Adults Reading YA

Today Louisville’s Courier-Journal has a most excellent article about adults reading YA by Erin Keane. I don’t just say that because I was interviewed for it, but because the article is smart and non-sensationalist, and includes some actual facts:

Young adult fiction’s appeal has grown way beyond the school library. What was once considered entertainment for kids has become big business for adults, who are increasingly turning to the children’s section for their own reading pleasure, according to publishing experts.

Nielsen’s BookScan predicted U.S. book sales will remain flat this year, but amid this industry slump, sales of young-adult titles are expected to continue to rise. It’s not only teenagers who are browsing the shelves

There’s no hint of panic about this anywhere in the article. In fact, you get the impression that adults reading the amazingly wonderful YA books out there is a good thing.

Pinch me now.


  1. Tamara on #

    I’m one of those adults who reads YA. If I’m in the bookstore, I’m in the YA section. It’s true, sometimes I pick up a book that’s not mature enough for me. But on the whole, the books are far more interesting, easier to read, and more relatable than adult novels. Adult novels often feel so stuffy and pretentious.

  2. Melissa on #

    I’m also an adult that reads YA – and a hopeful future YA librarian. Thanks for sharing this article!

  3. Kathleen on #

    A lot of people are shocked when I tell them I read YA. It’s as though they want to say, “But you seem intelligent, have you ever tried an adult book?”

    Of course I have. But there is a sense of freedom, fun and open mindedness in YA that is harder to find in many ‘adult’ books. Why do so many people believe YA books are simple, watered-down stories anyway? A good story is a good story, no matter where it’s placed in the bookstore.

  4. Shalonda on #

    Awesome! I used to live in Louisville. I spent my summers working a reading program at the public library there. They have a branch dedicated to teens! It’s the first one I’ve seen and they have a pretty good selection of YA novels, magazines, etc.

    Thanks for sharing the article!

  5. Kelly on #

    I also am an adult (58 yrs) who reads YA. I came to it by way of Harry Potter, as I expect many do, and then explored many other YA authors like Tamora Pierce, Rick Riordan, Philip Pullman, Eoin Colfer, etc. That’s how I found the Magic or Madness trilogy. A fantasy is a fantasy and I like the vivid ones that I can dive into and walk around in with the protagonists. It also works in the other direction. My granddaughter went from Harry Potter to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I suspect that J. K. Rowling turned a great number of adults in the direction of the wonderful world of YA tales.

  6. sandi on #

    I’m an adult who reads YA novels. I am a middle & high school teacher and have a wonderful classroom library. I love reading the books my students read and talking with them about them. But I also love the stories themselves. I make no apologies to anyone about what I read.

  7. Rachel on #

    Unfortunately while adults may have realized that reading non-adult books doesn’t make you any less of a person, teenagers themselves can have a problem with this… last year I was in a high school book club and during a discussion of what to read next I mentioned Looking For Alaska. The group expressed some interest, but when I added that it was a YA book they responded with things along the lines of “shouldn’t we be reading something more serious?” or “well, I really think we should challenge ourselves”. Looking For Alaska is of course as serious, challenging, and just plain good as many of the adult books out there… there’s definitely a prejudice.

    By the way, it was lovely to meet you!

  8. E. Kristin Anderson on #

    Man, that’s a different tune from what I was seeing in print just a year or so ago. More respect for YA = much awesome.

    I’m actually hearing similar from a lot of adult customers shopping the teen section lately – the YA stuff is good and they want it, the end. Woohoo!

    PS, it was great to see you on Saturday! Hope the NYC weather isn’t treating you too badly! 😉

  9. Michael on #

    I been saying for ages that the best of YA as well as being better writen, is often more powerful, more challenging, more thought-provoking, more entertaining and more adult than many so called adult books.

  10. Becca on #

    It’s important for me to read what my kids are reading, and now that they’re reading so much great YA, my addiction is justified. (Not that I tried too hard to excuse my love for YA before…)

    Reading and writing YA is fun, and I’m glad it’s not some secret obsession – it’s okay for adults to enjoy things written for kids and teens, and it works both ways.

  11. Rachel on #

    I also think there’s a lot less gratuitous sex in YA… 🙂

  12. Kaethe on #

    I’ve always enjoyed reading YA and adult fiction, as do my family and friends. Of course, we never stopped reading comics, either. Since Scarlett O’Hara is 16 at the opening of the book, I’d guess that Gone With The Wind would be marketed as YA now, or as crossover. Whatever. The important element for me in a book is an actual plot. While I can appreciate a book about an escalator ride, literary fiction as a whole is a little to introspective and dull for my tastes. I like action, and adventure, and events happening, so I read a lot of genre, as well as YA. Or maybe I just like to read books by women, who don’t get as much respect (reviews, accolades, awards) as the men in mainstream fiction.

  13. Edi on #

    This is great news. Perhaps now teachers will begin to read YA and incorporate it into the curriculum rather that the “classics” with which they grew up!

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