Why I Read Like a Pre-Teen Boy

The other day, Alex wanted to go on up to our local library and get a card. So we hopped on the scooter and scooted on up to the local library. While he was getting his card, I meandered on over to my usual section- the Young Adult section. Just to give you a picture of the teen section, it’s a separate brightly painted room, with neon lights and disco balls, display cases with books about vampires, and signs on the table that say, “For Teens Only”. It doesn’t have a “Parents Keep Out” sign yet, but it’s possible that it’s in the works.

To my great surprise and annoyance, on this particular day, the young adult section was full of young adults. I usually go to the library in the mornings before work, so there might be a lone home-schooled teenager in there but I’m used to browsing in peace…and anonymity. I glanced at what I was wearing and decided that if they didn’t glance to closely, I could be a lame college student who still reads teen books. So I ducked into the room and went over to look for some authors I had researched. One girl was reading a book I had just finished and I wanted to say something to her but I stopped myself because I remembered that I’m in my late-twenties now and talking to prepubescent girls about books that they’re reading is a strategy that child abductors use. So I picked up my books and ducked out. Sadly, Alex and I couldn’t have more different reading interests and I eventually found him up on the third floor browsing the non-fiction section for books about the Hollow Earth.

I don’t remember exactly when I made my big switch to reading, what are essentially, children’s books. I think it was college. I know that when I was working at the women’s shelter, I was already surrounded with pain and suffering so I wanted to read things that were easy and light and brainless. Enter: Young Adult Fiction.

In particular, I almost exclusively read young adult science fiction, fantasy, or dystopian novels. If I find a book that combines two of those genres, then I pass out on the floor and the librarian has to come tell me that I can’t lay there because this piece of carpet is “for teens only”. I also rejoice mightily when I find series because I read them all in a row and I don’t have to find other books for two or three weeks.

I like books written for young adults for the following reasons:

  • I’m a big fan of dialogue and action. When I’m reading in bed, Alex can tell if I’m at a section that has lots of description because I turn the pages really fast until I get to the interesting stuff. I’m a good speed reader in that I skip all the boring stuff and just read the action and dialogue. I could tell you the plot of the story I’m reading, but probably not much about the setting.
  • In close relation to being a fan of dialogue and action, I hate books where there is too much reflection. I don’t want to know a character’s inner thoughts and internal turmoil. I just want to follow the militant fairy that just flew down the mine shaft. Why is that so hard?
  • Young adult books are clean, at least the ones I read. I don’t want to read about sex or somebody’s lusty thoughts, thankyouverymuch. Let’s get to the slave uprising on the alien space stations.
  • Sometimes, young adult books are accurate and you actually learn something. For instance, I just finished reading the Alex Rider series, which is about a 14-year-old James Bond minus the sex plus some cheesy plot lines. One of his adventures takes him to Bangkok, where I learned that there is a river that separates the city in two. One side is for rich people and the poor people live on the other. See? Now I know!

So, how do I pick books? I’m going to be honest and say that I totally judge a book by its cover. Let me give you an example of a recent read:

Crocodile Tears by Anthony Horowitz

Does that clear it up for you? If the pictures are too romantic or whispy, then I know I won’t like the book. In general, if it looks like it came out of the Victorian period, then I try not to even touch it. Reader beware: Books set in the Victorian age are all intrigue, drama, and scenery. There is no shooting or aliens or fairies. Usually, the bad guys are just men that want to marry above their station. Don’t be fooled. These books do not have an actual plot.

From time to time, I do like books that are actually written for adults. I loved The Help. I own Memoirs for a Geisha. I read The Life of Pi and didn’t die. I think that Everything is Illuminated is a really good book, although I was unable to make it through some of the more “artistic” sections. Water for Elephants actually had a plot. If I need a good laugh, I read David Sedaris or Mark Haddon.

The problem for me is that most adult books are so anti-young-adult. Like most of them are about a man walking down a road, thinking about his failed marriage, and then he stops to have sex with a woman he’s never met, then he keeps walking down the road and thinking. I just don’t get it. If I could fix adult books, here’s how I would do it.

Doesn’t the second one make you just wanna jump up and read it? It just looks so mysterious and plot filled.

In case you were worried, I stop short of reading Pokemon books and I don’t like graphic novels. I also usually steer clear of vampire books (yes, including Twilight, which I read but thought was too emotive), dragon books (especially if the dragon is the main character in the book because then the plot usually follow books about horses too closely and I HATE books about horses), and books about witches (usually). Sometimes, I’ll start a book and then realize that I hate it halfway through. Just last night, I started a book about an alien that can jump on your back and become a tattoo on your skin. So…jury’s still out.

So, until adult books jump on the “let’s have more plot, less thinking” bandwagon, I’ll be sticking to the young adult section…and, in desperate times, the children’s section. Yep, just me and the teenage boys. Join us?

If you’re interested in what I read, you can find a list of my favorite series here. You can also check out my Goodreads profile here.

{UPDATE: That tattoo alien book is dang good. It’s about teenage thief Jack Morgan and his safecracker Uncle Virgil (who died a year ago and imprinted his personality on his spaceship’s memory). Jack stumbles upon a space ship crash and finds Draycos, a K’da poet warrior, whose symbiont Shontine just died. K’da warriors cannot survive more than six hours without a host, who carries them like a tattoo on their skin. Draycos and Jack join forces to fight Braxton Universis and travel amongst the various planets in the Orion Arm. Can they save the K’da and Shontine warriors from the Varhagua’s Death weapon before it’s too late? Ah! I’m only on book 4!

The Goodreads reviews are glowing, although half of them are adults justifying why they read it in the first place (i.e. “I didn’t know this was a kids book”, “What a cute story”, etc). And then there’s this (emphasis added):

I read this book because I am the leader of a 5th grade book club.  First, let me say that this type of book is not my type of book.  Second, I had such a hard time getting into it starting at the first page.  I am anxious to see how the kids did with it.  Once I got the storyline, I thought it was ok, just not my type of book.

New idea: I’m going to start a 5th grade book club.}

4 thoughts on “Why I Read Like a Pre-Teen Boy

  1. If the young adult books come in large print editions, people will move over and give you their seat on public transportation just to read over your shoulder. Try it sometime.

  2. Pingback: AND THEN THE END WILL COME! {BOOK REVIEW} | brandon andress

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