The Results Are In! Who is Reading Young Adult Books?

In response to a rather skewed article on Slate.com about whether or not adults should be reading YA books, I decided to run my own poll and see exactly who is reading YA, how old those readers are, and why they choose to do so. Some of the results were pretty much what I expected to find, but I was surprised by some of them as well. I want to thank everyone who participated in this poll, and I’m curious to hear what you think of the results. And by the way, this is my first attempt at creating pie charts, which was a lot more fun than I expected! (However, it’s a fairly time-consuming exercise, in case you want to try it yourself. I used the site Online Chart Tool which is free and has lots of options.) Please remember that this poll only represents the opinions of the group of readers who chose to take the poll, so the results may be skewed.

So here we go, the results of my poll:

How old are you

This is the age break-down of the people who took the poll. These results were what I expected, and I’m especially happy to see that I have some over 40 readers! (since that’s my age group:-)) Not surprisingly, no one under 13 took this poll.

I read YA and I'm

This question is similar to the first one, but I wanted to narrow the field to those poll-takers who actually read YA.

18-22 results

Now I’m breaking it down by age group, so you can see what each group is reading. This doesn’t surprise me. Most 18-22 year-olds are reading YA.

23-30 results

In your 20s, most readers are still reading lots of YA. Strangely, no one who took the survey in this category reads exclusively adult books.

31-40 results

Of those who took the poll, no one in their 30s reads exclusively YA. That doesn’t surprise me, but the fact that so few readers in their 30s read only adult does surprise me!

40+ results

We have a very evenly divided response to the over 40 readers, but no one answered that they read either type of book exclusively.

I read YA because

The winner in this category? Most YA readers find the plots and characters more engaging. I’m not sure what this means, but in my opinion, adult readers of YA are seeking some kind of escape from more serious adult books. I also find it interesting that a big chunk answered that they read YA because they are “easier.” Quite a number clicked the “other” box, and I’d be curious to hear what “other” is if you’re one of those people.

I'm an adult who

Wow, check it out! So, at least from the group who participated, adults reading YA is the norm. The other answer to this question, which garnered 0%. was “I am an adult who loves YA but keeps it to myself. I’m embarrassed.” Clearly most folks who read YA are proud to share their love!

And finally, this is how everyone felt about this question:

My opinion

It’s obvious that the blogger from the Slate.com article didn’t take my poll! Because everyone agreed that you should read whatever you want, no matter your age.

So what does all this tell us? In a nutshell, YA is taking over the world! At least in the blogging community, that is. More writers than ever are dipping into the YA pool, because they have something they want to say that fits the demographic.

Now it’s your turn to sound off. What do you think of these results? And what is your opinion about the whole adults who read YA debate?

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Posted July 7, 2014 by Tammy in Discussions, Poll / 22 Comments

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22 responses to “The Results Are In! Who is Reading Young Adult Books?

  1. Everybody should read whatever they want – otherwise you might as well bring back Hitler & Co. YA books often feature thought-provoking themes that adult books no longer deal with, taking it for granted that their readers want a staple diet of sex/violence/drama/romance and little else. YA books look to the future, they discuss coming of age issues of their protagonists, but also coming of age issues for a society as a whole. Very few adult genres do this now, fantasy and scifi are exceptions. For that, we used to have “proper” literary writers. But their work is no longer promoted by publishers the way they used to do, which means literary writers sell fewer and fewer books. If you think about the high rate of illiteracy in the UK and US for example, it is not surprising far more adult readers find YA and children’s books “easier”.

    Another aspect is that as readers we long to go on a journey, an external one with regard to the plot and an internal one with regard to the underlying theme of the story. We want to feel that we have “grown” with the hero/heroine of the book. As this no longer seems to happen in adult books, readers who are looking for a 100% reading experience head to other genres and age groups to fulfil that need.

  2. I think the results for the 40+ category are really interesting–an equal split with a minority who read YA and adult equally. That’s kind of cool, right?

    But you know what I love the most? The 100% read and let read mentality. That’s what pissed me off the most about that Slate article. Who the bloody hell do you think you are to tell me what I should and should not be reading. Pompous ass. Great post, Tammy! I love polls πŸ˜‰

  3. What great polls. Of course YA is taking over the world, it is brilliant. I’m 29 and love YA. I do read both adult and YA, but way more YA than adult books. I find them more hopeful and magical. They have great stories and characters. Simply, they are just stories that I like to read. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  4. Pretty fascinating stuff. I’m a 23-30 reader of both categories but more Adult and YA – I’m in the minority! No surprise that the YA industry is exploding, it has such a huge audience πŸ™‚

  5. This is a really fantastic post Tammy, I’m so happy to hear that you did the poll and the stats tell all. It seems like many of the readers are within the 20-30 mark (yay, that’s me as well)!

  6. Very interesting and I’m glad to see the overall consensus is that everyone should read whatever they want. I find a lot of YA books have captivating and compelling story lines and messages that can relate to the older reader just as much, but in a different way perhaps, as the target age group.

    • Yes, if the author does a good job, the intended age group shouldn’t really matter, and everyone who reads that book should be able to relate in some way.

  7. Interesting survey! I think I’ll always have YA in the mix though I’ve been gravitating more towards Adult lately. I love seeing the 100% everyone should read what they want for the last question.

    • My feeling is that when YA starts to feel like it’s all the same, and everyone is just reusing the same ideas, I start gravitating towards adult as well.

  8. Thanks so much for sharing the results, Tammy! I was surprised by the number of 40+ who don’t read adult exclusively or more than they read of YA! And I LOVE that last results: 100% for reading whatever you want! πŸ˜€

    • Yes, the 40+ category surprised me too! I would have thought there would be at least someone who read nothing but adult! Thanks for visiting, Kelley!