Recommended books I’m reading constantly. Unfortunately, most of what I read doesn’t make the cut. I abandon books all the time. Usually, if it’s an audio book, I’ll stick with it. But sometimes even these get cut off. Below is a list of my favorite books for tweens and teens. These books are appropriate for any tween age. Below them are young adult recommendations.
All Around Awesome Books
How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba Sized Trophy by Crystal Allen
Allen knows voice. When Lamar talks in the book, you don’t want to do anything by listen. He oozes personality and coolness. He’s the maddest, baddest bowler in town. Yeah, who knew that bowling would suck you in as a reader, but it does. I found I couldn’t stop reading about Lamar and his troubles with girls and his family.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
A Monster Calls gripped right from the start. The writing is captivating. It follows a young boy who is visited each night by a ginormous tree monster. This monster threatens to eat him unless he tells the monster a terrible secret even he won’t admit. Beware, you’ll probably cry at the end.It will truly steal your heart.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I admit. I fought reading this book. After all, it seemed like a rehash of The Running Man. However, Collins delivers a remarkably tight story and the romance takes second stage to the action. Well worth reading.
Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Although the selling point for this novel is the bizarre (and authentic) photos of freaks, the book doesn’t need them. That’s how captivating the prose is. I started reading it on my Nook and eventually sneaked away from my family to finish it. It has time travel, freaks, and monsters. Who could want more. Plus it has the most realistic young romance I’ve read in years. I actually want to buy another copy in print, just to appreciate the pictures.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
This book is insanely good. Every few paragraphs I need to stop to underline a bit of wisdom. “As all mothers know, children travel faster than kisses.” “In Autumn, trees sleep like bears. The whole world snuggles in to sleep through all of winter.” “Death is not a checkmate … it is more like a carnival trick.”
The story reads like a twist on Alice in Wonderland, with a wyvern that thinks it’s dad was a library and a little girl who turns into a tree.
The Alchemyst (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #1) by Michael Scott
I am addicted to the Nicolas Flamel series. It combines everything I love about Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, and it has mythology up the wazoo. Everywhere you look, you have a Celtic warrior, and Egyptian goddess, a centuries old alchemist. I could not put this book down.
The Wave by Todd Strasser
I read this book in about two hours, straight through. Amazing. It’s based on a real even in the late 1960s. A high school teacher wanted to instruct his class on why Germans were swept up by the Nazi movement, so he started a propaganda campaign in his class. Soon the whole school is involved and the experiment is out of control.
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
A series as good as Uglies. What Westerfeld’s done that I haven’t seen elsewhere is create machines out of genetically altered animals. He has lizards that deliver messages like talking telegrams. Fabricated elephants pull carts through London. And, the big daddy of them all, the Leviathan—an airship composed of a hydrogen-filled sperm whale. Read a review here.
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Try the whole series: Pretties, Specials, and Extras. They’re all great. One of the best series I’ve ever read. I mean it, I keep thinking about the hoverboarding and the Specials. “I don’t want to hurt you, but I will if I have to.”
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
I have trouble getting through a Gaiman book. He has awesome ideas, but I often find myself losing interest. Not so with this book. It held me captive till the bitter end. Also, it’s much much better than the movie version. Read this first.
Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
This might be so good because it’s so short (novella length). A great primer on Norse mythology with some excellent insights on what it means to be a god. I only wish it had been longer.
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
This is easily the most accessible and best plotted of King’s books. Not only have I read this book at least 6 or 7 times, but I also wrote a thesis paper on it for my masters degree.
Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen
A short book, but hilarious to read. Imagine going from mowing one lawn to earning six-figures and having your own bodyguard. Yeah, that’s what I thought. You have to read this.
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
If you haven’t heard about Riordan’s series of books, you need to wake up and smell the Greek mythos. So far I’ve only read the first in the series, but I plan to read more once I get the time.
Demon Keeper by Royce Buckingham
A little known books, but well worth the read. I mean it has an evil-demon-snot creature. What more could you want?
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
This is actually two different books fused into one. The beginning is a religious comparison. The second is the boy’s survival in a boat with a man-eating tiger. There’s a great twist at the end.
Cirque du Freak #1 A Living Nightmare by Darren Shan
This book (and it’s sequel) are awesome. Madame Octa, the giant trained spider, doesn’t get the credit it deserves.
Young Adult Books
These books are for older kids. They deal with sex, drugs, cutting, and suicide. That said, they are all stellar books. But I’d advise anyone under 14 or so to check with the folks before reading.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
I’ll be honest. I really didn’t want to read this book. Reluctantly, when there was nothing else on my reading list, I picked it up. Then I couldn’t put it down. The narrator, Arnold Spirit, says it like he means it. Being poor sucks. Life on the reservation sucks. Yet when he tries to make it on his own in a white school, he doesn’t fit in either school. View full book review here.
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
The concept for this book is the hook that pulls you through the narrative. Imagine if the Earth started to slow its rotation. Days grow longer. Temperatures spike. Pretty soon, at 30 or 40 hour days, plants start to die off. How will we survive as a race, much less one shy teen girl named Julia. View full book review here.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Astounding book by Jay Asher. It documents a girl’s suicide via 13 audio cassettes. In these tapes she documents the 13 people that caused her suicide. The novel follows Clay Jensen, who received the tapes because he’s on them. View full book review here.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
A book that made me a reader again. So good. The voice is amazing. It’s like your inside the protagonist’s head. Highly recommend with reservations. This book deals explicitly with teen sex. It is by no means graphic, but the consequences of sex and bullying are the focus of the book. See how Anderson uses voice in this article.
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