I saw this tag done by Lipsyy Lost and Found and, because I’ve actually kept a list of adult novels perfect for YA readers on my phone for awhile now, knew I had to do it, too! So here is my “Top Ten Tuesday” post: Top 10 Adult Books for YA Readers. I think this is a great post because even though I love YA, I do think it’s good for readers to have a diverse palate of genres. There are some really great adult books out there that I think can get passed up sometimes just because they aren’t a YA reader’s typical genre, and that’s a shame! So here are some books that are perfect for YA readers wanting to dip their toe into the waters of adult fiction (and other genres).
Since it’s hard for me to gauge which books would be better suited for YA readers than others (everyone has their own opinion on what book is the best, as we all know), I’ll just rank these in accordance with my own personal preference. I have a hard time choosing favorites, but I’ll try my best to make a definitive list! I’ll also try to match each adult book with a YA book similar to it so that you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into. And if you’re interested in more YA-to-adult book comparisons, I did a post sort of like this awhile back called What to Read After Your Favorite YA, so you can check that out!
And now, without further ado, here is my list for YA readers wanting to ease into adult books:
10. My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares
This book is, essentially, a hybrid of Twilight by Stephanie Meyer and The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger
I said the magic word, didn’t I? I’ll say it again: Twilight! Yes, My Name is Memory contains all the romance of Edward and Bella with a time travel-ish twist, sure to enthrall all you Twi-hards out there. The story is about a young man with the gift of remembrance; he can actually retain all his memories from past lives and apply them in his current life. But his gift is also a curse, for he cannot forget his true love, Sophia, with whom he is reunited in every life then tragically torn away forever. Now, in present day, the boy finds Sophia again…but can he find a way to keep their love together?
While this book wasn’t my favorite, I did think it was cute and creative, and it really is the perfect segue into adult fiction for any YA reader. That probably stems from the fact that Ann Brashares is originally a YA writer (Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, anyone?), so her style is easily adaptable to either genre. Don’t expect to be blown away by the plot, necessarily, but do try this book if you’re a Twi-hard who wants to branch out. This book will give you all the cutesy romance you need and more!
9. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Mysterious, eerie and haunting: a perfect match for any fan of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars!
Even if you aren’t an adult fiction reader, I’m sure you’ve at least heard of Gone Girl. Dominating the New York Times best-sellers list for months, this novel is a full-on thriller packed with mysteriousness and chilling writing, perfect for any fan of We Were Liars. Just like with We Were Liars, I’ll give you only a brief plot summary of Gone Girl and tell you not to learn anything else about it before reading: A few days after his wedding anniversary, Nick’s wife goes missing, leaving him the prime suspect in her murder. As the days drag on and the plot gets muddled, we see the dark and twisted roots of Nick’s marriage’s past, and we begin to question what really happened to his wife.
I truly enjoyed Gone Girl, even though it is a dark and complex read, and think that its innate intrigue and the unreliability of the narration makes it a perfect compliment to We Were Liars. Flynn is a wonderfully unique and somewhat grotesque writer, and like We Were Liars, her novel is not a light read and requires full attention. But I do think it’s worth reading, and a great stepping stone for YA readers heading into adult fiction!
8. The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley
This story could probably be the brainchild of Nicholas Sparks and Jodi Picoult, both of whom I believe can cross into YA fiction at times: Sparks for The Last Song and Picoult for My Sister’s Keeper. You can see my YA-to-adult comparisons of both of those novels here, which is why I decided not to put either of them on this list. But this novel, because it combines them both, is a perfect YA match
I absolutely loved this book! And I think the simplicity of the writing paired with the tragic complexity of the plot makes it a perfect book for those wanting to cross into adult fiction after YA. As I said before, I think that Nicholas Sparks and Jodi Picoult are two authors who would also be perfect for crossing into the adult genre, as I sometimes feel that their books could be YA, but since I did already blog about them, I don’t want to do it again. But this novel is basically the two of them combined, so it works out perfectly!
