What to read next

This is the Brookline Public Library's Teen Services blog devoted to the best book lists and recommendations for anyone looking for the next teen title to read.
What are some teen romance novels that are good and don't have vampires and witches and stuff? Please and Thank You!
brkteenreadnext brkteenreadnext Said:

I’ve come up with a list over here, and hopefully a few more folks will chime in with more recommendations.  Enjoy!

For secretsofdisneyworld who requested romances without vampires, werewolves, and such supernatural trappings, a list of potential book dates:

A few notes: On Sarah Dessen, almost any of her books might well work, so consider this title a starting point.

Keeping the Castle is a way to get some Jane Austen-flavored goodness, while Manor of Secrets is romance with a Downton Abbey flair.

David Levithan has made a career out of writing romances (Boy Meets Boy, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, etc.), but I thought I’d recommend this collection of short stories as they are all his Valentine’s stories, or a selection of the tales of romance he sends out to his friends on Valentine’s Day every year (including the very first one he wrote, in high school.)

On Eleanor & Park, and I know it’s not a traditional by the book romance, but it’s definitely a love story, and one to really fall in to.  No vampires or werewolves in sight.  Her next book, Fangirl, was also great.

Fellow #tumblarians, feel free to chime in with more suggestions!

And now a book list in response to hella-stabtacular looking for titles that are in some way about feminism, feminist history, or feature feminist leads.

First off, everyone should know about the Amelia Bloomer Project, a group that is part of the Feminist Task Force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association.  They produce yearly lists, and they are all worth looking at for more titles to read on this theme.

But here are my personal recommendations, with a mix of history and female characters I think fit the bill.  As always, click on the title to request it.

The Tyrant’s Daughter by J. C. Carleson

This recent title popped to mind as it is a thoughtful and intricate look at how a young woman navigates her own power in complicated circumstances.  Laila has been sent to the US after her father, a dictator in an unnamed country, is assassinated.  She’s well aware that neither she nor her little brother (the heir) are necessarily here to stay. Her new situation is freeing, but her old life keeps getting its hooks back in. Her family’s political clout keep her of interest to the CIA and factions back home.  Laila is a fascinating, clever character who faces many hard decisions about herself, her background, her new social circle, and her potential as a power player.

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

This series is, on one hand, a delightfully witty romp set in an alternate universe Victorian England where vampires and werewolves are important parts of society and when proper society girls go to finishing school to learn manners and spycraft.  On the other hand, lead Sophronia and her peers are all excellent examples of “strong female characters” who survive through their smarts as much as their awareness of the latest fashion. Solid proof that being girly doesn’t mean you aren’t also smart, strong, and a force to be reckoned with.

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff

Delilah Dirk is one of my favorite heroines out there starring in her own Indiana Jones-esque adventure stories.  Tony Cliff has dreamt up a lead who’s many things at once: world-traveler, thrill-seeker, thief, and expert swordswoman.  This is just the first installment of her adventures with her companion, the weary but loyal Selim, but more is on the way, and it’s gorgeously drawn and full of wit.

The Loud Silence of Francine Green by Karen Cushman

There are a number of titles on this look that evoke different eras of women’s history, and in this case Cushman takes a look at post-WWII US and in particular the rise of the anti-Communist red scare and the evolution of the Black List.  I admire titles that find a way in to larger issues like this one without getting too preachy.

Ask the Passengers by A. S. King

With the full acknowledgement that I am a fan of all of A. S. King’s books, this one stands out for this list because of the way the main character, Astrid, refuses to let anyone define her.  This is her story of becoming certain enough of her own mind to to allow some labels to be applied but not all and not without her permission.  I appreciate the message that figuring out who you are is an always challenging, never certain mission in life.  We surprise ourselves, and Astrid’s ability to stand up to people who keep insisting on putting her in their safely defined boxes is refreshing and messy.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

I particularly love this title because it’s following a character, Frankie, who has never really given much thought to gender imbalances and expectations as she discovers just how much those imbalances impact her life.  I love how much this book is an awakening of sorts, and that once you see the issues surrounding gender expectations and limits, it’s impossible to unsee them.  It’s also full of awesome pranks.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Melina Marchetta is a master of writing damaged but resilient characters, and my first introduction to her brand of fiery, stubborn, and fierce leading ladies was Taylor in Jellicoe Road.  This is a beautifully written book dealing with a number of tough topics — addiction, broken families, death, long-kept secrets — and Taylor’s voice and attitude make it all the more vibrant and true.  Also, if you like audiobooks, or might like to try one, this is a great one to hear (the Australian accent and slang especially.)

