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More Adults Reading YA

The Los Angeles Times said yesterday that more and more adults are reading YA or Young Adult books. The article cited the reasons as word-of-mouth (Twilight), awards (Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian), movies (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightening Thief), the "mother test" (What I Saw and How I Lied), and the jump-start given to the genre by Harry Potter. Adult readers like the fast pace of YA books and the openness of the characters. Because YA is aimed at a group of people who have many distractions from reading, the plot must move along, the characters have to be real, and the opening needs to grab the reader by the collar from page one.

It's what all good books should be, of course. I used to tell my high school students that textbook writers got a bonus for making stuff boring. Sometimes it feels like many writers of adult books do the same. Personally, I'm glad teens don't put up with superfluous detail in books, 'cause I like my reading straightforward and stripped-down too. Elmore Leonard says to leave out the stuff people skip. It's one of the most engaging qualities of YA - lean writing. If you haven't in a while, read a book today that's "high school skinny." Let me know if you need recommendations. There are so many that I love.

Posted in March, 2010

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