The story is about a man, Matt, whose wife, Elle, has always dreamed of having a baby but has suffered from various infertility issues. One day, Elle falls and hits her head, leaving her in a vegetative coma from which she may never awaken. Matt knows that Elle would want him to pull the plug, so he prepares to say goodbye…but then the doctor informs him that Elle is pregnant. Faced with the difficulty of deciding between Elle’s two greatest desires, Matt is thrown into a lawsuit that will change his world–and Elle’s–forever. The story flashes back between the present and through Matt and Elle’s love story, making it both a serious and adorable read. The love story aspect will definitely appeal to YA readers, as it has pieces of YA contemporaries in it, and the struggle with the lawsuit will be the perfect stepping stone into adult fiction. Either way, it’s a beautiful story that is so worth reading!
7. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
I couldn’t think of a YA novel to which I could compare this story because I honestly feel that despite its categorization as adult fiction, this book could really stand on its own as YA
If you’re looking for a unique, quirky, YA-style adult book, look no further than Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. This is such an amazing story about a boy who is chasing after clues left behind by his father, who was killed in the 9/11. As the boy struggles to deal with the death of his father, his quest to hunt down the clues allows him to make peace with what happened during the attack on the Twin Towers.
I highly recommend this book if you’re a fervent YA reader looking for an “in-between” book. This story is incredibly written and though it will take you on an emotional roller coaster, it’s such an impeccable read. And it has the rare ability to appeal to readers of almost any age, which I think is a very special quality.
6. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
Fans of Danielle Paige’s YA novel Dorothy Must Die will love this book
Though it is slightly darker and more serious than the hit Broadway musical, Wicked is an amazing and gorgeously written twist on Frank Baum’s original Wizard of Oz. I paralleled Wicked and Dorothy Must Die for obvious reasons: each take characters from Baum’s story and cast them in a new or different light. Though Wicked is much more adult-like than the somewhat playful and fantastical Dorothy Must Die, I think that if you appreciated the cleverness of Paige’s plot development, you would definitely enjoy Maguire’s rendition.
Wicked, in case you didn’t know, is a sort of unofficial prequel to The Wizard of Oz, in which we learn about the Wicked Witch of the West’s past and how she came to be who she is. And though the writing is definitely geared toward adult readers, I think YA fans would absolutely be able to appreciate Maguire’s weaving of the stories in a fantasy setting. It reminds me, in some ways, of Cinder by Marissa Meyer, mostly because I think both Maguire and Meyer are so clever in taking tiny pieces of the original tale and shaping them into bigger plot movements. I have to digress for a second because I totally have been wanting to point this out to someone–did anyone else notice how in Cress, when Thorne lost his vision, it was a total reference to the original “Rapunzel” story? I was so nerdily excited when I realized this…in the actual story by the Grimm Brothers (which is super dark and creepy, not at all how they tell the story in Tangled) the prince is blinded by the witch and Rapunzel has to guide him and keep him safe…just like Cress and Thorne! Ah, sorry, just had to bring it up because I don’t think it’s something most people would notice, but since I did a whole study on fairy tales last semester, I caught it and was really excited about it. Anyway, Wicked is another novel that I wouldn’t necessarily call adult fiction, but also wouldn’t label as YA, either, so I think it could appeal to both genres (though you should be prepared for some mature content and language if you’re coming from the YA spectrum).
5. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Fans of The Luxe by Anna Godbersen or A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray will especially love this classic
Okay, I know what you’re thinking…but please, hear me out on this! Yes, I know Gone With the Wind is a tome in and of itself, but seriously, guys, it’s so amazingly good. I read it when I was 12 years old and devoured it in three days, and even now it remains one of my all-time favorite books. I went through a huge classics phase in middle school, so naturally, I picked up Gone With the Wind. I was so shocked when not only was it incredibly easy to read, but more than that, it was so enjoyable! I remember risking my computer privileges staying up past my bedtime reading under the covers with a flashlight because I just could not put it down. I absolutely fell in love with it, and even today, when I can barely remember what I ate for lunch yesterday, I can vividly recall the story of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler and all the other unforgettable characters.
So yes, I know it’s a massive book and you’ll be thinking that you don’t want to spend too long on just one book. But I actually read this book faster than some 300-page novels, mostly because it’s so good and you won’t want to put it down. If you’re really trying to branch out from YA and want to try a classic, I promise you will love Gone With the Wind. It’s the kind of classic you can truly enjoy; you won’t suffer through it like some classics (those are the ones I call wine-and-cheese classics, because you only ever force yourself through them so that you can tell your classy and intellectual friends that you read it). In a lot of ways, I think Gone With the Wind is a longer but better version of The Luxe series, so I know that if you like those or even A Great and Terrible Beauty, you will love it! Please check it out. Really, please do!
4. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
For all you fans of Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
This might be a bit of a stretch comparison, but I honestly think that any YA fan at all would love Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It’s a sort of dark fairy tale set in modern day, and I personally got a strong Lightning Thief vibe from it. The protagonist is a young boy who learns that his world contains much more magic than he ever could have imagined, and he seeks counsel with his mysterious next door neighbor/sort-of-girlfriend in order to defeat the wickedness inside his home. That summary probably didn’t do the story much justice, but it’s a short novel that will draw you in immediately and won’t let you go until you’ve finished every word. Neil Gaiman is an incredible fantasy author, and though this is an adult book, I absolutely believe that it could be YA depending on your viewpoint.
It’s also so beautifully written, and though it lacks the easy-going tone of the Percy Jackson books, there are so many similarities between the two books. The Ocean at the End of the Lane would be another perfect segue into adult fiction for any YA reader!
3. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
All fans of John Green’s Paper Towns must check this book out
Where’d You Go, Bernadette is definitely an adult novel, but it’s so eccentric and quirky and great. I saw this book on the New York Times best-sellers list a long time ago and thought the description sounded interesting, so on a whim, I ordered it. When I picked it up, I had no idea how completely enamored I would be with the story! It’s about a girl named Bea with an astoundingly high IQ in junior high whose crazy but lovable mother, a world-renowned architect turned agoraphobic, disappears after Bea suggests that they take a family cruise to Antarctica. Bea doesn’t understand why her mother would just leave, or where she would go, so she taps into her emails and phone calls, tracing back all the clues to find out just where Bernadette has gone.
This book is basically the adult version of Paper Towns, in my opinion. I absolutely loved both books, and even though Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a little quirkier and more adult-like, I think any YA reader would love it, too. It also reminds me a little of Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Wiengarten, but that’s a more obscure book, which is why I didn’t mention it in the header. Plus, it was kind of weird, and not nearly as good as Paper Towns!
Maybe I adored Bernadette so much because I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with it–I don’t know. But whatever the reason, I gave this book a full 5/5 stars (which I rarely do) and I hope you’ll try it and love it, as well!
2. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
If you’re a fan of the YA classic (I always thought this was a YA classic, but maybe I’m wrong? I don’t know) Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, this book is for you! Or if you’re a fan of The Big Bang Theory television show, I think you’d really enjoy this book
Okay, this book is just so cute and great and a perfect light read if you’re at the beach or in a book slump or just want a book that you won’t be able to put down (was that enough of a run-on sentence?). I just loved it! The Rosie Project is about a man named Don with Asperger’s (who doesn’t realize that he has Asperger’s, even as he lectures about them in his classes as a professor) on the hunt for the perfect woman. Don, basically Sheldon Cooper in literary narrative form, has created a questionairre that he believes will formulate his perfect match…but all his findings are shaken when he meets Rosie, a woman who seems to be different from Don in all the critical ways. He and Rosie become friends after he learns of her desire to find her father, and together they initiate a project that will bring them together in ways they never expected.
The way this story is written reminds me so much of Flowers for Algernon, or even The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, if you’re familiar with that novel by Mark Haddon. It’s just a cute, feel-good novel that I think is perfect for any YA reader trying to branch out into adult fiction. Really, I think anyone would like it!
1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
I know there’s some YA book to which I could probably compare this novel, but I’m blanking on it right now…and anyway, this book is so extraordinary that you shouldn’t need to be motivated to read it just because it’s like some YA novel!
Last, but certainly not least, is an incredible novel that is so magical and beautiful, and I really do think it could be classified as YA as well as adult fiction. The appeal is so great for any reader, and I firmly believe that this novel can bridge the chasm between YA and adult literature. I can’t think of any other way to gush about it more, but please read this enchanting book–you won’t regret it!
And that’s my top 10 list! Let me know what you think in the comments section below–I’d love to hear your thoughts about any of these books if you have or want to read them!