February 07, 2015

A Reader's Quirks #5: Why I'm Not Reading Your "Sexy" YA Book

I'm back with a new installment of my random feature about the who, what, where, when and why of reading, where I talk about my own relationship with books/genres/authors, and ask my visitors to do the same if they feel so inclined. This could have been easily turned into a meme, but there's a reason why it didn't...I still don't see myself as an established enough blogger to host yet another meme. Even those with an impressive number of followers aren't necessarily overwhelmed with participation, so I'm not going there just yet. This doesn't mean "A Reader's Quirks" won't be promoted to meme status one day, should it be the case. It's all up to you, really :).

ARQ logo by digital artist Lissa

A quick reminder...everyone can comment on my blog, spam or not spam. It matters to me that anyone can join the conversation. As for CAPTCHA...everyone hates it...so you won't find it here. Relax and breathe ;).
This time I'm going to talk about...


Geez. The trend is subtly (or not so subtly) insinuating into YA lit. More often than not, new releases are labeled/marketed as "sexy". And I go feral.

[Image source] (the caption is mine!)
Reading in the romance or erotica field is entirely one's choice, and I respect that (unless you're a fan of woman's submission, that is). Inserting a certain dose of sex into a YA book is (often) only natural these days, and I can tolerate that if it's handled with care. But the word "sexy" next to a YA title goes straight to my head. "Sexy" conjures up a whole different bunch of images to me than a YA couple acting out their love. It's like, I don't know, a teen hooker winking at you from the book's cover. It's inappropriate. It's a sell-out.

"Read me, I'm SO sexy"
[Made with eLouai Candybar Doll Maker 3]

The adjective directly related to "sex" is "sexual". "Sexy", on the other hand, means "inviting", "provocative", and even - according to this synonym page - "mature". Which of course our YA protagonists are not. Anyway, a "provocative" book may probably be something in the 50 Shades vein...not a YA title. This is why I'm not reading a YA book whose blurb includes the word "sexy" - and I never will.

What do you think of "sexy" YA books? Does the adjective turn you off them?

For more Reader's Quirks click here.
Like to talk books? You might also be interested in this post. Comments are welcome!


  1. I totally understand your point of view, it's just not fitting with the YA genre to put sexy on the description of the book. It's supposed to be a book for Young Adults, not just adults, so just don't try to get every woman to read it just because it says sexy.
    Btw, I like these reader quirks :)

    Have a nice day,

    Myra @ I'm Loving Books

    1. Quote:
      "just don't try to get every woman to read it just because it says sexy".
      LOL, very well said.
      And thank you for the compliment!

  2. I agree that this is a complete sell out. I feel like publishers are trying to "connect" with modern teenagers by basically bribing them with "sexy" literature. They need to realize that teenagers are more than hormone driven monkeys. Personally, I think teens like to read books that have deeper meaning than a bunch of "sexy" scenes.
    I hope that this generation grows up to be better than the media thinks of them.
    Tessa @ Crazy for YA

    1. *claps hands*
      Also, I suspect the word "sexy" doesn't even have to do with the books in question all the time, but publishers throw it in for shock value, so to speak...

  3. As you know from following my blog - I like sexy books. And I don't mind an *honest* depiction of sex in YA. It's an important part of YA lives. But I do think sexuality is necessary for every YA book.

    However, I do agree that they shouldn't be marketed as sexy as a ploy to get more readers - usually adult readers. Or contain sex just for the more sake to bring in more readers from the NA and adult romance community over to YA.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

    1. That's it - they do try to attract adult readers that way. (...Well, I'm an adult reader myself, but I don't feel confortable with sex in books. Just me LOL). On the other hand, I'm not suggesting to purge YA books of sex of course - it would be unrealistic. But I feel that "sex in books" and "sexy books" are two different things. Like I said, "sexy" makes me think about something alluring...suggestive...provocative. Not "honest" sex, if you get my meaning :). And it feels out of place in a teen book. Just my 2 cents of course ;).

  4. Definitely uncomfortable with a YA title being referred as "sexy." Teenagers in the spotlight are already sexualized very young, younger than they've ever been.

    I think teenagers do share intimacy, but it's often awkward, confusing, painful, and a lot of feelings that aren't sexy.

  5. OMG "a teen hooker winking at you" plus the little picture! I'm laughing and shuddering.
    I'm with you on this. There's been a ton of sexualizing girlishness and infantilizing women. Pictures of half-naked women on beds with Dora the Explorer dolls. Sexy is way the wrong word. A prime example of this for me is the cover of City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare (I haven't read this book yet so I'm judging entirely on the cover) has a woman bent over and using a whip with distinct sexual overtones but it also says "soon to be an ABC Family original series." I don't think sex should be shameful. Yet the way different mediums are sneaking it into shows for younger and younger ages seems pretty shameful. Characters can be strong and attractive without needing to be "sexy."

    1. Of course there are teens who have sex - even in books - but that's a different thing entirely from them (or the books they're in) being labeled as "sexy". That only manages to make them an object of sorts. And you summed it up so well: "Characters can be strong and attractive without needing to be "sexy."" Of course, the little word is thrown in there to cater to adult women who read YA, because publishers think that they would like a little spicing up in their books...except that's not what we want. Personally, I don't like to read about someone else's sex life, but I have plenty of friends who read both (adult) sexy books and YA, and they don't feel the need for the latter to be "sexy" (even if they enjoy some romance between their characters and sometimes ship them together).

      "Pictures of half-naked women on beds with Dora the Explorer dolls."
      Is that a thing? Oh goodness. I've also looked up the cover you mentioned, and yeah...that's a dominatrix if I ever saw one 😂 😲.


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