I don’t just mean any old books.
Read Young Adult literature, because it helps us relate with one another. It reminds us that we are not young adults struggling by ourselves in a world that just doesn’t seem to sympathize or understand us, and that creepy men in their thirties know what strife we’re grappling with. Stories with happy endings give us hope, brightening the path to what now looks like a dismal future; meanwhile, stories where everything does not end up okay remind us that this world that we live in is imperfect. Not every loose end is tied, not every secret is revealed, and there are always many “what-ifs” left unanswered. But this genre of literature helps us angsty teens cope, situating its main characters and supporting characters in positions that feel familiar.
High quality YA literature centers on characters with defects and flaws that we each very well could be, and not perfect, beautiful people that we aspire to be but ultimately cannot be. These broken people will still be role models in a sense, whilst still navigating complex trains of thought within their minds to demonstrate just how unfinished their story is.
When you close the book, you’ll be left wondering how the rest of the peoples’ lives play out, but what I appreciate is that most YA books don’t follow their character’s lives to the very end, and in fact, being left wondering provides you, the reader with a wide variety of possibilities.
If you are a young adult, save the mature grownup books for when you’re a (questionably) mature grownup. Here and now, you’re still young, and it feels like you’ve got the rest of your life ahead of you. Yet you are comfortably situated in a period of your life where there’s a lot of freedom than you are comfortable with, but there seem to be so many possible paths your life could take. And YA augments this sensation because of all of the cheesy plot twists and dramatic “didn’t-see-that-coming” moments that we ought to welcome into our lives.
Keep the English books in the English classroom, and don’t treat this reading experience as a homework assignment, and if you don’t like annotating, then ditch the pen. It’s all about following a plot, and making mental notes to yourself, so that if you ever feel compelled to read the story again, you’ll approach it in a new light, and every re-reading seems like you’re reading it for the first time again. If you’re one of those students that constantly feels like they are reading too much into the text, then Young Adult literature is your outlet.
In a world where youngsters have grown up with their noses buried in their phones or their computers, it seems that we’re reluctant to part with technology. Well, put aside the Kindle and actually pick up a book. Crack the spine and take the time to read it somewhere where you can’t be bothered, like your bathtub or bed. Look at stains and bent pages not as nuisances, but rather signs of love and nurturing. That brown mark doesn’t really cover up words, but instead makes you think back to the time when you read something so humorous that you laughed, rocking back and forth, spilling your drink.
It’s not that we’ve grown out of reading, we just don’t read like we used to when we were more innocent and less stressed. We’ve found other leisurely activities and had less time to settle down with a thick book. But if we keep putting it off, will we ever get around to that magical feeling of getting lost in a book? Is it an activity so outdated that it’s worth abandoning?
Thanksgiving Break is approaching soon, and just shortly afterwards is Winter Break. What will you be doing?
I’ll probably be stressing about college, eating, not exercising, watching TV, and shopping. But I will definitely make time for my favorite coming of age novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
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