18 and in-between

I wonder if I'm ageist.

It's quite possible I am, because I have absolutely no interest in books featuring characters too far in age or circumstance unrelated to my own. My friends at university will talk about a brilliant story about a lady that does blah blah blah and all I can think is that I really don't care.

Maybe I'm some kind of hybrid live-in-the-moment type, because for as far as I can remember, I read books about people in my age range. I always read a little higher, because the arrogant 'mature' asshole that I am, but not too far. So far, it has worked for me. I read about middle school while in elementary school, high school while in middle school, and yet this chain broke when it came to college because I struggled to find any book about the college experience that contained the same enchantment of YA.

This could explain my recent obsession with fantasy. In fantasy worlds, people are my age, and yet they do not live in my system. I don't need to read about high school, a period of my life that I actually enjoyed, but that I'm over. I don't know how to find books about college that are about magic and fun and saving the world, not about sex and romance.

I suppose the latter are important parts of this age, but I would like to see that they exist along with a whole new variety of books.

Maybe these books exist, and I don't know about them. I would like that to be true.

College has been an experience that, for the most part, I have lived rather than read about. It is awesome and scary, and yet the personal growth college demands has been so extraordinary and above anything else. It also means that to read about college, beyond some Gossip Girl type stories of debauchery (which I have nothing against, btw), I have to brave the adult section.

Fun fact: I have never braved the adult section. I've walked into the adult section and picked up a book I heard about in the YA world, but I've never actually looked at adult books and felt like I belong.

It's weird, this concept of an adult section. There are picture books, and MG, and YA, and all of these ideally cover less than a decade of life with the stories about these age ranges, or the themes prevalent in them. And then there's the adult section, which covers everyone else.

That is terrifying. It is utterly terrifying. How am I supposed to know where to look for the books I want to read?

This could plausibly call for an emergency phone call to Mari. Credit to acklesdean from Tumblr!

The teen section at my library is about three or four large bookcases. It is one of the better selection of books in the city, and I love it. And the adult section is probably larger than ten times this amount of books, and it is so incredibly daunting for someone simply trying to read more fantasies and urban stuff about people in their late teens or early twenties.

It's probably part of the reconciliation process of growing up to realize that there are people that will inevitably begin to have children and that's an important part of their lives, but as it stands, I can't imagine reading a book about having a child. I know those books exist in YA too, and I have avoided them. I also can't imagine reading about marriage as the major plot, because I'm jaded, and because that, again, feels so far away.

It was at this moment, staring at the shelves upon shelves of books designated for adults that I realized how much I need new adult. And by that, I mean that I need new adult to be about new adults. I want fantasies with new adults (Oh my god, thank you Sarah J. Maas), and I want paranormals. I want us to go to space. I want to read about internships, and oh my god a magical university, can you imagine it?

This is not me leaving YA. I am as addicted as ever to stories of magic and intrigue, and I still read about older teens. Like, I'm 18. I'm not a dinosaur.

I'm just enchanted with the excitement of being 18, and knowing that anything can happen, and getting a real taste of independence, and the fear and excitement all this brings. I think the sense of possibility, of coming into your own when you are 18, of the world expanding and contracting depending on your mood that day, when you realize your decisions have consequences, and you start to realize that you can actually make it, when you stop dreaming about who you will be and start deciding who you are, well, the romantic in me loves this.

I want these stories, and I don't know how to find them. Please help me and recommend books you recommend for eighteen year olds, or about college-aged people.




  1. Since I’m someone who used to read YA (I’m still planning to, just haven’t gotten around to it. Red Rising is definitely on my tbr-pile!”) I figure I can be of use.

    I’m not sure how many sex and romance scenes are in YA books with college-aged characters, but I know in the adult fantasy section there is a good amount of authors that keep it to a minimum.

