Outstanding Books for the College Bound
The books on 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.
This list is developed every five years.
This list was
edited to include only items owned by the Santa Cruz Public Libraries, and
their call number.
Arts and Humanities
Abdurraquib, Hanif. Go Ahead In the
Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest. 2019.
More than a musical biography, this is a coming of age story. Abdurraquib
reflects on his own maturation and that of rap music through his relationship
with A Tribe Called Quest. 782.426 ABD
Acevedo, Elizabeth. The Poet X. 2018.
Xiomara can’t hide from her neighbors or her family, but she can learn to
understand herself through writing slam poetry. YA
Ahmed, Samira. Love, Hate &
Other Filters. 2018.
An Indian-American Muslim teen struggles to find balance between her dreams of
being a filmmaker and her parents’ more conservative expectations. A horrific
crime across the country makes things worse when it exposes the Islamophobia
and bigotry of her neighbors and peers.
YA FICTION AHM
Anderson, MT. Symphony for the
City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad. 2015.
A captivating account of a genius composer and the brutally stormy period in
which he lived. YA BIO SHOSTAKOVICH
Barry, Lynda. Making Comics.
With the philosophy that “everyone can be creative,” Barry walks readers
through her drawing exercises for her college course. Even readers who don’t
think they can draw will be inspired to pick up a pen and some paper and try. GN 741.5973
Brooks, Melanie. Writing Hard
Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma. 2017.
Considered essential reading for creative writers, Brooks examines what it
means to write honestly about one’s experience by talking with the best of the
memoirists. 808.06 BRO
Emezi, Akwaeke. Pet. 2019.
In this highly imaginative novel, a creature in a painting by Jam’s mother
comes to life, seeking the true monster. Thought provoking concepts such as the
nature of art, the meaning of evil, and the importance of forgiveness are
explored in this slim volume. YA FICTION EME
Fischer, Jenna. The Actor’s Life:
A Survival Guide. 2017.
Part memoir and part craft education, The Office actress Jenna Fischer walks
readers through her experience as a professional actor with humorous stories
and practical advice. 792.02 FIS
Gardner, Whitney. You’re Welcome
A teen graffiti artist finds her world thrown upside down after she is expelled
from her Deaf school for creating an unauthorized mural to protect her best
friend. Forced to navigate a mainstream school, Julia turns to her art, but
even that can’t provide comfort when she finds herself in a graffiti war. YA
Jackson, Tiffany. Let Me Hear a
Rhyme. Katherine. 2020.
Jackson brings to life the sound of 1990s Brooklyn in this crime mystery. When
the Architect’s demo catches fire and music labels seek admittance, his friends
attempt to prove his talent beyond the grave while also trying to solve his
death, figure out their lives after high school, and honor his memory. YA
Kondo, Marie. The Life-Changing
Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. 2014.
Kondo provides step by step guidance to removing the clutter from your home so
that you can truly know and appreciate what matters in your life. 648
Laymon, Kiese. Heavy: An
American Memoir. 2019.
Laymon recalls his journey growing up in the deep south, attempting to
reconcile he and his mother’s memories of experiencing racism, abuse, and
addiction as well as giftedness. As much a reflection on his life as a writer
as it is his coming of age. BIO LAYMON
Miranda, Lin-Manuel. Hamilton, The
Miranda provides a behind-the-scenes view of the popular musical about one of
America’s founding fathers as well as insights into his thought processes as he
wrote the musical. 782.1402 MIR
Mohr, Tim. Burning Down the
Haus: Punk Rock, Revolution and the Fall of the Berlin Wall. 2018.
The Berlin Wall could keep people out (and in) but they couldn't keep radio
waves out. This is the tale of a small group of East German teens who became
punk rockers in the 70s just like their Western counterparts. Here are the
stories that define creativity and freedom under an authoritarian regime. 306.4
Okorafor, Nnedi. Broken Places and
Outer Spaces: Finding Creativity in the Unexpected. 2019.
Okorafor shares her journey from athlete to creative writer. When she becomes
paralyzed overnight, just after starting college, she is forced to reimagine
her life’s purpose. Magical, inspiring, and humbling, Okorafor draws you in and
keeps you rooting for her. BIO OKORAFOR
Pan, Emily X.R. The Astonishing
Color of After. 2019.
This novel weaves a beautiful and colorful story about finding oneself through
family history, art, grief, and love. Following her mother’s spirit to Taiwan,
Leigh encounters family secrets as she attempts to reconnect with her
grandparents and her heritage. YA FICTION PAN
Questlove. Creative Quest. 2018.
Questlove, leader of The Roots, meets the reader where they are in this
inspirational work about the creative process.
Sloan, Nate and Harding,
Charlie. Switched on Pop: How Popular Music Works and Why it Matters. 2019.
Foundational and sometimes complicated concepts in music theory explained
simply through the lens of the “modern classics” of pop. Based on the podcast
of the same name. 781.64 SLO
Talusan, Meredith. Fairest: A
From childhood stardom to an Ivy League education, Talusan shares her memories
dealing with albinism, immigration, and gender transition. BIO
Twitty, Michael. The Cooking Gene:
A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South. 2017.
In this survey of Southern culinary history and an exploration of genealogical
history, Twitty weaves his expertise with personal exploration to discover his
racial roots through traditional Southern cuisine. 641.59
Ukazu, Ngozi. Check, Please!
Volumes 1 & 2. 2018, 2020.
