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Author Topic: Adults should read actual literature  (Read 55886 times)
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« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2012, 8:50:10 AM »

A good book is a good book. The age classification imposed on it by the publisher doesn't affect my enjoyment.

This.  And what Voxy said.

The battle for mass absorption of high literature, in my humble opinion, has already been lost.  The article should not be "Adults should read actual literature", but rather "Adults should read".

If you see an adult lost in Hogwarts while stuck in coach, don't snicker.  Instead, you should smile.  That's one more human who is actually reading a book.  Any book.  A few decades from now life will consist of compulsive email checking, junk science, Fox News, and whatever shallow corporate progeny manages to arise from the ashes of Facebook.
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menotti
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« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2012, 9:12:56 AM »

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show/84171
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arizona
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« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2012, 9:18:44 AM »

I read all kinds of fiction--classics, literary fiction, high-quality mysteries, some graphic novels, young adult, etc. I wouldn't touch the Twilight books with a ten-foot pole, but that's because they're badly written and ideologically repulsive, not because a publisher decided they should be marketed to teenagers. Many books these days are marketed as "young adult" simply because they feature young protagonists and not because they're easy or full of txtspeak. Some YA books--Marcus Zusak's The Book Thief, for example, M. T. Anderson's The Secret Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, or Emily Danforth's recent The Miseducation of Cameron Post--are, in my opinion, as well-written and complex as anything being published for adults. For those of us with children, it is also nice to be able to share books together.
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bioteacher
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« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2012, 10:18:43 AM »

Larry, Santa is going to get you Goodnight Moon for Christmas.

When I fall into bed at the end of the day, I want to curl up with a book that I truly enjoy. If that book happens to be sold in the young adult section of the bookstore, that doesn't make my pleasure less real. Nor does it mean I lack intellect.

I'd read many of these books if I didn't have kids. But since I do, I also make an effort to sample what Bioson is reading. It's wonderful to see a kid reading a book somewhere and be able to make a comment about the story they are reading and who a favorite character is. I do that a lot. I make note of what my students are reading and ask them to tell me about the book. Often, it leads me to add volumes to my reading wish list. Other times, I can suggest other books in the same genre that I enjoyed and think they might like.

Not once in these discussions did I ask about the target age. Rather, I ask if the story is good. The latter matters much more to me than publisher classifications.
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mended_drum
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« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2012, 10:20:23 AM »

A good book is a good book.

This is my premise, and I read everything from children's lit (and I mean things like the Junie B. Jones series) to, well, medieval philosophy, and I'm not embarrassed about reading any of them.  Why shouldn't adults read YA novels?  It's entertainment, and I'm not going to judge anyone for it.  It also gives me plenty to talk about with the kids and young adults I meet, and I wouldn't give up the bonding we do over books just because someone might shake their head at me in an airport.  Frak 'em.  I like Boethius and Harry Potter.
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treehugger1
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« Reply #20 on: April 16, 2012, 10:25:57 AM »

Thanks for this thread!

All I can say is thank you for posting this. If only I had a nickel for every time someone has looked askance at me for failing to have read one of those books.

 


+1

Funny, I had assumed even J.R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings was literature for kids or adolescents. I read the series was I was young (in second grade, actually) and loved it, but couldn't imagine enjoying it now. I was stunned to see it become The Thing to Read among adults around the time the movie came out. But then again, I feel this way about the entire "Fantasy" genre.

I've never felt tempted by the Harry Potter series.
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« Reply #21 on: April 16, 2012, 10:33:25 AM »

Funny, I had assumed even J.R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings was literature for kids or adolescents. I read the series was I was young (in second grade, actually) and loved it, but couldn't imagine enjoying it now. I was stunned to see it become The Thing to Read among adults around the time the movie came out. But then again, I feel this way about the entire "Fantasy" genre.
I've never felt tempted by the Harry Potter series.
 

Lord of the Rings has been called  "Epic Pooh," and in a sense, I agree.  That said, Pooh is pretty good, and Lord of the Rings excellent.  There is a childish quality about those books, though: good vs. evil, clear moral lines, kingdoms with lots of noble nobles and no oppressed peasants, and everything works out in the end if your heart is pure. 

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« Reply #22 on: April 16, 2012, 11:07:07 AM »

I liked the HG movie better than the book.  But HG was better than the sort of Reacher and Jessie Stone stuff I read when I'm tired.  I think Heinlein's juveniles are better than his "adult" books, if there are any.  I loved Louisa Mae Alcott as a kid. 
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« Reply #23 on: April 16, 2012, 11:28:00 AM »

Adults donít read all kid literature.  The ones we do read we read for good reasons; they are superior products. The Harry Potter books are very good books.  They really are for all ages.  Some others like Twilight are not that well written.  Adults read Twilight because it is a fantasy that goes to something deep in the human psyche that has to do with mating and male female relations. I canít say they are good books; but the fact that they are so popular says something. A group of people sitting around a fire in an African village telling stories (assuming they are not all watching TV now), the same ones again and again, are those ďgoodĒ stories by our standards? Whether they are or not they have meaning to the people sitting around the fire.  The movies made in Nigeria, torrid melodramas full of fire and brimstone and heaven, are they ďgoodĒ? They are certainly popular. They speak to people.

