Books for Teens & Adults

Children’s books are the only category of fiction defined by the age of the reader. This makes complete sense and is also nonsense, particularly for older teens. And yet the divide between books for children and books for adults is very real. For publishers, booksellers and reviewers they are two different worlds. And if an author wishes to travel between the two they risk not being read in either. 

What I find frustrating about this is that readers seem to have internalised what is basically a marketing decision. 

I get asked about it all the time. People appear to be obsessed by it. Whose the book for? Is it YA or middle grade? Is it fiction for adults? Is it fiction for me?  I’ve had people tell me they’d love to buy my book but they don’t know any children to give it to. I’ve been to book groups where 60 year olds ask me what a YA novel is, because they’ve just read My Name’s Not Friday and found they liked it very much. I tell them it’s not that simple, or that I don’t know or that I’ve yet to hear a decent definition of what exactly constitutes a children’s book. 

So I began thinking of some of the books i like best and why I like them and who they are published for. What they seem to have in common is the quality of the writing and a willingness to tackle big ideas, to look outside of themselves and invite the reader in. That’s my kind of category. I’m not really interested in reading books that reflect my own life back to me and I’m certainly not interested in writing them. 

I’ve illustrated this piece with images of books which I love. If you see some books that you love too, take a chance on some of the others. The odds are that you’ll like them too. 

As a reader you have a passport, a licence to roam. You can read whatever you like. I do.

And it really doesn’t matter how old I am.

jon walter