Monday, March 6, 2017

Special Topics Paper

My topic was looking at the trend of adults reading books labeled as “young adult” or “YA.” This also included looking at ways to promote it via passive reader’s advisory such as displays and book-lists. Young adult fiction is a massive market that only seems to be getting bigger every year and it is a major reader’s advisory topic. While it is of utmost importance to promote to the teen reader, adults are reading YA novels more than ever. One of the first major crossover series was Harry Potter. This paved the way for a lot of YA books and series, such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, Twilight, and the list goes on.
Crossover novels are books that appeal to different ages; in this case, they are YA books that appeal to adults. Because these books appeal to the “pleasures of literary reading,” adults are more inclined to pick them up or recommend them to a friend.
While it is true that the stigma is lessening to an extent, young adult fiction lovers still find that they are judged for the books they read. Observers or fellow readers will sometimes believe that they are only reading “children’s” books if they are 20 or older caught with a YA title.
The ability to reconnect with our formative years is one of the major appeals to the genre.  We, as adults, are able to connect to the emotions of our teenage selves. There is a genuineness or pureness to the feelings of a young adult. Those were often the most volatile, all consuming, high anxiety emotions we have ever felt. Teens seem to feel things more acutely because their focus is more narrowed; they are developing the ability to see the bigger picture. We can see this in some of our favorite YA novels, such as The Hunger Games when Katniss Everdeen begins to realize that her decisions impact the entire world.
Beyond the emotions captured in YA fiction, there are other qualities that can attract the adult reader. YA as a genre spans many other genres- from mystery to science fiction to romance. You can go to the shelf and find a book for just about anyone. Another important quality of YA fiction is length. 
  Young adult novels can be promoted using displays. Obviously there are displays that appeal to the teen audience, but an adult display can have a title like “Not Just for Teens.” Displays can also be placed in or around the adult section to show that they are being advertised for adults to read. This also helps the adults that may feel awkward browsing in the teen section if it’s located separately. Then there are always book-lists and handouts that can be placed at different service desks or in the sections they are promoting.
Through searching the internet and various websites, I found a handful of books that came up on several “Best YA for Adults” lists. The sites and lists used came from Refinery29, BuzzFeed, InStyle, and Flavorwire. While these are not “literary” sites, they are ones used often by the general public and give you a sense of what people are currently reading and what is trending. I've included the list in case anyone is interested.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
All the Bright Places, Jennifer Niven
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Sáenz
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson
Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein
A Court of Thorn and Roses, Sarah J. Maas
Crank, Ellen Hopkins
Divergent, Veronica Roth
The Diviners, Libba Bray
Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell
An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir
Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell
The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
I'll Give You the Sun, Jandy Nelson
Jellicoe Road, Melissa Marchetta
Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness
Legend, Marie Lu
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
Monster, Walter Dean Myers
Paper Towns, John Green
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
Sabriel, Garth Nix
Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi
Uglies, Scott Westerfeld
Weetzie Bat, Francesca Lia Block
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle


  1. Interesting topic Melissa. I never thought that there was a stigma to reading YA books as an adult. Personally, I read whatever interests me and I have read all of the Harry Potter books and my husband has read the Divergent books and The Hunger Gamers (I didn't because they didn't interest me). The list you have has a lot of books that were made into movies. I wonder what the criteria was to be put on that list?

  2. I started reading YA books because I teach high school and wanted to have something to talk with my students about and stay up to date on what they are reading. Now that it pretty much half of what I read. I like them, there is such a variety and I love the dystopian series.

  3. I enjoyed your discussion, Melissa. I have many adults who read YA because they aren't as "deep" as some adult ones, but they are still able to read in their favorite genres. It was interesting that during our Blind Date with a Book program, we had several adults who chose YA books unknowingly and returned them the next day. They were incensed that these would have even be a choice in an adult program and they would never even try one. Boy, are they missing out!