Bread and Roses Too by Katherine Paterson

Many women, especially immigrant and lower class women, found their voices through the labor strikes of the late 19th and early 20th century.  Katherine Paterson has become a go-to author for looking at life and struggles at the mills of Lowell and further afield, and in particular looking at the roles of women in these fights.  Bread and Roses Too is a more recent addition to her look at these women, but both it and Lyddie are well worth a read.

Flygirl by Sherri Smith

I include this excellent historical title for a number of reasons: Ida Mae is a rock solid lead, and her desire to fly both before and during World War II is infectious.  The fact that she is light skinned and can pass for white gives her access to her dream of joining the war effort as one of the Women Air Service Pilots, but it is also an ongoing and increasingly difficult choice.  This is a part of history not many folks know, and in particular it highlights how race and gender issues combine to complicate women’s lives.

A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

Most students of feminism at least know the stories behind early suffrage, and the eloquence and friendship of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, but I fear a lot of folks skim over the later years in the US that led to the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.  This book centers on the fight for suffrage in England, a few years earlier around 1910, and introduces readers to the struggles that later directly influenced tactics used in the US. 

I’ve had a request from @queeniecake for more titles like The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, and while we have one list over here, here is an updated list with a similar mix of evocative writing, complex and well-drawn friendships, and intriguing characters.

The Demon’s Lexicon series by Sarah Rees Brennan

I’m recommending this series mostly for the strong brother relationship from the start, and the continuing mysteries that build.  It’s a supernatural series, and more blantantly than the Raven Cycle, but the key focus on the relationships, and complicated relationships, matches well with Stiefvater’s series.  This was Brennan’s first series, and so not necessarily as polished in terms of writing, but still strong.

The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer

This title is a delight, but don’t let it’s light sense of humor and snark fool you: it’s also a complicated look at friendship and the ways in which even the best friends are far from perfect.  I thought of this one for the excellent writing and dialogue plus true characters plus relationships that don’t quite go where you expect them to.

Finnikin of the Rock (and the entire Lumatere series) by Melina Marchetta

To be honest, I’d recommend pretty much everything Melina Marchetta has written.  This series has the trappings of traditional fantasy — a kingdom that is not our world, a touch of magic, swords — but Marchetta’s unflinching characters and lyrical language make this series anything but traditional.  Her other stories would also work, particularly Jellicoe Road and The Piper’s Son, and both of those are contemporary realism. (Reader’s note: if you give Jellicoe Road a go, be sure to give it at least 100 pages as it works its magic at the beginning, but is not built to be easy to follow.

When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds

Speaking of epic friendships, this newer title is truly built around three friends, and that’s why I thought of it for this list.  The story is rich with character and language, the setting is New York City, and there are zero supernatural aspects to the plot.  Both the writing and the concentration on masculinity and friendship are what made me this of this one as a potential read-alike.

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Don’t let the cover mislead you — this is not a frilly historical romp, nor Gossip-Girl-meets-fantasy.  This is a well-written fantasy set in a world not unlike Ancient Rome, and our two lead characters are smart, cautious, proud, and fascinating.  This has elements of romance, but the real focus is on a tale that is more the personal becoming political (and vice versa) in a way that is messy rather than neat.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

This is another title to love for the language alone, plus it is a meditative and compelling look at two teenage guys figuring out their ideas of manliness, friendship, and love.  It’s a slower read, so it’s not full of plot twists or mystery, but it’s full of amazing turns of phrase.

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

An unsettling mystery, Jasper Jones is a tale that sinks into the clues uncovering the story of a missing girl but evolves in to a complex portrait of small town Australian in the 60s. There are all sorts of elements at play: class, race, secrets, and family history, and the leads (Charlie, Jasper, and Charlie’s best friend Jeffrey), and Silvey has a knack for both characters and outstanding description.  This is a tiny bit younger than the Raven Cycle — these guys are 13, though Jasper is older — but it’s not childish in any way.

The Riverman by Aaron Starmer

This title is a tiny bit like Jasper Jones, and a bit like John Corey Whaley’s first novel, Where Things Come Back (which I also recommend!).  A small town, a girl in danger, and a fantastical world that may or may not be real all builds slowly into a gripping mystery.  The writing is especially strong, and while it’s not flashy, it’s carefully put together in a way that stands out.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

This is still one of my all time favorites, and I include it on this list because of it’s excellent writing and structure as well as its primary emphasis on friendship.  The structure is simple but executed perfectly: you start reading the confession of one young woman, a spy during WWII caught by the Germans, and realize that one, she’s giving you the story of how she got to where she is, and two, she’s most definitely lying about some things, but it’s up to you to figure out what.  When her narrative cuts off, you get the continuing story through her best friend, a pilot.  It’s a gorgeous, wrenching book.

Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Social Sciences

From ALA and YALSA:

"…This list offer opportunities to discover new ideas, and provide an introduction to the fascinating variety of subjects within an academic discipline. Readers will gain an understanding of our diverse world and build a foundation to deepen their response to that world."

