Some time last year, I was talking with my boyfriend about the many YA books being turned into movies (Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars, Mockingjay, etc.) and he made fun of me for calling young adult "YA". He knows what the young adult genre is, but he didn't think it made sense for me to abbreviate it because "nobody but you would call it that."
Having been part of the book blogging community for a little while now, "YA" is written EVERYWHERE. More times than "young adult," I'd think! But to people who don't read at all (like my boyfriend — although I did get him to read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire!) I understand why it could be kind of confusing.
While I was waiting to get a new phone at the Apple store, the guy who helped me out asked about the type of books I like to read after I told him I like reading. Remembering the conversation with my boyfriend, I said "mostly young adult fiction" (in case he wasn't a reader) and his response was "oh, like the ones with vampires?" I was SO confused. Luckily, my brother (who was with me) knew he was talking about Twilight.
It's kind of strange knowing that the first thing people think of when they hear "young adult" could be Twilight. It's a bit sad too, because Twilight has given YA a bad reputation (I've only read the first book so I don't have much of an opinion about the series/movies) so I brought up The Hunger Games because I figured it was one he would most likely know.
Talking about YA with people who don't read isn't a problem to me — the only issue I have is coming up with examples. Without YA book-to-movie adaptations, I have no idea what I'd say.
So how do you explain what "YA" is to people who aren't familiar with bookish terms? Would you rather just say "young adult" and avoid confusion? If you mention popular YA books to describe the genre, which ones do you use?