Follow a former figure skating champion, avid baker, and vlogger as he joins
his college’s hockey team as a freshman, learns how to navigate hockey culture,
and develops a crush on his captain. Developed from a web series of the
same name. YA GN FICTION UKA
Westover, Tara. Educated: A
This memoir traces Westover’s youth as a child of survivalists through her
experiences in school for the first time as a 17-year-old and her young
adulthood as she ultimately earns degrees from Harvard and Cambridge.
Along the way, she grapples with her connection to and understanding of the
family she left behind in Idaho. BIO WESTOVER
History and Cultures Titles
Achorn, Edward. Every Drop of Blood: Hatred and Healing at
Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inauguration. 2020.
Achorn weaves together the stories of the host of characters that had converged
on Washington, from grievously wounded Union colonel Selden Connor in a
Washington hospital, embarrassingly drunk new vice president Andrew Johnson,
and poet-journalist Walt Whitman, to soldiers' advocate Clara Barton, African
American leader Frederick Douglass (who called the speech "a sacred
effort"), and conflicted actor John Wilkes Booth, all swirling around the
complex figure of Lincoln. 973.7 ACH
Aslan, Reza. God: A Human History. Random House, 2017.
Aslan illuminates the rich history of religion from cave paintings through the
founding of modern religions. Throughout, he explores the tendency to ascribe
human features to spiritual beings in order to explore what is universal about
religious belief. 211 ACL
Backderf, Derf. Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio. Abrams. 2020.
The story of the Kent State shootings of May 4, 1970 is told through the eyes
of the victims and the deep research of comic artist Derf Backderf. GN
Berry, Julie. Lovely War. 2019.
The goddess of love, caught in the arms of the god of war, spins a tale of four
humans in love during WWI to convince her jealous husband, the god of fire,
that love is an art worthy of admiration.
YA FICTION BER
Cullen, Dave. Parkland: Birth of a Movement. 2019.
Rather than focusing on the shooter(s) as he did with his earlier Columbine,
Cullen instead focuses on the survivors of this devastating school shooting and
how they turned their tragedy into activism.
LISTLIB DISC 371.782 CUL
Dionne, Evette. Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle
for the Ballot Box. 2020.
Through history and biography interludes, Dionne names the Black women
suffragists who history has all but forgotten and recounts their roles in the
fight for women’s right to vote. J 323.34 DIO
Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne. An Indigenous people’s History of the United
This book opens by challenging the standard tale of the "discovering"
of America. It addresses conflicting cultural concepts of private property and
extractive industries, land conservation and environmental rights, social
activism, the definition of what it means to be "civilized," and the
role of the media in shaping perceptions. There is a young reader's adaptation
that is well-suited to grades 7-10. Each version is eye-opening and thought
provoking. YA 970.0049 MEN
Graff, Garrett M. The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History
of 9/11. 2019.
An unflinching and vivid minute-by-minute account of 9/11 told by the ones who
lived through it. 973.931
Hurston, Zora Neale. Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black
One of America's great authors stayed three months with 86-year-old Cudjo
Lewis, interviewing him about his slave ship voyage from Africa and his
enslavement in Alabama in the last years of the Civil War. Hurston's manuscript
is an invaluable contribution to our shared history and culture. 306.3
Kendi, Ibram X. Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive
History of Racist Ideas in America. 2016.
A National Book Award-winning work that comprehensively traces the history and
evolution of racism and racist ideas in America. Kendi effectively shows how
these ideas were created to rationalize and promote inequality, and how they
can be dismantled. 305.800973 KEN
Keefe, Patrick Radden. Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and
Memory in Northern Ireland. 2019.
The killing of a mother in Northern Ireland becomes a story of terrorism,
hunger strikes, politics and outrunning your past. This extremely
well-researched account uses plentiful interviews and primary sources. 364.1523 KEE
Khorram, Adib. Darius the Great is Not Okay. 2018.
A teen boy, who feels split between his American and Persian identities and
suffers from clinical depression, finds unexpected friendship and
self-understanding while visiting family in Iran. YA
King, Charles. Gods of the Upper Air: How a Circle of Renegade
Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex, and Gender in the Twentieth Century.
King traces the life of the father of cultural anthropology, Franz Boas, and
some of the notable women he mentored, including Margaret Mead and Zora Neal
Hurston. Boas' work aimed to dispel the narrative that cultures ranged from
"primitive" to "advanced" and encouraged anthropologists to
remove their own biases when learning about new cultures. 301.092
Lewis, John. March, Books 1-3. 2013, 2015, 2016.
Congressman John Lewis was an integral leader of the Civil Rights movement, and
this graphic memoir trilogy showcases his struggles and successes in fighting
for justice and freedom for all Black Americans. YA GN 378.73 LEW
Mafi, Tahereh. A Very Large Expanse of Sea. 2019.
Being the new girl at school is hard enough, but being the new Muslim girl at
school a year after 9/11 is brutal. Shirin has built up emotional walls to
protect herself from all of the hate, but when Ocean shows interest in getting
to know her, will she let her defenses down?
YA FICTION MAF
Majumdar, Megha. A Burning. 2020.
Majumdar's visionary debut is set in Bengal, India, and is told in the voices
of Jivan, a suspect in a train bombing, and her transgender neighbor and alibi
Lovely. This timely novel reflects the volatile political situation in India,
while also casting a critical eye on social media and its harmful effects. FICTION
Noah, Trevor. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African
Daily Show's Trevor Noah shares his powerful story of growing up in South
Africa when his existence was considered an actual crime. BIO
Ortiz, Paul. An African American and Latinx History of
the United States. 2018.
