Adults shamed online for reading young adult novels

By David Delaat


The year 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the first “Harry Potter” book. As a long time fan of the “Harry Potter” movies, this intrigued me and sparked an interest in potentially checking out the books that started it all. Yes, it’s true, I have never read the “Harry Potter” books. However, this sad fact is not the point of this article. This article is meant to discuss what my inquiry into the Harry Potter books led me to find.

As I began looking into the books online and perusing various sites listing everyone’s favorite book in the series along with a number of other divisive topics, I came across a few interesting articles. These articles suggested that adult readers should be ashamed of reading books which are considered Young Adult literature. This includes books such as “Twilight,” “Divergent,” “The Fault in Our Stars,” and, of course, “Harry Potter.” After reading through the articles, I found myself understanding what they were saying yet still in a state of disagreement. The basic point made in each one seemed to consist of stating that adults were above the childish plots of young adult literature and could better use this time to read books aimed at adults which had something of actual substance in their stories. Allow me to break down my thoughts.

First off, I would like to state that I agree with the point made arguing adults should spend time reading books aimed at their age group. Ideally, these would be classics along the lines of “The Great Gatsby” or “Anna Karenina.” Books like these undoubtedly have great significance and a lot to offer the reader, missing out on them would be a real shame. However, this does not mean one must limit themselves to these books simply because they are “too old” for other works of literature. Why shouldn’t an adult be able to sit down and read “Harry Potter” if they so wish? Just because a book is written with a certain audience in mind does not mean it cannot be enjoyed by someone outside that intended group. And besides, it’s not as if they’re sitting down to read “Green Eggs and Ham.” If this was the case, perhaps I could sympathize with the argument a bit more. As it stands however, I cannot support the notion that adults should be ashamed of reading young adult literature. Ashamed? That’s a little strong, is it not?

The last fact I feel is important to note is how I am not taking this stance as an offended lover of young adult literature. Quite the opposite, actually, as my recent inquiry into the “Harry Potter” books is likely the closest I have come to reading young adult literature in years. I, myself, am quite a sucker for the classics mentioned in the articles as being better suited for adults. Vladimir Nabokov’s works are a personal favorite of mine. Reading a good book is one of the great joys to be had in life, and that book can come in any form for any age.