There’s a phenomenon we see more and more these days…
An adult walks quickly into the YA room, bashfully grabs a book and then races away, trying to pretend she (or he) was never here.
Folks, your Teen Librarian is here to tell you: We See You. And we want you to stop being ashamed! Adults can – and should – read Young Adult Lit.
Talent. There’s a lot of great writing aimed at teens these days. Authors like John Green, Melina Marchetta, Laini Taylor and others bring serious literary chops to the genre.
Genre jumping. Something about writing YA Lit gives authors the freedom to mix things up in a way you don’t often find in books aimed at adults. They may start a story in realistic fiction, and by the time they’re done you’ve crossed through the boundaries of sci-fi, fantasy or paranormal and back again. Great YA authors also write books in different genres, which is perfect for teens (who are often willing to read across the borders), but is also the perfect way for adults to stretch their literary tastes.
Here are some books we think any grown-up should be proud to read, even on the metro:
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
This is a book about falling in love, and about going on a fantastic and life changing trip, and it’s about recognizing the small things in life. In a word, this book should be: Cheesy. But, though this is a book that needs a SERIOUS crying-while-on-the-metro warning, there is not one page of cheese. And for that you have Mr. Green to thank. Read more.
If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman
17-year-old Mia seems to have a pretty charmed life. She’s an amazing cello player, who is on the cusp of possibly going to Julliard. She has this wonderfully quirky, supportive family and a hot rocker boyfriend who’s way into her.
- As If I Stay opens, Mia’s biggest dilemma is whether or not to go to Julliard or stay with her boyfriend. Then she goes for a drive with her family and everything changes. She has one choice left. The book follows this one day in her life, alternating back and forth between the life she had and this intense choice she must make.
- Where She Went follows Mia’s boyfriend three years after the events in If I Stay. Adam is now a famous musician (the kind that paparazzi follow around every corner) but he can’t seem to enjoy the fame he’s worked so hard to find. This novel follows one more night for Adam that will be almost as life altering as that day in the snow.
- More about Gayle Forman, an author we adore…
The White Cat by Holly Black
Cassel Sharpe lives in a world where everyone wears gloves to protect themselves from the curseworkers: people who look just the same as everyone else, but might twist your memories or emotions just by touching you with their bare hands. Cassel comes from a family of enforcers for a crime boss who will make you really wish you’d paid your loan on time. But Cassel doesn’t have powers, he’s just trying to get through a year at boarding school. Which is all fine and good, until one night he wakes up suddenly and he’s staring down at the student quad, from the roof of his dorm… Read more.
The Book Thief by Marcus Zuzack
Living with her foster family in a small town in Nazi Germany, Liesel begins stealing books even before she can read them. Her accordion-playing foster father uses that first stolen book, The Gravedigger’s Handbook, to teach Liesel to read. A remarkable cast of characters populates this brilliant, compelling, breathtaking book, including Max, a Jewish refugee who finds unlikely shelter with the family. But in the end it is Liesel who will stay with you well after you turn the final page – which might be in the middle of the night, as it is impossible to put down. Read more.
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
A bevy of beauty queens falls from the sky. Onto a deserted (or is it?) tropical island. There is mystery, terror, irony, self-realization, pirates—very hot pirates, romance (see pirates), a pinch or so of politics, and mostly hilarity. Read it and weep. From laughter, mostly. Read more.
And we’re not the only ones who think this is a golden age of YA, and that adults have every right to dip in; the New York Times, the LA Times and Library Journal are all on board as well.
Featured heart image by cthomasbower, used under CC license.
Julia L says
*hides behind the manga shelves* I knew I wasn’t being furtive enough. But seriously I *love* our YA section. I honestly came over there because of the GN/manga initially, but I started discovering wonderful writers like Libba Bray and Ally Carter and Wendy Delsol. Sometimes I have an easier time finding them at the library than the regular bookstores, too.
Ashley J says
I didn’t read YA Lit as a teen, but now that I’m an adult and in grad school I started reading YA lit and found it to be a wonderful break from academic and professional reading.
I think YA lit is more intense and engaging than many adult novels. Also, agreeing with the other poster, I may venture into the teen section for the manga and graphic novels– I’m so glad that Arlington chooses to add so many to the collection!
To this great list, I would also add Kathryn (Kathy) Erskine: Mockingbird (National Book Award winner), Quaking, The Absolute Value of Mike…