Even though technically school is still in session, it’s officially summer reading season. At least it is according to the helicopter parents who have been coming in daily asking when the lists will be available and preemptively checking out all of the potential books. It’s actually my favorite library season because it’s easier and more fun to pair teens with books they’ll actually enjoy reading. But that leads to problems because they all usually want the same book—aka the ones that they’ve all seen on the big screen—which means that I have to be prepared with alternative options. Here are some of the major books teens ask for, and the similar ones I keep in my back pocket for when the ones they want are checked out:
The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
We had about 8 copies of this book last summer and they were always checked out. Cancer is the new vampire, y’all. Most people understood that they would have a significant wait time (most popular book + most popular movie does not equal readily available library book), and were willing to take one of the following:
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews. It’s funny, emotional, and has a cancer patient, so it’s an easy sell. Greg enjoys his life of remaking classic movies and surviving high school as part of every social group while simultaneously having no friends, but everything changes when his mother forces him to befriend a dying girl he once knew from Hebrew school.
The Probability of Miracles, by Wendy Wunder. This is definitely the sappier option. A teen who has been battling cancer for years learns that there are no more treatment options available. Her mother refuses to give up, however, and moves them to Promise, ME, because it’s known for miracles.
Zac & Mia, by A.J. Betts. Character-wise, this one is the most similar to TFIOS, because we get two cancer patients. But the adorkable dialogue in TFIOS is far from what we get here; instead we get a rough and emotionally closed up girl struggling to accept her disease and rebelling against anyone trying to help her. This is for the teen (or adult, come on) who wants a gruffer cancer read. Because they exist.
The Maze Runner, by James Dashner
Miraculously, this one was on the summer reading list. But that just meant all 10 copies we owned were absolutely never seen again. So, teens itching for another dystopia received one of the following series starters:
Legend, by Marie Lu. Two teens from opposite sides of a war realize they have a common enemy and need to figure out how to fight together. So much action that carries throughout the entire trilogy. It’s amazing.
The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness. An all-male society where you can’t keep secrets—your every thought can be heard by the others in what is called Noise. Todd is forced to run away from the colony, but how can you run away from people who hear your every thought?
Slated, Teri Terry. In this dystopian series, juveniles who commit serious crimes are slated—they have their memories wiped and are adopted into new families. Kyla has gone through the slating process, but as she tries to adjust to her new life, memories of her past start to come back.
Paper Towns, by John Green
I know that this is going to be the book everyone needs to read ASAP because the movie is coming out next month (!!!). In my year at this job, I’ve seen our copies of the book maybe…once.
We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart. To be honest, I will tell everyone to read this book, even if they aren’t looking for Paper Towns. In this mystery, Cadence is trying to uncover the traumatic event that left her with amnesia the previous summer because her family is under doctor’s orders not to tell her.
Going Bovine, by Libba Bray. Paper Towns has a pretty epic road trip, but that road trip is missing Mad Cow Disease. But it’s not missing from Going Bovine, a retelling of Don Quixote about a boy who goes on a road trip to find a cure for his disease.
Please Ignore Vera Dietz, by A.S. King. Vera was always secretly in love with her best friend Charlie, and now that he’s haunting her after his suspicious death, it’s getting a little more complicated. This novel has a similar dark, comic style to Paper Towns and is sure to get teens to read the other amazing YA novels by King.
So those are some of my go-to recommendations! I can tell you that they 100% work because right now, they are all actually checked out of my library. So now I have to go think up some new ones…by