 ”Revised every five years, this list is intended as a tool for several audiences: students preparing for college, parents, educators, and librarians.”

Note: I had the great pleasure of serving on the 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound Committee, and I worked all year on helping to select the History & Cultures and the Science & Technology lists.  These ten titles are simply a sample of the full 25-title list for each category, and are definitely subjective: these are the titles I’m personally excited to see on the list, but there is no official top ten.  In the case of this list, though, I can tell you ALL about every title!

Check out all of the Outstanding Books for the College Bound here!

Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Science & Technology

From ALA and YALSA:

"…This list offer opportunities to discover new ideas, and provide an introduction to the fascinating variety of subjects within an academic discipline. Readers will gain an understanding of our diverse world and build a foundation to deepen their response to that world."

 ”Revised every five years, this list is intended as a tool for several audiences: students preparing for college, parents, educators, and librarians.”

Note: I had the great pleasure of serving on the 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound Committee, and I worked all year on helping to select the History & Cultures and the Science & Technology lists.  These ten titles are simply a sample of the full 25-title list for each category, and are definitely subjective: these are the titles I’m personally excited to see on the list, but there is no official top ten.

Check out all of the Outstanding Books for the College Bound here!

Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Literature and Language Arts

From ALA and YALSA:

"…This list offer opportunities to discover new ideas, and provide an introduction to the fascinating variety of subjects within an academic discipline. Readers will gain an understanding of our diverse world and build a foundation to deepen their response to that world."

 ”Revised every five years, this list is intended as a tool for several audiences: students preparing for college, parents, educators, and librarians.”

Note: I had the great pleasure of serving on the 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound Committee, and I worked all year on helping to select the History & Cultures and the Science & Technology lists.  These ten titles are simply a sample of the full 25-title list for each category, and are definitely subjective: these are the titles I’m personally excited to see on the list, but there is no official top ten.

Check out all of the Outstanding Books for the College Bound here!

Outstanding Books for the College Bound: History & Cultures

From ALA and YALSA:

"…This list offer opportunities to discover new ideas, and provide an introduction to the fascinating variety of subjects within an academic discipline. Readers will gain an understanding of our diverse world and build a foundation to deepen their response to that world."

 ”Revised every five years, this list is intended as a tool for several audiences: students preparing for college, parents, educators, and librarians.”

Note: I had the great pleasure of serving on the 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound Committee, and I worked all year on helping to select the History & Cultures and the Science & Technology lists.  These ten titles are simply a sample of the full 25-title list for each category, and are definitely subjective: these are the titles I’m personally excited to see on the list, but there is no official top ten.  In the case of this list, though, I can tell you ALL about every title!

Check out all of the Outstanding Books for the College Bound here!

Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Arts & Humanities

From ALA and YALSA:

"…This list offer opportunities to discover new ideas, and provide an introduction to the fascinating variety of subjects within an academic discipline. Readers will gain an understanding of our diverse world and build a foundation to deepen their response to that world."

 ”Revised every five years, this list is intended as a tool for several audiences: students preparing for college, parents, educators, and librarians.”

Note: I had the great pleasure of serving on the 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound Committee, and I worked all year on helping to select the History & Cultures and the Science & Technology lists.  These ten titles are simply a sample of the full 25-title list for each category, and are definitely subjective: these are the titles I’m personally excited to see on the list, but there is no official top ten.

Check out all of the Outstanding Books for the College Bound here!

Odyssey Winner 2014

Scowler by Daniel Kraus

When Ry’s abusive father escapes from prison, Ry summons The Unnamed Three from his childhood, including the hellish Scowler, in order to protect his family. In this gripping and horrific tale, Kirby Heyborne’s flawless narration features humming, clicks, and sounds that are not of this world.

Odyssey Honors 2014

Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle

Broadway wannabe Nate Foster ventures solo to the unknown territory of New York City on a quest for stardom. First-time novelist and Broadway veteran Tim Federle narrates his own work in a laugh-out-loud performance full of heart and self-discovery.

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown

In this Caldecott Honor book, Jasper Rabbit has all the carrots he wants until the creepy carrots start following him around: when he comes home from Little League, while he brushes his teeth, and even hiding in the shed, until he comes up with the perfect plan to stop their stalking. James Naughton’s narration adds an eerie atmosphere to an enticing story.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Despite coming from disparate backgrounds, two teens find they have much in common as they explore music, comics, and acceptance in this story of first love. Narrators Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra deliver poignant performances that touch the heart.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

This beloved classic stars an exceptional girl who develops extraordinary powers that she uses to triumph over nasty parents, wretched friends, and a monstrous headmistress. Dahl’s cast of vivid characters is infused with life by Oscar-winner Kate Winslet’s dynamic performance.