By: Celine | November 28, 2014 | (32) Comments

discussing through midnight

This meme was created for YA Midnight Reads as a discussion post of all things bookish.

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Earlier this year, Larissa wrote a post called Importance of YA which everyone should read if they haven’t already, because it’s an amazing post. Today I just want to say that I completely agree with her, and I want to add some more reasons to the list of why YA is so important.

Everyone knows the typical YA heroine – she’s shy, socially awkward and bookish (and preferably beautiful). We’ve all groaned over the fact that this heroine is everywhere – there’s a reason I call this person the “typical” YA heroine. I’ve complained about it myself, because I want to see more diversity not only in the most straightforward meaning of the word, but also as a diversity in character. After all, not everyone is alike.

Today, however, I want to bring an ode to the typical YA heroine. Because I am her.

We live in a society that’s set up to benefit extravert people more. I’m not saying this to complain, or to feel sorry for myself. It’s just a fact – society expects us all to be outgoing. People generally seem to like the outgoing, social types more than that awkward person who’s hiding in the back of the room. I am not saying this to be critical of outgoing and social people – not at all. We need them in society, they’re a part of diversity too.

But because of this, I used to feel like I was strange, odd. I was never the one to open her mouth first, or to quickly make new friends, or enjoy social situations. I was the observer, studying the people around me from a safe spot in the corner. I was always reading, constantly with a book in my hand, my thoughts focused on stories rather than real life. I watched everyone around me grow up, grow popular, get their first kisses and a confidence that was something I didn’t know. Everyone, except me and my little group of equally shy friends.

I felt like the odd one out. I was happy enough – my friends are the best friends you can imagine, and we always had our own space – but I just wondered why I wasn’t like the rest. I don’t mind being strange or unique – sometimes I revel in it. But I just wanted to know. What did they have that I didn’t have? Was there anyone else like me, except my friends?

And it turned out that there were others. Dozens of them, hidden in the pages of favourite and yet-to-be-discovered books. Heroines of their own story, who were just as shy and awkward as me. They got their own romances, their own beasts to battle, their own stories to tell. Each and every one of them mattered in some way. They were normal. And just like me.

I don’t think I can say that books saved me, or showed me that I was worth something after all. I think I would have turned out okay if I hadn’t read these stories. But I’m still very grateful that I did discover these heroines who beared so much resemblance to me. They gave me the confidence I needed, confirmation that being shy and introverted and socially awkward is not wrong, and not abnormal. They gave me that little push I needed.

This is also why diversity in books is so important – diversity in every possible meaning of the word. Everyone deserves to find themselves in books, to get confirmation that they are both unique and normal, that they exist. And though I love to complain about the typical shy YA heroine that I’ve seen in many books before, I am also grateful that she exists.

Have you ever found solace in books? Had experiences similar to mine?

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Celine is 17 years old and from the Netherlands. Quite obviously, she loves books! She has been a reader for as long as she can remember, and she believes she will be a reader forever. Celine is also obsessed with food, and loves singing along to music as loud as possible, dancing and doodling on nearly everything.

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32 Responses to Discussing Through Midnight (47): More Importance of YA

  1. Books have always been my escape and in the end I think they did save me in a way. It’s great when I can relate to a main character, but sometimes when I relate to the MC too much… It can be hard to read. 🙂
    Bieke @ Istyria book blog recently posted…Bookish Babble: Sci-Fi Animes You Should Watch!My Profile

  2. I love it when I read about a character and think, ‘THAT IS SO ME’, because it’s better than when I read about a character and think ‘she’s so unrealistic’ (which happens to often). Books are always a comfort for me, a home away from home and a way of distracting myself whenever I need it. Finding myself in a book, and seeing that person conquer intense things really puts stuff in perspective and inspires me to make positive changes in my own life
    Allie @ Little Birdie recently posted…Review: The Witch of Salt & Storm {Kendall Kulper}My Profile

    • Celine says:

      This exactly. I’m not exaggerating when I say that some books have actually changed my life and the way I make choices, mostly thanks to heroines who are like me but can still overcome the obstacles that are in their way.

  3. Naban says:

    I usually find the ‘typical’ YA heroine annoying too, and have complained about it several times myself. But in the end, I see myself in those characters, to some extent. To answer your question, I almost always find solace in books. It’s where I go when I just need to get away from things. It doesn’t matter whether you are 5 or 50, sometimes you just need the escape. I can definitely say that I’ve met some amazing characters within my escape who have made me..more open-minded, I guess. More accepting towards difference. And gave me confidence, like you said.

