Books

Don’t Tell People What They Should Or Should Not Be Reading

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Don’t Tell People What They Should Or Should Not Be Reading

(This post is kind of a rant. Be warned. I’m angry.)

This post was sparked when I received a message on an anonymous question-y thing called Curious Cat, so people could ask me questions and make confessions. I’d seen others doing it, it looked fun, so I gave it a try. It was all going well…and then I saw this.

I’m not even going to talk about the last sentence and how rude it is- I already did on Twitter. What I AM going to talk about is this:

You have no right to tell people what they should or should not be reading.

I’m going to focus on people telling younger readers that, instead of telling older readers, but Paige has done a great post about that here that you should check out. I am obviously not qualified to talk about that subject, but Paige does a fantastic job of it.

This anonymous person- and not just them, I’ve seen many people before- is telling me what I should and should not be reading. That I am not qualified myself to be the judge of what I read. That THEY are obviously smarter and know what I should read and what is appropriate for me.

Um. No.

Thanks for worrying about me, though!

I know what I’m comfortable reading. As a young teenager, I often share with my parents what I’m reading. They trust me to be a good judge. If I’m uncomfortable reading a book (be it because of sex, language, violence, whatever), I will PUT IT DOWN.

I can read books like A Court of Mist and Fury if I want to and feel comfortable doing so, because I (and my parents) KNOW WHAT I CAN HANDLE.

You, anonymous internet person, (and anyone else, really) have NO SAY AT ALL in what I read. None.

And it’s not like I’m off reading “bad books”! < i.e, extremely sex-filled books like 5o Shades of Grey. I’ve read ACOMAF. I’ve read a few Colleen Hoover books. That is IT. Other than that, I read almost ONLY YA. And even if I had read more, you can’t tell me that it’s “too much”. You’re not the boss of me. Surprise!

So, I honestly have no clue what you’re talking about. Are you saying that YA, a category created for my age (although DEFINITELY not limited to it) is inappropriate? That I shouldn’t be reading books originally written for me?

Because if so, I can’t help you, you’re so misinformed.

If you’re saying that the THREE NA books I’ve read were AWFUL and I never should have read them and that they’ve completely and utterly ruined me as a person, well.

I still can’t help you.

And this is not only to you, anon. It is to ANYONE who thinks they can tell younger teenagers what they can and cannot be reading.

It would be completely different if you were my parent. I’d respect you. I’d listen to your opinion, because you know me. You know what I’m ready for.

But YOU DON’T KNOW ME. At all. Most likely, you’ve never met me. And even if we have met, you still don’t know me and what I’m comfortable reading. Even if you didn’t know me and you said this, you should say it in a way that’s not condescending and rude. But you did.

Honestly, I’m just disappointed in anyone that thinks it’s okay to tell someone they should not be reading something.

Books are divided by age- YA, Adult, NA- as a guideline. Not a law.

It’s not, Oh, you’re 20, now you can’t read YA.” It’s not, “Oh, you’re 15, you can’t read NA.” They exist so that people know what they’re getting into when they decide to read a book.

And I want to say this: I’m not saying younger people should be allowed to read whatever they want completely. I don’t want 10 year olds reading 50SOG. But YOU don’t get to tell teenagers that it’s wrong for us to read what we’re reading.

Also: I think I know what curse words are. I think I know what sex is. I think I know what violence is. These books I’m reading aren’t influencing me in any way or opening my eyes up to anything new in that regard. Sorry if you thought I was raised in a bubble: I wasn’t.

I’m sorry for the very rant-y post, but I had a point to make. I hope you learned something.

What do you think of this topic? Do you agree with me? (It’s okay if you don’t, but don’t tell me what I should not be reading. Please.) Have you experienced or seen this before? Does it make you as aggravated as it makes me?

Side note: If you think I’m overreacting, that it was just a little note, please remember: it wasn’t just that note. I’ve seen it over and over again before.

Thanks for reading,

Ava

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21 thoughts on “Don’t Tell People What They Should Or Should Not Be Reading

  1. Cool, Ava. Great blog. Too many try to preach about it all. They try to dictate what should or should not be written too. Ignore it all. Be comfortable with your self, ‘cos you sound pretty sorted to me.

