Things that Are Iffy to Me in the Book Community (From a Teen’s Perspective)

Alright, look. You know the sayings about kids being overly honest or whatever?

Well, this is an instance where I’m calling you adults out. #sorrynotsorry

Even though I’m a teen, not technically a “kid,” teen books still falls under #kidlit so teenagers must still qualify as kids. Semantics.

Anyways, sometimes things in the book community are just a little off to me. I’m not going to get into the whole argument of “who is young adult fiction really intended for?” (although, look at the name and then talk to me), but you have to realize that there are teenagers who are part of the book community.

I am one of said teenagers, and it’s time for me to be blatantly honest and point out a couple of things in the book community that are weird, not right, a result of bad logic, or a combination of all three.

So, without further ado, here is number one!

Preorder Incentives with Predominantly Female Items

The book community is sometimes all talk and no action. And one thing they like to talk about is marketing books in a way that will appeal to the male population as much as they do to the female one, or at the very least, getting guys to want to read YA books too.

I mean, it’s obvious that the book community is predominantly female, (even though male authors oftentimes get more out-of-community press) both in terms of industry people and the audience.

What I really don’t get is why things like swag and preorder incentives are sometimes in the form of predominantly female items. Things like nail polish, nail decals, make-up bags, and the like.

That’s not to say that guys totally can’t use that stuff, but c’mon. A majority of the male population probably won’t be super receptive to items that are generally used by women.

We like to talk about how we’re trying to eliminate the idea of “girl books” and “guys books,” but I feel like marketing things with predominantly female-used items, while it is does boost sales among women, continues to isolate males from reading young adult.

Although it’s cool if you have stereotypically female items in preorder incentives because who doesn’t want that?, I feel like we need to start adding the option for male or gender neutral swag pieces.

Let me know some of your favorite gender neutral swag items in the comments below!

Adults Drinking

This is one that I’m normally cool with, but sometimes it gets a little out of hand.

A bunch of teens follow authors they look up to. Most authors are adults. And sometimes said authors go out with their girlfriends and have a drink. Which is fine and good.

But I just find it weird when authors really talk in-depth about their alcoholic beverage because…no. I do not relate. I honestly have barely any idea what you’re talking about. And no, I don’t know how good that margarita tastes because I’m not legally allowed to have one?

It’s not like I’m uncomfortable; I just really don’t understand what’s the point about sharing this when a solid portion of your fanbase very much Does Not Relate™.

Things like bookstagram accounts dedicated to YA and wine (like Krysti @ YA and Wine) I get because when I follow them, I know I’m subscribing to info about books and their wine pairings. But I follow authors for information on their books and maybe a little bit of their personal life, not for long chats or daily features about alcoholic beverages.

This is probably a very much Me thing (all of these are honestly Me things) but I just find it kind of awkward when authors feature alcoholic beverages regularly or too much in depth.

Crushing on 18 (& Younger) Year Old Boys

I take that back, this one is very much not just a Me thing.


Look. I get it. We all love our swoony romantic heroes in young adult books. But it’s also important to realize that these heroes are still kids. They’ve literally just left puberty, you guys.

Crushing on the teen protagonists in young adult novels is honestly kind of creepy. Like, in real life that would be yikes™. And I know, you can always make the argument “My Aunt Sally and Uncle Jack have a 14 year age difference and they have a wonderful, healthy relationship.” Well, that’s great for your Aunt Sally and Uncle Jack, but these are still fresh out of high school kids we’re talking about.

As people get older, age gaps become less weird. But for teens? Literally a senior dating a freshman is the weirdest thing you’ll ever see, and that’s only a 3 or 4 year age difference.

So adults, please stop publicly talking about how hot teenage boy characters are and how they’re your book boyfriend because it’s weird and uncomfortable for everyone.

Elle McKinley talks about this way better than I do, so read her Twitter thread here.

Perpetuating the Idea that You Need to Buy Books to Support Authors

This is something that kind of ties in with the privilege in publishing post, but the way the book community perpetuates the idea of owning physical books is really exclusive to the group that these books are intended for.

Most teens don’t have their own income. Or if they do, that income is probably used for other things, and very little of it is dedicated to leisure when they have to pay for their car and gas or help out with their family.

And owning a lot of books is oftentimes Not Feasible™ for teens because they can’t buy them and their parents aren’t going to buy them 200 books when money-sucking college of doom is coming up.

Literally everyone who has floor to ceiling bookshelves and bunches of books are adults in the book community. Not teens. (Seriously, what teen is going to be able to take all those books to college with them?)

And sometimes people in the book community harp on the fact that buying books supports authors (not the authors, though. authors are usually so sweet about this.) and buying books that aren’t in a book box because book boxes don’t contribute to NYT bestseller lists yadda yadda yadda.