Ortiz skillfully places the intersecting movements for African American and
Latinx civil rights at the center of the history of the Americas. This timely
study of the last 200 years helps today's readers understand persisting issues
while inspiring solidarity across the Americas. 305.800973
Richardson, Kristen. The Season: A Social History of the
Being a debutante wasn't just wearing a beautiful dress in beautiful
surroundings; it was often a political or financial charade, simply the duty of
a daughter of the wealthy. Richardson's timeline travels from Elizabethan
England to present day America. A little studied topic in women's history. Ebook
Sepetys, Ruta. Fountains of Silence. 2019.
Through the eyes of a young man who is the heir to a Texas oil fortune, Sepetys
examines the Franco regime in 1950s Spain. Family, love, death, poverty, and
brief moments of joy reign in this novel about a little-talked about time in
history. YA FICTION SEP
Takei, George. They Called Us Enemy. 2019.
George Takei opens up about his experiences as a young child when he and his
family were forced to move into an Internment Camp during the 1940s in this
powerful graphic memoir. YA GN 940.5317 TAK
Wang, John and Garner, Storm. The World Eats Here: Amazing Food and the
Inspiring People Who Make It at New York's Queens Night Market. 2020.
In his cookbook inspired by a neighborhood street market, Wang includes the
stories of the diverse people who make the food along with their recipes. 641.59
Literature and Language Arts
Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel.
This modern dystopian classic has now been adapted into graphic novel form.
Through stunning art, Nault draws readers into the futuristic world of Atwood's
The Handmaid's Tale. GN FICTION NAU
Baldwin, James. The Fire Next Time. 1993.
Through this classic work originally written in 1963, marking the 100th
anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Baldwin speaks to the enduring
legacy of slavery and racism in America. Blunt and beautiful, The Fire Next
Time argues that America can never last as a nation until both white and Black
people confront this history directly. 305.896 BAL
Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. 2007.
Now a modern classic, this graphic memoir explores Bechdel's fraught relationship
with her father through her early life, and her coming out as a lesbian. While
in college, she learns she and her father may have had more in common than she
thought, but he dies before she can explore that with him, leading to more
mysteries than answers. GN BIO BECHDEL
Collins, Bridget. The Binding. 2019.
A young farmer suffers a mysterious mental collapse and is sent to work
learning the forbidden art of creating books that hold the memories people
don't want to remember. One night he uncovers a secret that unravels everything
he thought he knew about his life. FICTION COL
Dhaliwal, Aminder. Woman World. 2018.
A society of women try to survive and thrive after a post-apocalyptic event.
Told in comic strip form, Dhaliwal answers the "what happens after?"
question with humor and heart. GN FICTION DHA
Grimes, Nikki. Ordinary Hazards. 2019.
A memoir in the form of a powerful and inspiring collection of poems,
addressing the issues of love, family, responsibility, belonging, and finding a
place in the world. YA BIO GRIMES
Gyasi, Yaa. Homegoing. 2016.
This novel follows the paths of two half-sisters born in Ghana in the 1800s and
their descendants over eight generations, as their lives are shaped by major
events in Ghanian and American history up to present day. FICTION
Hand, Cynthia, Meadows, Jodi,
and Ashton, Brodi. My Plain Jane. 2018.
A deadpan deconstruction of a gothic novel, with a ghost almost no one can see
providing the commentary. This is a twisted version of JANE EYRE that will serve
as a self-aware antidote to "the great gothic classic." YA
Jemison, N.K. How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? 2018.
Acclaimed speculative fiction author, Jemison, tackles a variety of tough
topics in her compelling collection of imaginative stories. FICTION
Kaminsky, Ilya. Deaf Republic: Poems. 2019.
This story, told as a collection of poems, follows a town's response when a
deaf boy is killed by soldiers during a protest. 811.6
King, A.S. Dig. 2019.
A stunningly original novel, often called surreal, follows the lives and minds
of 5 unknowingly connected teens as they grapple with identity, family, and
society. Human complexities such as racism, drugs, disease, abuse, sexual
confusion, power, and privilege entwine in a meditative tale of hope. YA
Krosoczka, Jarrett. Hey, Kiddo. 2018.
This author of hilarious elementary school graphic novels turns his pen toward
a complicated graphic memoir of his youth with real complicated, flawed
relatives who both raise him with love or neglect him in their misery. His art
helps him build a normal life out of his not-normal circumstances. YA GN
Mailhot, Therese Marie. Heart Berries: A Memoir. 2019.
Hospitalized in a mental hospital, Mailhot (Seabird Island Band), begins the
process of healing from abuse and failed relationships. BIO
McCulloch, Gretchen. Because Internet: Understanding the New
Rules of Language. 2019.
Ever wondered about the difference between lol and LOL, or how emojis came to
be? Learn how the Internet is changing the English language, and why that's a
great thing. 302.23 MCC
Miller, Madeline. Circe. 2018.
This novel speaks to women's agency, war's traumatic aftermath, and how
strength emerges from emotional growth, fleshing out the classic stories of the
Minotaur, the monster Scylla, the witch Medea, events from Homer's Odyssey, all
reimagined from a strong-minded woman's viewpoint. FICTION
Pullman, Philip. Daemon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling.
A collection of essays and speeches that chart Philip Pullman's enchantment
with Story, from his own books to those of Blake, Milton, Dickens, and the
Brothers Grimm, and delves into the role of Story in education, religion, and
science. 809.93353 PUL
Rankine, Claudia. Citizen: An American Lyric. 2014.
Claudia Rankine reflects on very sensitive, very personal, very real
experiences for Black Americans on a day to day basis through essay, image, and
poetry. 814.6 RAN
Reynolds, Jason. Long Way Down. 2017.