    Fantastic post, Celine! 🙂
    Naban recently posted…Are Cliffhangers Truly That Horrible?My Profile

    • Celine says:

      That’s exactly what I meant! This is why finding yourself and others in books is so important. I like to think of myself as an open-minded person, and I am sure that at least part of this openmindedness is because of books. Whether you escape to the world of a person who’s just like you or not like you at all, it always helps you understand others more, I think.

      Thank you, Naban <33

  4. This is such an interesting and thought-provoking post Celine! 🙂 Oddly enough, I’m actually an extrovert, so I’ve never really felt that way; but I do agree that books and the characters in them have a real power to change the lives of those who read them.
    Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf recently posted…SuspicionMy Profile

  5. Fantastic topic. I love to socialize..but prefer to be in a small familiar environment.When I am not I tend to be an extrovert. Personally I prefer a mix of both personalities in my heroine.
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Sugar’s Twice as Sweet by Marina AdairMy Profile

  6. Lovely post! I agree with you; I complain about the ‘typical’ heroines too, but I bear a lot of resemblance to them. I think it definitely did comfort me, especially when I was younger, to read about girls like me and know that it wasn’t ‘bad’ not to be an extravert.
    My Full bookshelf recently posted…Review: The Body Electric by Beth RevisMy Profile

  7. I hate when people put down YA, but I hate even more when readers hate YA characters just because they are flawed. I love a shy girl who is scared to fall in love but can’t wait for it to happen. I prefer realistic characters any day!
    Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed recently posted…Where I See Fashion (2): The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent!My Profile

    • Celine says:

      I’ve never understood people who don’t like characters because they’re flawed. After all, books are a reflection or maybe even an enhancement of life, and, well, I’ve yet to find the perfect person! I definitely like realistic characters 🙂

  8. What a great discussion post!! I see the resemblances and qualities of myself in YA heroines too. It helps me connect with the protagonist more. I seek solace in books, especially when I’m going through a rough patch. Sometimes you can find similar things happening to characters in books and seeing how they respond and how everything works out in the end calms me down. Lovely post, Celine!!
    Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books recently posted…Series Sequels I’m (Im)patiently Waiting ForMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      That’s exactly what I do as well. It’s very comforting to know that people like you who’ve been in rough situations can still get through it. Thank you so much Rachel <33

  9. Definitely! Pretty much my entire life, but especially before I reached 20. I was and a, very social also, but I feel like there’s a big part of me that others don’t understand. For whatever reason, books would alleviated this and continue to do so. I also think that is part of what’s awesome about being a book blogger. It’s a way for that piece of ourselves that is often out of step or left out when we are social becomes shared, loved, and accepted.or maybe I’m just a big hippie at heart 😛
    Great post xo
    Diamond Dee @ Dee’s Reads recently posted…Book Review + Giveaway: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (US)My Profile

    • Celine says:

      Haha, I can definitely understand that! What I love about the book blogging community is that everyone is so incredbly acceptant and usually kind. It’s a comfortable space for me, because here we pretty much all understand each other. Bookish people are the best people 🙂

      Thank you, Dee <33

  10. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Fantastic post, Celine! Absolutely fantastic. I feel as though I wrote this post as I agree and have experienced everything you mentioned here. Thanks for sharing! 😀
    Ebony @ Daring Damsels recently posted…Cover Comparison – The Picture of Dorian GrayMy Profile

  11. Kelly says:

    What a beautiful and heartfelt post Celine <3 Made me emotional.
    Being older, I sometimes forget how hard it is being a teen especially when you feel on the outer a little. High school really is a label fest, even teachers and parents lump you into categories of what they feel should be 'normal'. Although I was more the social butterfly, I wish more authors would wise up to the how different all teens are. Even as an adult, we don't swoon over love triangles, or wishy washy girls that need a boyfriend, or backstabbing friends that we follow around while on a leash. We need diversity, because that's what we all are. Diverse. It's hard I can imagine for teens not in the US, as everything seems to be geared towards that market. Especially in Australia, we need more coming of age YA that teens can relate to, and not just entertain.

