Given the enduring popularity of Harry Potter and Twilight and the newer Hunger Games craze, not to mention the movie version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit due out this winter, it seems that more and more adult readers are crossing the generation gap and reading books originally intended for young adults—also known as teens. We already put together a list of great teen books for adult readers a few years ago (which you can find here) but it seemed like it might be time for an update! So while you’re waiting for the new Daniel Silva book or trying to get your mitts on Gone Girl, why not head on over to the YA shelves and try out one of these cross-over picks?
Armstrong, Kelley. The Gathering
Cabot, Meg. Abandon
Clare, Cassandra. City of Bones
Condie, Ally. Matched
Green, John. The Fault in Our Stars
McBride, Lish. Hold me Closer, Necromancer
Nix, Garth. A Confusion of Princes
Ostlere, Kathy. Karma
Reichs, Kathy. Virals
Yolen, Jane. Snow in Summer
Lone wolf drifter Jack Reacher gets caught up in a local mess when he stops at a motel in a small, isolated Nebraska town. What starts with Reacher driving a doctor out to treat a battered wife with a nose-bleed soon escalates as Reacher finds out that the abusive husband is the scion of the Duncan clan, a local family which has the rest of the town under its thumb and has been effectively running a miniature dictatorship for decades. Everyone in the area depends on the Duncans to ship out their crops come harvest time, and the Duncans have been milking that power to the point that no one dares to speak or act against them. No one but Reacher, that is. Former military cop that he is, Reacher has the skills and the inclination to deal with crooks like the Duncans, and when representatives of the Duncans’ OTHER clients show up to find out what’s delaying their shipments, Reacher takes them on, too.
Violent, fast-paced, and light on the moralizing, Worth Dying For is a movie-ready romp. Jack Reacher doesn’t overthink his do-gooding; he just does what needs to be done and if a lot of people get killed in the process, so be it. It’s always the bad guys who die, anyway.
After the publication of his seminal The Origin of Species, Darwin was chastised by his fellows for not discussing the many thinkers and scientists who had entertained similar evolutionary ideas and hypotheses before him. Thus, in the third edition of his work, Darwin wrote up a preface entitled “An Historical Sketch” to fill that gap. But his preface was just what he called it…a sketch, little more than a list of names with very little background or information. Stott here remedies that lack, delving deeply into the historical record to provide brief but information-rich biographies of some of the great thinkers who preceded Darwin’s theory of natural selection. She begins with Aristotle, who, while exiled to the island of Lesbos, undertook one of the first large-scale biological surveys of the rich sea life to be found there. From there, Stott covers other such luminaries as Leonardo da Vinci; 9th century Islamic polymath al-Jahiz; French scientists Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon; Georges Cuvier; Darwin’s contemporary Alfred Russel Wallace; and Darwin’s own grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, among others. In the process, Stott conclusively demonstrates that, while evolution itself was still a controversial idea and one which ruined or nearly ruined the lives and careers of many of its early proponents, it was an idea whose time had come by the time Darwin’s book was published. His work was not done in a vacuum, building as it did on a long and rich intellectual history; The Origin of Species merely provided the most fully conceptualized theory and the only one which provided an observable, viable method by which evolution occurred—natural selection.
Fascinating, well-researched, and never dry, Darwin’s Ghosts is a treasure-trove for both those already interested in the topic and those coming to this history for the first time. Recommended.
In the follow up to her successful memoir, "Fun Home", Alison Bechdel tackles the complicated relationship she has with her mother in this highly personal graphic novel. Juxtaposing her revelations about her mother with the theories of psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott and author Virginia Woolf, Bechdel creates a multilayered account of her childhood, personal and professional life. Her interest in psychology sets the stage for a rich analysis of her dreams, therapy sessions and the personal struggle behind the book's creation.
This memoir is a compelling intellectual challenge for anyone who loves a satisfying memoir. "Are You My Mother?" is an excellent introduction into the graphic novel genre because of its rich themes. With this latest work, Bechdel proves she is one of the most talented authors in her field.
When Lavinia, an orphaned seven-year-old Irish immigrant is sold to Tall Oaks plantation as an indentured servant, she must learn how to straddle the two worlds she occupies. Adopted into the loving embrace of the black slaves who work at the Big House, Lavinia is unaware of how her white skin affects her position. However, when she grows older and is noticed by the opium-addicted lady of the house, Miss Martha, her status changes, and she is sent to the home of Miss Martha's sister in Williamsburg to be educated as a proper white woman. Lavinia retains her loyalties to her black family and when she marries the new master of Tall Oaks, Marshall, these loyalties are tested. Marshall reveals himself to be a hateful and violent master, abusing both Lavinia and the black slaves on the plantation. Lavinia, who slowly looses her will to stand up to Marshall, must once again find her courage in order to save her Big House family from his destructive grasp.
Lavinia's story offers a unique perspective into the world of early 19th century plantation life. Grissom does not shy away from many of the harsh realities of that time but does a wonderful job of infusing the engaging story with emotional and strong characters.
