This week’s Top Ten Tuesday on The Broke and the Bookish is: Ten Books I’d Give Someone Who Has Never Read X. X being a genre, author, type of book, books on a certain topic etc. Hmmm. This is a tough one! There are so many things I could pick – magical realism, books about readers, classics… but I think I’ve got a better idea. There has been a lot of chatter in the past few months about adults reading young adult books and whether this is something we should be ashamed of or even be doing in the first place. As you know if you read my response post to that infamous article by Ruth Graham on the Slate magazine, I think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with reading YA as an adult. So, I’ve decided this week I’m going to list the top ten books I’d give to an adult who is skeptical about reading books intended for younger audiences.
1. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Ideal for: Readers of contemporary, deeply emotional plots with humorous narrative and magnetic characters. Though I haven’t read Jodi Picoult’s novels, I watched the movie based on My Sister’s Keeper and this might be a YA version of this type of novel, only with a bit more humour. All My Puny Sorrows also comes to mind, though obviously it is much heavier than this. However it similarly deals with heavy topics with levity and provides characters you really connect to.
2. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Ideal for: Those who enjoy transformative, character-driven plots, coming-of-age stories and novels about down-trodden characters looking for a way to escape a miserable home. Though the plot is not similar, the sense of social alienation does bear some parallels to The Catcher in the Rye.
3. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Ideal for: Fans of contemporary and LGBT fiction, character-based drama and humorous narrative with emotional depth.
4. Reality Boy by A.S. King
Ideal for: Readers who enjoy character-driven narrative, particularly those centreing on self-discovery and escaping negative home environments and overcoming childhood trauma. If you liked The Silver Linings Playbook, you’ll probably enjoy this one.
5. The Razorland Trilogy by Ann Aguirre
Ideal for: Those who love a good dystopian drama featuring intense battle and survival challenges. Think Walking Dead, 12 Monkeys, The Hunger Games and Divergent (only much better written than the last two).
6. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Ideal for: Readers of romantic contemporary novels and coming-of-age stories. If you enjoyed The Rosie Project, you might find a similar sense of a character who doesn’t really fit in, but who finds people to connect to. Likewise of Bridget Jones’ Diary got a yearly re-read, this will likely be up your alley.
7. The Harry Potter Books
Ideal for: Fans of intense world-building, excellent prose and fantasy-based fiction. If you’re into magic and rooting for a few wonderful characters who are facing seemingly insurmountable odds to battle evil, this will be for you. The characters are all complex, multi-faceted and the plot twists and turns and keeps you on the edge of your seat. You’ll rarely come across a series of books this well planned or this hard to put down at bedtime!
8. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
Ideal for: Fans of class struggle and social study – or musicals like Grease and West Side Story.
9. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Ideal for: Readers of issue-focused period dramas, particularly those with an interest in human rights and equality or US history. For those who read Underground to Canada and The Diary of a Young Girl in their younger days and The Autobiography of Malcolm X as adults.
10. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Ideal for: Fans of psychological thrillers such as Gone Girl. And I am not going to say anything else about this book because trust me, it’s better if you don’t know anything.
There are so many more I think would be great for this list but can’t include because I haven’t read them myself yet – Laurie Halse-Anderson’s books, Melina Marchetta’s, David Levithan’s solo work, Code Name Verity, and classics like A Separate Peace. I’d love to hear which books you guys would recommend to adults making their first foray into YA, and which adult books bear similarities to them!