As somebody who has just turned 20, is in their final year of university and about to head off into the big wide world without a safety net to catch them I always feel like I should be growing up a lot faster than the rate that I am. Not just in life and paying bills, getting a job etc but everything else.
I recently just got back from a holiday and whilst reading by the pool I tried to explain the plot of the book I was reading to my boyfriend who in return told me that I should be reading more ‘adult’ things and not living in a fantasy world – he said all this as a joke but it got me thinking. Am I getting to old for my books?
Reading for enjoyment
As we get older our tastes change. Despite still singing along to a Busted or Spice Girls song, it isn’t the music I still listen to now. Our tastes change in everything from food to clothes, and as we get older the type of books we read will change depending on our age.
When growing up we read depending on our ability and transition from Cat in the Hat to Jacqueline Wilson books to The Hunger Games. But once we reach our top reading capability we stop reading to get better at it and start reading for enjoyment. So if we enjoy reading young adult literature then surely it shouldn’t matter how old we are if we are enjoying the book?
Can we grow out of books?
But the Young Adult genre is such a tricky one. The main characters can range from the age of 14 to 20+ with the average age usually being 17/18. Most people when they read contemporary literature can usually relate to the characters in some way or feel for them, so does this mean that the older I get the less I will relate to the 16 year old in a love triangle?
I know this is different for the likes of fantasy, dystopian etc but the more we relate to things or agree with something/dream of something happening to us the more likely we are to like it. Romance films always see the characters in love at the end because that’s what we want for ourselves in life – a happy ending. So when I’m 25 will I not care for the high school friends pulling pranks on each other? Can we grow out of the young adult genre like we did with picture books when we got older?
The pressure to act our age
Also the older we get the more responsible we are expected to be. The is a stigma around things that we do from the clothes we wear to the things we drink – having a Sex on the Beach cocktail is fine when you’re 20 but when a 60 year old man orders on for himself it’s a bit weird – surely he should be on the whiskey. Society is full of stigma and if you were reading Fifty Shade of Grey on the train you were bound to get looks no matter what your age.
We all judge people and we are bound to be looked at differently if we are reading a classic book such as Pride and Prejudice than one with two teenagers kissing on the front. So even if we still enjoy reading the young adult genre we can be forced to pick up something more “age appropriate” by society.
But none of this should stop us
I admit that I am enjoying more New Adult books at the moment but this doesn’t mean I don’t love YA still. Despite the pressure from society or the idea that we should read more age appropriate stuff as we get older, doesn’t mean we have to.
Although as we get older we might explore different genres and start to enjoy other types of book there is no age limit on novels. It may not be advised to read erotica at the age of 15 or weird reading a children’s book at the age of 40 it shouldn’t mean we can’t.
Children’s books are still being read by adults all over the world such as War Horse or Harry Potter and yet because of the high standing they have in society it is ok to read them no matter how old you are. So what’s stopping me reading young adult until I’m 50? Nothing! You are never too old to read young adult – all that matters is that you’re reading!
What are your thoughts on age limits on books? Do you think you will always read young adult books even as you get older or will you stop and read more “age appropriate” books with characters the same age as you? Let me know your thoughts.
Ems is book blogger who has been running her blog since 2015 with the intention of blogging about her reading experience, book reviews, hauls and discussions. Books with Ems has over 200 followers and is updated regularly with all sorts of bookish delights.