In the past month I’ve read exactly one “adult” book, and I gave up halfway through it. It’s not that I don’t like reading, I love reading – I’m on my 4th book this week. It’s that I find adult books boring.
I was musing on this while I browsed the book section at a local thrift store. Normally I start in the children’s and young adult section, but today I decided to give the adult fiction section a try.
Inevitably the book descriptions read something like this; “In 1944 during WWII main character fought in the war and met and lost the love of their lives before something tragic happened, and now years later Main Character is grappling with PTSD/ an unfulfilling marriage and adultery/ trying to reconnect with their estranged family. Main character also struggles with depression and alcoholism. This novel grapples with the depths of human emotion and tragedy. In about 300 pages, very little of consequence will happen and at the end you will be left feeling unfulfilled by the vague ending. You will feel compelled to praise this book to others to make yourself feel better about the time you wasted reading it.”
Obviously they don’t really read like that
or at least not that last part, but you get my point. I’ve read plenty of books like these in college or because I heard glowing reviews, and sure, there were a handful that lived up to hype and were good. But mostly they are, well, boring. Dense prose with characters that were pessimistic looks at humanity.
But in the children’s and young adult section you can find complex characters without sacrificing fun adventures. I know some people like to read for lots of different reasons, but I like to read because it’s fun. When I read books like the ones I described above, I don’t have fun. Often I’m told I should read certain books because they’re “important”. I do sometimes, but the ones that I find worthwhile are the ones that have something going for them beyond just being important. Take for instance, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It’s an important work because of its subject matter and because it’s seen as serious literature. But I think the reason it’s so powerful is because that’s not the only thing that this book is trying to accomplish. The messages do not overwhelm a good story with characters that we can feel invested in.
So I’m going to keep reading young adult and children’s books. If other people prefer other types of books, that’s okay. This is just my two cents on why I read what I read.
Stay magical readers!