it? We change as people and the books we read will impact us no matter what age we are. Reading is an experience and it's amazing to see how many new stories we get to indulge in every day. 

You can find Sofia @ The Literary Casanova, Goodreads, Instagram and Twitter

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