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Great Books for Any Age

Why the best new fiction for adults is written for teens

Mature man reading The Hunger Games in bed

Many adults are finding themselves inspired to leap back over the fence into the world of teen literature. — Photo by Jesse Rieser

Hungry for a deep, dark, addictively absorbing novel? Read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The gripping story, a post-apocalyptic tale about a teenage girl who fights to survive lethal games televised for sport, has spent more than three years on The New York Times best-seller list, and the movie adaptation opened March 23.

The catch: It's teen lit.

But don't worry; the genre isn't just for the young. The boundary of these books being read only by teenagers just isn't there anymore, says David Levithan, a young-adult author and editorial director of Scholastic Press. Adults are really enjoying the books.They are also driving up revenues. Sales of books for children, teens and young adults rose by 12 percent from 2008 through 2010. (Sales of adult fiction, meanwhile, rose only 3.5 percent.)

Teen lit is so hot that best-selling adult authors like James Patterson, John Grisham and Candace Bushnell recently released their own young-adult titles. This is the best genre for escapism,says Becky Anderson, co-owner of Anderson's Bookshops in Illinois. "Budding romances, elaborate settings, well-planned plots — I realized I liked the young-adult books I was reading better than most adult ones," reveals retired English teacher Sharon Corbitt, 67, of Covina, California.

So which books should be on your list? Try our new picks and talk to — who else? teens. Then visit blogs such as TheStorySiren.com and StackedBooks.org to find even more titles. If you still worry this genre is too juvenile, don't. Levithan has gotten fan mail from readers ages 17 to 70. "A good book is a good book," he says, "whatever the category."

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