A couple years ago I was over at my sister’s house browsing through her book shelves when I noticed a lot of her books were for teenagers (so-called “Young Adult”), but none of her kids were teenagers. I wasn’t quite sure what to think; was she bad at reading or what? She just laughed at me and told to me to try the books before judging her. She handed over some of her favorites, and sent me on my way. Dismissive at first, I began reading them and found the genre to be quite fun: the stories weren’t complicated or deep, but were compelling enough to keep me engaged. I am now an avid reader of YA fiction and I am not afraid to admit it. I often find that some people look at you funny (as I did to my sister) when you’re sitting there in a cafe reading books for teenagers, but they don’t know what they are missing. It happens to be one of the fastest growing genres, 79% of those purchasing YA books are adults… and they aren’t buying it for their kids. YA offers all the various categories of fiction. You can read about romance without having to spend pages reading about graphic sexual interactions.
The fantasy worlds created in these books are great to help me escape from the stresses of the real world, something today’s adults clearly feel the need for. I don’t know about you, but when I hear all the negative things going on in the world and I am having a rough day and I just can’t take it anymore, there is nothing I like more than disappearing into whatever make-believe story world I have on my Kindle.
YA books are also great for evoking nostalgia. They often remind me of my more youthful years, making them a comforting zone of solace to escape the doldrums of adult life. Society is so critical of YA for being shallow or unsophisticated, and yet it is the simplicity of it that often provides the most pleasure for young people and adults alike. I still do read mature novels for “grown ups” and I enjoy them, but sometimes I just want an easy mental vacation.
Lets not overlook perhaps the most essential part of the secret appeal of YA books: their universal applicability. It used to be just my sister and I waiting for a new release and even going to a book signing, but now my teenage niece and her friends all join us. I see many generations of people all excitedly awaiting the new book by the hot author of the day. I can’t wait to share with my own kids some of the books I have discovered, when they are old enough.
For people who feel the YA category is just too “immature” for them, there is an emerging new genre called New Adult Fiction. It bridges that slight gap between Young Adult and Adult genres. It typically features characters between the ages of 18 and 26, whereas YA’s characters are generally ages 16 to 19. It is already quite popular, more sexual in nature than the younger YA genre and so must be separated for obvious reasons. It has been called “soft core mommy porn”: more than the fleeting touches and shy looks of YA, but lacking the explicit details of adult romance. New Adult fiction tends to focus on issues such as leaving home, developing relationships and sexuality, and negotiating education and career choices — the college years, as it were. The genre has gained popularity rapidly over the last few years and you can find quite a lot of it available to read.
Recommendations can be tricky things, but here a few good ones that are very popular to get you introduced to the genre.
Cassandra Clare has written a series called “Mortal Instuments” about a normal teenage girl that stumbles into a supernatural world that no other humans can see. It’s an interesting world she creates a even though it has some of the traditional creatures you might expect — vampires, werewolves, etc — it also some new ideas. It has loads of action to take you on a wild ride.
Kiera Cass has a YA series called “The Selection” that is somewhat similar to Hunger Games, but without all the bloodsport and death. Thirty-five girls are competing to escape from the life laid out for them and be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels in order to win the heart of a prince.
Karen Marie Moning‘s “Fever” series is more of New Adult than a YA. It begins with 18 year old Mackayla Lane who’s sister is murdered with only a single clue left behind to find the murderer. She gets drawn into a shadowy realm of magic and ancient monsters, and discovers her own unusual powers. The characters are interesting and the story draws you along. It has some sexual content along the way so I don’t recommend it for the underage.
If you have any good reading suggestions please comment below — I am always looking for more books to read! Also I post books that I have read on Mommy Perfect’s Pinterest page.
If you’re interested in sharing Kindle books with me and other Mommy Perfect readers, I’ve put together a group on Good Reads where we can swap and share ebooks using Kindle’s Lending feature. Come join and lets share some good reads!
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