In recent years, the YA (young adult) genre has exploded in popularity. As defined by its name, YA books are mainly aimed at teenagers. However, it's not just adolescents reading these books. Adults are some of the biggest readers of the YA genre, and it's not hard to see why!
The first reason I think so many adults are reading YA books is because of their popularity and accessibility - they are everywhere! It's hard to be a reader these days and not run into a YA book. Is there anyone out there who hasn't heard of The Hunger Games?
YA books deal with the same issues as books for adults do. Young adult characters go to war in Code Name Verity. They deal with death in The Fault in Our Stars. Illness, family problems, friendship, love - whether you're 15 or 35, we've all dealt with these things. As an adult, it's interesting to me to see how a teenage character would react or think differently than an adult character in a given situation.
Another reason I think adults like me love to read YA is because it gives us a chance to revisit our youth and our high school days, whether we were a wallflower or voted Most Popular. Books like Eleanor & Park let us relive the strong and sometimes confusing feelings of first love. They also inform us about issues that are facing today's teenagers, where technology plays a bigger role than ever. I wasn't a teenager that long ago, but we didn't have things like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Books like Reconstructing Amelia use a teenager's texts, emails, and Facebook posts to really get inside their heads.
There are plenty of adult books that take place in different time periods, on other planets, or within worlds very different from ours (Games of Thrones, anyone?), but YA books seem to take things to a whole new level. There is so much imagination and nothing is off-limits - vampires, magic, royalty, fantasy, the paranormal. The worlds created are big and rich in detail. There's a sense of fun and escapism that isn't always prevalent in adult literature.
Sometimes YA books can just be easier to read than adult books. I'm not saying they don't have depth, but often times they are just more straightforward. They are usually quick reads with lots of action.
Overall, I feel like books are books, and there should be no age limits on who can read them. YA books may be intended for a teenage audience, but well-written books should be enjoyed by everyone!