BookBoy’s “must-reads” (part 1)

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I’ve been asked to post a list of my “must-reads” for teens. Like LibrarianIdol before me I will split this into two lists: today’s list is the books I have read recently that I am most likely to recommend. In the next few days I will post my personal “must-read” list of books I have to read this year.

My teen years

LibrarianIdol started by listing some of his favourite classics. I didn’t actually read a whole lot in my teen years and I couldn’t tell you what specifically teen books existed in the eighties. However for what it’s worth, I went through three reading phases in that time:

1. The Alistair MacLean and Wilbur Smith phase. You’ll find these in the adult collection of your library. I don’t remember much about them but I’m pretty sure there was action involved. Probably guns and stuff too.

2. The epic sci-fi series phase. Also known as the Frank Herbert’s Dune and Isaac Asimov’s Foundation phase. I really got into both of these series. They each contain enough books to keep you going for ages.

3. The Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett phase (which has continued well past my teen years). Two very funny writers. If you haven’t read either of them, worth a look for a quirky view of the world.

Recent must-reads

Anything by John Green. Like the majority of other youth services librarians at the moment I have a bit of a John Green crush. Read any of his books. Looking for Alaska is my fave, but Paper towns, and An abundance of Katherines are both great too. They tend to feature somewhat geeky guys and enigmatic, troubled girls.

Monster blood tattoo series by D. M. Cornish. There are two books in this series so far: Foundling and Lamplighter, with a third on its way. They are set in a world where people and monsters do constant battle, where the oceans are acidic, and some machines are made of flesh and muscle. The story centres around Rossamund, a young orphan who becomes an apprentice Lamplighter, lighting lamps on the highways to make them slightly safer from monsters after dark. The level of detail in the world Cornish has created is immense and each book includes a large appendix with all manner of extra information. They are not short books, but I found the story very engaging.

Little brother by Cory Doctorow. After a terrorist attack in San Francisco, Marcus in locked up and questioned by the Department of Homeland Security. When he is finally released he discovers that the world has changed as anti-terrorist security measures deprive everybody of their freedom. Marcus,  a computer nut who made a hobby out of circumventing the his school’s security system now decides to take on the DHS and their security technology. This story is fast paced, fun and exciting. It’s got lots of tech angles, action, and also politics, but most of all, it’s a rollicking good story.

Town by James Roy. A collection of thirteen connected short stories. All set in the same country town. All told from the perspective of different people. There are bits of overlap with central characters from one story popping up in another and Roy varies the voice of the character narrating each story. Evocative and engaging. Well worth reading, especially if you like short stories and even if you don’t.

Before I die by Jenny Downham. This book made me cry. Not many books have done that. What would you put on a list if you knew you were going to die? What would be most important to you? A sad and moving story about a girl preparing to die and the impact this has on the people in her life.

Skin hunger, by Kathleen Duey. This was my favourite book from last year. The story is told from the perspectives of two characters in alternating chapters. Sadima lives in a world in which magic has become outlawed, although some are working to restore it. She meets Franklin who recognises a gift that Sadima possesses and promises her the opportunity to develop it. Sadima is then drawn into the lives of Franklin and his cold, harsh companion Somiss and the task to which they have dedicated themselves. The alternate chapters are set several hundred years later. The world of magic has been restored and those who can afford it use magic as a regular part of life. Potential magicians are sent to a cold, brutal, and life threatening Academy of Magic. Hahp is one of them. The only disappointment with this book was that it ended and book 2 is still not out.

Jonathan / bookboy.net

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7 Responses to “BookBoy’s “must-reads” (part 1)”

  1. bookboy Says:

    Kate – I’m glad you liked Skin Hunger. It’s a great book.

    I’ve not read anything other books* by Kathleen Duey and as far as I know, all her other books are for younger readers. I know she wrote a bunch of junior horse stories, which hold no appeal for me anyway.

    We don’t have too long to wait though, book 2 is out later this year.

    *I have, however been keeping an eye on Russet, her twitter novel, although I’m a bit behind at the moment. http://russet-one-wing.blogspot.com/

  2. Kate Says:

    jonathan, on your recommendation here, i just read skin hunger. wow! what a book!

    have you read anything else by kathleen duey? are the others as good as skin hunger?

    thanks for the heads up on this one! fab read.

  3. bookboy Says:

    loupie – thanks for the response, Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett are the books that continued into my adult years.

  4. bookboy Says:

    jam – you’re right about the last few pages. I loved the way she used all that white space – very clever.

  5. jam Says:

    I have to agree with Before I die… It made me cry! The way the last few pages were written! Gosh – who wouldn’t cry!

  6. A little bit of this & a little bit of that — bookboy.net Says:

    […] have a guest post up at Blurb it, a blog run by the Gold Coast City Library. It lists some of my favourite books of recent times and […]

  7. loupie Says:

    When I think of my teen years reading (and I did a LOT) and what’s currently available for teenagers (which is pretty much all the good stuff from back then, PLUS loads more good stuff) I get quite jealous.

    Like Jonathan I read adult books, some of which I still read the author’s work and some of which I don’t anymore. I was an obsessive Agatha Christie reader when I was 12-13 – I read all her mystery books and then went on to Ngaio Marsh’s mysteries. Then I discovered fantasy.

    I love that the books I really thought were great are still in print and available at libraries: from authors like Alan Garner, Ursula le Guin, Madeleine L’Engle & Louise Cooper.

    I started reading Tanith Lee’s books when I was about 17 and I still love them – she has written some very dark adult fantasy but also some great series aimed at teenage readers. Jane Yolen also writes for adults, teenagers and little kids (she writes the How do dinosaurs say goodnight, go to school, etc picture books)

    There was a real thing in the 80’s (yes, I confess to being an 80’s teenager) of gritty realism in teen books. But I liked the fantasy stuff much, much more.

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