Last night, Will saw his brother’s dead body lying in a pool of blood on the
sidewalk. This morning, Will gets on the elevator to go after his brother’s
murderer. But what happens in that sixty second elevator ride will change his
life forever. YA FICTION REY
Smith, Cynthia Leitich. Hearts Unbroken. 2018.
Native high school senior Louise Wolfe breaks up with her boyfriend and
embraces her senior year while working out the conundrum of “dating while
Native.” YA FICTION SMI
Stamper, Kory. Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries.
Stamper, a lexicographer with Merriam-Webster dictionary, has written a
combination history of the English language and a memoir of work life
reminiscent of The Office. Her essays are witty, often hilarious and show her
love of the word in all its forms. 413.028 STA
Summers, Courtney. Sadie. 2018.
Alternating between transcripts of a podcast and Sadie's first-person account,
this novel is filled with biting commentary on sexual assault and the
mistreatment of girls and women at the hands of predatory men. Though the novel
isn't "true crime," it is easy to see its connections to the genre. YA
Thomas, Angie. The Hate U Give. 2017.
Star, a smart African-American teen who attends a majority white private
school, has the unquestioning support of her family as she attempts to recover
from the trauma of witnessing one of her best friends being shot by police
during a traffic stop. But she has to determine what steps she should take to
seek justice. YA FICTION THO
Wang, Esme. The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays.
Wang explores the medical history of schizophrenias in relation to her own
experience being diagnosed with multiple mental and physical illnesses. 616.898
Watson, Renee. Piecing Me Together. 2017.
Jade, a Black scholarship student at a majority white private school, struggles
to belong. When given a chance to be mentored by a Black college student, she
is disappointed that her mentor is more interested in being a
"savior" than a mentor. Class and privilege are studied in this
honest, modern novel. YA
Whitehead, Colson. The Nickel Boys. 2019.
Based loosely on actual events, this novel centers around Elwood, a talented
Black teen who hopes to attend college; but instead is wrongly incarcerated in
a juvenile detention center where horrors ensue. FICTION
Science and Technology Titles
Brusatte, Stephen. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New
History of a Lost World. 2019.
This title traces the evolution of dinosaurs from their inauspicious start as
small shadow dwellers, how their species benefited from a mass extinction
caused by volcanic eruptions at the beginning of the Triassic period , and then
how they became the dominant species every wide-eyed child memorizes. 567.9
Carreyrou, John. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon
Valley Startup. 2018.
A technology start-up with a lot of promise, Theranos managed to deceive
investors and customers into believing their product actually worked. But, it
didn’t. Carreyrou documents his investigation into one of the biggest scandals
of the decade. 338.7 CAR
Doctorow, Cory. Little Brother. 2008.
A story told through the eyes of teenaged “white hat” hackers living in a near future
San Francisco who find themselves targets of the federal government in the
aftermath of a terrorist attack in the city. Though more than a decade old,
this novel remains relevant as it explores how a culture of mass surveillance
can go too far and how a nation balances privacy and security. YA
Edugyan, Esi. Washington Black. 2019.
The antebellum novel reimagined, this is the story of ”a disfigured Black
boy with a scientific turn of mind" who lives a bold life that enslaved
people cannot imagine, but who spends that bold life running from shadows until
he doesn't any longer. FICTION EDU
Epstein, David. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a
Specialized World. 2019.
Epstein examines the practices of successful athletes, authors, scientists and
more to dispel the idea that more practice is always required to become good at
something. Instead, he argues a wide range of skills can lead to greater
success in the long term, even if it's less efficient in the short term. 153.9
Eubanks, Virginia. Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools
Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor. 2018.
Eubanks explores all of the ways that technology advancements have
disproportionately harmed poor and working-class communities in this
engaging, data-driven book. 362.5 EUB
Fainaru-Wada, Mark. League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and
the Battle for Truth. 2014.
This title is the most comprehensive examination, to date, of the NFL’s fight
to keep CTE research and findings under control. LISTLIB
DISC 617.1027 FAI
Fies, Brian. A Fire Story. 2019
A wrenching graphic memoir of a community devastated by the California
wildfires. GN 363.379 FIE
France, David. How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of
How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS. 2013.
An insider’s detailed account of the activists who took scientific research
into their own hands to fight for treatment for HIV/AIDS, a disease which took
the lives of thousands of mostly gay and transgender people while being largely
ignored by the wider public and government officials. 362.19697
Gilio-Whitaker, Dina. As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight
for Environmental Justice, From Colonization to Standing Rock. 2020.
Gilio-Whitaker (Colville Confederated Tribes) outlines Native people’s long
history of advocating for environmental protections and sovereignty and urges
today’s environmentalists to take inspiration and wisdom from this history and
its leaders. 970.0049 GIL
Grant, John. Debunk It! Fake News Edition: How to Stay
Sane in a World Misinformation. 2019.
At the heart of this updated, helpful, and humorous tool is the application of
the scientific method to evaluate sources of information. YA
Green, Hank. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. 2018.
Green uses mathematics, science, and classic rock references to energize the
main character's journey of self-discovery as she navigates her relationships,
fear-mongering enemies, and the press, while social-media moves the needle in
ways she cannot anticipate or control. FICTION GRE
Higginbotham, Adam. Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of
the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster. 2020.
This well-researched study follows the Chernobyl disaster from construction to
meltdown to present day. This title provides both a big picture overview and a
detailed study of the mistakes that were made. 025.04252 NOB
Jauhar, Sandeep. Heart: A History. 2018.
