PLA Conversation Starter on “New Adult”: A Recap

kelly and sophie

We know. We know. It took a long time for us to get around to a quick update and recap of our conversation starter on “new adult” at PLA last month. But here it is!

For those of you who didn’t attend, Sophie and I (Kelly) put together a conversation starter on “new adult” fiction at the Public Library Association meeting in Indianapolis. A conversation starter differs from a general session in that it is a dialog between the moderators — us — and the folks who attend. We talked a little bit, giving the conversation some context, and then we opened up the floors to attendees to give insight into their experiences or beliefs on the topic. We had five questions prepared, and we went old school with pen-and-marker to jot down the responses we got from the attendees. To say we learned as much as we hoped attendees did is an understatement.

Rather than type up all of the responses to the questions, I thought I’d give you the pictures of those responses, along with the questions asked.


Question One: How do you define “new adult?”/What IS “new adult?”



I think the answer that we all really liked and which I think has some tremendous opportunities to expand upon is that “new adult” is a bridge — a “tween” space — between teenhood and adulthood. If you think about children’s services and teen services, you have that middle ground between them: the “tweens.” The same kind of perspective for library users and readers between the ages of, say, 18 and 30, is a really nice one to have. They’re also “tweens,” just in a different way.

“Wither dude,” of course, asks where the guys are in what’s being published in “new adult” as it stands right now.


Question two: Why do you think “new adult” matters as a category? Or do you want to play devil’s advocate & say it doesn’t matter?




The photo’s a bit blurry, but the biggest response that came up from multiple groups was that we lose patrons when they’re done with being teens and not yet parents (if parenthood is a choice they make). Thinking about them as “new adults” and a group to be met and reached and served is important in drawing them back into the library. Again, the “Tween” idea is a really valuable one.


Question three: Have you had patrons asking specifically for “new adult?” If so, how would you define them in terms of reading preferences, if at all? If you haven’t had readers asking for “new adult,” who do you suspect a “new adult” reader might be?





Perhaps the answer we all got a kick out of — and not in a bad way but in a way that was really sort of a wakeup call — was from a university librarian who works especially with first year students. When she asks what kind of reading they want to do in their free time, the answer is often “easy and steamy.” Which, of course, gives tremendous insight into why “new adult” may look as it does right now. Publishing is giving those readers exactly that.

Since questions four and five were closely related, I’m going to put them together.

Question four: How would you explain to colleagues who the “new adult” reader may be? How would you suggest approaching a reader’s advisory interaction with someone who wanted books that weren’t young adult but weren’t adult either?

Question five: Should “new adult” be shelved in a special place? If so, where and why? If not, what might be the best way to serve readers seeking these types of books? Who should be responsible for “new adult” books: adult, teen, or youth services?



The big thing we dug into in these questions was the concept of appeal factors. WHAT books could fit the idea of “new adult” that are beyond what we’re being sold as “new adult” from publishers? Because we know there’s a wider range of titles that 18-30 year olds would love reading. How do we mine the backlist? How do we read trade reviews and gauge our readers advisory accordingly? The list on the left on the second picture gives a really nice list and starting place.

(We aren’t joking about underground fight clubs, as that seems to be a unique trend to “new adult,” and it leads us to thinking about how and where urban fiction may or may not fit within “new adult,” too).


For those who attended and those who did not, Sophie did a marvelous job of updating the immense resource list on “new adult” right here on the blog, so help yourself to it. There are book lists, a roundup of links and discussions relevant to “new adult,” and much, much more.


Wilda Williams also wrote a very nice recap of our program at Library Journal, too, which you can check out here.


Room Attendees

It was so exciting to see a full room of over 80 attendees engaged in the idea of “new adult” as we hoped they would be. This was an enthusiastic, educational conversation. Thank you for allowing us to have it!



Introducing Special Guest Anne Ursu

We are thrilled to share that queen of middle grade Anne Ursu will be joining us as a special guest for our chat on Thursday, March 6 at 8 pm Eastern time.

Our topic will be Middle Grade. What are “middle grade” books? What’s out there in middle grade? Who is reading middle grade? What should we know to be great reader advisors of middle grade books, especially if it’s an area we’re not familiar with? 


Anne Ursu is the author of the middle grade fantasies Breadcrumbs, The Real Boy, as well as the Cronus Chronicles trilogy. Breadcrumbs was listed as one of the best books of 2011 by Publishers Weekly,, School Library Journal, and BCCB, and The Real Boy was on the long list for the National Book Award. Anne teaches at Hamline University’s low residency MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and is the recipient of the 2013-14 McKnight Fellowship in Children’s Literature. She lives in Minneapolis with her son, many cats, and lots of books.

Please join us on March 6 for this chat, and if there are questions you’d like Anne to address, let us know in the comments or with our Twitter hashtag, #readadv.

Outstanding Books for the College Bound Reader’s Advisory Display

Becky Canovan, an academic librarian at the University of Dubuque in Iowa, put together a really awesome display of this year’s Outstanding Books for the College Bound in her college library. She notes that it was nice to have books chosen across disciplines and that it really highlighted areas where they as librarians maybe don’t do as well collecting some of the approachable texts.

Check it out:

photo 1

The long view.

photo 2

Titles from the Arts & Humanities list.

photo 3

Books from the Lit & Languages section.

photo 4

The other side of Lit & Languages.

photo 5

A look at history and cultures.

