One look at my TBR pile, and you'll see it's overloaded with young adult novels. I'm not ashamed of it, and all too often I get asked if I read any other types of books, to which I of course I answer: YES. I may love YA, but I don't just read one thing! And neither should you. (And that goes the other way, too — I think everyone should read a little bit of YA!)
Maybe it's finally time that that you look beyond the borders of YA and shake up that reading list, whatever your reason. Perhaps, though, you've had a hard time breaking and finding the non-YA books that really speak to you. I get it. So, I wanted to create a list of books that are not YA, but have similar qualities that our YA-loving minds will enjoy reading.
A lot of times YA is recognized for its brilliant young characters, adventurous plot lines, and action-packed pages. Although those are all fantastic qualities of the genre, the voice of the story is often what really hooks readers into YA and makes it unique. There are plenty of other books within a realistic setting and have adult main characters that aren't dull. The ones I've listed have incredibly strong voices, characters you'll fall in love with, and story lines unlike anything you've ever read before. Ready to try them out?
The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman
Have you ever read the books or watched the film adaptations of Aquamarine or Practical Magic? If you enjoyed them, then odds are you like Alice Hoffman's work. The Museum of Extraordinary Things is a historical fiction novel that also combines her talent of magical realism. Taking place during the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, a man and woman cross paths to create an unforgettable story. With a gripping romance and historical events not mentioned in your history books, Hoffman's voice and vivid writing will keep you turning pages faster than any YA novel you've ever read before.
Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell
This is what I would consider a good transition away from YA. Margo Crane is just 16 years old, but this isn't exactly a YA book. Due to an unstable family, drug abuse, and the search of her absent mother, it isn't long before Margo is on her own fending for herself in the woods during the cold Michigan winter. This book isn't plot-driven, but more like a piece of artwork changing over the course of time. You'll love it because of the character development and strong female presence this story has to offer.
Room by Emma Donoghue
This heartbreaking novel is told by Jack, a 5-year-old who has never stepped foot in the real world. His mother, kidnapped as a teen and forced to live in a shack in the backyard of her kidnapper, is finally ready to escape now that Jack is old enough to help her. Jack's innocent voice and thoughts, paired with some terrifying realities, makes this book an absolute must-read. Plus, it's becoming a movie this fall, so make sure to go snatch it up while you can!
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
One of the best ways to know if you'll enjoy a non-YA book is to read something by an author who also writes YA. If you loved Sherman Alexie's The Absolute True Story of a Part-Time Indian, then you're going to fall madly in love with this novel. Touching on issues of culture, spirituality, and the life on an Indian reservation in modern times, this is an unforgettable book with equally memorable characters. With every page, you'll be amazed by Alexie's honest and compelling voice.
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Jennifer Egan writes beautifully about her two main characters, Bennie and Sasha, who can't help but wonder where their time went as they grow older. This unique novel will offer a new perspective on how to tell a story, and as you take a break from YA, A Visit from the Goon Squad is just what you'll need. Like puzzle pieces, the chapters of this story with ultimately design a masterpiece you won't be able to stop thinking about.
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
This classic is one amazingly feminist novel that you will adore. If you're a fan of YA dystopia and futuristic settings, then this is the book for you. In this future, pregnancies are declining and women are no longer allowed to read (or do much of anything for that matter). Offred remembers her past as a free woman with a husband and friends as she's forced into a new, and horrible lifestyle. Margaret Atwood targets strong themes of gender role issues and human rights in The Handmaid's Tale.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Water for Elephants is a story I hold close to my heart. It's exciting, enchanting, and terrifying all in one. Be ready to go back in time to the the circus during the Great Depression and be completely mind-blown by the events about to unfold within Jacob Jankowski's memory. This novel will satisfy your YA addiction because of the wide variety of characters, building plot line, and an ending you never saw coming.
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