These days, young adult is a huge category in the publishing world. When I was a teenager, it was just getting going, with big, popular series like Twilight and Uglies, but before that, most people pretty much went straight from kid’s books to adult book. It’s great that there are now so many choices for YA readers, but I’ve heard a lot of people say that as they get older they want to read more adult fiction – but that it’s a bit scary. Not because they worry it’ll be too difficult to read (although that is sometimes the case, I get that all the time!), but because it’s an entirely new area of publishing!
When you’ve been reading YA for years, you get to know quite easily which books you’ll like and which you won’t. You know the authors, you know the best sellers, you know the new releases, you know the buzzwords to look out for on the blurbs, you know which genres nad storylines you like best. You get to know YA so well, that dipping your toe into adult fiction can be hard, because you don’t know it nearly as well as you know YA! So I have a few tips to help you ease yourself into adult fiction.
Find authors who write adult as well as YA
This is my favourite way to find adult books I think I’ll enjoy. You might find that some young adult books you like are written by people who also write adult fiction, like Cecelia Ahern (Flawed) or Victoria Schwab. If there’s a YA author you know you like, I’d definitely recommend seeing if they’ve written any adult books. You’re already familiar with the writing style, and you can go on to find similar adult books. You might also be able to suss out a new author by having a look at their young adult books. You might have never read them, but you can put your YA knowledge to good use by having a look at their YA books – is it something that appeals to you? Do you think you’d pick it up? It could say a lot about whether you’ll also enjoy their adult books.
Familiarise yourself with the world of adult fiction
It might seem like a silly suggestion, but go to your local bookstore and have a look around the adult section! Have a look at the new books, the charts and best sellers, and which ones are sitting out on tables or in prominent positions. Read a few blurbs, have a look at the storylines. Every time I go into my local store, I have a look around even if I can’t afford to buy anything or if I’m going in to get a YA book. The reason I’m so comfortable with picking out YA books is because I feel like I know it, so by regularly looking around the adult section I’m familiarising myself with author’s names that pop up regularly, and with what type of storylines are popular. It’s a nice way to get to know adult fiction before diving right in.
Start with genres/plotlines you know you like
Just because you want to read adult fiction, doesn’t mean to have to read whatever is the most popular adult book at the time, or the one that just won an award, or the one someone told you to read. If you’re nervous about reading adult fiction, give yourself an easy start with a plotline you know you’ll like. Love sci fi? Try The Chimes by Anna Smaill or The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. Love a historical romance? Try some Georgette Heyer. Like creepy cult books? Try The Girls. (I haven’t actually read all of these but they’re making my point!) Think up a plotline you just can’t say no to in YA and find something similar in an adult fiction book.
Remember: Adult fiction is more than just literary fiction
There is such a huge, gigantic range of adult fiction. It’s not just literary fiction. It’s not just books that want to win the Man Booker. Don’t be afraid to start light! I hate to use the term ‘women’s fiction’, but I haven’t been able to find a good replacement. There’s plenty of stigma around women’s fiction, plenty of people who say it isn’t real fiction or it’s just for people who aren’t intelligent enough to get literary fiction (hey, is this reminding anyone of what some people say about YA?), but if it appeals to you, go for it! There are so many amazing ‘women’s fiction’ books out there, get started with those! They’re often fun, light, and yes, they can be easier to read than literary fiction. But it all depends on what you want out of a book. If you want something fun and easy because reading is your hobby and escape from a stressful job, great! You don’t have to touch literary fiction if you don’t wanna. There’s also plenty of genre fiction in the world of adult. I don’t know how else to really explain this other that talking about how Waterstones lays out their stores. In my local one, the first floor has more ‘general fiction’, adult books that are general and/or best selling at the moment. Then on other floors, it has genre sections – there’s sci fi, mystery, horror, and plenty more. If you love YA horror books, go straight to the adult horror section in waterstones. You’ll find plenty you like.
Try some non-fiction
Wait, come back! There’s lots of fun non-fiction! Let me ask you a question. Aside from books, what are you interested in? Some of you might need a few minutes for that one. But whatever you come up with, there’s a non fiction book about it. If you’re interested in writing, art, or something creative, try Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Or, if you read books because you love reading about other people’s experiences of life, try memoirs! For some eye opening books about how other people live completely different lives to you, there’s In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park, or I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. Or to hear about someone else’s perspective on life, there’s An Astronaut’s Guide To Life by Chris Hadfield. If you’re interested in things like science or history, there’s plenty of great non-fiction out there. I’d recommend looking at the non-fiction bestsellers, as these are often intended to be read by the general public. Some non-fiction books are geared more towards experts or professionals in that area, but books that become bestsellers are generally easy for newbie to the field to read!
So those are all my tips, I’m 22 (23 in a couple of weeks!) and I still read mostly YA, but my interest in adult fiction is growing more and more. These are some ways I use to help me find some books I think I’ll enjoy when I’m not super familiar with adult fiction, like I am with YA! Let me know if you’re getting into adult fiction, or if you have any tips that could help!