As someone who reads a lot of fiction, I know that when I was in middle and high school there were always an abundance of books to choose from with main characters that were in those age groups. However, when I got to college, books with characters my age became much harder to find. As a reader, you are expected to jump straight from young adult fiction with characters ranging from 15 to 18 years old, to adult fiction with characters who are 25 to 40 years old. This is difficult because although the adult fiction books may be great, I can’t relate to the main characters in them like I used to be able to with the young adult fiction I read. This is a list of books with main characters between the ages of 18 and 25 with which this underrepresented age group can relate:
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
This is probably the most widely known book when it comes to young adult literature that take place in college. The main character, Cath, is about to start her freshman year of college and although she is attending the same school as her twin sister Wren, they aren’t rooming together. As a result, Cath has to learn how to live away from her sister and her dad despite being a shy, introverted person.
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
In this book the main character, April May, is 23 and fresh out of college. She is on her way home from her entry-level job one night when she notices a huge sculpture out of place on a New York City street. She makes a video of the sculpture that night that instantly goes viral because identical sculptures have popped up in cities all over the world. April gets swept into the narrative of these sculptures and where they could have originated. This is the only Sci-Fi book on the list, but definitely still worth a read.
Again, but Better by Christine Riccio
Shane is a junior in college who feels like she has been missing out on the full college experience. She decides to do a semester abroad in London to spice things up. While abroad she makes friends and finds adventure, but before she knows it things start to get out of hand and she has to work hard to fix the problems she started.
I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin
This is a story told through text messages and emails sent between two best friends, Ava and Gen. One is starting college on the West Coast and the other is starting college on the East Coast. They tell each other about their struggles and accomplishments while they deal with the difficulty of staying in touch with their best friend while leading two separate lives.
Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
This book follows Penny, who was much too eager to leave high school behind and start college in a new city, and Sam, who is stuck working and living at a cafe just trying to get out of this chapter of his life. Sam and Penny meet unexpectedly one day and exchange numbers. They eventually become more important in each other’s lives than they ever thought they would.
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Alex Stern, at 20 years old, is recruited by Yale’s magical secret societies to be a member of the freshman class. Alex spends the next year juggling her Yale workload, her job monitoring the secret societies, and her magical ability that she never got a grasp of understanding on her own. This urban fantasy follows Alex’s double life – completely normal college student by day, and important figure in Yale’s underground ongoings by night.
Just One Day by Gale Forman
While on a post-graduation trip to Europe with her school, Allyson meets Willem, a Dutch actor. Allyson leaves her classmates behind and runs off to spend a whirlwind day with Willem in Paris. The next morning, Willem leaves her stranded in Paris with no explanation as to why. Allyson spends the next year finding Willem, and as she does she finds herself.