But guess what? Most teens don’t buy a bunch of books. And if they can, they’re probably not going to buy a duplicate copy. I wish we’d make it clear that requesting a book from the library is just as acceptable and helpful of a way teens can support authors because a lot of the time it feels like the standard is to buy the book to support the author, which is considerably less feasible for teens than it is adults.

much love, vicky

Do any of these come off as iffy to you? What other things in the book community do you not 100% agree with?


35 thoughts on “Things that Are Iffy to Me in the Book Community (From a Teen’s Perspective)

  1. As a teen (I’m 18 technically an adult? but it still counts!), I totally agree with your points! Tbh, I don’t mind the drinking and alcohol part because I can legally drink in my country and I do. But for the other parts, I really understand. I haven’t pre-ordered anything because my situation kinda doesn’t allow for it but I get the gender neutral part. YA is already seen as a genre for girls. It doesn’t help if the swag includes that make-up and nail polish I’m not interested either, since I’d prefer to invest in better quality stuff. Crushing on 18-year-olds and younger is yeah, definitely a kind of icky. I’m 18 and I already don’t really crush on people younger than I am, because I’m an adult, technically. Lastly, I think authors can do more to promote libraries and arc-sharing (not selling!) for readers who are strapped for cash. It’s a great way to get more readers and more publicity legally.


    1. 18 still totally counts (my library teen program includes 18 y/o)! And a lot of people our age just don’t have steady jobs/reliable income/even a job so it’s hard to support authors in the way that the book community likes to talk about 😦 and yes! those are wonderful ideas!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. OMG! You just said what I have been thinking! like all book subscription boxes are female related and I have like 2 male book bloggers! I don’t know that many 😮 I think like tea, or those book sleeves, or bookmarks :3

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right?! There’s always things like lip balm, which of course is great, but most guys won’t wear anything (they’ll reluctantly put on chapstick at most). I wish there was more gender neutral or flat out male-appealing swag :/

      Liked by 1 person

    1. ahhhh that’s also just ughgh creepy. like you’re a 45 y/o woman and you’re crushing on an 18 y/o boy? ewww please leave. bye.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. yes! exactly. the YA protags are usually like 16 so it’s really awkward when you hear 45 year old women talking about how swoony or dateworthy they are :S

        Liked by 1 person

      2. ah no well… yes… it is … haha I think I haven’t either pay attention to those comments or seen those comments XD
        what if they say they wish they were their age? will that still be weird? XD

        Liked by 1 person

      3. hmmm less weird, but I still feel like it’d be a little uncomfortable because there’s a different level of maturity between a teen (even a mature teen) and some adults.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yeah, of course, I think that if you read a more adult kind of book you will find exactly what you are looking for? Maybe that character was their frustrated teenage dream of having a dreamy experience, and that didn’t happen? XD

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re totally right about pre-ordering stuff and *only* buying books to support authors.

    I disagree with the whole alcohol thing though. In the UK you can drink when you’re 18 and most teens start younger anyway. Plus authors are adults, with adult lives and they don’t always want to filter everything for a teen/younger lens. I get it though, it’s one of those things that is just not relevant to you but I don’t think it’s iffy.

    I definitely see what you mean about falling in love with teen protagonists. I’ve started reading YA again after uni and have gone from being a teen to well, older (though I was never *too* much of fangirl when I was a teen). I recently read The Left Hand of God which I couldn’t for the life of me figure out who it was aimed towards age-wise but they had a descriptive scene of the 14-year-old protagonist taking off his shirt and how attractive he was and it made me uncomfortable reading it. I have yet to read a YA since hitting my twenties where I do fall in love with a male character so I’m not sure if it’s just one of those things that people grow out of or because YA is not necessarily read by teens/young people, it’s inevitable that all readers fall in love with characters that you’re supposed to fall in love with.

    Here’s a question – isn’t it then weird that all these grown adult authors are writing swoon-worthy teen characters? Romance and sex scenes between teens? They’re fictional characters so where’s the line?

    This ended up being a really long comment, so thanks if you’ve stuck with me all the way. Great post Vicky! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! With the alcohol thing it’s usually chill with me, I just get weird when they’re like “Isn’t my margarita delicious you should totally try this recipe!!!” and I just do not relate ahaha. Not necessarily iffy, but just slightly awkward for me.

      Yeah, I wonder how long it takes for people to go from “AHH WHAT A CUTE GUY” to “hmm okay whatever” about like male characters in YA. I mean, you’re meant to fall in love with them, but sometimes I feel like some adults just really cross a line with things like book boyfriend.

