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Books That May Or May Not Be New Adult
I say “may or may not be” New Adult because as we’ve seen, there isn’t a general consensus on definition. Also, the books that have already been published that may meet the reading interests of those wanting New Adult are to be found in many different aisles of the library or bookstore. See my previous posts, What is New Adult and New Adult, Where Does It Go.
Where does one start?
First, go back to the posts from What is New Adult. Many have titles, especially for recent books. The New York Times article, for instance, mentions some recent books; and the post at Stacked Books contains a long list of books.
I believe that there are books that meet this reading need, and have been. Now, finding them — that is the thing, but that is always the thing. So this is a mix of “where to look” as well as specific titles. Whether they fit someone’s specific reading interests, well, that could vary. For example, I believe that some of the adult books recommended for teen readers fall under “New Adult.” So, here you go!
Alex Awards. Administered by YALSA, a division of ALA. As explained at the Wikipedia entry, it is “designed to commend and honor the ten books published for adults during the previous year, which have been also judged to have “special appeal” for young readers, primarily those in the 12 to 18 age range.” The full list of winners, going back to 1998, are at both Wikipedia and the YALSA site.
Reading Rants has some lists that may help out: Slacker Fiction: Twenty-Something Reads for Older Teens and Why Should Your Parents Have All The Fun? Adult Reads for Teens.
Here at School Library Journal, there is the blog Adult Books 4 Teens.
There are blogs like NA Alley that focus on New Adult titles. There are also bloggers who feature New Adult, such as Mostly YA Book Obsessed’s Top 2012 New Adult Books. One problem I had finding specific blogs and posts and lists had to do with the term “New Adult” because I kept finding people talking about new adult books rather than “New Adult” books.
Booklists of titles set in college, with comments about some of the books in those lists that I’ve read.
The Fictionistas, College Daze. I LOVE that it includes Patterson’s Kiss the Girls.
Flashlight Worthy, Back to School: Campus Novels. Tam Lin by Pamela Dean is such a terrific college book AND fantasy. Class Reunion by Jaffe is typical of the types of college-setting books I found when in high school. The Secret History by Tartt…. I adore that book so, so much.
Flavorwire, Fifteen Great Novels Set at Real-Life Colleges. If you’re hungering for college setting books and you haven’t read The Rules of Attraction by Ellis, stop reading this post and go track down a copy now. And Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited! I didn’t even think about that one, until looking at that list.
Back in 2003, I put together a list of YA books set in college. As I read through them, it’s mainly first year at college experiences. Here they are: Battle Dress by Amy Efaw, a young woman’s freshman year at West Point; Better Than Running at Night by Hillary Frank, a freshman art student at college; Beyond the Limbo Silence, a young woman from Trinidad attends college in Wisconsin; Body Bags by Christopher Golden, a mystery series featuring a college freshman; Jesse by Gary Soto, about two brothers at junior college; My Father’s Scar by Michael Cart, about a young man in his freshman year at college; My Life as a Girl By Elizabeth Mosier, another college freshman story (and wow I wish this author had written more books); Number 6 Fumbles by Rachel Solar-Tuttle, about the impact of uncertainty on one’s actions as a college student tries to find herself; An Ocean Apart, A World Away by Lensey Namioka, in the 1920s, a teenager travels from China to Cornell University to study to be a doctor; On My Own, by Caitlin O’ Connor by Melody Carlson, again a freshman look at college but this time from a Christian author; The Squared Circle by James Bennett, a college freshman but this time a young man who is a basketball player; Sweetest Gift by Stephanie Perry Moore, African-American teenager Payton, freshman year at college, and also Christian fiction; Worst Case Scenario by Catherine Clark, yet another freshman year at college.
A book I remember fondly from my own “new adult” years is Tell Me If the Lovers Are Losers by Cynthia Voigt, about three different girls thrown together as roommates.
From shortly after I wrote that list, above, Lara M. Zeises’ Bringing Up The Bones, with the main character taking off a year before college.
Some non-college-setting books:
Melina Marchetta’s the Chronicles of Lumatere have main characters who are in their late teens, early twenties.
Megan Whalen Turner is a bit vague about how old Gen is in The Thief books, but given the time span of the books, I think late teens is true for at least some of the books.
The Uninvited by Tim Wynne-Jones features college aged main characters, and is a haunting mystery/suspense tale.
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride is funny horror/supernatural staring a slacker who isn’t going to college.
Pure by Julianna Baggott is an adult post-nuclear dystopia featuring main characters who are in their mid-to-late teens.
Sweetly by Jackson Pearce has main characters who are teens, not in high school or college. They are a bit adrift as they look for a place to belong, as well as fighting off werewolves.
I wonder if the first Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear would work? Maisie’s backstory, as told here, is fascinating: a young servant whose intelligence is recognized by the family she works for. She works full time and is tutored after work, eventually going off to University as well as becoming a nurse during World War I. But, as with the characters in Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Maisie knows what she wants from life. There is no “figuring it out” but rather “getting it done.” Does that matter?
I have to admit, having read mostly young adult books these past years, I am not as strong with what adult books fit the reading needs. What suggestions do you have, from science fiction, fantasy, mystery, historical fiction, etc.? In both adult and young adult?
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About Elizabeth Burns
Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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