This Is Teen is once again promoting “I Read YA” week, and as a YA author I salute and support their effort. YA is a vital and important part of our literary landscape.
I do read YA. But not much. I’ve read maybe half a dozen YA novels over the past year, mostly books written by friends of mine. The bulk of my fiction reading lately has been adult or middle-grade novels.
You would think that as a YA writer, YA it would be my reading of choice, but the truth is that I kind of avoid it these days. I blame it on the year 2007, and the National Book Awards.
In 2007, I was a judge for the NBA Young People’s Literature award. During one five month period I read more than two hundred books for young readers. About two thirds of them were YA novels. A lot of them were pretty good. Several of them were amazingly good. I read books that year that changed the way I saw the world. Some of them might even have made me a better person.
And because my job was to judge, I had to read a bunch of them two and sometimes three times, and I had to think about them, and discuss them at length with the other judges—four very smart and insightful and earnest writers who made me feel simultaneously inadequate and proud.
At the end of that marathon I was left with an abiding respect for our nation’s YA authors...and a fierce desire to read anything but YA.
I still write for Young Adults. I still love and respect YA literature and those who write and read it. I still tell people they should read YA. But I kind of burned out on it back in 2007, so I’ve been reading other stuff.
A couple weeks ago the Children’s Book Review asked me to write a post about the “Best New Young Adult Books.” I had nuthin. I am as ignorant as Ruth Graham when it comes to what’s currently happening in the YA sphere. So I wrote a post about some of the best YA and middle-grade books of 2007 that didn’t make to the NBA final slate. I bet there are some books there you never heard of.
Whew. I feel so much better now.