      I feel like for authors it’s more acceptable because (I assume) they’re not “roleplaying” themselves as the FMC, you know what I mean? With book boyfriends, it’s like people consciously put themselves as the FMC or in the FMC’s shoes with a relationship with the MMC, but with authors it’s writing about the FMC and MMC together so it’s not as creepy? (this is a heteronormative example, but the most common one, so). I feel like the line is kind of drawn based on if you’re actively crushing on your character or just writing about two characters who are not you, you know what I mean?

      I try not to think about authors writing those sex scenes, ahaha. Usually it’s fade to black in YA, so I don’t have to worry about it too much.

      Thank you so much for your insightful comment, by the way! I love long comments–gives me a lot to think about!


  4. Great post and I totally agree with a bunch of these! As an adult who reads YA (I’m 28) I’m so creeped out by other adults who talk about how attractive or sexy a teenage character is! I’ll definitely address swoony scenes in my review, but I’m so far beyond the point of imagining myself as the MC.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! One day when I’m not a teen I’ll end up adopting the idea of book children so I can still love all my favorite characters in a different way haha

      And yeah, seeing adults put themselves so personally in these books is weird :S

      Liked by 1 person

  5. i’m 23, so i know my opinion isn’t really relevant, but i still think you have great points, especially about the “book bae” thing. i think i stopped “crushing” on book characters around 18ish, maybe even earlier. part of it was that i was like “if i want to find my real life bae/true love in shining armor (lol) i gotta get outta the books” and part of it was definitely the age thing. i feel like a large part of the problem is that non-romance new adult flopped and so twenty-somethings have no relatable genre to turn to and the next best thing we can do is turn to YA and then mentally age up the characters to our age in our imaginations. but in aging up the characters, we forget that their ACTUAL age is generally 15-17. this is worsened by the fact that a lot of authors now know that a lot of twenty somethings read YA and thus write their characters acting more “mature.” for example, i’ve heard a lot of people—teens, twenty somethings, and adults—remark that the whole main cast from six of crows by leigh bardugo definitely DON’T read like tenagers, or at least like 16 and 17 year olds. this whole “mentally aging up” situation is worsened by the fact that when hollywood makes movies and shows about teens (adaptations or not), they generally use actors in their early to mid 20s due to US child labor laws. so now you’ve mentally aged up teens and the literal image you’re given of teens is a way more physically mature/developed individual. and suddenly to a lot of people saying “they’re my fictional crush” doesn’t seem weird, even though the ENTIRE situation is just completely yuck. I think a lot of the problem could definitely be solved by reviving, revamping, and expanding new adult as a category. give twenty somethings something of our own that we can fully relate to and we won’t have to do the weird “YA + age up” thing plus actual teens get their own space. anyhow, that’s just my two cents but i really loved your post overall!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. this is such a great point omg! you should totally write a blog post on this and send it my way because i’d love to read!

      I saw a tweet a while back about how different teens today in Hollywood dress even in Disney vs. how selena Gomez and all the noughties teens dressed and it’s crazy how much older teens are expected to look now! what you said about teens being aged up is so true and I definitely feel like we’re making our YA characters seem older to not only fit the modern expectations, but also to make YA more “acceptable” in adult fiction’s eyes because they’re always so critical of the genre.

      new adult that’s not romance totally needs a comeback I agree! for now we have to settle for college age ya, but I’m really hoping for more new adult books! thank you so much for your insightful comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Vicky, you write the best posts, really. Thank you so much for sharing this! ❤ I have to say that I never really looked at pre-order swags that attentively before, but now that I think about it, you're so right that they are more stereotypical female items at times… why not more gender-neutral kind of swag to share with the book? The community may be predominantly female, but it's not EVERYONE, either.
    I have been thinking about that book boyfriend thing and thank you so much for pointing that out. I'm an adult, (well… trying to adult slowly hahaha I'm still young since I am 24) and even if the "age-gap" is not that massive when talking about young adult protagonists, I know I definitely need and will be more careful about that. I appreciate how some characters really are adorable and "swoon worthy", for sure, but it's important to watch the way we talk about this, too, you're so right otherwise it gets a bit creepy.
    About the buying books thing, yes yes yes I totally agree on that. Teen readers are such a great boost and so important in this community, they can and will support authors even if they can't buy their books. Requesting from their library if they have one is also an incredible way of supporting authors and boosting their work, too.
    I got a bit long here I'm so sorry haha. That really was a lovely post, thank you so much for writing it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah! I think adopting the idea of “book children” is more on point. or maybe being that one crazy aunt to these characters when you out age the genre, haha.

      and requesting from the library is great! I just wish people weren’t constantly BUY BUY BUY when it’s very much not feasible. non-authors just don’t talk enough about other alternative options which is something I wish would change :/

      Don’t worry about long, it was lovely reading your comment! Thank you so much for stopping by, Marie <333

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I wrote a post a few months back about book crates/book boxes and the amount of mech that’s orientated around female subscribers. I’m transmasculine so things like jewelry, make up, etc is something that I was forced to interact with when I was younger and as such like to stay away from it as much as possible – but so many book boxes include items like that and it makes me not buy them because I don’t want to spend £30 on items that I would never use! I find the gendered divide in the book blogging community quite difficult to deal with at times and it would be really great if we actually did more to break down those barriers rather than keep reinforcing them!