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  2. You know what you are comfortable with and I totally agree. Other people have no reason to tell you what you can and cannot read. I’m sorry that kind of thing happens so often. Some people have a hard time keeping themselves from interfering in other people’s business especially if they think they’re helping you out. Ack.

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  3. I absolutely agree with you here! I am almost a grown girl who is making many important life choices right now. I can start learning to drive, I can start determining the direction in which I want my future to go and I can absolutely decide what I can and can’t read for myself. You go for making this post, it makes me feel better since I tend to feel uncomfortable about telling people I am a teenager because I worry they’ll judge my choice of books. Love this post!

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  4. I totally agree with you, Ava. Why shouldn’t we read a genre literally WRITTEN FOR US? Or whatever we know we can handle? I’m not going to keep reading a book if it makes me feel uncomfortable. Adults and older teens can really misunderstand YA a lot of the time, as well as not get that YA readers are generally more mature than they know. We are not bubble people. It’s awful that you keep getting told what you can/can’t read.

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  5. Oh you’re not overreacting! I TOTALLY agree with you! I’m really sick of people telling others what they should/should-not read. Like what makes them think they know us?!?? Plus, what’s even more ridiculous, is these people assume that EVERYONE is at the same reading level. That everyone is the same. This is absurd! Why can’t we appreciate that different people want/handle/need different things?!?
    I had a rant not so long ago over an article telling adults to stop reading YA. Ugh, such rubbish. LET PEOPLE READ WHAT THEY WANT.
    As a 15yo…I was reading Roald Dahl.😂 So I fully admit that I wasn’t particularly “advanced” in my reading tastes or anything. And you know what? That’s 100% fine! I think it’s brilliant that there are books out there to suit everyone. :’)
    (And now, obviously, I’m like give-me-the-stabby-books haha.😂 Ahem.)
    I’ve also had people say super mean things to me when I’ve done an anonymous survey. Those kind of people are just rubbish. You know we support you, Ava!! YOU ARE A WONDERFUL BEAN!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I saw this in my timeline and I just have to say, people are so extra… Who do they think they are telling you what to read and what no to read.

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  7. EWWW!!!!!!!!! I really don’t like that someone said that or even thought that!! You should read whatever the heck you want. I hate when people try to censor what young people read ugh!! Young people are freaking smart enough to know if the book is too much for them to handle— whether that be because of gore, sex-scenes, swearing, whatever. If it BOTHERS you, then you put it down. If it doesn’t BOTHER you, then who the hell cares?? I had a friend who wasn’t allowed to read Fear Street books back in the day (because her parents thought they were the devil), and we had to do these covert operations to get them from my house into her room just so she could READ!!! SO ridiculous.

    It also sucks when people put me down for reading YA well into my adult years. It’s what I like, so LEAVE ME ALONE!!!

    Great post! Ignore that stupid person who needs to move on and mind their own biz.

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  8. I definitely agree with your stand on this! I don’t understand why other people say we teens can’t read other genres like NA or Adult just because… what? We’re teens? Because NA are targeted for much older readers? :/ I DON’T UNDERSTAND. If a reader can properly comprehend a book in a specific genre and he/she wants to read it, then why not?? Ugh. People sometimes. >.< Great post, Ava!

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  9. Pish posh! Read what ye want and love what ye do. Me family is full of non-readers. I was reading Stephen King, Jean Auel, Dean Koontz and Anne Rice around 10 years old. Blood, sex, murder, homosexuality, abuse, etc. Loved them all. Some stuff went over my head. Some felt eye-opening. Perspectives change with time too. Don’t even know if I would want to re-read Rice at this point. My family had no clue what I was reading. I was trusted to know my own mind. And I wouldn’t trade my reading history for anything. It’s why I don’t believe in banning books or setting ratings for books. But that is a topic for a different day.
    x The Captain

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  10. Gosh I love love LOVE this post! No one has the right to tell you what you can and cannot read! Just recently I had someone on Twitter bash me for saying that I had no idea what teens should and should not be reading because I don’t have teen children. How does that make sense? It doesn’t, but people should just stop stepping over the line!
    I’m not a fan of books based on real stories but do I go around telling other people they shouldn’t read them? No! It’s just rude!
    Really excellent blog post and thanks for the shout out! 😀

