For those of you who may be unaware, order this week is Teen Read Week, a week of celebrating the books for teens and encouraging teens to read. All over the country, its celebrated as the third week of October, by the Young Adult Library Services Association. Libraries all over the country are doing some seriously amazing and fun stuff to encourage teens to read.
This year’s “sub-theme” is Seek the Unknown, encouraging teens to delve into worlds unknown with books in mystery, science fiction, adventure and fantasy.
This is the first year I’ve been aware of this, probably because I’m more involved with the book world, as a blogger, and I have to say: this is awesome, and I’m WAY thrilled about it.
I was a little disappointed that most of my local libraries aren’t doing anything for Teen Read Week, mostly because they’re kind of small, and because I still do think that some of these smaller libraries, that don’t have Teen Services Librarians, tend to not focus on the Teens. However, there ARE a lot of libraries all over the place that ARE doing things. As you guys know, I went to the Los Angeles Teen Book Fest, which was a kick off to this week. The Pasadena Public Library is having a YA Book Swap at their branch this coming Saturday (which I am SUPER looking forward to). There is DEFINITELY cool stuff going on.
But I love this. I love the idea of this, of having a whole week (though I do this everyday) of encouraging teens to read, through different methods. I think its fantastic. Its becoming more and more obvious how important it is to read and to be a proficient reader. Reading is a huge passion of mine, obviously, and it means a lot to me. I try every day on my blog to instill that passion into anyone who comes to say hello and I’m really excited.
So I decided in celebration of Teen Read Week that I would recommend ten books, ten books that I’ve read and loved, for reluctant readers. I want you to keep in mind that these are MY choices, but they are books that I love that I think can both reach out to those who already love books and reach out to those who feel uncomfortable with books, or just don’t know where to start with reading.
I also tried to keep it balanced in the favor of both genders. I think that all books that are written are written for everyone, and that everyone can enjoy them, but I think that boys, especially, tend to think of most YA books as for girls, and this is simply not true. All the books below are ones that I think both genders can enjoy, and I think adults will enjoy them as well.
Winger by Andrew Smith
Andrew Smith’s standalone novels follows fourteen year old Ryan Dean as he embarks on his junior year of high school, with the usual trials and tribulations of an awkward teen boy. From playing (and fighting) on the rugby field to being absolutely awkward with girls, and getting in trouble left and right, this book is full of so much humor, you’ll be wiping tears from your face through out the entire novel. Its a GREAT novel, and Ryan Dean is a character that you literally love from page one. You’re in the head of Ryan Dean, completely, and so you get his humor and his random thoughts, and his fears and doubts and its just a fantastic novel. Andrew Smith has an uncanny ability of capturing exactly what its like to be a teenager, and its an up and down ride the entire novel. Its the first novel that pops in my head when anyone asks for a recommendation.
Legend by Marie Lu
When it comes to dystopian novels, most people tend to recommend The Hunger Games, Divergent, Unwind, amongst others, but the first one that I recommend is Legend, because I think its the best of them all. This is not to say that those books aren’t good, because they are! I’m a huge fan of them, as you guys will know. But Legend stands out to me, and I believe Marie Lu is a champion in the dystopian genre (yeah, I totally just pulled that pun off). Marie’s story takes place in Los Angeles, between two points of view: Day and June. Day is a teen boy who turns to a life of criminal activity after he fails his trials, and escapes from his placement in the labor camps. He does anything and everything he can to support the family that he has left behind. June has grown up in a life of privilege and luxury, scoring the highest score possible in her trials, and being groomed for a military career. When Day is accused of murdering June’s brother, a path emerges that will lead them together and uncover many secrets. I recommend this one above other because it feels so real, and its an easy, quick read, and Marie creates an amazing story with the two main characters, and its easy to speed through this.
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Again, not the most likely book that people recommend when it comes to John Green. Most people recommend either The Fault in Our Stars or Looking for Alaska. I HIGHLY recommend both of those, definitely, and am looking forward to the TFIOS movie. Its going to be great. But the reason I recommend An Abundance of Katherines, besides the fact that it is my favorite, is because it isn’t heartbreaking like the other two. There’s nothing wrong with heartbreak, nothing at all but I think sometimes a teen could use a break from that, with just a good ‘ol fashioned coming of age story. The story follows genius Colin, who has been dumped 19 times, all by girls that are named Katherine. As he embarks on a road trip with his best friend, he’s determined to find his Eureka! moment in the form of a formula that determines what went wrong with all those Katherines. Its a beautiful coming-of-age, discovery novel with Colin, and it has the usual John Green humor, and its just a great novel. Its my favorite because its the one novel of John Green’s that I really think most teens can see themselves.
