YA for Adults: Why We Read it & Recommendations

YA books are about changing the world.

(Hay, 2019)

If you’re an adult who reads YA, you’re not alone. While dated now, a study performed in 2012 discovered that more than half of YA book sales came from adults, particularly those aged 30-44. My first challenge to this statistic was “of course! Adults are buying YA books for their teenage children”, but the study further explains that 78% of the adults buying YA books were actually buying them to read themselves (Publishers Weekly, 2012). If you follow the math, this means about 43% of all YA book sales were going directly to adult readers. These statistics do not include library users, so the overall number of adults reading YA was likely higher.

Ten years later in 2022, I think it’s safe to assume the number of adults reading YA titles is much higher with the rise of BookTube and Booktok, platforms where many adults and teens are sharing their favorite young adult titles on YouTube and TikTok. In fact, the 26% increase in YA fiction sales from 2020 to 2021 has been attributed to the insurgence of BookTok videos recommending backlist YA books with bestselling titles They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera and We Were Liars by E. Lockhart front and center (The NPD Group, 2021). Although both of these books are older (published in 2017 and 2014, respectively), I can personally confirm that I’ve seen both wildly promoted on the platform.

So we understand that YA as a genre is booming, but why does it appeal so heavily to adult readers? Personally, I continue to find myself connecting with coming-of-age stories even as an adult because I’m always learning, growing, and coming into myself no matter how many years have passed and I haven’t found something with quite the same feel in adult literature. Similarly, English Literature professor Virginia Zimmerman explains that “to come of age is perhaps the most common ground there could be among readers. Adults recognize it as something they’ve been through, but they also recognize it as something of a fantasy. It suggests some sort of stable existence. And as adults, we know that we continue to change, continue to come of age.” She also goes on to say that “the YA books that have been popular with adults are dark and serious and hard. People might to go to YA literature to sink into a reality different than their own, but I think they sink into that reality to encounter feelings, challenges, and relationships they recognize from their own lives” (The Atlantic, 2017). In essence, adults are reading YA novels to connect with characters they relate to and feel their emotions deeply.

On the other side of the coin, Spencer Miller says:

Another reason I personally love YA is reading about experiences I don’t relate to. I read to understand what it is like to be a young person today, especially a young person who is growing up completely differently then I did. Most of my recent learning about race, sex, gender, ability and other important facets of identity has come from reading about the diverse experiences of characters in YA fiction. The books I’m reading are having all the conversations no one wanted to have with me when I was teenager. My anxieties about addiction, violence, and the climate crisis are calmed by the realizations and determination of YA protagonists.

Spencer Miller, 2020

Blogger Monica Hay asked similar questions to four publishing professionals as well as adult readers of YA which resulted in 2139 responses. Many of these responses indicate that adults are reading YA titles because they’re fun to read, full of escapism from everyday life, and contain more female-driven stories and are less pretentious than adult literature. In addition to these responses, Monica deduced that much of the reasoning provided by readers hinted to the tone of YA titles. Many respondents claimed that reading YA left them feeling hopeful with one respondent claiming that “adult books are about learning to live in the world we have. YA books are about changing the world” (Hay, 2019).

No matter why you read it, there’s space for you in the reading community as an adult reader of YA books. I hope you find the below recommendations helpful and are comforted by the knowledge that, no matter what you read, you’re not alone!

If you’re an adult who loves to read YA or wants to give it a shot, check out our new summer book club! Follow the library’s social media for updates about monthly picks and go to our events page to sign up.


The Atlantic. (2017, December 1). Why so many adults love young adult literature. https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/12/why-so-many-adults-are-love-young-adult-literature/547334/

Hay, Monica. (2019, November 6). Why do adults read young adult books? https://ooligan.pdx.edu/adults-read-ya/

Miller, Spencer. (2020, January 29). Reading YA as an adult. https://bookstacked.com/features/hidden-adult-in-ya/

The NPD Group. (2021, May 25). 2021 is shaping up to be a very good year for young adult fiction. https://www.npd.com/news/press-releases/2021/2021-is-shaping-up-to-be-a-very-good-year-for-young-adult-fiction/

Publishers Weekly. (2012). New study: 55% of YA books bought by adults. https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/53937-new-study-55-of-ya-books-bought-by-adults.html

Kadey’s Reading Recommendations

Please check content warnings before reading. You can generally find them in Goodreads reviews or on Book Trigger Warnings.

