Your Friday Five

Southeast LibraryStaff Picks

Your Friday Five

Bridge books: YA to adult fiction

Grown-up books are so boring. They're long and slow. Their covers are boring. I'm never going to find a book I like. 

Do these phrases come out of your teenager's mouth? Or perhaps your friend's? Don't fret. You may not believe it but I, your neighborhood librarian, once uttered the very same words. Friends, I was a reluctant adult reader. For most of high school it was school reading and magazines only. 

Since I found my way to grown-up readership, I'm here to help. These books are a few of my favorite bridge titles: books that bridge readers from YA to adult titles. (YA reading is not to be ignored at any age, but adult titles grapple with more complex topics that will expand readers' minds in different ways.) Compelling tales and great writing means that these books will appeal to many reluctant readers. 

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter 
by Carson McCullers

McCuller's books are sad and weird, heartbreaking in their truthfulness: this one tells the story about people living in a small Georgia town in the 1930s. You'll be pulled in by strange characters and children's perspectives, then stay for the emotional story lines and smart, social references.

The writing in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is beautiful but plain, far from the high school standards of Austen and Bronte. If an angsty story won't hook a reluctant reader, what will?
Next read: Rebecca by Daphne Du Maruier.

Of Love and Other Demons 
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Most of Garcia Marquez's writing deals, somehow, with religion and family, but this book tackles those with an extra-romantic swing. Bonus: Of Love and Other Demons is short, topping in around 150 pages. Garcia Marquez's other novellas are excellent too, but none have ever been as lovely to me as this book, with its unrequieted, desperate affection between the kind priest and the ostracized, rabid girl.
Next read: The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie.

The Dud Avocado 
by Elaine Dundy

Paris in the 1950s: who wouldn't take a day in that dream? This 1958 title is surprisingly modern and hilarious, told from inside the head of Sally Jay Gorce, the young, hungry traveler. Dundy tells a tale of sex, cities, and desire for life and adulthood - topics most intruiging to teens! Whether you're the type to jump into every chance the world shows you or just an armchair extrovert, The Dud Avocado will make you thirst for the world.
Next read: How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran. 

When Mystical Creatures Attack 
by Kathleen Founds

Found's book creates its narrative using journal entries, class writing assignments, emails, and dream-tales. The young high school teacher and teenage students in When Mystical Creatures Attach grapple with mental health, relationships, and how to love your friends. Reluctant readers will be drawn by the short, diverse narratives that make up this book.
Next read: On Beauty by Zadie Smith. 

The Handmaid's Tale 
by Margaret Atwood

This classic, feminist, post-apocalyptic novel by Margaret Atwood is a great introduction to all of those genres. The Handmaid's Tale can be upsetting in its frank depictions of death and sex, but the social puzzles will leave you wondering weeks after you finish the book. In a society where class is absolute and re-population is a job, one improbable heroine lets the reader into her personal history and possible futures.
Next read: On Such a Full Sea by Chang Rae Lee. 

All of these books tell us stories about individuals trying to decide what kind of person they want to be in the world. Bridges don't only reach from teen to grown-up reading, they also stretch across big breakups, loss of friends and family, and other major life changes. Stories that help us find our way from one place to the next are valuble again and again along our lifetimes. 

Good luck reading, 
Mandy