Pairs medical history with revelations of Jauhar’s own family's tragic
encounters with heart disease, delivering a contemplation of our most precious
internal organ. 612.1 JAU
Kolbert, Elizabeth. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural
There have been five mass extinction events over the last half-billion years,
and Kolbert explains why scientists believe that we are in the middle of our sixth--this
time, caused by humans. 576.84 KOL
McIlwain, Charlton D. Black Software: The Internet & Racial
Justice, from the Afronet to Black Lives Matter. 2020.
Before there was Black Lives Matter, Black people employed computing technology
and the internet to advocate for racial justice, be in community, and build
their wealth. McIlwain has crafted a timely history of the Black community’s
role in the creation and evolution of the Internet through archival sources and
the voices of many who lived and made this history. Ebook
Morris, Brittney. Slay. 2020.
Teen game developer, honors student, and math tutor, Kiera, battles a real-life
troll intent on ruining her Black Panther-inspired video game created to be a
safe and inspiring community for Black gamers. YA FICTION MOR
Noble, Safiya Umoja. Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines
Reinforce Racism. 2018.
Data discrimination is prominent in internet culture. In this academic text,
Noble highlights the racism and sexism that is built into search algorithms,
exposing some of the internet’s internal biases. 025.04252 NOB
Oh, Axie. Rebel Seoul. 2017.
Jaewon gets a job as an assistant to the Neo State’s secret weapon, an enhanced
human being named Tera, who has been a product of the State for her entire
life. As Jaewon gets deeper into the inner workings, he starts to realize that
some things are not as good as they seem.
YA FICTION OH
Quamman, David. Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next
Human Pandemic. 2012.
Quamman joins reputable virologists as they try to solve the mystery of the
origins of some of the deadliest viruses in human history. 614.43
Ramirez, Ainissa. The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter
Transformed One Another. 2020.
A survey of how eight inventions--clocks, steel rails, copper wire,
photographic film, light bulbs, hard disks, labware, and silicon chips--changed
the ways humans relate to technology. 620.11 RAM
Robinson, Mary. Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience, and
the Fight for a Sustainable Future. 2018.
Meet leaders and everyday people from across the globe who fight for their
communities as they face the worst effects of climate change. The lived
experience of these “accidental” activists inspire us to start small to affect
noticeable change. 363.7 ROB
Ronson, Jon. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. 2015.
Through a series of case studies, Ronson explores how the advent of social
media has also led to a rise in public shaming in which everyday people are
relentlessly critiqued for posting the wrong thing or making a mistake online. 152.44
St. Clair, Kassia. The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed
From the linen fiber in ancient Egypt to the most technically advanced
spacesuits, our cultural history can be told through the fibers and fabrics we
use. 677 STC
Walden, Tillie. On a Sunbeam. 2018.
Across the vast universe, a crew is tasked with rebuilding and restoring old
buildings. But for Mia, this job is about finding and rebuilding a part of
herself she thinks she has lost. YA FICTION WAL
Wiener, Anna. Uncanny Valley. 2020.
As a young, broke millennial, Wiener left a job in publishing to join Silicon
Valley at the start of the tech boom. Throughout this candid memoir, Wiener
highlights both the internal changes she underwent while working for major tech
companies as well as the changes to the cities these companies inhabit and the
possible long-term effects on our democracy.
Social Sciences Titles
Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the
Age of Colorblindness. 2020.
Today's calls for reform in criminal justice and policing were born in part out
of Alexander's bestseller which methodically relays how the carceral state was created.
The updated edition also shares the state of the reform movement. 364.973
Brown, Don. The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian
Shedding light on the horrific dangers refugees must go through to escape
warzones, Don Brown depicts the realities of the Syrian Refugee Crisis. YA GN
Caletti, Deb. A Heart in a Body in the World. 2018.
Annabelle is running across the country to escape a trauma, with her grandfather
as her chaperone in a rickety RV. As Annabelle keeps running, she finds the
power to be honest with herself about what happened and to use her voice to
reach others. YA FICTION CAL
Cantu, Francisco. The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from
the Border. 2018.
The author's mother told him, "We learn violence by watching others, by
seeing it enshrined in institutions. Then, even without our choosing it, it
begins to seem normal to us, it even becomes part of who we are." This
book is his struggle with this truth as he works for the U.S. Border Patrol and
eventually comes to see the border and the people there as more than
depersonalized policy. 363.28 CAN
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me. 2015.
Taking the form of a letter to his teenage son, Coates strives to help his son
(and himself) come to grips with what it means to be Black in America today. BIO
Cooper, Brittney. Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers
Her Superpower. 2018.
Anger is an emotion that is not acceptable when displayed by women, especially
Black women. Part memoir and part feminist text, Cooper reminds women that rage
can be eloquent and can keep society accountable for their attitudes and
actions against women, specifically Black women. 305.48
Davis, Angela. Women, Race & Class. 1983.
A classic and essential reading, Davis' history of the women’s liberation
movement in the U.S., from abolitionist days to the twentieth century from the
lenses of race, gender, and class. 305.42 DAV
Deaver, Mason. I Wish You All the Best. 2019.
In this novel a nonbinary teen, Ben, who comes out to their parents, is kicked
out of their home and must move in with their estranged older sister. With only
a few months left of their senior year, Ben grapples with coming out at their
new school, friendships that may turn into something more, and redefining their
conceptions of their family. YA FICTION DEA
Ferrera, America. American Like Me: Reflections on Life
Between Cultures. 2019.