YA Books I Recommend for Adults

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker (Duology, book two releasing this year)

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody (Completed Trilogy)

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong (Completed Duology with side series releasing this year)

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (Completed Duology)

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson (Completed Trilogy)

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson (Completed Trilogy with side story)

The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Completed Trilogy)

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (Completed Duology)

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim (Completed Duology)

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue (Trilogy, book two releasing this year)

Anything by Alice Oseman:

Radio Silence



Heartstopper Graphic Novels 1-4

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Adult/New Adult Books I Recommend for Adults who Read YA

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (series, book 2 releasing 2023) *check content warnings*

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang

The Binding by Bridget Collins

Three Rooms by Jo Hamya

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik (Trilogy with book 3 releasing this year)

The Verifiers by Jane Pek

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

The Cartographers by Peng Shephard

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe

Happy Earth Day!

Friday, April 22nd, 2022 is Earth Day’s 52nd celebration! Looking for books for yourself or your littles? We’ve compiled a list of books with Earth Day themes to check out:

How can you celebrate Earth Day this year?

Learning Resources

Ancient Earth Globe (Interactive): https://dinosaurpictures.org/ancient-earth#750

Climate and Environmental Literacy Education and Action Resources: https://www.earthday.org/education-resource-library/

Earth Day History: https://www.earthday.org/history/

Geology of Ohio: https://ohiodnr.gov/discover-and-learn/rock-minerals-fossils/geology-of-ohio

More Earth Day History: https://www.epa.gov/history/epa-history-earth-day

Recycle Right: https://recycleright.org/

Wiki Watershed: https://wikiwatershed.org/

52 Ways to Invest in Our Planet: https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-tips/

PCPL’s Spring Break To-Do List

Looking for some fun, and FREE, activities to do over spring break? Look no further, Plain City Public Library has you covered! Check out the ideas below to read, walk, learn, and create your way through spring break. (And did we mention they’re all FREE?)

Visit the StoryWalk at Pastime Park

Visit the StoryWalk® at Plain City’s Pastime Park, an innovative and delightful way for children — and adults! — to enjoy reading and the outdoors at the same time. Pages from a children’s book are displayed in cases, which are installed along the walking path at Pastime Park. As you stroll down the trail, you’re directed to the next page in the story. Find out more about the StoryWalk®.

Find a great NEW book to read

Why not dive into a new book? Check out lists of new and recommended books to place holds online or make a trip to the library to see what new releases are available so you can take one home today.

Test out a new recipe

Check out PCPL’s new Cookbook Club! Grab a copy of our featured cookbook, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Wisdom from an Obsessive Home Cook by Deb Perelman make a recipe or two, and join us for a potluck and discussion. Find more information here.

Pick up a Take & Make Kit

While waiting for spring outdoors, bring a little green indoors with a mini terrarium Take & Make kit.  A limited number of kits will be available for pick up and include everything needed to start a pint-sized jar terrarium at home, including a unique surprise mini figure. Supplies are limited and are available beginning March 17!

Check out a puzzle, game, robot, or Snap Circuit kit

PCPL has a large collection of puzzles and board games for all ages, as well as Botley coding robots and Snap Circuit kits*! A rainy spring day is the perfect time to work on a 3D puzzle or try a new game. From Candy Land and card games to Avengers Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit, the library has a game for everyone! You can even check out a kit to host your own murder mystery.

*Please note that only established PCPL patrons are eligible to check out these items

Stop by a Little Lending Library

Little Lending Libraries are 24/7 book-sharing boxes that typically include books for children, teens, and adults. Take or give as many books as you’d like! Little Free Libraries have been popping up all around Plain City. You can find an interactive map of Little Lending Libraries in the Plain City area here.

Don’t forget to tag us in your social media posts! Use #PCLibrary to let us know which to-do’s you’ve checked off your list. Have a fun and safe spring break!

2022 Reading Challenge

Are you up for a challenge? Check out this 2022 Reading Challenge from NoveList. With subjects and genres for beginners and aficionados, you’ll be sure to try something new!

Visit NoveList Plus, a comprehensive readers’ advisory resource for fiction and nonfiction, to help you find your next great read. This service is free with your Plain City Public Library card.

Your Personal Librarian

Have you ever wished you could have a personal shopper…at the library? Whether you’re short on time or are in a reading rut and want to discover a new author, our team of librarians will pick out your material for you!

We ask for 24 hours notice and a limit of 10 items per patron per pickup. Patrons can request collections for pickup as often as they like. Just answer a few questions and Your Personal Librarian will be happy to select books and other materials just for you! Click here to get started: