Then Please Tell Me What a “Real” Book Is…

Today was an annual event that happens at my day job, where our entire section of the company takes over a high school…and we proceed to have to listen to presentations on how to better ourselves and grow and blah blah blah.

Usually, this particular event is not anything worth me blogging about…or, honestly, talking about after we’re released from it. But something happened at lunch today that I can’t get out of my head.

Here’s an important thing to note about me: I’m basically semi-antisocial when it comes to eating lunch in cafeterias. I prefer to sit alone. And while I sit alone, I read (or write, if I’m actively working on a first draft).

At lunch today, the cafeteria at this high school was super crowded with the 700 people that were crammed into it, so a couple of guys ended up sitting across from me. No big deal. I’m pretty great at tuning out noise and talking and I just kept reading. About fifteen minutes before we were supposed to go to the auditorium for the large group session, I decided it would be a good time to stop by the bathroom, so I started packing up all my stuff.

And then THIS conversation happened between me and one of the random guys sitting across from me.

Random Guy (RG): What are you reading?
Me: Possess.
RG: *confused look*
Me: It’s…a Young Adult paranormal…
RG: *that look that I hate that asks me why the crap I’m reading YA when I’m in my twenties*
Me: …I’m a Young Adult writer.

Now, see. I’m used to that conversation. How that conversation usually ends is with the other person nodding understandingly…because, apparently, it’s only okay that I’m a twenty-something that reads YA because I also write it. (But whatever. Different rant for a different time.) Oh, no. THIS conversation continued.

RG: You know what I don’t understand? Why Young Adult has gotten so big.
Me: *stares*
RG: I mean, it’s all vampires and Harry Potter.
Me: *stares*
RG: They’re just page-turners. Just fast reads. I don’t get why people can’t read real books anymore.

Oh. No. He. Didn’t.

I didn’t even know what to say to this, so I ended up saying something about how they’re more exciting to read. And then I excused myself and left. (Of course, it was ten minutes later that I thought of a better response…about how Stephenie Meyer and JK Rowling are laughing all the way to the bank anyway.)

I just…there were no words. NO WORDS for how annoyed and…angry that comment made me.

I mean, first of all, I had JUST told him that I write YA. What made him think that was a smart thing to say to someone who WRITES YOUNG ADULT?

And, second of all…

“Real” books? “Real” books?

Please, tell me. What on earth makes a “real” book? Because…I mean…maybe I’m wrong, but isn’t a real book one that has characters and a plot and is published in some way, be it epub or traditional or otherwise? Isn’t a real book one that people take the time to read?

So what makes Young Adult stories not “real” books? Because they’re exciting? Because they’re typically pretty quick reads? Because they have a tendency to garner large, passionate followings?

It kills me when people say things like that. When they think that YA isn’t “real” just because they’re page-turners. YA can be just as deep and explore characters just as much as adult fiction. It’s not always “easy” to read and it’s definitely not “easy” to write. It takes emotional turns and curves and explores tough topics. It makes you cry and worry and panic and fear for the characters and just feel ALL THE THINGS. It makes you see the world around you in a different light and it makes you relate to that world differently.

What about all of that isn’t “real” enough for you?

3 comments

  1. A.M.Y-A says:

    I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve had conversations like this. It’s even better when they tell you that you don’t like “adult books” because you don’t want to face “adult issues.” I want to throttle someone!

  2. Michele Downey says:

    I’ve actually had almost that exact same conversation with people about the romance genre. I have come to the conclusion that people who “look down” on a particular genre are usually people who don’t read themselves. Had you asked RG what he does read, my guess would be something he was forced to in college.

    So, my point being that his comments say more about him being a douche than the YA genre on the whole. You get extra points for not Gibbs- smacking him, though :)

  3. Morgan Broadhead says:

    I’m sorry! Where I come from, if a book is considered a “page turner” and a “fast read”, that’s a really really good thing! It means the author did a great job creating tension and forcing the reader to keep turning pages to the end of the story, which is how a “real book” is defined! My guess is this guy’s idea of a real story is a quarter-page article in the latest issue of Penthouse.

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