    Absolutely brilliant Celine, thank you so much for sharing <3
    Kelly recently posted…The Bookish Best Of… Romance WankersMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      Thank you, Kelly!! <33 Hearing that makes me really happy 🙂
      I think life can be hard pretty much always, haha. But you're right, most high schools do love their labels. That's why books are so important, to get rid of those labels and just show you that you are a person. And exactly, that's why we need more diversity! As someone who doesn't live in the US I can agree with you on that last point! On the other hand, I have learned a lot about the American school system through reading books, so… 😛

      Thank you again <33

  12. This was an extremely personal and wonderful post to read, Celine. Absolutely fantastic <3

    While I don't often read characters where I think "this is me", I have read characters that have encompassed so many traits that mirror my own I always have a moment when that happens. Because honestly, there are always traits that will make us feel like we're the only ones in the world (sorry, I might be singing rihanna right now, totally un-relatable). And when we read of a similar character there's this beautiful moment because suddenly there's this connection. And not only does that help the reader to immerse themselves in the tale, but it also comforts them, in a way. The point is, I love your post. I love everything that you've described. And I am so thankful to meet heroines that mirror me, in a sense.
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  13. Mary Claire says:

    I completely agree. Books are amazing: they are endless. As a reader, you can escape to another world, and I do exactly that on a bad (or good) day. Everyone should find acceptance somewhere and books can be that place! Thank you for starting this blog and sharing your thoughts, it was what inspired me to start my own book blog. The community is amazing in the blogging world; everyone, even if they don’t know who you are or what you look like or what your life is like, is open to discussing books, fangirling, sharing recommendations, and sharing the love of books they have.
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  15. Valerie says:

    I’m going to recommend that you read this REALLY AWESOME non-fiction book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking BECAUSE I CAN. Ok. But yes YA is really important! People love to find things to relate to, which is why SO MANY READERS and BLOGGERS read YA in the first place! Because it’s relatable, and like you said, it confirms that there are others like you.

    Great discussion post Celine! I love this ongoing theme! 😀
    Valerie recently posted…Review: The Dream ThievesMy Profile

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  17. I was something between outgoing and introvert when I grew up, and I think that’s still the case. I’m not worried about talking to new people, getting to know them and find new friends. However, at times, all I feel like doing is staying home with a good book, not talk to anyone at all, and just get to know the fictional characters I’m reading about.
    Great post, Celine!
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  18. Amber Elise says:

    This is why I love the YA Blog world, we all understand each other! As a child I would rather spend the day (….weeekend) reading instead of going to a party, and while I had my friends, I really valued my personal space and time. At the time I didn’t know what “introvert” meant, I just knew that I wasn’t living the life you see in a lot of Hollywood Teen movies.

    And then I found YA and I found myself in most of the female characters. Fabulous post Celine! 🙂

    Amber Elise @ Du Livre

  19. Ariella says:

    I guess it’s easier to relate to characters that are more like the readers themselves. I’m an introvert too and I guess I’m a bit envious of those outgoing people. It’s a relief to know that romances, confidence, etc. can happen to introverts too later in life. I love reading about shy romances or kickass adventures because deep down I love thinking that, “Hey I could do this too if she can.” I’d love for a YA story to come true in my life one day. I’d pass on the dragon-slaying ones though, I’ll just take a cute romance 😉

    Awesome post, Celine!
    Ariella recently posted…What’s Up? Anime, Video Games, and Now a Junior in High SchoolMy Profile

  20. I used to think that I’m an introvert and a part of me still does. Lately though (and maybe because I’ve spent years just reading and not going out), I crave human connection so I go out with my friends and do other stuff other than reading. I won’t say that I am now an extrovert because I am most definitely not but I might be an ambivert – a cross between the two. But whichever category I fall into, this I am sure of: books changed my life. It truly affected some of my decisions in life, it influenced my behavior greatly, and it saved me a lot of times. And it’s not just limited to YA.
    Joy @ The Bookshelf Intruder recently posted…Holiday Reading ListMy Profile

  21. This is a fantastic post! I’ve felt the same way most of my life. I’m still the one odd out but I no longer care. I am who I am and if people don’t like it or don’t understand it, well I’m not making anybody stay. I know I do have faults but I won’t stop being me just because society says otherwise. And I agree 100% about books, they have helped me out a lot but I do believe diversity is needed, not only in YA but also in Adult books and middle-grade
    Noelia Alonso recently posted…Bookish Scenarios Book Tag!My Profile

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