Discussion: Guys and YA?

Saturday, 1 November 2014

This is a topic that I've thought about for a while, and is something which I think is worthwhile exploring - why don't as many males read YA as us females do? or more importantly - is there a stigma attached to guys who do read novels in this genre?

This could turn into a gender-debate and go into stereotypes, which does feed into the topic for sure - but I do feel that there is more to it than that. I'm not saying by any means that there aren't any males out there (especially the teenage ones) who read YA, but there does definitely seem to be a huge gap, with an overwhelmingly large number of girls reading books targeted at that audience than boys. To make this more specific, I'm generally talking about teens in particular in their high school years, from the ages of 13 to 18.


My friends, we are about to find out.


To put things in context - 'young adult' novels just as they are, have been facing criticism lately just for not being 'intellectual' or 'meaningful' enough as compared to their adult counterparts, as if it isn't up to that 'standard' of reading. 



So that brings us to the next inevitable question: why are stereotypes still dominating reading patterns on the outset? Here are some possible reasons why:

  • It's not 'macho' enough or cool for their friends - Boys face a lot of peer pressure in social environments just like us girls do, even if it is for different reasons. Compared to (excuse the clich├ęs) playing sport or just hanging out doing whatever guys do, reading a book might not seem to be a popular decision - especially if *sarcastic gasp* it was a contemporary romance or something similar. Perhaps reading is seen as a 'nerdy' thing to do.

  • They haven't been readers as children so don't know what to choose - Not everyone is going to be a big reader who loves flipping through pages and immersing themselves in a good story. Maybe they just haven't found the right book yet to get them interested.

  • Reading is a 'girl' thing - As much as most of us would disagree with this statement and think that reading is a universal hobby that is open to anyone - some guys might think it to be in a girl's domain. With all the 'fangirling' and 'book boyfriend' talk, some boys just might not feel comfortable in entering what is a female-dominated fanbase. 

HOWEVER:



That being said, sometimes there are books out there which do in fact have that male appeal - usually because they do contain action or a male protagonist which guys may feel they can relate to. The darker colours in the covers as opposed to some pinks and 'girly' typography on others does inadvertently  seem to be the preferred style of choice. James Dashner's The Maze Runner for example seemed to be quite popular among both genders, with a lot of guys turning up to see the movie as well.

AND STILL:


THERE ARE GUYS OUT THERE WHO WILL READ ANYTHING ANYWAY. It might be a small number, but hey - they exist. Although the realm of book-blogging may be flooded with a sea of females, there are a few males who I know of that blog as well, such as Jesse the Reader and Matt Keenan. Not to forget of course the guys who grow up to work in book publishing within the Childrens/YA department!

So what have I been trying to say this whole time?


I say let's subvert those stereotypes and just let anyone read whatever the heck they want to. Nobody should be judged based on their reading choices, especially on the basis of what gender it is primarily aimed at. YA is one of the most diverse genres out there, so let's embrace anyone who wants to read something it in it. There is certainly enough book love and crazy fangriling/fanboying to go round.

18 comments :

  1. I don't know why, but for some reason the idea of guys reading has always seemed weird to me...
    It may be because in my family, my mum and I are massive readers, whereas my dad has read one fiction book in his entire life. My brother reads...but nowhere near as much as my mum, sister and I do (though I do constantly throw books at him).
    It always makes me happy when I see guy readers/book-bloggers, because at times this does seem like such a 'girl thing'. But I don't know if that's because reading doesn't live up to male stereotypes, or if it's because we overwhelm them with our talk of book boyfriends...it might be a combination of both.
    That's why I was so happy when Tim at BTCYA said that what's-her-name from Darkest Minds was his book girlfriend. It makes me glad that there are fanboys out there, even if we don't see them much.

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    1. Exactly Cassie - I suppose there are still some 'fanboys' out there lurking in the shadows that are revealed at times, which is good to see.

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  2. I agree...boys just don't seem to read very much. I mean, I don't think there's a single guy that ever comments on my post. Where are the boy book bloggers? Why is it something that they just don't do? I think the stereotypes and expectations on "what a boy should do" is a big thing...I know my brother used to read ALL the time when he lived at home, but when he moved out he never reads at all. Which makes me sad. We used to totally fangirl/boy over Rangers Apprentice together and now he hasn't even read the last ones. :'( BUT ANYWAY. I agree...people, no matter who the are, should read what they want to read. No expectations. I don't believe in "boys books" at all. And I don't believe in "girls books". Books are books and they're meant to be read by ANYONE.

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    1. Same here Cait! If only stereotypes weren't out there when it comes to reading. You're absolutely right, books should just be books and able to be enjoyed by whoever picks them up.

