YA for Adults: How to find the right books

I think I was seventeen-years-old when I lost my love of reading. Determined to study English Literature at University I put down my kid spy and vampire books and picked up the classics. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the classics are bad, there were a few that I did really enjoy – Huckleberry Finn being one of them. But I realised one day that I was having to tell myself to read at least ten pages a day. A few months later I was in hospital and I bought myself a YA book (YA stands for young adult btw (btw stands for by the way fyi (fyi stands for for your information umt) Okay you got me, that last one doesn’t stand for anything. Back to the point in hand, I read that YA book in under a day. I finished the last page and was filled with that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you’re reading a good book. I hadn’t lost my love of reading, I’d just been reading the wrong books.

So what if technically I’m an adult? So what if the books are ‘marketed’ at teenagers? When I was ten I was reading books way above my age range. Adults all around the world are obsessed with Harry Potter – a ‘children’s book’. Writing is writing, a story is a story. If you enjoy it, read it.

There is a slight problem with this though. YA bridges a wide range of topics and writing styles. There are those that, for me, aren’t as enjoyable, not because the story isn’t as good but because the writing is closer to that of Middle Grade. This can make finding the right books for you tricky.

It sounds simple but I’ve found that the best guide for finding young adult stories with adult level writing is looking at the main characters age. For me, if the main character is under fifteen then the book will be too young. This isn’t an absolute but it’s a good guide.

If you want to avoid any sexual elements then stick to characters seventeen and under. Amazon also does a good job at high lighting when I book might not be appropriate for younger readers.

If, on the other hand you want something with a bit more romance and the sexy stuff that comes with i, then look for characters aged nineteen and above. Also try looking for New Adult books. I haven’t entirely figured out what this genre includes but I know romance is often a key part of it.

If you’re struggling to find a book then Goodreads is a great website. You can search for a book you’ve read and it will recommend others like it or you can find your favourite authors and discover others that write in the same style or genre. Once you’ve built up a bit of a list through ordering, then Amazon also does a good job at recommending books for you. Oh and always remember, whichever site you’re using, to add books to your reading lists otherwise you’ll find yourself in the dreaded purgatory of searching through your browsing history to find that one book you know you wanted to read but can’t remember the name of… trust me, you don’t want to go there.


Ecuador Is Calling To Me

It’s official, this weekend I paid the deposit and in six months time I am heading off to Ecuador – for ten weeks! Last month my therapist and I decided that I needed to take a gap year, so come May (the month my course ends) I’m going to have as much FUN as possible. The first adventure to enter my diary is a ten week trip to Ecuador with a company called The Leap. Here’s a brief outline of what I’ll get up to whilst I’m half way across the world:

Week One – Quito, Ecuador’s Capital City 

Quito is 2,850 metres above sea level which makes it the highest capital city in the world. Most of us on the trip will be coming from England, a country where in some places you can step out your front door and have your feet in the sea (alas I do not reside in one of these places). This means, however, that our bodies will need some time to adjust. So our first few days will be spent getting over our jet lag and trying not to get dehydrated. We also start our Spanish lessons.

Weeks One – Four – Agato

For three weeks we will live with the rural Agato community. The families there are kind enough to take us in, look after us and introduce us to their way of life (I have an inkling Guinea Pig will be on the menu). Whilst we are there we will help to improve the village infrastructure by doing a range of things from building and harvesting to helping in the day care centre and teaching. The Spanish lessons continue…

Weeks Four – Five – Lowland Jungle

This is the part of the trip I am most excited for. We spend two weeks living with the Tsachila Tribe, yes you guys, an actual tribe! Sleeping in huts, bathing in the river and lots of rice (eating of rice, not bathing in it). Here, we will be helping on the Tsachila’s cacao plantation, preserving buildings, cultivating their botanical garden and learning about their culture. It says a lot about me, and about the number of books I read, that I am most excited about bathing in the river… Before we go we are advised to find out as much about the tribe as we can so you’re bound to be hearing a lot about the Tsachila people.

Week Six – Adventure Week

White water rafting, kayaking, mountain biking – every thing Sasha hates and everything I love.

Weeks Seven – Nine – The Galapagos, San Cristobal

After a brief pitstop in Quito we are up in the air and on our way to the Galapagos Islands where we will live and work at the conservation project Hacienda Tranquila. We will help to repair environmental damage, provide clean water to the locals and take special needs children horse riding. By the year 2020 Hacienda Tranquila plan to bring the Giant Tortoise to live in the indigenous forest, so whilst we are there we will help prepare the land to provide a home for these amazing creatures.

Week Ten – Amazon Rainforest

I am terrified of spiders! But hey ho, I have a feeling our stay at the Gaia Amazon Centre will be worth a few mini heart attacks, especially as we get to go on a canoe river tour. (I’m a bit in love with rivers)

If I survive the spiders and other creepy crawlies I will be flying back home at the end of week ten. After I’ve slept for a month I will catch you guys up on everything that happened out in Ecuador. So stick around, I have a feeling things are about to get interesting.