Although the YA readership/information community is made up largely of the intended audience of YA fiction (young adults, of course), there are plenty of “new adults” and adults who read YA fiction. Feelings of discomfort and embarrassment may sometimes bother such members of this information community, and so I decided to examine this issue closer by speaking with a “new adult” (Grace, 22) reader of YA fiction.
Like many other high-profile admitted readers of YA fiction (such as Holly Black, Libba Bray, and Michael Grant), Grace is a writer herself. Although she reads YA fiction for pleasure, it is also a form of research for her. By reading other YA works, Grace can more effectively create compelling and well-written fiction and poetry for young adults. In our interview, she mentioned that, “Research in general is likely to be dictated by my current writing project(s).” This, of course, may mean reading fiction or poetry with similar themes, characters, or plots to what she would like to write, or researching more practical issues such as historical information, scientific information, or any other subject that enters her work.
In finding books that spark inspiration for her own writing or better inform her work, Grace relies on the internet to bring popular books to her attention. She subscribes to a number of electronic newsletters which keep her up to date on recently released work, and she goes out into the blog world to find new reads. “…If I see a title or author come up enough times, it’ll start to stick.” This method is especially effective on Tumblr, where blog posts come to her dashboard in something like an RSS feed. If multiple blogs post about the same author/book — or even if one blog posts about the author/book multiple times — then the name/title starts to become more appealing. As the name/title appears multiple times, the question of “Why is this name/title appearing so frequently?” becomes natural and leads the audience — in this case, Grace — to seek more information on the author/book.
Grace also utilizes Goodreads to keep up with her long list of books to be read. “I obsessively use Goodreads for keeping track of books that I want to read that I’m afraid I’ll forget about.” Goodreads is certainly a useful tool for all readers, though the typical YA reader (young adult or new adult) may be more comfortable making use of it as a new technology. The website provides spaces for communities to grow around books and genres while allowing users to keep a list of books they’ve read, books they’d like to read, and books they are currently reading. Goodreads can also suggest books to users based on the users’ preference (for which Goodreads gathers rating data).
Though Grace may not be the typical YA reader, her information needs are equally important. With limited research on the YA community, there is even less research available on the atypical YA readers. Grace provides an excellent start to this often-overlooked sub-community and is only the beginning.