I donít believe in leveling.  Jane Austen is a better writer than Georgette Heyer or Louisa May Alcott. Alcott is better than Heyer. Both are better than the Twilight author. But it is always worth looking at why something has value to a particular group of people and Twilight seems to have appeal across cultures. So does Harry Potter. Harry Potter I expect to become a classic that will be read by kids fifty years from now, unless it is banned for not being PC enough. Twilight, I donít think so. But I donít fault people for reading it.
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« Reply #24 on: April 16, 2012, 12:24:15 PM »

A good book is a good book.

This is my premise, and I read everything from children's lit (and I mean things like the Junie B. Jones series) to, well, medieval philosophy, and I'm not embarrassed about reading any of them.  Why shouldn't adults read YA novels?  It's entertainment, and I'm not going to judge anyone for it.  It also gives me plenty to talk about with the kids and young adults I meet, and I wouldn't give up the bonding we do over books just because someone might shake their head at me in an airport.  Frak 'em.  I like Boethius and Harry Potter.

This. Absolutely this.

One value in reading young adult literature is to have a shared cultural text with our students.

Yes. I'm reading the Harry Potter series with my kids this year, but I wish I'd started it years ago. It would have given me a number of ways to talk about literature with my students that most would have instantly recognized.

I just finished the first Hunger Games book. I liked it well enough on its own merits, but I also liked thinking about how the 15-year-old me would have responded to it. There were no Katnisses, that I knew of, when I was growing up. For better or worse, she's now a cultural icon, and I like knowing who she is.

I also like knowing who Huck Finn, Jo March, and Aslan are.

I can't wait to reread A Wrinkle in Time with my kids.

I won't read those vampire books, though.
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tinyzombie
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« Reply #25 on: April 16, 2012, 12:29:29 PM »

Adults donít read all kid literature.  The ones we do read we read for good reasons; they are superior products.

No (and you argues against yourself in your next few sentences).

Adults read kid lit because they want to.

And re: the premise of this thread, also no. Who does it hurt? I don't happen to like kids' books, unless I'm reading them with a kid, but I don't impose my preferences on others. (So, I chime with mended_drum and Dr_A.)

Dr_A, I can't wait until I have kids and can read Alcott and L'Engle with them!
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dr_alcott
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« Reply #26 on: April 16, 2012, 1:26:18 PM »

In the same Room for Debate series from which Joel Stein's piece (the one Larry links to in the OP), Lev Grossman explains the appeal of YA lit: "Nothing's Wrong With Strong Plot and Characters."
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« Reply #27 on: April 16, 2012, 1:59:34 PM »

Quote
The only time Iím O.K. with an adult holding a childrenís book is if heís moving his mouth as he reads.

Or if they're skimming through something before they give it to their child? Or a niece or nephew or a young friend?  Or to talk to a child about what they're reading?

Or if they teach children's or YA literature?

I mean, wow.  In the past six months, I've read the Game of Thrones books, the Hunger Games, some Auster, and Franzen's Freedom.  I also re-read several of the Harry Potter books, Our Mutual Friend, Middlemarch and The Canterbury Tales (in ME, natch).  A few days ago, I finished reading Wives and Daughters for the first time - I wholeheartedly recommend it.  

But as the semester winds down and the grading piles up, I usually finish my day with easy reading (detective fiction, sci fi or children's/YA lit) to help me fall asleep.

I read kids books because I love literature - no matter who it was written for.  And under certain circumstances, I love "bad" literature as much as I love the good stuff (police procedurals and crappy law novels are in my lineup as often as Dickens).  As someone who is ALWAYS reading, I find it odd that we'd declare that people "should" read one thing over another.  People should read.  As long as they read what they enjoy, I don't care what they're reading.

I can't imagine thinking of something like A Wrinkle in Time or From the Mixed Up Files... as not being "actual literature."  
« Last Edit: April 16, 2012, 2:01:29 PM by spectacle » Logged

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baleful_regards
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« Reply #28 on: April 16, 2012, 2:03:17 PM »

The genre of "crossover" lit is one of great interest. There are, of course, books written "for adults" which get moved into the YA category ( Catcher in the Rye) simply because they are used in High Schools. Same with Steinbeck and Grapes of Wrath. Even "fairy Tales" weren't invented for children, per se.

Often YA novels deal with transitions, self discovery, and the shades of grey that reveal themselves as we age and realize that everything is not as clear cut as it all seems. I believe that these themes continue to appeal to us regardless of age.

I've always been a whorish raven when it comes to literature.  As such, my shelf is filled with "YA" and children's books (Click Clack Moo is a particularly clever take on labor relations and unions). Books written for children don't have to be "less" sophisticated. The Giver is quite sophisticated in its premise - as are the follow up books in that series.  Ness' Chaos Walking series is, quite honestly, one of the best written series I've read in AGES.

Gaimans' works are beautiful examples of lit that works on several layers, depending on through which lens you read. For instance, Graveyard Book is a pretty deep meditation on life and death, and the distinctions in between. It's also a riff on Kipling's Jungle Book (another crossover).

My bugaboo is when the literature gets "tamed" due to concerns adults have about "appropriateness".  I want to administer a strong poke in the eye when that concern gets bandied about.

« Last Edit: April 16, 2012, 2:04:41 PM by balefulregardss » Logged

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london1
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« Reply #29 on: April 16, 2012, 2:12:08 PM »

Baleful's post reminds me that I have not re-read my Anderson's or Grimm's fairty tale collections lately.  Must do so.

I still have my original copy of "The Wizard of Oz" and I re-read it every now and again.  Not sure if it qualifies as a children's book or not.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2012, 2:13:27 PM by london1 » Logged

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