Armchair BEA: Young Adult Literature

Armchair BEA is for us bloggers who can’t attend BEA (Book Expo America) in person! This is my first year participating, and I’m excited!

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Young Adult Literature

From Armchair BEA Central:

Our final genre focuses on the younger crowd:  children’s picture books and young adult literature and everything in between.  What are the top 5 (or more) books that every child should have on his shelf?  If you are an adult who reads YA, why do you keep going back for more?  If you are not a reader of these books, think back to your childhood and share your favorites from your younger years.

I’m only focusing on YA for this topic (although I did recently buy The Going To Bed Book by Sandra Boynton for a pregnant friend and remembered how much I loved when my mom read it to my sisters and I as kids!).

I’m an adult and I absolutely love YA. When I started this blog, I hadn’t really heard about YA.  I knew about and had read the Twilight series, but I didn’t know anything beyond that. When I was a a pre-teen/teenager, I read and loved the  Baby-sitters Club series and books by Betsy Haynes, but the books that exist today that are classified as YA are so different. I wish they had been around when I was a teenager!

The BSC books were fun but rarely tackled serious topics or had stories that put the characters in real danger. And they were contemporary. And they never really impacted me emotionally.

The books that I read now that are classified as YA are sometimes set in worlds that I could never imagine, with characters facing off against zombies, monsters, murderous humans, evil governments, ghosts, and pretty much anything else you could think of. Sometimes they take place in space, or in the future, or in the past, and sometimes they have happy endings and sometimes the end is bittersweet.

I get so excited when I talk about YA to people who, like I once did, thought it meant everything was like Twilight, because I love talking about the variety of books that are out there. Like contemporary? There’s some amazing YA contemporary stories out there. Like fantasy? Ditto. Sci-fi? Romance? Supernatural and paranormal and aliens and horror? It’s all out there! (I would like to say that I liked the Twilight series and I’m not meaning to use it as an example in a negative way – just to show that its mega popularity might make it the only thing in YA that people have heard of)

When I started this blog, I was reading more adult fiction and thrillers. As I began to follow other blogs and see what books other bloggers were reading, it was like this whole new world opened up to me. Suddenly I had hundreds of books that I was adding to my TBR list, and my reading habits began to slowly change so that now the majority of the books I read are YA.

I suppose I keep going back for more because I love the variety of books that are out there. I like to read and escape my world temporarily and live in the book’s world, and a lot of my favourite books to escape into happen to be YA.

I think YA gets a bad rep from some for being juvenile and unsophisticated (seriously, the looks I get from some people when they learn that I read YA novels…it gets under my skin), and I feel bad for people who think that way. They’re missing out on some really great books. I don’t know if it’s a book snob thing or what – and there is a difference between people who just aren’t interested in YA (the way I’m just not interested in Westerns, for example) and people who outright sneer at its mention. I don’t think YA needs me to defend it – if you already read it, you know why you love it. If you don’t read YA but are interested in it, yay! And if it just isn’t your thing, I respect that. But when people look down on it or refuse to consider a book just because it’s on the YA shelf at the bookstore, I really think they’re the ones missing out.

And if you are interested in checking out some YA books, I’ve tried to put together a list of recommended reads that covers different genres. I have way too many favourites to try and include them all, and if you go back through my blog – or even through my ABEA posts – you’ll find a bunch of  recommendations. If you’re new to YA, this is my list of books that I think you should pick up:

1.  The Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray

I talked about this one the other day, and I recommend it because it’s some of the first YA I read and I think was instrumental in my YA reading development. It’s historical fiction and fantasy, and it will give you FEELS.

2. Just One Day by Gayle Forman

I suppose I could recommend any books by Gayle Forman, but this is a great YA contemporary read featuring France! And French food! And world travels! I looooove this book.

3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I’m sure everyone has heard of this series now, thanks to the movie, and I love these books. This is a good place to start if you want to try a dystopian series.

4. The Shiver series by Maggie Stiefvater

If you liked Twilight and want more werewolves, or if you like werewolves but Twilight wasn’t your thing.

5. and 6. 17 & Gone and Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

These books have a very ethereal, dream-like quality to them. They’re beautifully written, with complex characters – and also the covers are gorgeous! (17 & Gone review coming soon!).

7.  Hate List by Jennifer Brown

This book deals with some heavy subject matter – a school shooting – and is told by the shooter’s girlfriend. I was really moved by this book,  in tears at the end, couldn’t put it down until it was finished.

8. and 9. I Hunt Killers and Game by Barry Lyga

Recommended for fans of contemporary thrillers! (Review of Game coming soon!)

10. and 11. This Dark Endeavour and Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel

Historical fiction about the early life of Victor Frankenstein, with an element of paranormal. I love these books.

10. Spark by Amy Kathleen Ryan

As soon as I learned that this book was set in space, I knew I had to read it!  Definitely recommended for people looking for a YA sci-fi read.

There are so many more I would like to put on the list, but I had to stop myself. 🙂

I know a lot of bloggers out there are YA fans, with some reading exclusively YA. I didn’t intentionally veer that way, but my reading habits and preferences have certainly evolved in that direction.

For those of you who don’t read YA but are perhaps interested in jumping in, it can be a bit overwhelming at first – where to start? What to read first? I suggest browsing the YA section of your bookstore and seeing what catches your interest. There is so much variety that I really do believe there is something out there that will appeal to any reader.

Happy reading!

6 Responses to Armchair BEA: Young Adult Literature

  1. Leonicka says:

    This is a great list of books! You’re absolutely right about not needing to defend YA–it’s a growing category whether naysayers like it or not.

    I love that YA can introduce people to new genres (sci-fi and fantasy for example). Then you could check out adult or middle grade books in those genres too!

    Great post!

  2. I recently read The Diviners and loved it so I really want to read the Gemma Doyle books soon!

  3. Charlotte says:

    I read more middle grade fantasy than YA these days, which is even harder for many other grownups to understand! Oh well…

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