    To be honest, the characters in adult fantasy novels feel like they aren’t that much older than us (unless its explicitly stated that they are 30+yrs). The ones I’ve read have had characters ranging from 18-23 I think, making them pretty similar to YA, except that there are different themes (much more focused on saving the world in fantasy than on, say, romance between characters).

    So far, I haven’t read an adult fantasy book with the main character being someone with a child. And I haven’t read one with marriage as the major plot either. I’m sure there are adult books with those characteristics but there are also a lot without.

    The excitement of being in the late teens and knowing that anything can happen is still in some of the books I read. Usually it also comes with a real danger that the character has to face while also becoming more mature, which I always find interesting to read.

    Recommendations: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. It has a steep learning curve but the main character is pretty much our age (maybe a bit older, I forget). The main character is probably one of the most entertaining, unique ones I’ve read in the past few years, but the learning curve at the beginning of the book is pretty steep. But this is my favourite Brandon Sanderson series and I’ve read quite a bit of Sanderson and I think it’s his best writing yet, seriously a series I’ll be forever recommending to people.

    And Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, the main character Vin is pretty much our age and is badass as heck.

    The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley is another good one, it’s about a young boy our age who has to basically become Emperor after his father is murdered (not a spoiler, its part of the synopsis).

    PS, the sci-fi fantasy comic book named Saga is about an interracial romeo-and-juliet-type couple who just had a kid, and honestly, it’s not that hard to relate to. Obviously when I first read it, I knew I was nothing like the main characters, but what keeps me with the series is their personalities, and the fact that they are very sympathetic characters. No, I don’t relate to their age, but that doesn’t matter because I can relate to other things easily, like the fact that they are not violent people, or the fact that they want to protect someone they love (the way I want to protect my cat LOL). To me, sympathy and personality and circumstances of characters is what makes me want to read about them. If they are sympathetic, have a unique personality and an interesting story going on, it’s super easy to not even notice their age because I’m so pulled into the story.

    Anyway, hope that helped. XD
    Sorry for writing so much, I blame the fact that I write books and tend to naturally never stop typing.

    1. Don't be sorry, I love this. And I swear, I think I'm approaching a stage where I will actually start reading adult fantasy (and Brandon Sanderson, and Emperor's Blade, and Patrick Rothfuss (sp?)). I think that fantasy is currently my favourite genre because I think it is mostly about young characters, or at least the story doesn't age them as typically as in our society (for example, contemporaries about older characters might have people in solid careers, deciding to get married). I don't think there's anything wrong with that, and it's not like I can't relate at all if I'm forced to. I just have no interest in that at this point, and I guess my complaint is that it's hard to wander in the adult section because all of these books are mixed together. I have to depend much more in reviews and word-of-mouth recs.

      Still, thanks for reading Hanna and best of luck with your writing!


  2. Have you read The Night Circus? I could say why I suggest it, but it's a bit of spoiler if I do. :)

    1. Yes I have! I would like more books of that type, although that one did not work for me entirely. My review is posted, if you're interested.

      Thanks for the rec anyway though!


  3. Very interesting post! The YA world was different when we were growing up (we were the first Harry Potter generation, so to speak) so we kind of always had to read up, and then honestly in college we had so many assigned books that honestly and unfortunately we kind of put reading for pleasure on hiatus. So by the time were "real" adults, haha, the YA explosion had legitimately taken over, and we started reading teen books. Guess we did it all backwards? Lol. Anyway, we imagine a lot of readers growing up in your generation, with the genre choices you have, are probably feeling more similarly to you. Either way, all that matters is finding stories that feed your needs and enrich you. :)

    1. Absolutely love your last sentence. Finding stories is so essential to me-- I love books because of that, but I'm also a big fan of TV shows and sports because of their narratives too.

      It's interesting to read about a time when Harry Potter was all there was because I can't imagine it. I wonder if that has influenced my tastes, as a reader, to have always had the luxury to read about people my age and to see myself in the books I read. I don't know if I would be as big a fan of reading if I didn't have YA growing up. YA has really offered a safe space for bookish teens...



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