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  11. Completely agree with you! Don’t listen when other people try to tell you what you “should” be reading (though very obviously, you won’t be listening anyway ahaha 😆 ). The fact is you SHOULD be reading. Fullstop. Which you are. Which is more than most teenagers. People can hardly encourage young people to read and then claim they’re reading the wrong thing. I did a rant post not long ago defending YA for similar reasons, it’s just ridiculous. No book is “wrong”. Every reader can judge for themselves what they want to read, so leave them to it, I say! *shakes head*

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  12. I agree with this so much! I’m actually at an age where I feel judged FOR reading YA (I’m 25). But I can see it going both ways. I really can’t imagine telling someone else what they should and should not be reading. This is kind of related: I grew up on horror films. My mom LOVED them. When I was in elementary school, I was watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre and every rated R movie that maybe aren’t the best thing for a 8 year old to be watching. But I was fine. My parents were okay with me watching that kind of thing, I was okay watching it. I feel like that is relevant with books, too. It’s no ones business what you read and why you read it. I don’t know how old you are, but you said a young teenager, so I’m going to assume that you already know what the hell sex is and a book with a sex scene isn’t going to traumatize you and make you go to your parents wondering what the hell you just read.

    That turned into a mini rant, but I hope you understand what I’m trying to say hahah

    Keep reading what YOU want to read.

    Molly @ Molly’s Book Nook

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  13. People telling other people what to read, especially when it’s random anonymous people on the internet, is so rude. The last time someone told me I wasn’t allowed to read something I was about 10 years old and it was Twilight (I know, right?). My auntie was going to buy it for me, but saw a review somewhere that said the last book had a sex scene, asked my mum what she thought, and bought me something else instead. A couple years later – I think was about 13 ish? – I borrowed the first three from a friend (I didn’t make it to book 4 because I couldn’t stand Bella) and my mum didn’t bat an eyelid – she thought I was old enough to handle it. But I was never that annoyed about this incident because a) ten is a little young for a sex scene b) twilight sucked anyway, so it wasn’t really a loss, and c) my mum and my auntie know me really well and genuinely had my best interests at heart. By the time I was 13 my mum trusted me enough and respected the fact I was mature enough that I could probably handle it. I could make the call that if something made me uncomfortable, I’d skip that chapter or put the book down. I get the sense from your post that you’re mature enough to know what’s best for you as well. Because I respected my mum’s judgement when I was ten, and the fact I was open about the books I read if she asked me, by the time I was about 13 she didn’t really worry about what I read. It’s all about respect and maturity – everyone’s different. 🙂

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  14. This is infuriating, I completely agree with you. And I think this problem also stems from our society making things like sex out to be horrendous taboos. Like, what? We need to be comfortable with stuff like this, even if that means reading scenes about it in fun, entertaining reads.
    And it makes us sound like our minds are always so malleable that violence and such will somehow make us think we need to also be violent…? No. We’re smart.
    People enjoy different things – don’t degrade them for it.
    And you’re right. YA, NA, Adult – they’re all guidelines. Just to give an umbrella idea of the maturity level of the book. That’s it.
    I’m sorry you had to deal with that.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Oh, I am sorry you had to deal with that uncomfortable situation. I agree with you, it is not appropriate for one to dictate what others should or should not do. I am an adult, in my early 30s and even though I don’t read YA or NA, I love reading middle grade books. It’s my go-to fiction whenever I need something different to read, like a child’s point of view.

    Why I read books for children? Well, I am a mother, children’s book helps me see a child’s point of view. It doesn’t mean that I am childish, however if there’s a person who thinks so, so be it, I don’t care. That person doesn’t pay my bills, that person doesn’t matter.

    Anyway, I don’t know if it’s just me but that feedback you got sent a confusing message. She (or he?) told you to act older while in the other hand protested because you read NA or books with sex scenes? *shrugs*

    Not worth your time, if you ask me.

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  16. UGH i’m around your age (o m g) b u t my friends say this to me. i’ve read acomaf and i consider myself a ya and na reader- just because i’m technically not a young adult (actually even if you’re like 2 you’re a YOUNG adult? this is about the power of PERCEPTION PEOPLE. ) i don’t think it destroys my innocence. (actually- that acomaf scene did but WHAT A GREAT BOOK. )

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