kids books….totally for adults too.


Isn't this the cutest? Photo by Publishers Weekly

There’s this specification in literature called Young Adult.  It usually means books by Judy Blume, Cecily von Ziegesaar, and Meg Cabot of Princess Diaries fame.  So with the exception of Harry Potter and friends, adults usually view YA lit as being relegated to their young siblings or kids.  Well, not so!  Young adult literature actually includes classic work like The Outsiders by SE Hinton, William Goldings’ Lord of the Flies and even David Copperfield!  I also used to work in a book store back in university and the YA section was filled with treasures written in the last decade that were visually and literally stimulating, but were also themed universally so you wouldn’t feel awkward reading books about teenagers and the problems you had already outgrown.  Plus, they have way cooler covers and were considerably shorter than epic tomes found in the adult section.

So I thought I’d share a few of cool and adult-friendly pieces of YA literature!

Cover art by author Ransom Riggs


Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.  There’s a reason why I finished this book in literally 4 hours.  Well, it’s a short one.  But it’s incredibly captivating and combines so many different themes at once – the loss of a family member, the search for self during the adolescent years and crazy tales and photos of peculiar children in an orphanage that grandpa used to tell.  But the peculiarity of the book is not only its story, but its interface.  Author Ransom Riggs trolled the earth (or the continental US) to search for the most unique vintage photographs to fill this book with.  I loved this quick read and I hope you will too!

Illustration by Brett Helquist

Chasing Vermeer came out in 2004 and the moment I saw it on the shelves, I was hooked.  In its most basic form, Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliett is the kids version of The Da Vinci Code; but it’s so much more than that.  The kids in this story are so unique and uber-smart (they go to an experimental school at the University of Chicago) – they talk about art like adults do! The story is intelligent, forged in classical art, and illustrated by Brett Helquist of the Lemony Snicket series.


Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy.  Totally better than Harry Potter?  Many high ranking members of the Christian and Catholic establishments hate it.  Which makes it even better. The book is complex. It’s an adventure.  There’s an orphan in it. And she gets to fight bad guys with a really cool polar bear.  There are so many themes and layers to this trilogy that starts with The Golden Compass (or the UK title, Northern Lights) and ends with The Amber Spyglass that people have written theses about it.  And its a great way to start questioning the establishment and power of institutions.  Especially if you follow it up with Pullman’s The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, which I just did.  I’m not a religious person, but I am interested in the whole institution of it, so this brings some really interesting thoughts into the discourse.  I highly recommend this series if you’re looking for something to spend the winter with!


The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins….Yup…the one they just based a movie.  And I didn’t get what all the fuss was about either since I’ve spent the last few years overseas.  But hey – now that I’m unemployed, I actually have the time to look into stuff like this.  The books are actually quite cool and have joined the ranks of my e-book queue (more about that later).  The setting is dystopian.  The books are violent.  There’s civic uproar and rebellion.  Children are forced to kill each other on television.  And the teenaged female protagonist will save the day in the most complex, crazy, awesome of ways.  Yes, the book is eerily similar to the Japanese bloodfest, Battle Royale, but completely different in its story.  Give it a chance – they’re not calling it Harry P’s descendant for nothing.


3 thoughts on “kids books….totally for adults too.

  1. You forgot to mention that your sister is one of the world’s biggest His Dark Materials fangirls. =P (Did you ever actually read the whole trilogy? That’s such an awkward summary.)

    Did you really actually like the Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ? Obviously it was cool content-wise but I didn’t think his writing and story-telling was as strong as in his previous novels, especially the ones written for a younger audience (I think he says he doesn’t write for age-specific audiences but he did teach children Lyra’s age for years before he started writing full-time), which have gained a much broader audience (as your post points out). It wasn’t necessarily that it was too ideological, because everything is ideological, but it I felt like it took much more from his angry-atheist years (a la Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens) than from his “Tell them [true] stories” ethos.

    His Sally Lockhart trilogy is also quite good. It was completed before His Dark Materials. In the third book, Sally marries a Jewish journalist becomes a late 18th century English socialist. =)

  2. Pingback: best thing about unemployment?…reading! « infinitiff

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s