Thanks for sharing these, Becky!  This is awesome (and easy!) reader’s advisory at the university level.

“New Adult” at The Horn Book

Do you subscribe to or read The Horn Book? If you do, make sure you check out our article all about “new adult” fiction in the January/February 2014 edition.

Don’t get the print version? You can also read the article in full on the Horn Book’s website here. Check it out

We see this as a natural followup to our conversations about “new adult”  during our #readadv chat and at our ALA Annual presentation on the topic. We hope you find the distinctions among YA, Upper YA, and “New Adult” useful and insightful. 

Melissa Wiley and Quinn Cummings!

Our next chat takes place on Thursday, December 5 at 8 P.M. EST.

Sophie and Kelly and I were tossing around possible topics for our next chat, and homeschooling came up. Seems like librarians are always asking about and wondering about working with homeschoolers. What can they do? What should they do? What works?

So I said, oh, we should have guests. And I had a short dream list of possibilities: the two people who, in talking about homeschooling, makes me want to have kids just so I can homeschool them.

They are, of course, Melissa Wiley and Quinn Cummings. And both these terrific women said YES. So Melissa Wiley (@melissawiley on Twitter) and Quinn Cummings (@quinncy) will be joining us on December 5.

Bios for your reading pleasure:

Melissa Wiley is the author of The Prairie ThiefInch and Roly Make a WishFox and Crow Are Not Friends, and other books for children. Between chapters, she’s raising a brigade of bookworms in sunny San Diego and blogging the adventure at Here in the Bonny Glen.

Quinn Cummings has written the critically acclaimed  NOTES FROM THE UNDERWIRE, THE YEAR OF LEARNING DANGEROUSLY, about her first year  as the least likely homeschool parent ever, and PET SOUNDS, a book of  pet-related essays whose proceeds go to a local animal shelter. She has also  been published in The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, Good  Housekeeping and others. She is also known for her Academy and Golden  Globe-nominated performance in THE GOODBYE GIRL and the television show FAMILY.  She lives in Los Angeles with her family, three pets, and a shocking amount of  pet fur.

And, I also suggest you taking a look at GeekMom Book Dish, with Melissa and Quinn talking about books and pets and stuff.

Can’t wait to chat with you guys on Thursday night! And if you have suggestions for questions to use during the Twitter chat, please let us know!

Transcript: Back to School & Transitions

On 9/12/13, we met to discuss reader’s advisory during times of transition, especially during the super-busy back-to-school season.

It’s not even November yet, but I tell you what: this chat feels like it took place several years ago. This Fall has been crazy-busy!

Transcript: Baby Got Backlist w/Special Guest Lizzie Skurnick

I discovered a bunch of transcripts that I published on Storify but hadn’t yet managed to post here. Sorry about that, friends.

I’ll roll them out one by one for searching/finding ease.

First up, a Storify of our lively & informative chat with Lizzie Skurnick, author of Shelf Discovery and publisher of Lizzie Skurnick Books. Since Lizzie’s bread & butter is bringing lost classics of middle grade & YA back into print, we chose backlist as our topic of discussion, launching the immortal hashtag #babygotbacklist on an unsuspecting world.

Introducing Special Guest Teri Lesesne

We are beyond thrilled to announce that the Goddess of YA Literature herself, Teri Lesesne (aka Professor Nana), will be our very special guest on Thursday, September 19, 2013.

Our topic will be the Common Core and how it’s affecting reader’s advisory in the classroom, school and public libraries. 

Teri is a former middle school English/Language Arts teacher and now a professor of library science at Sam Houston State University (where she’s been teaching for 20+ years).  Dr. Lesesne has served on Printz, NF, Quick Picks, Morris, and Odyssey committees for YALSA and is the Executive Director for ALAN, the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English. In her spare time, she reads, talks about books and reading, and then reads some more.

Teri documents her reading, teaching & reflections at her popular Livejournal and on Twitter. I highly recommend checking out her slideshares, as well, for her ongoing best-of-the-year slide decks and presentations on reader’s advisory and reading ladders.

Please join us from 8-9 PM ET on Thursday! If you have questions you’d particularly like Teri to address, please let us know in the comments!


Lizzie Skurnick!

Some exciting news for tomorrow’s chat!


We have a special guest star, Lizzie Skurnick! Of Lizzie Skurnick Books, an imprint of Ig Publishing!

Lizzie Skurnick is the editor-in-chief of Lizzie Skurnick Books, which reissues the great classics of YA, from the 1930s through the 1980s. A columnist for The New York Times Magazine and a regular reviewer for NPR, she’s the author of Shelf Discovery, a memoir of teen reading.

The topic?


(Yes, this is the fourth, not the third Thursday in August — but hey, vacation and holidays meant we had to change it. Sorry for any inconvenience!)

Remember, tomorrow night, 8 PM EST

See you then!

Chat Transcript: Beach Reads

On July 25, 2013, we gathered for an hour to discuss Beach Reads — what are they? How do they differ from Vacation Reads? How do we find out what our patrons’ favorite beachy authors & themes are?

The Beach Reads chat Storify is available here.

Tonight, we’ll be joined by gory mystery/thriller aficionado & Macmillan Adult Library Marketing Director Talia Sherer to discuss Genre True Loves! Join us!