Adult Books for YA Readers

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As I’ve become more immersed in the book blogging world, one thing I’ve noticed is that it can be a bit of a challenge for young adult readers to transition into adult literature. Often, the reason is simply that they don’t know where to start, or that books geared towards adults seem a bit more intimidating. So today, I thought I’d share some adult books that I think both young adults and readers of young adult books will enjoy.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. This book is borderline young adult, so I think it’s the perfect choice for a young adult reader to dip their toes into adult books. Many of the characters are teenagers, but the story does have decidedly adult themes. I think it’s definitely a worthwhile read, and a great gateway into adult literature. If you’re a fan of contemporary books, I’d highly recommend this one.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown. This is a great transition series for young adult readers because it starts out as young adult and then becomes a more adult story as the main character ages. It does broach some tough topics, but nothing I think teenagers can’t handle. The violence can be a bit graphic, but, really, it’s not worse than watching the news. If you want to explore science fiction, I highly recommend this series.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. This is a memoir – so, also a great choice if you’re looking to branch out into nonfiction – and deals with some tough issues. But it’s also a coming of age story, and largely set while Walls is a young girl, so I think a lot of younger readers will be able to identify with her.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. If you like YA fantasy, this is the book for you (assuming you haven’t already read it). The themes are a bit more mature, and a bit darker, but still completely magical, and something I think readers of all ages will enjoy.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik. This is one of those books that probably could have been marketed as young adult. There is one scene that might be iffy, but it’s far less explicit than some of the things I’ve read in new adult books, so I say it’s fine. This is a Beauty & the Beast retelling that is reminiscent of a lot of YA fantasy, but the story and writing are much more mature and developed.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I think this is a great historical fiction books for young readers – the main characters are young, and it’s an easy book to get into. There are plenty of YA WWII books out there, but if you’re looking for something more to read, this is your book. It’s a beautiful (award-winning) novel, and one I’d recommend to pretty much everyone.

The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller. This is a historical fantasy novel set in a world in which women have the power of flight, and men don’t. Well, most men. The story follows the most talented male flyer competing for a spot in the military that has never been given to a man. This was so entertaining, and I loved all the characters. It’s set in a university, so the characters are a bit older than the typical YA character, but that’s pretty much the only thing keeping this from being a YA novel to begin with.

There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed about in reading young adult books – I love them! – but it’s always good to at least experiment with expanding your reading horizons. There are some really great adult (and middle grade and children’s) books out there, too. Read what you like, but try not to limit yourself. I hope this post inspired some of you to try a new adult book or branch out into something new.

Do you have any books to add to this list? Include them in the comments!

22 thoughts on “Adult Books for YA Readers

    1. Thanks! It’s such an incredible book! And it’s such a fun, easy read that I feel like the more developed themes might not seem like they’re a bit more mature than the typical YA novel, but that’s part of why it’s so great.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think Red Rising was originally marketed more towards YA (which I remember thinking wasn’t quite right), but after the first book, the series is definitely adult sci-fi. The Night Circus can definitely fit into the category as well, but I think it has more mature characters and themes than most YA.

      I think a lot of adult readers shy away from YA (there’s so much to sort through). But there are some great books out there. Maybe I’ll do a reverse post at some point.



  1. Great selection, although I’m pretty sure All the Light We Cannot See is more of a YA book than adult. I do agree about Glass Castle though, it’s a lovely memoir that spans the author’s childhood through adulthood. I’ve also heard lovely things about Celeste Ng, especially her newest thriller.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really? I didn’t think it was YA at all. The characters are young, but, in my opinion, it’s definitely an adult book. (And was marketed that way – you can tell by the price of the book.)

      Celeste Ng’s newest book was great, too. Love her writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oooh, so many of these sound amazing. I mostly read YA, but one of my favorite books of all time is Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. I reread it at least once a year, and I recently picked it up at a Parisian bookstore so I could work on my French 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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