As I may have mentioned in an earlier blog, I became a hard-core reader in high school. When I was little, my mom read to me and I loved our book times, and while I still enjoyed reading in elementary and middle school, reading began to take on the flavor of homework. The books I generally read during that time were occasionally enjoyable (I recall loving The Root Cellar, My Side of the Mountain - I was convinced that I, too, could live in a super-cool tree house - and The Face on the Milk Carton), but enjoyable or not, they were required and that took most of the fun out of the experience for me.
This all changed in high school when my mom got me The Mark of the Lion series; I've been reading non-stop ever since. Back then I read Christian fiction - Lori Wick, Francine Rivers, Linda Chaikin, Angela Elwell Hunt, Robin Jones Gunn, Dee Henderson, Linda Windsor, and many more - and only Christian fiction. I got a job at 16 and all my money went to my savings account, food, and Light 'N Life bookstore. I was insatiable and these were the books I knew.
These were all adult books. I never read any Young Adult books while I was technically a young adult. If they were out there, I didn't know about it. The people in my circle of reading friends read the same things I did. There were no Edward verses Jacob discussions in the school halls. The first Harry Potter books were coming out at that time, but I only knew about them from the kids I was babysitting. YA books were not on my radar and wouldn't be for several years.
Harry Potter was my YA Gateway book. After watching everything available at Blockbuster one summer when I was home from college, I finally grabbed the first HP movie because I was bored and needed something to watch. I loved it. I loved the magic, the fantasy, that castle - it stirred my imagination in a way that hadn't happened since I read (on my own time) The Chronicles of Narnia as a kid. I ripped through the first four and finished them a few months before the 5th book came out.
Twilight was my next major foray into the YA world. I found this well after I'd graduated from college. I discovered it through Facebook - everyone was talking about Bella and Edward and Jacob and I finally realized they were discussing a book. So I went to my library - my haven in my post-high-school, no-money days - and tried them out. (Let me revise that, I went online to put a hold on the book and waited a month or two before I moved up in the queue enough to get ahold of the book.) Like the Harry Potter books, I ripped through these as well. There was something about them, something indefinable, that drew me in. It may have been the fantasy, or the drama, or the angst, I'm not sure, but like many before me, and many since, I was hooked.
Since Twilight, I've ventured much further into the world of Young Adult novels. I look for the same thing in these books, though, as I do in my regular adult reads - some kind of escape and preferably a solid and happy ending. (As far as I'm concerned, happy endings can't be guaranteed in life, so my books better have them. I have enough problems and my books don't need to bum me out.) I've stuck mainly to the Fantasy YA - I'm sure the other types are perfectly fine, but I don't necessarly care to read about the trials and tribulations of a teenager's life. Puberty has stopped making my life all squirrely, and I don't care to return to that head space. But I do like the action, adventure, and fantastical elements of the YA Fantasy books. Sure, they still have the squirrely hormone stuff, but with unicorns! I don't recall who said this in class, but it's true - these books are generally fast paced and get quickly to the point. I can get through one lickety split and be ready for more. My main problem with the genre (and it certainly isn't exclusive to YA) is that some authors jump on the vampire or whatever bandwagon, and crappy books are published and sold to the teeming hormonal masses.
So whilst I was proud of my adult reading habits as a teenager, I have now joined that special group of grown-ups who read kid books. And I'm darn proud of it!