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.
Asker Anonymous Asks:
If i liked (jk LOVED) the dream thieves and raven boys by maggie stiefvater what would you recommend?
brkteenreadnext brkteenreadnext Said:

So, count me in with the folks that LOVED the Raven Cycle — why is October not here?  Now?  With Blue Lily, Lily Blue? Have you seen the bookplate? 

Anywho…we’ve actually already done two (count ‘em, two!) book lists for the Raven Cycle, one for The Raven Boys and one when more requests were sent in after Dream Thieves arrived. They all spin out from different aspects of why those books are appealing, so hopefully you’ll find more to read there.

Another list that might work for you, depending on just WHY you like The Raven Cycle, is our If You Like Welcome to Night Vale list. The titles on that list tend toward the spooky, if that’s part of the appeal, and in particular The Bone Key, The Diviners, Magic for Beginners, and The Ghosts of Ashbury High might sync in with the Raven Cycle is certain aspects.

Let me know if that works for you, anon, or tell me more if you want a different sort of recommendation.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Ok, so I just read Eleanor & Park, and it was amazing. I want to read books that are similar to it. Any suggestions?
brkteenreadnext brkteenreadnext Said:

Eleanor & Park is pretty darned amazing, isn’t it?  (If you want to re-read it, I highly recommend the audio version…)

We actually already did a list for If You Like Eleanor & Park, so check those out, and we’ll be adding more titles as they arise over here at the archive.

However, if anyone has new titles they think fit the bill, just let me know.  Crowd-sourcing often works when the book is this well-loved.

An anonymous reader requested more books like Janet Taylor Lisle’s The Art of Keeping Cool, so here are a few ideas.

World War II, both at the front (the many fronts) and back at home, is simply chock full of amazing stories.  Some are small, and some are very grand.  And so many stories have yet to be told, even after almost 70 years.

So, here are my ideas about where to go from The Art of Keeping Cool, which zeroes in on the the home front, takes on wartime fears and paranoia, and the prejudices every community faces around just who is labeled an enemy. 

As always, click on a title to request it from the library.

The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow

This is a tale that begins before the War but tangles expertly with the dangerous messages of Nazi era Germany to their own people.  Pressure mounts from all side on Karl Stern, a young Jewish man drawn in to boxing but increasingly concerned over his idol’s loyalties, and this is a great addition to the many teen titles addressing Germany’s civilian side just before the War.

Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle

If you want more from the Art of Keeping Cool’s author, this local bit of history, featuring the bootlegging trade in Rhode Island during Prohibition, works in to a solid mystery and thriller.  Lisle does a great job here in making the late 1920s come to life, just as she did with the 1940s.

The Boys on the Boat by Daniel James Brown

This title is still in high demand, but it’s very worth seeking out — a combination of a portrait of the US before the war, through the individual lives of the US crew team heading to the Berlin Olympics, and a fascinating history of crew itself.  I loved it for everything it is: exciting, thoughtful, a snapshot of the period right before the War, and an edge-of-your-seat sports story.

City of Spies by Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan, art by Pascal Dizin

This graphic novel features a lot of the same elements of The Art of Keeping Cool, and the art (which is beautifully reminiscent of the Adventures of Tintin) is bright, evocative, and very true to the period.  For another adventure among the suspicious theories that were bound to rise up on the homefront, check it out.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

I have already gone on about the various reasons I love Code Name Verity on this very site, but for this list, it’s the central spy and complicated puzzle that could make it a great next read.

Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac

I admit it still surprises me when folks haven’t heard of the Navajo code talkers, but if you haven’t yet encountered them, this novel is a great way to get their story.

Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben MacIntyre

If you’re interested in the real shenanigans (and talents) behind spycraft during World War II, you can’t go wrong with the many books by Ben MacIntyre on the subject.  His Operation Mincemeat is delightful, and his latest, A Spy Among Friends, about Kim Philby and The Cambridge Spies has been been getting great buzz.  But my favorite has to be Double Cross — all about the oddball group of spies who essentially misdirected the Germans so that D-Day could happen.  It’s a remarkable story among remarkable stories, and it reminds all of us that actual spycraft is quite different than James Bond would have us believe.

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

I admit, I fall back on recommending Flygirl a lot, but…it’s so good, I’m just going to keep doing it.  Flygirl is the tale of a young pilot who passes as white to join the Women Air Service Pilots (WASP), and it’s a complicated but engaging look at how those at home could help the war…but only if they were deemed the “correct” sort of person to lend a hand.  Prejudice is addressed through a different lens here, but no less powerful.

Resistance by Carla Jablonski and art by Leland Purvis

This graphic novel series, followed by Defiance and Victory, tells the story of the young children in a French town who participated in the now famous French resistance during the Nazi occupation.  Told from the younger and supposedly weaker point of view, this is a great series to learn more about just how the civilians fought tooth and nail in the French countryside.

Sekret by Lindsey Smith

This is a different era of spying, set in the 1960s, but the suspense is no less tense!  Sekret takes place during the Cold War between the US and Russia, and Smith simply nails the paranoia, mindgames (in this case literal), and vicious expectations that plagued both countries during this period.  A smart, speculative thrill ride.

Welcome all the new folks heading over from Book Riot, and thanks to bookriot for the library love!

I am working through a few book list requests from before basking in the reflected flow of bookriot fame, so I’ll be posting those first, but then I’ll move on to the more recent requests from all you lovely new folks.

FYI to all those new followers: my regular library tumblr is over here at brkteenlib, and that’s where you’ll find posts like me in costume for Batman Day and the library’s TARDIS-themed Awesome Box.

The archive of our book lists (which allows for more than the ten titles we restrict ourselves to here at brkteenreadnext) is over here.

Hello to you all!  I’m not certain where y’all are coming from, but glad you’re here.  I’ll endeavor to live up to expectations.  More booklists to come! And check out my usual work tumblr over here and our archive of book lists over here.

Got any requests?

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!