Friday, May 6, 2011

Top 5 Best YA Books for Adults

If you’re an adult, do you cringe when you see the YA label pasted on a book you’d otherwise be interested in?  Do you put it on the shelf quickly because you don’t want to appear childish, and then run away as fast as your legs will carry you?

I have a confession to make:  I used to be just like you.  In fact, until about a year or so ago, I used to be a really big book snob.  The root of my former pretentiousness can be directly traced to the fact that I was an English major during undergrad.  If someone was reading Dan Brown or Nicholas Sparks, I would smirk and judge them as I basked in my glory while reading my precious Victorian novels.  This all began to change, however, when some friends in library school introduced me to YA literature, and I subsequently took a course focused entirely around resources for YA patrons.

At first, I was very reluctant to even pick up a book with the YA distinction.  I figured I wasn’t a teenager (I didn’t even read YA when I was a teenager), so what could it possibly have to offer me now?  I would proceed into the YA section of the bookstore with trepidation, looking around to see if anyone was watching me, almost as if I was sneaking into some sort of secret club that I wasn't a member of.  After awhile, YA really started to grow on me, and instead of feeling like an imposter, I began to appreciate the fact that I just really like YA.

I know what you’re thinking:  don’t all YA books deal with vampires, aliens, or some other super cheesy thing that I wouldn’t be interested in?  Like all types of literature, there’s some that’s really great and some that’s really terrible, and YA is no different.  Yes, there is quite a bit that deals with the paranormal, as it’s the current trend right now, but there’s also a ton of realistic fiction, fantasy, and pretty much any genre you can think of that’s extremely well-written. 
With that being said, here are my personal picks for YA authors that would also be suitable for adult readers.  Check them out!

5.  Jennifer Donnelly 

Okay, perhaps this is cheating a bit because she writes for adults, too, but alas, the YA that Donnelly writes is incredibly interesting and well-written.  The first of her novels that I read, A Northern Light, combines historical fiction with intrigue and murder.  This book has a great plot, is incredibly interesting, and I could barely put it down.  In fact, I think I read the whole thing in a sitting or two, and hastily put her adult series on my reading list shortly thereafter.

4. Suzanne Collins 

Suzanne Collins is the author of The Hunger Games trilogy, and the first book in the series, The Hunger Games, is actually being made into a movie right now.  The series is set on a decimated landscape, the results of a huge war, and focuses on the aftermath within the former United States. The land was divided into districts, and each year, two children are sent from each district to battle to the death until there is only one survivor remaining.  In addition to action, adventure, and murder, this series also has romance and love triangles.  How can you go wrong when these elements combine into a glorious union of awesome?

3. Laurie Halse Anderson 

I haven’t read all of Anderson’s books yet, but the ones I have read, Speak, Wintergirls, and Fever, 1793, have been extremely well-written and engaging.  Anderson’s style of writing is lyrical and poetic, and her characters are incredibly well-developed.  Her characters are often faced with an underlying issue, and Anderson doesn’t shy away from making that issue as real as possible, which I really appreciate.  Some of the subject matter can be hard to read at times because it is so realistic, but her words are thought-provoking and leave you eager to get to the next page to see what will happen.

2.  John Green 

I just love John Green.  In addition to being an incredibly talented writer, he also seems like a pretty big nerd, which I can really appreciate.  I’ve read (no, I think a better word is ‘devoured’) all of his books thus far, and I think my favorite is probably Will Grayon, Will Grayson, even though Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, and An Abundance of Katherines are also great.  His characters are real, complex, and have the thoughts an actions of real teenagers as they face many issues and moral dilemmas.

1.  Markus Zusak 

It was hard to decide which author would land in first place on my list, but after a lot of deliberation, I knew it had to be Zusak.  I’ve read two of his books, I Am the Messenger and The Book Thief, and while I enjoyed both immensely, The Book Thief was definitely my favorite.  In fact, it easily found a place in my top ten favorite books of all time, regardless of genre, and it was one of a handful of books that actually brought me to tears.  Zusak’s writing is complex, thoughtful, and poetic, and his plots and characters are incredibly interesting and dynamic.  Do yourself a favor and check out his books, especially The Book Thief.

Do you have any favorite YA authors that adults would also enjoy?


  1. Nice list. I'll be doing one of these at some point. :-D

  2. I'm glad you go into the YA section now!!!

    And I love your list. I would probably add a book or two by Celia Rees to your list like the book, Sovay or The Fool's Girl.

    And the other weird thing I notice is that adults tend to read the YA books you would least expect them to. So many moms I know, have read Twilight. And the other series I see adults reading sometimes is the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr, which deals with modern day fairies...which doesn't really seem like it would appeal to adults too much, but it does. Maybe because the covers are so pretty. Ya books have the best covers!

  3. I still haven't read anything by Celia Rees, but she's been recommended to me a few times; I need to get on that!

    You're right; many adults do like paranormal books, and I totally forgot about Melissa Marr. Thanks for the reminder!

    I think people are drawn to YA because of the pretty covers. I wish you could find awesome covers on every book, regardless of the intended audience.