Postcard For Reader + [young adult literature: the class]

Young Adult Literature: The Class (Day 2)

"I read about nerds, because I was one, but I was one because I read about them."

We kicked off class by talking about young adult literature as a genre now. (Like, right this very second. And this second. And the next few seconds as well, just to make sure.)

When we were asked what we read and why, the following was said:

"It could have bad grammar or poor styling, but if the characters were good..."

"Covers were, a lot of times, what attracted me to books."

"Who wants the pretty popular girl to get the guy? We want the underdog!"

"[The books I was reading] had a romanticized view of death. ... what the hell was I thinking!? [Death] isn't romantic!"

"Nobody told me what I should read. I wish I had been on better terms with my librarian!"

" 'I wanna be an adult!' I didn't want to be a teenager, even if the characters [in the adult books I was reading] were my age."

We came to the conclusions that a lot of people read as a form of escapism from the world around them. It works to their benefit, and it can help educate with a strange form of wisdom - it teaches us without being overly didactic. (Good literature should disrupt our way of thinking, or make us think!)

We also talked about how we all got our books from the library. (Libraries, my class is sending a lot of lovin' your way!)

The professor also talked about the "four major players" in creating young adult literature:

  • librarians (the new generation, not the old grumpy ones who have never read YA)
  • publishers
  • booksellers
  • authors

And how, conspicuously absent, is the best player of all: the reader. Our opinion is often discounted because, unlike adults, we can't be both the ideal reader and the publisher or the bookseller or the librarian.

Thankfully, the internet is changing that. (Apparently we'll be looking at how teenagers review things on Amazon, etc., and how that can change what's being put out. Eek!)

We also mentioned, briefly, about how the genre as a whole seems to be character based and issue driven. YA lit tends to talk about a social problem, and the characters are always teenagers. (Unlike in adult literature, where you can have teenage protagonists.)

Next week, we start discussing Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly, both as an historical artifact (what was life like then? the writing style?) and as a piece of literature ("formal features and thematic content")!

A Question For The Comments:

What books did you read as a teen? (Or, if you still are a teen, what are you reading now?) Why? How did you get access to them? Why were you drawn/repelled to them? What purpose did it/does it have in your social, emotional, and intellectual development?

Did you miss a class?
(Syllabus)
(Day 1)