Best YA Books That Adults Will Love

Let’s be honest: we’re all young adults at heart, especially when it comes to books. The YA world is full of plot and characters that draw you in heart and soul, whether they’re slinging arrows in epic fantasies or cooking up delicious recipes in a hectic home. The themes in Young Adult fiction are universal—it’s no wonder over half of YA readers are over the age of 18.

The literary experts at Literati compiled a collection of YA books we’re sure adults will absolutely adore—from contemporary coming-of-age discoveries to distant magical journeys. 

The Gilded Ones – Namina Forna

Image Source:

Black Panther’s Dora Milaje gets a dark fantasy remix in this stunning YA debut about one young woman and the person she wants to become. 

Already looked down on thanks to her uncanny intuition, Deka dreads her village’s blood ceremony. If her blood runs red, she’ll be accepted into the community. If not, she’ll be cast out. But when Deka’s blood runs gold, a mysterious woman offers another choice: to join an elite force of magical warrior women that fight for the emperor. But is Deka’s new path too good to be true? 

A golden choice from Stephen Curry’s Underrated Literati book club, The Gilded Ones is already being hailed as one of the best YA books of 2021. 

Why this novel is perfect for the not-so-young adult reader:

  • A West-African inspired fantasy world that will grip your imagination
  • A nuanced main character who questions her world and assumptions about herself
  • Women warriors with powers and golden blood—does it get any more epic than that?

With the Fire on High – Elizabeth Acevedo

Image source: https://www.amazon.com/Fire-High-Elizabeth-Acevedo/dp/006266283X 

High school senior Emoni Santiago has a lot on her plate—a baby, a full schedule of classes, and a scorching passion for cooking. When the opportunity to improve her skills and embark on an apprenticeship to Spain arises, she boldly takes on the challenge.

Steeped in sacrifice and sizzling in vibrant prose that lingers on the tongue, the novel—like Emoni’s enchanting assortment of recipes—will conjure experiences of love, connection, and even a bit of the supernatural. Trust us, you’ll want to feast on this story again and again. 

Why this novel is perfect for the not-so-young adult reader:

  • A hint of magical realism
  • Mouth-watering recipes that read like poetry
  • Characters you’ll root for from page one

Sadie – Courtney Summers

Image source: https://www.amazon.com/Sadie-Courtney-Summers/dp/1250105714

Can’t get enough of True Crime podcasts? You need to read Sadie. In this dark YA novel, a true-crime podcaster puts his skills to use off the air as she helps a young girl seeking her sister’s killer. That’s some real crime-ception. 

The novel is a force to be reckoned with; it’ll leave you quaking under the covers. 

Why this novel is perfect for the not-so-young adult reader:

  • A stirring True Crime podcast that weaves throughout the narrative
  • A poignant storyline that sticks around long after you’ve turned the final page
  • A search for revenge motivated by sisterly love 

A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab

Image source: https://www.amazon.com/Darker-Shade-Magic-Novel-Shades/dp/0765376466 

If you need a little magic in your bookshelf, become entranced by A Darker Shade of Magic. 

There are three Londons—some brimming with magic, others completely void of it. Only a few individuals have the power to travel between worlds. One of those people is Kell, a royal messenger and covert smuggler. When he acquires an artifact thought not to exist, a whirlwind of adventure, danger, and darkness unfurls. He’s met by a fearless heroine, and together they must act to save the world(s). 

Unlikely friendships? Check. A magical heist that turns into a save-the-world mission? Check. One of YA fantasy’s most celebrated authors? Sign us up!

Why this novel is perfect for the not-so-young adult reader:

  • A fast-paced fantasy tale sparkling with complex characters
  • Schwab’s intricate interlocking of magic and parallel universes
  • Guarded secrets, blood magicians, and epic fight scenes

The Astonishing Color of After – Emily X.R. Pan

Image source: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-astonishing-color-of-after-emily-xr-pan/1126683245

Sometimes, YA novels work their best magic not in fantastical worlds, but in places and people a lot like ourselves.

Since fifteen-year-old Leigh Chen Sanders is half Irish American and half Taiwanese, she feels like she lives in two worlds. After her mother unexpectedly takes her own life, Leigh’s worlds become even further fractured. Leigh takes a flight to Taiwan, the home of her estranged grandparents and the heart of her mother’s childhood, where she undergoes an important personal journey. One question will nestle in your heart long after you close the book: what makes you you?

Why this novel is perfect for the not-so-young adult reader:

  • Invites the reader to explore twofold worlds—America and Taiwan, life and death
  • Families that navigate through grief, loss, and love together
  • Fully immersive scene-setting with stunning exposition

Stay Young with Literati 

The stories of Young Adult fiction are universally relatable—there’s nostalgia, escapism, and even a little bit of magic. Whatever your taste, YA literature has got a book for you—it might just take a guiding hand to find one. 

Hey, we’ve got some free hands. 

Visit Literati to uncover the best books to read with our monthly book clubs, led by world-changers and visionaries. These clubs will help you find your next favorite book—perhaps in a genre you didn’t know you loved.

Sources: 

Oprah Daily. 26 Best YA Books. https://www.oprahdaily.com/entertainment/g31969400/best-young-adult-books/

Barnes and Noble. 50 YA Novels Adults Will Love. https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/50-ya-novels-adults-will-love/ 

The Atlantic. Why So Many Adults Read Young-Adult Literature. https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/12/why-so-many-adults-are-love-young-adult-literature/547334/ 

NPR. NPR Review: With the Fire on High. https://www.npr.org/2019/05/11/721762105/with-the-fire-on-high-cooks-up-a-powerful-message

Kirkus Reviews. Sadie. 

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/courtney-summers/sadie/

Publishers Weekly. New Study: 55% of YA Books Bought by Adults. https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/53937-new-study-55-of-ya-books-bought-by-adults.html

Kirkus Reviews. Three Dark Crowns. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/kendare-blake/three-dark-crowns/

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