Reader Poll

Okay readers and writers, I’ve got a question for you to help out another writer friend.  When you were a teen, did you actually read what was marketed as teen fiction or had you already bypassed that for adult fiction because the books marketed as teen fiction were written apparently well below your reading level and about characters who bore little resemblance to yourself (because of course YOU didn’t have the brain of an 11 year old and the hormones of a college student, did you?)?  Okay, bad me…that’s a biased question, and as a scientist I know better.  Perhaps a better question is this: What did you read as a teen (books marketed as teen fiction or adult fiction)?  If you read adult fiction, why did you choose that over teen fiction?

Please comment!  My friend is sharing these views with her editors.

7 thoughts on “Reader Poll

  1. Ok…I’ll bite. I read adult classics as a teen. I was very much into Shakespeare, Jane Austin, the Brontes, and English medieval and Renaissance history with real penchant for books about Anne Boleyn. I loved literature, day dreaming, and writing. Teen fiction is and was geared toward tweeners, but an ocassional light read found it’s way onto my book shelf.

    My vote is adult fiction rather than teen.

    Interesting poll, by the way.

  2. I’m probably not the best test case because my reading was heavily censored, even though I was a voracious reader. The librarian went to our church and would call my Mom at the slightest “inappropriate” books, and if I sneaked it past her, my Mom always took my books and read them first “so we could talk about it.” As a result, I never got to read Stephen King or Victoria Holt.

    25 years ago there wasn’t a lot of “teen” fiction anyway. I never read the babysitting club stories. I did read everything Walter Farley wrote well before junior high, but I’d still come back to them as “comfort reads.” I read the sweet trad Regency SHELF in high school. They tried to get me interested in Grace Livingston Hill (early inspirational romances) but UGH. Totally not my thing. I wanted Stephen King, but nope. I did read Shogun, Gone With the Wind, Godfather, etc. in high school. Godfather was for a class on contemporary issues, or they wouldn’t have let me read it either (especially if they knew about Sonny *g*).

  3. I read YA as old as age 11. A lot of books through the Scholastic book order thingy in school. Around that age I was also reading “classics” that sparked my interest and I also discovered Georgette Heyer’s “sweet” regencies. Between 11 and 14, probably the only YA I read was really good stuff like Madeline L’Engel. I’m pretty sure I discovered Harlequin around age 14 (1986, starting with the Gothic line), with real exciting romance that wasn’t just about accidental brushings, hand-holding, and culminating in tame peck kisses. Harlequins occassionally alluded to sex! Plus, the characters had much more dramatic emotions than the stilted YA I had been exposed to. The summer I was 15 (1987) I picked up Johanna Lindsey’s Hearts Aflame in a gift-shop while bored on a family vacation, my first full-length (historical) romance.

    So I’m not sure I’m the right demographic to ask. I’m not sure there was “teen” fiction when I was a teen, but judging from what’s available as teen fic now, I probably wouldn’t have read it. Everything then was very tame, mostly not well written, not very realistic or compelling in terms of emotional impact. The YA I’ve tried recently (excluding Stephanie Meyer) seems to feature characters who are vapid and annoying, and the books seem to rely heavily on stereotypes. And I don’t know how I’d feel about it as a teen, but as an adult the moralizing really pissed me off. I suspect that as a teen I’d only be more put off by that. Save it for the After School Special, thanks.

  4. I read everything, but in my teenaged years I tended toward adult books. I read Stephen King at age twelve, and at fifteen was reading Laurell K. Hamilton. However, I also at that time read Tamora Pierce. See? Everything.

    For the record, I’m twenty-two, so there was a decent selection of “YA” but nothing like what’s out now… although I can attest to having a same-aged friend who almost exclusively reads YA fantasy these days, just prefers it.

  5. I was reading more adult centered fiction by the time I was in grade 6. I didn’t like any of the YA books because the themes were too young for me or the writing too convoluted. That said, I did read YA sci fi or fantasy and classic fiction directed toward YA. But for the most part, I was reading more adult centered fiction. Everything from the classics to erotica and everything in between. I chose the adult fiction over the YA fic because it was better written, had more complex stories I could delve into and the people acted more like I expected people to act. Teen fiction really didn’t do anything for me but piss me off. 🙂

  6. I was a teen in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I lived in a dinky, po-dunk town, which had no book stores, a puny, dusty-shelved library in the basement of the bowling alley, and a school library on a nonexistant budget.

    I read Robin Hood, Never Cry Wolf (by Farley Mowat), a poorly-written YA mystery novel (the title escapes me now–go figure), and The Light in the Forest (Richter) in 7th grade.

    In eighth grade, I read The Red Pony (Steinbeck) and, if I remember correctly, a book about comedy, written by Steve Martin. I bought the Steve Martin book brand new and had to travel 50 miles to get to a bookstore to find it. I probably also read some comic-style books, like Garfield and Peanuts, etc… I suppose I fancied myself a comedic connoisseur in junior high.

    In high school, I discovered ancient Harlequin romance novels in my high school’s library. The covers of these little beuties featured people in 1960’s psychodelic miniskirts and head scarves, driving around in convertibles with gentlemen in Beatles-like business suits. In spite of the fact that I had to imagine my heroines in more modern clothing, I found myself smitten by the highly predictable plots: girl meets boy; girl dispises boy; girl discovers boy is wealthy and/or sensitive beyond belief; girl falls in love with boy; girl and boy confess their love and get married. Oooh! It doesn’t get better than that to a 14-year old living in Outer Mongolia (i.e. rural town with only a bowling alley for entertainment).

    That’s when I started buying Harlequins in earnest. Our town’s drug store kept a cylindrical display of Harlequins in stock. I read them so fast, that I remember looking through them and thinking, “Crap! When are they going to get a new one in! I’ve already read ALL of these!”

    Now I write teen romances. It was the romance genre that transformed me from a read-it-for-a-book-report-assignment teen to an avid reader, dying to get her hands on the next book. And although, like much of the literary industry today, I’m not at all impressed with Harlequin’s new take on e-publishing, I have much to thank them for. To them I owe my present love of reading. Before that, I was just another average student with average literary interests. Now I hold a degree in English Literature and hope to become an inspiring writer, myself, someday.

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