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February 15, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more What Is New Adult Fiction?
Some librarians and many publishers use the term to describe a specific subgenre of romance: erotic romance, heavily marketed to the 18- to 24-year-old crowd. These are hip and stylish guilty-pleasure romances with younger protagonists, lots of tattoos, edgier sex, and a more youthful take on relationships. Many of these books concentrate on the transition from high school to college or on being away from home for the first time, passages of unprecedented independence, risk, and difficult choices.
Booklist’s John Charles provided an NA romance core collection in our September 15, 2013, issue, which includes works by such NA romance vanguard writers as Jay Crownover, Colleen Hoover, Jamie McGuire, and Tamara Webber. In this spotlight, you will find reviews of new and forthcoming NA romances, as well as a core list of NA romances.
But some librarians are seeking to define NA fiction much more broadly. They aren’t speaking only of romance but also of books that appeal to readers who have moved past most YA novels and are looking to find characters that share their age and interests. Neil Hollands, adult services librarian at the Williamsburg (VA) Regional Library, states that some librarians talking about NA are often thinking of books that appeal to “both male and female readers, in their late 20s and 30s. The books we’re looking for try to capture the feel of a generation, including integrating technology’s effects on communication and relationships, new outlooks on a range of political and social issues, and more recognition and blending of the genres that younger readers are most familiar with.”
Kaite Mediatore Stover, director of readers’ services for the Kansas City (MO) Public Library, agrees: “These readers tend to be urbanites, wired and techno-savvy, and on top of trending cultural-political-social issues. They are checking out books with edgy content, zippy plotting, identifiable characters, and unusual narrative structures.”
These books aren’t only for a narrow set of readers. Becky Spratford, Reader’s Services librarian at the Berwyn (IL) Public Library, notes that “NA books are circulating well, but to all adults under 40, not just the 20- to 30-year-olds we thought they would appeal to. Specifically, the romances are hugely popular with my under-50 romance readers.”
And what about that blurry border between YA and NA—and the YA titles that cross up easily to an NA readership? Sophie Brookover, program coordinator and social media manager for LibraryLinkNJ (the New Jersey Library Cooperative), shares one guideline for identifying YA for NA: “In YA fiction, the characters’ lives are circumscribed by school, family, and sometimes work. In NA novels, the characters have more freedom: they’re in college or the workforce (or trying to enter the workforce). And that’s one reason that YA fantasy and historical fiction crosses up easily to NAs. In those genres, the age of maturity is measured differently than in our contemporary society, and teens may be far more independent at a much younger age.”
You’ll find more guidelines in Michael Cart’s spotlight feature, “YA or NA?,” which collects views from around the publishing world. (And visit Booklist Online for Michael’s NA-focused Carte Blanche columns, most recently “More Notes on New Adult,” from the February 15, 2014, issue of Booklist.)
Also in this debut spotlight section, we’ve created a core collection of NA fiction, which reflects the diverse interpretations of this still-emerging genre, with titles originally published for adults and for YAs, all with a strong potential audience of 18- to 24-year-old readers. How are you defining NA in your community? Has it presented new challenges and opportunities for readers’ advisory? Send us your stories. We’d love to hear from you.
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