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I have always been a reader. Ever since my parents purchased my copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the English paperback Bloomsbury edition, I was hooked. In elementary school, I impressed the librarians by reading what my Grade 6 peers were reading at the end of Grade 3, so obviously I began to equate reading above your level as an accomplishment. So as a teen, I flitted about a bit, I read the Twilight saga — but before it was cool because of a savvy friend of mine whose family was drinking out of mason jars in the 90s — but other than that, I would have trouble identifying any teen books I stuck with until the end. Naturally, I slunk over to the adult section of the library, afraid I would be caught by an adult and told to go back to the reserved teen side. But this never happened; I was in luck! I was ready to read adult level books and no one was going to stop me. Now that I am no longer a teen, but am working for a bookstore, I appreciate YA (Young Adult Fiction) in a way that I never could back then. I thought I knew better than the characters in these books, I thought they were for babies. Frankly, I knew nothing, but that was then and this is now. My summer project has been to read teen books (Yay!) and I have had so much fun. Without further ado, here are five reasons that you should read YA in university.

1. There are so many options in teen books now!                                                          

There are wonderful stories with vivid characters that deal with real issues. One of the best books that I read this year is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. It deals with racial issues in America through a police officer shooting and killing the protagonist’s childhood friend. Shooter by Caroline Pignant is another good option, it deals with a high school shooting through five different narrators. This is a mixed media book that includes poems, song lyrics, assignments, texts, and regular prose.

2. YA includes ALL genres under one, nicely packaged roof                                              

I love regular fiction, but sometimes browsing through the various subsections can be tedious. Sometimes you’re looking for a thriller but you’re not sure whether that will be under general fiction or mystery, and you get frustrated. You want fantasy? Got it, A Court of Thornes and Roses by Sarah J. Mass is a place to start. This Beauty and the Beast type book is the first of a trilogy and features fairies, shapeshifters, terrifying beasts, depravity, and some romance thrown in for fun. There’s also With Malice, a thriller by Eileen Cook which deals with a summer trip to Italy that goes awry when a car accident leaves half of a friendship duo in a hospital bed and the other in the ground. Want romance? Try Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. Sci-fi? The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken.

3. There are so many cross media platforms that use teen books                                        

YA novels get turned into movies. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth, and The Maze Runner series by James Dashner are some examples. Plus, there is also a ton of extra merchandising alongside teen books, from colouring books to costumes, and special trinkets on Etsy; YA is now a creative bank to pull ideas from. Additionally, there are so many reviews out there now, if you want to check out some great blogs, there is Paper Fury, The YA Shelf, and The Petite Book Blogger. Also, for those of you who wish to invest more time reading the books yourselves, there are YouTube vloggers who are also excellent reviewers, such as Hailey in Bookland, Jesse the Reader, and A Clockwork Reader. These are some of my favourites, but find one that works for you, and watch out for spoilers!

4. YA books are easy, fun, quick reads.                                                                                   

If you take public transit to get to school what do you do when it takes at least 45 minutes to get anywhere? Do you sleep? Chat with friends? Well I read. Whether it’s for school or for pleasure, I almost always have a book in hand while travelling with the STM or RTM. Next time you’re just scrolling through your texts to see who you haven’t spoken to in a while, try Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler. This book follows the story of Min post-break-up explaining why she and her ex Ed broke up. The book is beautifully illustrated, and some might know Handler by his more well-known handle, Lemony Snicket. Or go for something more involved like Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows, a heist story about six teens with various abilities who are tasked with breaking into the highly protected Ice Court to kidnap a scientist who has created a life-threatening drug.  

5. The characters in teen books are often closer to our age than we are to 40-something characters          

Like it or not, the 20-30 year-old crowd is really popular on television, but often plays second fiddle to a mother character, or a prominent boss in a lot of contemporary fiction. Teen books feature teenage characters who are dating, going to school, working part-time, hanging out with friends, and finding their way in the world. While I loved to find out exactly what Cecilia Fitzpatrick’s husband’s secret was in The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty, I found myself better able to relate to Andie in The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson because she was dealing with the kind of stress I feel, the kind about school, friends, and boys.

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