There comes a point when some teen readers are ready to fly the YA nest. Maybe they’re looking for more adult books or for different authors or for more of a challenge. They may be aged as young as 14 or 15 or they may be about to leave their teen years behind. It doesn’t reflect badly on the YA genre; how can it when so many adults enjoy reading YA books? It is simply a natural step in a reader’s life.
So if you are one of these readers or you know one of these readers, what books or authors do you recommend?
A good source of books are some of the classic writers. Here are just a few:
Graham Greene – his books are ideal in that they are not loo long, have complex characters and themes that make the reader think. Some are even set in exotic locations (Our Man in Havana, The Quiet American). I like Brighton Rock because the character of Pinkie has always fascinated me.
George Orwell – most teens will have heard of Animal Farm but what of Down and Out in Paris and London? Published in 1933, it is a fascinating memoir of Orwell’s time living on the breadline in both these cities.
Ernest Hemingway – he wrote some sorter stories like The Old Man and the Sea, although some readers may struggle with this book and what they may perceive as a lack of storyline. For Whom the Bell Tolls, set at the time of the Spanish Civil War, is regarded as his best book. The story deals with the brutality of war, so is not for everyone.
F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby is a good starting point, especially following the recent release of the film starring Leonardo di Caprio. His writing is beautiful but his story lines are not light or easy. Teens may not know that the film Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt, was based on one of his stories.
Travelogues and memoirs can often be interesting, especially if holidays or gap years are being planned:
Slow Boats to China by Gavin Young harks back to a different age of travel.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini is about Afghanistan. His other book, The Kite Runner is also excellent.
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (the story of Nigeria and Biafra), The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (the Congo) or Out of Africa by Karen Blixen for those who are fascinated by Africa
Other writers whose travelogues may fascinate are Pico Iyer, Freya Stark, Bruce Chatwin or Eric Newby.
Taking a trip down memory lane and finding authors from the past that might appeal to teens today is good, but don’t forget modern authors:
The Secret History by Donna Tartt – young college students influenced by a charismatic Classics tutor
Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson – interesting, bizarre, dramatic and a great opening scene
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd – a journey of discovery set in an era of segregation
A longer list of adult books suitable for teens can be found here. It will be added to and any suggestions are welcome.