Five YA Books You Should Read This Summer... Or Anytime!

Article by Joy

So here’s the deal. I think teens should read whatever books they want to read without having to discuss it with their parental units or write a report for school or otherwise prove to anyone other than themselves that they have read the book and it has meant something to them. Reading is wonderful and subversive like that and it should remain that way. And let me also add that while I am a supporter and fan of the classics and can talk your head off about my love for Fitzgerald and Wharton and all the award-winners, I have equal love for smaller, quiet books, and weird and strange books and well, books. Do you remember the books you loved as a teen? Or the ones that fell open to certain pages because you and your friends passed them around so much? Books that moved your heart. Or shocked you. Books that surprised you. That made you angry or happy or deliriously in love with the characters. Books that opened your mind and showed your worlds and people and ideas that you had no idea existed but then you read them and you were like yes! This. This is what I was thinking but couldn’t find the words.

If you’re an adult reading this to help your teen buy a book, please feel free to sneak a spare copy for yourself. Because these books! I love all these books. And if you want to sneak in a discussion too, that’s cool and wonderful. A ‘hey, by the way, I read this amazing thing and I want to know what you thought since I think you read it, too’ kind of discussion.

And one last thing, if you think that books with teen protagonists aren’t for you then I’d like you to open your mind and think again.

Okay. Got it?


That said, here are five YA books you need to read this summer. And then re-read and re-read. Because you’ll really want to. (5! I could pick a million. But I promised you five.)

The Hate U Give Cover Image
By Angie Thomas, Nikki Giovanni (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780062498533
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Balzer + Bray - February 28th, 2017

I’ve talked about Angie Thomas’s THE HATE U GIVE before, but I’m talking it up again because it’s still on the NYTimes Bestseller list and it’s still a new, important voice as we chip slowly away at all the nuances of racism in America and in a more updated contemporary setting/situation than a classic like say, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Read it. Then discuss with everyone you know. I put this one our our Summer Reading list, but it really belongs on every list.

Winger Cover Image
By Andrew Smith, Sam Bosma (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781442444935
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - September 2nd, 2014

Want a book that absolutely nails being a teenage boy and is a newer take on this than something like CATCHER IN THE RYE? Then grab a copy of Andrew Smith’s WINGER. It’s been out since 2013, and it’s as brilliant as day one--funny and real and romantic and heartbreaking and yeah, a little inappropriate. Just like the real thing.

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062683038
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: HarperTeen - June 6th, 2017

And speaking of funny and heartfelt and spot on teen voice, out new in paperback with a new, awesome cover, is Sarah Mlynowski’s TEN THINGS WE DID (AND PROBABLY SHOULDN’T HAVE) is a wonderful, clever, contemporary that asks the question all of us would say yes to: If given the opportunity at sixteen, would you move in with a friend and live parent-free? Without them knowing. And with all sorts of humorous and serious consequences. Mlynowski proves you can write a compulsively readable and funny book and STILL take teens seriously.

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9780544586505
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Clarion Books - March 7th, 2017

I’m hoping you’ve already read Benjamin Saenz’s ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF the UNIVERSE. If not, then start there. When you’re finished, continue with his newest, THE INEXPLICABLE LOGIC OF MY LIFE, which touches on everything we angst about growing up-- love and friendship and family and the tough question of belonging. Saenz’s work is brilliant as always, touching on race, sexuality, poverty, feminism and more.(Some good read-alikes include two others on our summer reading list: Becky Albertalli’s much lighter and humorous yet nuanced THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED and Adam Silvera’s HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME).

The Duke of Bannerman Prep Cover Image
ISBN: 9781510710405
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Sky Pony - May 9th, 2017

What happens when a good kid makes some bad choices? The answer gets explored in THE DUKE OF BANNERMAN PREP Katie A. Nelson’s contemporary YA retelling of THE GREAT GATSBY, set in a boarding prep school. If you’ve read Gatsby, or even if you haven’t, the themes and characters will resonate powerfully. Cause let’s face it, we’ve all made some spectacularly bad choices, haven’t we?

Flame in the Mist Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399171635
Availability: Backordered
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers - May 16th, 2017

Okay, yes, I know I said 5. But I’m sneaking in a 6th. THE FLAME IN THE MIST by Renee Ahdieh. Mulan meets Throne of Glass, set in Feudal Japan. Everyone needs a sweeping fantasy for a summer read. With the daughter of a samurai masquerading as a boy to infiltrate the clan of bandits trying to kill her. Yup. You’ll love this one. It is the new fantasy you need right now in this summer of Wonder Woman. Because girl power plus cultural nuance plus magic realism? Yes. Yes.

Happy reading!

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