In this debut memoir, Feldman gives readers a fascinating glimpse into her life growing up in the extremely religious Satmar Hasidic community as well as her eventual escape from that life. The daughter of a mentally unstable father and gay mother, who also decided to leave the extremely orthodox community as a young woman, Feldman was raised by her grandparents who firmly adhered to the religious and social customs of their culture. As she grew up, she struggled with the increasing expectations of her community to marry while her only real desire was to indulge in English language literature in her home where only Yiddish was allowed. When Feldman is married to a nice Satmar boy, she believes he will be the perfect husband, one that will allow her to explore her interests which most of the community would frown upon. Unexpectedly however, their first year of marriage is a disaster; full of difficulties with their sex life along with crippling anxiety for Feldman.
When Feldman finally becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son, she finds the courage to step outside her community for the first time. She aggressively pursues a college education while planning her escape from her disappointing marriage and a community where she no longer belongs. Intriguing and extremely personal, this memoir explores the striking metamorphosis of young woman.
The desert city of Gujaareh is a place of peace, dedicated to the dream-goddess Hananja. Hananja’s peace is kept and maintained by the priests of the Hetawa who heal the sick, give peace and safe passage to the dream-world to the old and dying, and Gather the souls of those judged corrupt. Gatherers gather the mystic dreamblood of those sleeping in Hanaja’s city, and the Sharers use that dreamblood in their magical healing. Gatherer Ehiru is known as the most gifted Gatherer of his generation, strong and wise and full of faith. But his faith is shaken to the core when a Gathering gone wrong lands him in the middle of a corrupt conspiracy that has wormed through and undermined the entire structure of his society, his religion, and his government. Now he and his apprentice Nijiri must fight to do as their religion demands—the right thing, the peaceful thing—even though it may mean toppling their entire civilization.
A fascinating, non-Western-inspired, and richly detailed setting and culture; engaging, appealing, and realistic characters; and an entirely fresh take on magic and religion elevate this fantasy to the top of its genre. Highly recommended.
Goolrick’s second novel (after A Reliable Wife, 2009) is an Appalachian folk ballad given life. It’s just after WWII and Charlie Beale drives into the small Blue Ridge town of Brownsburg, Virginia, looking for something. A place to call home, a place to put down roots. Brownsburg, where no crime has ever been committed and where the landscape makes Charlie’s heart sing, seems to be the perfect place. He offers his services to the local butcher, Will Haislett, buys up land, and begins to settle in. But even as he finds his way in the town, he remains an outsider. The locals love him, but do not socialize with him much. And Charlie makes mistakes, too. He visits every church in town before finding a spiritual home in the African-American Episcopal chapel; he buys more land than he truly needs; he begins to feel like a second father to Sam, Will Haislett’s 5-year-old son; and most dangerously, he falls in love with Sylvan Glass, the young beautiful wife of local small-time plutocrat Harrison Glass, who looks at Sylvan more as an investment than a wife. Sylvan is an outsider like Charlie; born in a small backwoods hollow, she nevertheless dreams of Hollywood and dresses and acts like a movie star. As their affair progresses toward the inevitable explosive climax, poor young Sam struggles to understand something far beyond his young experience and is altered irretrievably by what he witnesses.
Told in alternating viewpoints, this is a timeless tale of illicit passion and violence that builds slowly to a haunting climax. Fans of Goolrick’s first novel will not be disappointed.
Eddie LaCrosse is a self-described “sword jockey,” a private investigator for hire in a world of kings, queens, missing princesses, murder most foul, and magic of all stripes. He’s initially hired to find a missing princess, but along the way finds himself enlisted to solve the case of a particularly heinous murder and prove the Queen accused of the crime innocent. Unfortunately for Eddie, the King who’s hired him is Eddie’s long-lost best friend and part of a past Eddie’s been running from for most of his life. The solution to the mystery, too, lies in a part of Eddie’s past he’d rather forget. But circumstances force him to confront the tragedies he’s been hiding and come to grips with his own guilty conscience.
A spirited blend of sword-and-sorcery fantasy with hard-boiled-noir, The Sword-Edged Blonde is a fast-paced, one-liner-littered delight. It’s only the first in a series featuring the wise cracking sword jockey Eddie LaCrosse, so look out for Burn Me Deadly, the second Eddie adventure.
Pulitzer finalist Millet begins a loosely connected trilogy with this deliberately paced character study of a novel. Real estate developer T. has always been obsessed with money; he was the first boy his age to have a bank account and he found creative ways to fill it. As a young man, he is already a success, building retirement resorts in the desert and vacation resorts on remote islands. But his entire world is shaken when he first falls in love with a woman and then unexpectedly loses her to a car accident. Now lost and alone except for his increasingly senile mother, his competent but distant secretary, and his secretary’s brash paraplegic daughter, T. becomes obsessed with things that are lost and things that are last…specifically, on animals close to the brink of extinction. He begins a series of late-night commando break-ins of zoos, trying to be close to the animals so he can attempt to understand how they feel and therefore, how he feels. When he visits his holdings in South America and attempts to track down the endangered jaguars living on a preserve nearby, his quest comes to a definitive conclusion as he is forced to come face-to-face with his deepest and most bare self.
A lyrical, vivid meditation on self vs world, self vs others, and humanity vs nature, Millet’s novel is involving, disturbing, and insightful.