    I definitely agree with your other points as well, great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Omg can you send me the link to that post? I would love to read your thoughts!

      And yeah! I only noticed recently but I started paying more attention to how there were predominantly female items in almost all book boxes, even “practical” ones like Uppercase, which makes me really sad for anyone who doesn’t use these types of items bc they can’t really enjoy book boxes to the same extent.

      The gender divide is something i’m slowly becoming more and more aware of and it’s really really wide in YA compared to other genres. I hope we can move forward and really start being more inclusive as a community!

      Thank you so much for your insightful comment! & i’d love to read that post ❤


  8. As a 20-something, even I can say that I agree that it is creepy for people my age and older to talk about book boyfriends that are in YA books. I don’t even think of any YA characters as book boyfriends/girlfriends because THEY’RE TOO YOUNG FOR ME AND IT WOULD BE CREEPY. I started realizing this around 18-19, and there are just other ways to love a book and its characters besides referring to a character as a book boyfriend/girlfriend.

    I also totally agree that buying books is not the only way to support authors! I am a librarian, so am obviously a huge supporter of teens going to the library and checking out books from their favorite authors. When people check out certain books or authors a lot, that means the library will be more likely to buy more books by that author, multiple copies of the same book, and multiple formats of the same book (as said better by Teen Librarian Toolbox on Twitter the other day). Going to the library actually does help book sales and help promote authors. We can even bring authors that teens really like to the library for visits and events. Buying books is def not the only way teens can support their favorite authors!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yeah! like if you have to implant yourself in, have them as book children (they are all my sweet loveable babies pls stay pure) or being that crazy aunt. it’s interesting to hear how each person phases out of being a YA book boyfriend person–one day i’ll write about how that goes for me (but for now I can continue crushing in peace ahaha)

      And yes! Libraries are great and so awesome and I love my library and I wish people who aren’t authors would promote them more because like you said, they really are great for supporting authors. Non-authors is honestly where I feel most of the pressure from, because authors are always really sweet about acknowledging teens for checking things out from the library, while other book influencers are super into urging you to BUY BUY BUY which is hard for teens to do :/

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Vicky this is an absolutely wonderful post, I definitely agree with you about the crushing on YA characters being a little weird as an adult who reads YA on occasion, but I also do tend to read really well written characters as more of my peers than anything when reading fantasy for some reason. Then again I am not one to discuss the sexiness of characters typically, but to each their own.

    I never thought about the pre-order swag before and you are so absolutely right about that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, thank you so much Kaleena! You are so sweet!

      Yes! A lot of adults on this post have talked about how they look at YA characters, and this is definitely a good stance. Alternatives are like best friends or being that one crazy aunt or even book children, haha!

      And it’s not even just preorder swag–it’s things in book boxes too like necklaces or bath bombs or nail decals and stuff. It’s really crazy how female-oriented everything is.

      Thanks so much for stopping by! I loved hearing your take on this ❤


  10. Hi! Great post! 🙂
    I’m not a teen, but can relate to some of your points. (If i think about my teen self, i’d related to all of them, hehe).
    When i was a teenager, i had no income either, so i always relied on my mum to buy me books. Back then there were no e-books either, so it had to be physical copies. I’m lucky that my mum loved reading and she never said buying books is a waste of money. We didn’t have a lot though, so she often got me second hand copies, or just stuff from the library. I was cool with that.
    Nowadays with kindle i think it’s more accessible as a lot of books go on sale and go for £0.99. So even if a teen doesn’t have an income, their parents are probably ok to buy them books on kindle. I mean, i don’t know everyone’s parent, obvi, but i would buy my kid kindle books 😀

    Crushes… weird, but i never had them at any age. Admittedly when i was a teen i read mostly adult books. Only started getting to know YA books when i was around 27, and even then it would have felt a bit weird to have a fictional crush on a 16 year old. Now i’m pretty much old enough to be the mum of most YA character’s mum, so it’s even less of a thing for me. I do find them cute sometimes, but in a way that is not romantic but just acknowledging that they are nice/relatable, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes! ebooks are so helpful (although that new macmillan policy that you have to wait 4 months after the book publishes in hardback to buy the ebook? yikes) and such great buys! the only unfortunate part is the toxic culture in the book community for physical books and hard copies 😦

      yes! there’s no problem in acknowledging a character’s traits. but eek it is weird when adults get more…verbally handsy with these characters O.o

      Liked by 1 person

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