Adults who think back on the books they read as teenagers are likely to remember reading adult books, probably from their parents’ book shelves. Even twenty years ago the YA book market wasn’t what it is today although classics did fill a gap – often with crossover titles like Little Women by Louisa May Alcott or Lord of the Rings by JR Tolkein.
If you are an adult – who were the writers that inspired you as a teenager? Which adult books did you read? And what adults books would you recommend to YA readers today?
I remember reading:
- Evelyn Waugh – A Handful of Dust was a favourite;
- Graham Greene – Brighton Rock, Our Man in Havana, The Quiet American;
- Somerset Maugham’s short stories;
- Empire of the Sun by JG Ballard;
- and as many travel books as I could find – Slow Boats to China by Gavin Young, books by Freya Stark and Pico Iyer, The Story of San Michele by Axel Munthe
There were many more – my father’s shelves were bursting with books and I was allowed, encouraged even, to pick up any book that interested me. And to put it back if it didn’t. Yet would I recommend these booth to teenagers today?
I would – although with the proviso that some were already dated when I read them, so may appear practically historical now! However, excellent writing by authors such as Waugh, Greene and Maugham should never go out of fashion. Equally, many of these books have been republished with new and more modern covers which make them look more appealing to younger readers.
What about books I have read more recently? I have read quite a variety but I wouldn’t recommend them all. The story lines of some seem to be unlikely to appeal to teen readers. I am also aware, as I recommend books, that today there is a need to age band, to worry about exposing young minds to swearing and sex scenes. I didn’t have any restrictions placed on my reading as a teenager and I am grateful for that. So, with that in mind I have decided to put these concerns to the side in this instance. Below is a short list of books that I think have a good story that would appeal to teens who are keen and avid readers. I would not recommend them to readers younger than 14 but it all depends on the maturity and the interests of the reader. The key when recommending these books is to know your reader.
The titles of the books will take you to the BT&M website which provides more details about the books. BT&M has also drawn up a reading list of Adult Books for YA Readers.