Airhead by Meg Cabot
Yay! Time for some super awesome humor. I recommend ALL Meg Cabot books for reluctant readers because Meg writes as if she’s talking to a best friend, as if she is sitting next to you, a caramel frappacino in hand, telling you these stories. She is full of humor, and fast paced stories, and each story is like a juicy piece of gossip in your hands. Airhead tells the story of Em, an extremely smart girl, in love with her best friend, Christopher, and incapable of really being a “girl”. After a freak accident, Em’s brain is transplanted into the body of America’s hottest top model, Nikki Howard. Of course, there is way more to the story, and Em finds out the sinister nature in how she ended up in this body. Like so many of her books, its of a crazy, impossible nature and its full of a ton of humor. Meg Cabot has a way of making me laugh like no other author has ever made me laugh. Her books are light, and fun, and they’re easy to read, and they’re the first books that I read in the YA area, when I was twelve years old. I will always recommend her because of her ability to make people want to read.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
I will forever recommend this book because the boy wizard has a way of turning people into readers. You can’t talk about young adult books or having an effect on reading and readers without bringing up Harry Potter. I’ve seen it happen over and over again, people reading Harry Potter and suddenly having a higher interest in reading. It did with my sister and I think it did with my boyfriend too. Jon has always read but after I basically forced him to read them, and now he reads all the time. Harry Potter is a much easier read than people think, and it captures nearly everyone who reads it. I hardly ever meet people who read the books and don’t love them. I’ve met people who are SO incredibly reluctant to read the books, for whatever reasons, and when they read them, they become their favorites. Harry Potter has a way of spanning generations and telling a story that is completely timeless. It breaks your heart, makes you laugh, introduces you to a new world and yet feels as familiar as waking up. Put this book in anyone’s hands and tell me that they won’t love it, and I’ll tell you that they are crazy haha.
Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
It took me a long time to read Percy Jackson. I first picked up the books when The Lost Hero, the first book of the spin-off series, came out, that’s how long it took me. But when I did, I was so incredibly mad at myself for waiting SO long to read them. They are amazing books, and I think they really appeal to children because they’re the part of history and English that we learn in school that always sorts of sticks with us. I know that the Greeks and their mythology are one of those things that always sticks out to me about school, and I know its an interesting subject in school and I think Rick Riordan really capitalizes on that but also just tells an awesome story. He tells the story of Percy Jackson, a normal boy who finds out that he is actually a demigod, the son of his mortal mother, and his god father, Poseidon. They are full of fun and adventure, and yes a little bit of education too. I adore these books and I find most kids love them because of how fun and easy they are to read. There’s a reason that Rick only hits about 8 places when doing a book tour, and they sell out in minutes and range in the thousands when it comes to number of guests. He’s a winner.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Charlie writes his story to “Dear Friend”, of his life as an outsider in high school, trying to find friends, falling in love, dating and so much more. I’ve literally never met a person that read this book and didn’t like it. I would love to meet the person who didn’t, if only to get into a really fun discussion on why. You know me, I love to talk books. But there’s a reason that this is the whole novel that has been published by Stephen (though he told us back in May that he’s working on something new, finally!). Its that this book continues to reach out to teenagers, ever since its publication back in 1999. Every single teenager tends to feel like an outsider and Charlie is the ultimate outsider, and its beautiful and wonderful to follow his story, and to read his letters to “Dear Friend”. Everyone that I talk to that has read this book has loved it, and its the kind of book that you can read as a teenager, read as an adult and continuing reading it and it still has resonance, it still effects you.
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Yes, Cassandra Clare wrote a Harry Potter fan fiction that had a wee bit of plagiarism in it. Yes, Cassandra Clare took some elements of her fan fiction (the parts that WERE NOT plagiarized) and implemented them into her Mortal Instruments trilogy. You know what I say to that? Who cares? Most of the people who are saying this haven’t read her books and I have found that these books make incredible gateway to even more books. Cassandra Clare tells the story of Clary, a normal teen girl that witnesses a murder in a club, a murder than no one else can see. Not long after, her mother is kidnapped and she is thrown into the world of Shadowhunters, humans with angel blood who have a mandate to rid the world of its demon infestation. From the moment I started reading these, I was addicted, and I remain addicted. I know so many people who have dove into these books and come out with a desire to read. Cassandra’s books are dark and funny, and sexy and easy to read. They’re adventurous and fast paced and its a great book to hand out, to get teens interested in reading.
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Gayle Forman is an awesome contemporary writer, and the best part of her books, for a reluctant reader, is that they are fairly short. This book is only 200 pages, and its an easy and addicting read. Mia is in a tragic, terrible accident and she is rushed to the hospital, with horrible injuries. She is outside her body, witnessing her body as its at the scene, as it is transported to the hospital and as her family and friends gather around, hoping she’ll wake up. Mia alternately relives moments of her past, while contemplating her future, whether to fight and wake up, or whether to let go. Its a beautiful written novel, and the layers that she manages to convey in only 200 pages is brilliant. Her books are so emotional and haunting and they leave a mark on you when you read them. Because of their ease, their fast paced nature, the shortness of the book and the beautiful story, it is easy for a reluctant reader to get involved in this book.
The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima
Jack Swift is living in Ohio, playing soccer, and being a normal kid until one day he skips his medicine, and he is suddenly stronger and faster than before, and he nearly kills a kid on his soccer. It turns out that Jack is part of an underground society of Weir, people born with stones in them that make them warriors, wizards, sorcerers, enchanters and seers. Jack Swift is a warrior, and warriors are far and few between and when they’re found, the tyrannical wizards throw them together in a deadly tournament for entertainment. Cinda is a brilliant author that writes an amazing fantasy novel, but what makes her great for a reluctant reader is that she’s not so steeped in the fantasy that you’ll feel turned off by it. Its our world, the world we know and our familiar with, but turned upside down. As Jack learns about this crazy new world, so do you, and its a fun, adventurous book.
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I hope you all check out these books and that you pass these, and books that YOU recommend, out to those who haven’t found the passion of reading yet!
I hope that you all have a great Teen Read Week, and that there are awesome things going on near you! Check out your local libraries and bookstores to find out :)
What are some of your favorite books to recommend to those who are reluctant to read? Share them in the comments!