Thirty-one of Ferrera's friends, peers, and heroes share their narratives about
their lives between cultures. Intimate glimpses of contributors' private lives,
rife with admiration for immigrant parents and pride in cultural backgrounds,
pair with the frustration and anguish that come with feeling like an outsider
in their own country. Ebook & Eaudio
Jones, Kimberly and Segal,
Gilly. I’m Not Dying with
You Tonight. 2019.
Follow Lena and Campbell in their action-packed night as they race for their
homes when a fight that breaks out after a high school football game erupts
into something much bigger. YA FICTION JON
Kendall, Mikki. Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a
Movement Forgot. 2020.
In this essay collection, Mikki Kendall addresses global issues one at a time
and dives into what makes them feminist, countering the narrow focuses of white
feminism to include the needs of all women.
Kendi, Ibram X. How to be an Antiracist. 2019.
Looking at ethics, law, policy, history, and science, Dr. Kendi explores what
it truly means to be anti-racist and fight for racial justice for Black
America. 305.8009 KEN
Kobabe, Maia. Gender Queer: A Memoir. 2019.
An exploration of gender identity and sexuality, Maia Kobabe tells their
personal story of discovering that sometimes you might not fit into a
predefined box. GN 741.5 KOB
Krakauer, Jon. Missoula: Rape and the Justice System. 2015.
Investigative journalist Jon Krakauer deep dives into the sexual assault
epidemic in one college town, documenting cases from incident to indictment (or
lack thereof) and giving voice to the victims of the crimes. 362.883
Macy, Beth. Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug
Company that Addicted America. 2018.
Constructs the through line from the mid-nineties’ introduction of the prescription
painkiller OxyContin to the current U.S. opioid crisis. Although the realities
are devastating, the doctors, the bereaved, and the advocates that the author
introduces offer hope. 362.290973 MAC
Margolin, Jamie. Youth to Power: Your Voice and How to Use
Teen activist Jamie Margolin presents an informative guide for getting involved
in social activism. 320.0835 MAR
Miller, Chanel. Know My Name: A Memoir. 2019.
Miller was known only as Emily Doe when the letter she read during the sentencing
of the man who sexually assaulted her went viral. With this memoir, she
reclaims her name and describes the trauma she experienced, the injustices she
and other victims face in the criminal justice system, and the ways she found
healing. 364.1532 MIL
Saslow, Eli. Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a
Former White Nationalist. 2018.
Derek Black was a leading white supremacist... until he went to college. There,
he went through a slow awakening that what he had been brought up to believe
was wrong. This thoughtfully written profile of a human with a problematic past
also touches on freedom of speech issues.
Slater, Dashka. The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers
and the Crime that Changed Their Lives. 2017.
What seems at first to be a straightforward case of an anti-LGBTQ+ hate crime
turns out to be far more complex in this true accounting of two teens, one
white and one Black, from radically different worlds in the city of Oakland,
and the reckless act that brought their stories to national attention. YA
Stevenson, Bryan. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and
Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, documents his work as an
attorney fighting on behalf of prisoners on death row and the wrongly
convicted, and explores how the United States' legacy of racial injustice led
to the current inequities in the criminal justice system. 353.4809
Tagame, Gengorah. My Brother’s Husband, Vol. 1-2. 2017,
In this two-volume set of manga, Yaichi grapples with the fact that his
homophobia allowed him to lose contact with his gay twin brother, who has
passed away, when his brother’s white, Canadian husband comes to Japan to meet
the family. Honest and realistic, Yaichi strives to understand and be better
for himself, his deceased brother, and his daughter. GN FICTION TAG
Tolentino, Jia. Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion. 2019.
Over the course of nine witty and sharp essays, Tolentino analyzes the
different ways in which modern culture can create a warped version of the self,
covering topics from body image to the "scam economy" to the evolving
and increasingly social internet, and more.
Watkins, D. We Speak for Ourselves: A Word from
Forgotten Black America. 2019.
This Baltimore based essayist explores poverty, class, race and crime while
always "speaking for himself." Watkins uses a combination of direct
language, opinion and humor to give an honest voice to his culture. 305.896
Zoboi, Ibi. American Street. 2017.
A well-executed look into how the American dream can be a nightmare for some
immigrants. Evocative prose delineates struggle for survival, the uncovering of
one's bravest self, and the coming together of a family. YA
The Santa Cruz Public Libraries owns some of these titles in
multiple formats—book, audio, Ebook and Eaudio.
Please check our catalog for other formats.
For the complete OBCB list of titles see:
"2019 Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners",
American Library Association, February 21, 2020.
(Accessed December 15, 2020)
Document ID: bc133e64-a320-4c42-a0df-411b478d7f61
2022 Amazing Audiobooks
for Young Adults
Compiled by the Young Adult Library Services
Edited to include only items owned by the
Santa Cruz Public Libraries
The 2022 Amazing Audiobooks list consists of 76 titles,
selected from 123 official nominations.
*indicates a top ten selection
Ace of Spades. By Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé. Read by Jeanette Illidge & Tapiwa
Devon and Chiamaka are the only black kids at their school. The
anonymous Aces starts a text message smear campaign on both of them. As
they try to save themselves, the conspiracy of Aces is revealed to be much
deeper and darker than imagined. Dual narrators make this an excellent
All Thirteen: The Incredible
Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team. By Christina Soontornvat. Read by Quincy Surasmith & Christina
Soontornvat. Audio CD, Playaway &
An honest and frank account of the 2018 Thai cave rescue told in a
thrilling and fast-paced manner, perfect for younger and older teen readers
alike. Quincy Surasmith is a capable narrator and will keep readers engaged
with this tense and true story.
