Twenty years ago, young adult literature occupied a few shelves in the children's section of a bookstore. A few Hunger Games and Twilights later, the genre has exploded into pop-cultural prominence. Although these books focus on teenage protagonists, the genre's appeal has no age restrictions. According to Publisher's Weekly, adults comprise over half of YA's readership. They pre-order books with fervor; they have YA book fan clubs.
Adults are drawn to YA books for different reasons. Some young millennials, like 24-year-old Samantha Tan, find that YA protagonists best speak to the liminal space between life stages she finds herself in. "I find refuge in these characters who are technically younger than me. I relate to the experience of being in between that space of being a kid and being a real adult," Tan told Refinery29. Others, like YA librarian Ally Watkins, simply love the books' prose style."There's this levity to YA. Even if they deal with tough topics, they have a humor. It’s a particular brand of sass that I just adore," Watkins said. Many more are drawn to YA's sheer number of diverse stories.
If you've already been converted to the church of YA, then you probably know your favorite genres and authors. For newcomers, we called upon the true experts — the youth librarians of the New York Public Library, which serves over 17 million patrons a year — to pick out some gateway YA books. Read these, and you, too, will understand why YA is for everyone.