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  3. Hmmm...this is definitely an interesting thing you've noticed! I never really gave it much care, but that's only because of the people I'm surrounded by. A lot of my guy friends love a good book but you're right, they're definitely not reading YA unless I shove it down their throats (that makes me sound super aggressive--I'm not, promise!) My friends gravitate a lot more towards classics written by old men (ha!) and/or the fabulous contemporary adult reads that we have nowadays. You've definitely pointed out some great potential reasons though! It's weird that I never thought about this...BUT YES. SUBVERT THE STEREOTYPES! As long as we're all reading, right? Fantastic discussion, Eugenia! x

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    1. It's interesting that guys seem to be more open to reading the classics and adult fiction rather than YA. Yes, as long as we're reading something - that's the main thing :)

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  4. I've noticed this as well! I always get really excited when I see a male reader, especially when he's under the age of 25 and NOT reading for school, because I think reading is amazing and I love that there's a guy out there who is fighting the stereotypes on his gender. My guy friends at school make fun of me all of the time, saying that "reading is lame" and "only nerds read." Of course, they're not readers at all.

    I definitely agree that there's a gap created by society. I don't think that'll ever go away. I hope to raise my kids to be readers, boy or girl.

    I'm so attracted to guys who read or like reading. I understand that I might not marry someone who loves reading, but as long as they let me read my books...I'm happy. c:

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    1. Well said Sydney, and it's good to hear that I'm not the only one to have noticed this. People that make those remarks about reading are ignorant of how good picking up an amazing read can be!

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  5. Hear, hear! I can't agree more with your comments on this. I often wonder why more guys don't read YA, even when I was in HS I remember the guys that read didn't read YA but adult fiction, as though YA wasn't "cool" to be seen reading, or whatever, quite a damaging stereotype! I find it incredibly hot to see a guy read, lol. Great discussion!
    Newly following your blog, btw :)
    -Dee @ Dee's Reads

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    1. Yes, I still don't know why they will read adult fiction but not YA - it is a damaging stereotype like you said. Thanks for commenting and following Diamond :)

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  6. I think its really sad that guys aren't as into reading as we are. Because reading is awesome and there ARE books out there which appeal to a male audience.

    But even when you go to a bookstore or the library, the only people perusing the YA section are girls. I've only ever seen a handful of guys looking at these books over the years, and that is so sad.

    I really don't know if there is just one reason, or a few (like the ones you mentioned) that explain why the guys just aren't as into YA and reading in general. Even the guys I know who DO read don't read YA and don't read in the same kind of volume as I do.

    Maybe someone should ask them. If it has got something to do with the female-centric covers that seem to dominate the YA section, then maybe some thought needs to be put into making them less gender biased. Or maybe it's something else. Who knows.

    I just hope the guys who want to read ARE actually reading!

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    1. Exactly Chiara! If only they really looked out there to see what appealed to them. I think doing some actual researching into this may be required to really find out what the reasons are behind the phenomenon, but the covers could definitely be part of the issue. Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

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  7. Fascinating discussion Genie, and one that is really well thought out! I think there are guys who read, but they tend to stick with fantasy or sci-fi or comic books or whatever. Perhaps they haven't discovered books in the young adult genre that interest them, or the stereotype that they will all be about romance like Twilight. There are a very few that do come out and admit though and even blog about it, which is great. I think most YA writers tend to be female as well.

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    1. Thanks Jeann <3 That's a good point genre-wise about what guys generally read, and there are some stereotypes in YA that people might have which should be put to rest. It's true that a lot of YA authors are female, so perhaps that makes us girls more relatable to their stories on a subliminal level. In any case, it's a fascinating topic in the realm of social and reader behaviour.

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  8. I completely agree that it should be okay for boys to go against the stereotype. I don't meant to be a party pooper but stereotypes will always be around and I think that's okay too. I mean, after all, they exist because a majority of the community being stereotyped actually fit it. The problem is that when someone doesn't fit the stereotype, they get put down or ostracised and that sucks!

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    1. It's a good point that there will probably always be stereotypes, and that most of us do fit that. Exactly, people who don't fit into that shouldn't feel bad about it and instead should be free to read what they want without judgement. Thanks for stopping by Laura :)

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  9. I'm a substitute teacher, and I've seen a lot of middle school guys read YA. I've also seen a lot of older elementary school boys read YA. Wonder seems to be the most popular with them, but they read a lot of the older YA books. The Giver and its sequels are the big ones I've seen in the hands of boys. Heck, I've even seen a ton of boys reading the Matched trilogy because they all read and loved The Hunger Games.

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    1. It's great that in your experience you can see guys breaking the trend and reading more YA. It's a great thing that the genre itself is so diverse and can appeal to a large range of people if they are willing to try it. Thanks for stopping by Erin :)

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