Any Way the Wind Blows: Simon Snow Trilogy, Book 3. By Rainbow
Rowell. Read by Euan Morton. eAudio
In this conclusion of the trilogy, Simon, Baz and Penny are back
in England. Penny with the demon-marked American she brought home, Simon
attempting to reclaim a human life and rid himself of his tail, and Agatha
learning about the significance of the Watford goats. Morton’s voicing of these
characters brings them to life.
Skin to the Core. By Eric Gansworth. Read by Eric Gansworth.
Eric Gansworth’s memoir
of growing up Native covers his history from government boarding schools where
his grandparents were educated, through growing up and getting himself off the
reservation and out of his family home. This audiobook, narrated by Gansworth
himself, speaks from his true heart to the listener.
The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War and Survival. By Amra Sabic-El-Rayess and Laura L.
Sullivan. Read by Leila Buck. Audio CD
Growing up in Bosnia during the 1990’s war, Muslim teen Amra lived
through unfathomable horrors. As war looms, then goes from bad to worse,
a cat saves her brother. They keep it around, much to their benefit over time.
Buck’s narration artfully brings forward the emotions, dramatics, and voices
through this heartbreaking tale.
*Chlorine Sky. By Mahogany L. Browne. Read by Mahogany L.
This novel-in-verse read by the author is an emotional and honest
story of broken promises and friendships. In what feels like a stream of
consciousness from a teenage girl, the reader travels through heartache and
upheaval to realization and actualization. Mahogany L. Browne’s narration
highlights her deft work as a poet.
Cinderella Is Dead. By Kalynn Bayron. Read by Bahni Turpin.
In Marseilles, Cinderella is more than just a fairy tale: her
story is a guide for how women should behave. To avoid being forced to
marry, Sophia flees and ends up in a movement to topple the monarchy.
Turpin breathes life into the characters but is especially perfect as Sophia.
City of the Plague God. By Sarwat Chadda. Read by Vikas Adam. eAudio
Sik’s world is turned upside down when demons break into his family’s
deli. Suddenly, he finds himself surrounded by ancient Mesopotamian gods,
goddesses, and heroes. Plus, he has to save New York City from a deadly
disease. Narrator Vikas Adams perfectly captures the humor and adventure of
this quick-paced epic.
*Concrete Rose. By Angie Thomas. Read by Dion Graham. Audio CD, Playaway, & eAudio
In this prequel to 2017’s The Hate U Give, Dion Graham masterfully
gives life to fan favorite and Starr’s father, Maverick Carter, detailing his
life and experiences from his years. Graham’s voice matches the character well
and brings the story to life.
The Cousins. By Karen M. McManus. Read by Sarah Skaer,
Kate Reinders, David Garelik & Julia Whelan. eAudio
The Story cousins come together when their estranged grandmother
writes a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer. The
cousins quickly uncover many family secrets. The book’s four POV characters are
voiced by different readers who do an incredible job developing unique
personalities in this thrilling mystery.
A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and
Tomorrow. By Laura Taylor Namey. Read by Frankie
Corzo. Audio CD
Lila's emotional meltdown triggers a change of plans and
locations. Instead of staying and taking over her Abuela's panaderia, she must
process her grief at her Tia's inn in Winchester England. Frankie Corzo
charmingly brings Lila and quirky secondary characters to life.
*Firekeeper’s Daughter. By Angeline Boulley. Read by Isabella Star LeBlanc. Audio CD, Playaway & eAudio
Daunis Fontain's world has been turned upside down. Shortly after
a family tragedy, her best friend was murdered, revealing secrets eating away
at her community. Narrator Isabella Star LeBlanc perfectly captures the strong
lead character's voice, bringing Daunis, and her community, to life for the
From a Whisper to a Rallying
Cry: The Killing of Vincent
Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement. By Paula Yoo. Read by Catherine Ho. eAudio
Yoo educates young readers about the killing of Vincent Chin in
1982 including Chin's life, the circumstances of his death, and the aftermath
for his family and in the courts. Catherine Ho breathes urgency and a call to
action to the listener all these years later.
*Game Changer. By Neal Shusterman. Read by Andrew Eiden
& Jennifer Jill Araya. Audio CD
Ashley finds himself the locus of the universe after a severe head
injury sustained in a football game. Every time he takes a hard hit, he finds
himself knocked into an alternate universe in which seemingly small historical
social actions have big consequences in this thought provoking time bender.
The Gilded Ones: Deathless, Book 1. By Namina Forna. Read by Shayna Small. eAudio
Deka’s only wish is to be declared pure during the blood ceremony,
but her village is attacked and Deka discovers she is an impure one, an
alaki. Suffering untold horror, Deka believes this is her fate until she
is given an opportunity to fight for the emperor.
The Girls I’ve Been. By Tess Sharpe. Read by Tess Sharpe. eAudio
Nora and her two friends are being held hostage inside a bank, but
Nora isn’t an ordinary girl. She grew up with a con-artist and knows how to
survive and protect those she cares about. The narration portrays the emotional
range of the characters in this action packed, killer story.
