"As far as I can tell," Stephen Colbert said to John Green on Monday night, "a young adult novel is a regular novel that people actually read."
Green laughed. He is, of course, the author of five young adult novels, the most recent being "The Fault in Our Stars." That book has been on bestseller lists for more than two years, and a film version, released earlier this month, topped the box office its opening weekend.
"It seems like when you call something a young adult novel, there's a ghettoization," Colbert continued.
"There is, in a way ..." Green replied. "But there's also that connotation: Oh, I might like reading this." He went on to explain how he thinks about writing in contrast to the Vlog Brothers and Project for Awesome.
Ghettoized or not, young adult books have a huge, enthusiastic readership -- large enough that detractors have begun to emerge. Slate ran an inflammatory, widely circulated article on June 5 headlined "Against YA" by Ruth Graham. It argued, "Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children."
That's not how legions of readers feel, and Colbert clearly has cast his lot with them.
Since Colbert's publisher Hachette has been targeted by Amazon as a negotiation tactic, Colbert has been supporting authors in many ways. He has urged watchers to pre-order the novel "California" by Edan Lepucki from indie bookseller Powell's, where it's the No. 1 bestseller. He has created a downloadable "I didn't buy it an Amazon" sticker. He has welcomed Sherman Alexie, John Waters, John Green and several other authors as guests.
Watch the John Green interview on the "Colbert Report."
Like passing notes in class; I'm @paperhaus on Twitter