As I created a shelf-talker for the Young Adult display of Dino Buzzati's, The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily, I realized the words I had written (brutal and horrific) are probably two words parents don't necessarily want to be used to describe their son or daughter's next book choice. This got me thinking, again, about the blurry line which oftentimes divides Young Adult (YAX) and adult books.
Buzzati's book is a perfect example of a story which I'm certain many adults would love, yet it's published via the New York Review of Books Children's Collection, thus making its home the shelves of YAX, a land not frequented by many adults without a child in mind. Buzzati has works in both the adult and YAX sections, as do: Roald Dahl, James Patterson, Jules Verne, Sherman Alexie, Orson Scott Card, Hans Christian Andersen, Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson and numerous others. Many of the deemed "classics" are read in middle school and high school classes, therefore those books are sometimes shelved in multiple places as well.
In an attempt to know the product I'm surrounded by, I try to read a few YAX titles, which are usually books I'd otherwise never come across. "Grimble" (Clement Freud/McSweeney's), Against the Odds (Marjolin Hof), The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (Joan Aiken), The Magician's Elephant (Kate DiCamillo) and Pam Munoz Ryan's forthcoming, The Dreamer, are all YAX titles I read last year; they stand proudly on their own as quality literature and are some of the best I read in '09.
I suppose the bottom line is this: a good YA title should be able to be read by adults. So if you're at a blank as to what your next read will be while perusing the regular fiction, you should give the Young Adult section a go.
Also, if you want to read more about the publishing aspect of YA vs. Adult, check this article out from the NY Times.