A Good Girl's Guide to Murder. By Holly Jackson
Good Girl, Bad Blood Book 2. Read by MacLeod Andrews, Donte Bonner, James Fouhey,
Neil Hellegers, Cary Hite, Amy Landon, Raymond J. Lee, Keylor Leigh, Maggi-Meg
Reed, Shezi Sardar, and Bailey Carr. eAudio
As Good as Dead Book 3. Read by Bailey Carr, Kristen DiMercurio,
Robert Fass, Lauren Fortgang, Johnny Heller, Barrett Leddy, Shezi Sardar,
Vassilea Terzaki and Megan Tusing. eAudio
After the events of the previous year, Pippa Fitz-Amobi swears
she’s done investigating. At least until the brother of a good friend goes
missing and Pip is the only one willing to help. A full cast of narrators
creates a podcast feel and makes the story compulsively listenable.A shocking turnaround in the finale to the
trilogy as the true crime podcast turns on the investigator herself. Once
again brought to a spectacular audio experience using a full cast in audiobook
form, this wrap up to the story will keep readers breathless to the end.
The Hill We Climb. By Amanda Gorman. Read by Amanda Gorman and
Oprah Winfrey. eAudio
National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, recites once more the
poem she performed at President Joe Biden's inauguration in January 2021. Oprah
Winfrey reads a thoughtful foreward and Gorman's melodious recitation is a
deliberate and powerful call to action for teen readers across the nation.
In the Shadow of the
Russia, and the Hidden History of the Space Race. By Amy Cherrix. Read by Josh Horowitz. Audio CD
Cherrix gives readers a fascinating exploration of the space race
focusing on Nazi officer turned American hero Wernher von Braun, and his lesser
known Russian counterpart Sergei Korolev. Josh Horowitz's narration helps keep
this work engaging and interesting and readers will especially take to his
dynamic accent work.
*Last Night at the Telegraph
Club. By Malinda Lo. Read by Emily
Woo Zeller. eAudio
In 1954 San Francisco the Red-Scare looms over everything
including the life of Lily and her Chinese American family. In the midst of all
the fear and racism, Lily finds love and acceptance at the lesbian bar
Telegraph Club. Zeller’s narration is expressive, giving voice to individual
The Mirror Season. By Anna-Marie McLemore. Read by Jennifer
Jill Araya. eAudio
Two teens learn they were both sexually assaulted at the same
party. They slowly become friends, but in order to truly heal they must find
out what happened that night. Brilliant narration for an important story by
Jennifer Jill Araya.
Once Upon a Quinceañera. By Monica Gomez-Hira. Read by Frankie Corzo.
Stuck playing Belle as part of her internship for Dreams Come
True, Carmen Aguilar finds herself thrown back into the arms of a cheating
ex-boyfriend. Making matters worse, she must now perform with him at her
cousin’s quinceañera--the same cousin whose tattling ended Carmen’s own chance
at a quince.
One Last Stop. By Casey McQuiston. Read by Natalie Naudus. Audio CD & eAudio
August isn’t looking for love, just a place in the world, when she
meets Jane who seems to impossibly always be on her train. Jane has been stuck
in limbo since 1973. Only August can help her get free. Naudus’s
narration gives life to the fabulous characters in this lesbian love story.
One Two Three. By Laurie Frankel. Read by Emma Galvin,
Jesse Vilinsky, and Rebecca Soler. eAudio
Sixteen year old triplets Mab, Monday and Mirabelle are in a race
against the clock to find the evidence their town needs to shut down the
chemical company responsible for killing and maiming generations of town
Six Crimson Cranes. By Elizabeth Lim. Read by Emily Woo Zeller. eAudio
Princess Shiori has hidden magical powers her stepmother
discovers. She herself is a powerful sorceress, casting a curse on Shiori and
her six brothers. Shiori must break the curse to save her brothers and her
kingdom. Includes elements from many mythologies. Zeller does an excellent job
bringing Shiori to life.
These Violent Delights. By Chloe Gong. Read by Cindy Kay. eAudio
In this retelling of Romeo & Juliet set in 1920s Shanghai,
Juliette Kai and Roma Montagov, heirs to rival gangs, must put aside their
differences and work together to stop the contagion that’s threatening to
destroy their city. Kay voices Juliette and Roma well, fully embodying
Tokyo Ever After. By Emiko Jean. Read by Ali Ahn. eAudio
While the text has the nostalgic rags-to-riches trope, it also
recognizes and provides a glimpse into the struggle that people with
multicultural backgrounds can experience throughout their lives. Ali Ahn does a
great job of narrating and differentiating the female characters and
emphasizing the seriousness in the male characters.
What Beauty There Is. By Cory Anderson. Read by Dan Bittner and
Emma Galvin. Playaway
Jack Dahl is living in poverty, caring for his brother.
Desperate, he connects with his incarcerated father, but now there are several
factions hunting them down. With no one to trust he finds an unlikely
ally with Ava Bardem. This thriller is masterfully voiced by Bitner and Galvin.
*When You Look Like Us. By Pamela N. Harris. Read by Preston Butler III. eAudio
Jay’s sister Nic has disappeared again. But going missing
from their neighborhood raises no alarm for police action. This is an
edge-of-your-seat thriller rooted in classism and racism. Butler’s voice as Jay
and his cadence keeps the listener’s blood pumping as Jay tries to bring his
White Smoke. By Tiffany D. Jackson. Read by Marcella Cox.
The move to Cedarville is supposed to get Mari away from the
scandal of a drug overdose, but it turns out that the family’s new home–while
scandal free–comes with some malevolent guests. Marcella Cox handles
multiple characters and sound effects in a way that enhances the hair raising
You Have a Match. By Emma Lord. Read by Eva Kaminsky. eAudio
Abby signs up for a DNA service and discovers she has an older
sister she was never told about. They meet up at summer camp, where Abby’s
crush happens to be the chef. Typical summer camp antics ensue. Kaminsky’s
masterful narration adds a heartfelt feel to this novel of sisterhood, romance