by Jane Ekhtman, Librarian of Tomorrow Intern
Mar 11, 2019
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Rumor has it, John Green’s 2012 novel The Fault in Our Stars reached the bestseller list not by trending within its teen readership, but by its secretly popularity with adults. It’s worth pointing out that it’s usually teens who are embarrassed by adults adopting their media interests. So, why is it when it comes to books it seems it’s often adults who feel ashamed to be caught reading a book published specifically for teens? Why should the nationwide obsession with youth culture not extend to its literature? Or more pointedly, why should anyone be ashamed of reading anything? Young adults definitely feel no shame in reading adult books, rather we are definitely proud when we are able to read books that are meant for the more mature mind and we are puzzled that this does not extend in both directions.

Young Adult novels are a lot like regular novels--the layout is pretty similar (you read from left to right) the genres are largely the same (okay there may be a few more vampires). There’s even a way for you to get YA books recommended to you without doing any work? Brooklyn Public libraries have personalized recommendations available for patrons through the Bklyn BookMatch program. Simply fill in a short form talking about what books you like, and what you are looking forward to reading. Within two weeks, a librarian will get in contact with you to show you a list of five books they recommend.

In the meantime, for those brave souls out there who want to read one of those YA novels that they keep hearing about, from which all of their favorite movies are adapted, I am here to help! You could be the adult, (yes you reading this!), that proudly walks around with a book from the library with a little sticker that says ‘YA’. If there’s anything I learned from reading countless books both while working at the library and outside of work, it’s that we shouldn’t be afraid to follow our interests. And you will not be alone as, according to a study, up to 55% of YA readers are adults.

To get you started, why not go back and skim the Summer Reading for High School students? Or, if you’re still not convinced that you too can read a YA book, read the accounts and testimonies of some young adult and children librarians in the Off the Shelf Pamphlet for Spring, or just read it anyways to get to know your libraries better.

DEMYSTIFYING YOUNG ADULT (YA) FICTION

YA Fiction Genres:

Science Fiction/Fantasy: These books will typically have a yellow-green sticker on them that says “S.F./Fantasy”. As you may have guessed, these books feature fantasy and science fiction elements. You will usually find them mixed in with YA fiction.

Mystery: These books will have a label identifying them as mystery books. Detectives, thrillers, and mystery novels will typically fall into this category of book. You will usually find them mixed in with YA fiction.

Periodicals: These books are magazines, articles, newsletters, newspapers, and scholarly journals. Periodicals may not be in every library, and those branches that do have them may house them in another location. There are only 361 periodicals in the BPL system. You may also find periodicals online.

Short Stories: These are books that are either compilations of short stories, or are short stories in and of themselves. They will most likely be mixed in with other YA fiction books.

Romance: these books usually have a pink label to identify them as romance titles. These will most likely be mixed in with other YA books.

Black Interest: A few select libraries (eleven, to be exact) have a black interest section. They may even be housed in a separate display, as there are few books in this collection.

Teen reading in the stacks
Photo credit: Gregg Richards 
YA Fiction that May have their own Sections:

Large Print: These are books that have a larger print so that the visually impaired can have an easier time reading. Some libraries may have a separate shelf for these books.

Graphic Novels: Graphic novels usually have a label to identify them as such. Almost all libraries separate graphic novels from other YA fiction.

World Language: These are books in other languages and are separate from books in English.

Assignment: These are a collection of books that are typically assigned to students as reading material in school. Often, classic stories are housed in the YA assignment collection. These books tend to be very popular.

YA Nonfiction is shelved using the Dewey Decimal System from 000.000-999.999. You’ll find a wide range of topics.

What books have you discovered in the Young Adult section as an adult?

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