Great Reads

2019 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 FICTION ACE

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. 2019.
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 BAR

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 Universe.   2017.

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 FICTION GAR

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 FICTION JAC

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 KON

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 Revolution.   2016.
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 MOH

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.   153.3 QUE

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 Memoir.  2020.
From childhood stardom to an Ivy League education, Talusan shares her memories dealing with albinism, immigration, and gender transition.  BIO TALUSAN

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 TWI

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 Memoir.   2018.
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 378.7713 DER

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 States. 2015.
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 GRA

Hurston, Zora Neale. Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo.”  2018.
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 HUR

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 FICTION KHO

King, Charles. Gods of the Upper Air: How a Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex, and Gender in the Twentieth Century. 2019.
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 KIN

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 MAJ

Noah, Trevor. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. 2018.
Daily Show's Trevor Noah shares his powerful story of growing up in South Africa when his existence was considered an actual crime.   BIO NOAH

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 ORT


Richardson, Kristen. The Season: A Social History of the Debutante. 2019.
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 WAN

Literature and Language Arts Titles

Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel. 2019.
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 GYA

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 FICTION HAN

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 JEM

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 KAM

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 FICTION KIN

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 362.2913 KRO

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 MAILHOT

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 MIL

Pullman, Philip. Daemon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling. 2019.
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. 2017.
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 FICTION SUM

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. Graywolf, 2019.
Wang explores the medical history of schizophrenias in relation to her own experience being diagnosed with multiple mental and physical illnesses.    616.898 WAN

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 FICTION WAT

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 WHI

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 BRU

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 FICTION DOC

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 EPS

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 FRA

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 001.9 GRA

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 History.  2014.
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 QUA

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 RON

St. Clair, Kassia. The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed History.   2018.
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.   BIO WIENER

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 ALE

Brown, Don. The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees.   2018.
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 956.9104 BRO

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 COATES

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 COO

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. 305.4209 KEN

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 KRA

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 It.   2020.
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.  320.54092 SAS

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 364.15 SLA

Stevenson, Bryan. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.   2014.
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 STE

Tagame, Gengorah. My Brother’s Husband, Vol. 1-2.   2017, 2018.
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.   973.93 TOL

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 WAT

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 FICTION ZOB


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 Association

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 SpadesBy Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé. Read by Jeanette Illidge & Tapiwa Mugweni. eAudio

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 listen.


All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team. By Christina Soontornvat. Read by Quincy Surasmith & Christina Soontornvat. Audio CD, Playaway & eAudio

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.


*Apple: Skin to the Core. By Eric Gansworth. Read by Eric Gansworth. 2020. eAudio

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. Browne. eAudio

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. 2020. eAudio

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 listener.


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 Moon: America, 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 characters.


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. eAudio

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 residents.


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 their emotions.


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 UsBy 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 sister home.


White Smoke. By Tiffany D. Jackson. Read by Marcella Cox. eAudio

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 plot.


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 and friendship.

Michael L. Printz Winners and Honor Books

The Michael L. Printz Award is an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature. It is named for a Topeka, Kansas school librarian who was a long-time active member of the Young Adult Library Services Association.  

2022   Winner:  Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Honor Books: Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas; Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo; Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party's Promise to the People by Kekla Magoon; Starfish by Lisa Fipps

2021   Winner:  Everything Sad is Untrue (a true story) by Daniel Nayeri

Honor Books:  Apple (Skin to the Core) by Eric Gansworth; Dragon Hoops byGene Luen Yang, color by Lark Pien; Every Body Looking, by Candice Iloh; We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

2020   Winner:  Dig by AS King

Honor Books:  The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy Hirano; Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell; Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir by Nikki Grimes; Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean

2019   Winner:  The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Honor Books:  Damsel by Elana K. Arnold; A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti; I, Claudia by Mary McCoy

2018   Winner: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Honor Books: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds; The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas; Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor; Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman

2017   Winner:  March:  Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

Honor Books: Asking for It by Louise O'Neill; The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry; Scythe by Neal Shusterman; The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

2016   Winner:  Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Honor Books:  The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick and Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez

2015   Winner: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Honor Books: And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard; The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley; Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith; This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

2014   Winner: Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

Honor Books: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell; Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal; MAGGOT MOON by Sally Gardner, illustrated by Julian Crouch; Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

2013   Winner: In Darkness by Nick Lake

Honor Books: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz; Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein; Dodger by Terry Pratchett; The White Bicycle by Beverley Brenna

 2012   Winner: Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Honor Books: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler; art by Maira Kalman; The Returning by Christine Hinwood; Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey; The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

2011   Winner: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Honor Books: Stolen by Lucy Christopher; Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King; Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick; Nothing by Janne Teller

2010   Winner: Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Honor Books: Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman; Punkzilla by Adam Rapp; The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey; Tales of the Madman Underground: An Historical Romance, 1973 by John Barnes

2009   Winner: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Honor Books: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 2: The Kingdom on the Waves by M. T. Anderson; The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart; Nation by Terry Pratchett; Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan

2008   Winner: The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean

Honor Books: Dreamquake: Book Two of the Dreamhunter Duet by Elizabeth Knox; One Whole and Perfect Day by Judith Clarke; Repossessed by A.M. Jenkins; Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath by Stephanie Hemphill

2007   Winner: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Honor Books: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation; v. 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson; An Abundance of Katherines by John Green; Surrender by Sonya Hartnett; The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

2006   Winner: Looking for Alaska by John Green

Honor Books: Black Juice by Margo Lanagan; I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak; John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth, a Photographic Biography by Elizabeth Partridge; A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson


2005   Winner: how i live now by Meg Rosoff

Honor Books: Airborn by Kenneth Oppel; Chanda’s Secrets by Allan Stratton; Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt


2004   Winner: The First Part Last by Angela Johnson

Honor Books: A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly; Keesha’s House by Helen Frost; Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going; The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler



2003   Winner: Postcards from No Man’s Land by Aidan Chambers

Honor Books: The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer; My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr;

Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos


2002   Winner: A Step From Heaven by An Na

Honor Books: The Ropemaker by Peter Dickinson; Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art by Jan Greenberg Abrams; Freewill by Chris Lynch; True Believer by Virginia Euwer Wolff


2001   Winner: Kit’s Wilderness by David Almond

Honor Books: Many Stones by Carolyn Coman; The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci; Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison; Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman


2000   Winner: Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Honor Books: Skellig by David Almond; Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson; Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger

2021 Teens’ Top Ten

The Teens' Top Ten is a "teen choice" list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year! Nominators are members of teen book groups in fifteen school and public libraries around the country.  Please note that some parts of the following annotations are sourced from the Teens’ Top Ten teen book groups.

1. All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson. 

In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.

2. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins.

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

3. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas.

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can't get rid of him. When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

4. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash. Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

5. Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards.

She thought being stranded was the worst thing that could happen. She was wrong. Mira needs to get home for the holidays. Badly. But when an incoming blizzard results in a canceled connecting flight, it looks like she might get stuck at the airport indefinitely. And then Harper, Mira's glamorous seatmate from her initial flight, offers her a ride. Harper and her three friends can drop Mira off on their way home. But as they set off, Mira realizes fellow travelers are all total strangers. And every one of them is hiding something.

6. The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why - or even who Tobias Hawthorne is.

7. Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer.

Chronic overachiever Prudence Daniels is always quick to cast judgment on the lazy, rude, and irritating residents of her coastal town. She dreams of a world in which people might actually get what they deserve… Pru’s dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled after a night out with her friends, when she wakes up with the sudden, wondrous ability to cast instant karma on those around her. Though it seems almost too good to be true, Pru is not one to ignore such obvious signs from the universe. She giddily starts to make use of the power, but there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire: Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner.

8. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab. 

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever—and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

9. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn.

After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

10. One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus.

A ton of copycat gossip apps have popped up since Simon died, but in the year since the Bayview four were cleared of his shocking death, no one’s been able to fill the gossip void quite like he could. The problem is no one has the facts. Until now. This time it’s not an app, though—it’s a game.

For more information about the Teen Top Ten and see the 2022 nominees see: 

"Teens' Top Ten", American Library Association, August 14, 2021. (Accessed May 22, 2022)

Document ID: 0a5bbb00-37c1-f924-b50d-be2a0837dc52

2022 Top Ten

Best Fiction for Young Adults

                                           Compiled by the Young Adult Library Services Association

Blackout. By Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, Nicola Yoon.  Book

Summer in New York City. When the power goes out, sparks fly. All across the city, Black teens find love—on the subway, at the library, walking home. Everyone is headed to the same block party, and their stars will have realigned when the lights come back on. 

 The City Beautiful. By Aden Polydoros.   Book

Amidst the glitz and glamour of the1893 Chicago World's Fair, Alter Rosen, a gay, Jewish, Romanian immigrant teen,becomes possessed by the dybbuk of his murdered friend and must avenge thedeaths of his friend and a growing number of other local Jewish boys.


Concrete Rose. By Angie Thomas.   Book, Large Print, Playaway, Audio CD, eBook & eAudio 

Black teen Maverick Carter tries to stay on the periphery of the King Lords gang in Garden Heights. After becoming a teen dad, he finds it even more difficult to stay on the right side of the law and support his family, too. 


Electric Kingdom. By David Arnold

In a postapocalyptic wilderness where swarms of flesh-eating flies may descend at any moment, the fates of two groups of teenage travelers, a young woman on a strange mission from her father, and a mysterious figure called "The Deliverer" collide. Primary characters are white, Black, and Jordanian.

Firekeeper's Daughter. By Angeline Boulley. Book, Playaway, Audio CD, eBook & eAudio

When tragedy strikes her close-knit community, eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine—the daughter of a white mother and an Ojibwe father—agrees to go undercover for a dangerous FBI investigation. What she finds cuts close to the bone, and Daunis has to draw on all her strengths to face the truth. 


How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe. By Raquel Vasquez Gilliland.  Book & eBook

When Moon Fuentez reluctantly agrees to accompany her social-media influencer twin, Star, on a national charity tour, she forms a snarky, tender connection with Santiago, who is overshadowed by his own famous sibling.

In the Wild Light. By Jeff Zentner.

Their Tennessee town is caught in the opioid crisis, but Cash and Delaney find beauty in the little things. When Delaney wins a boarding-school scholarship that includes tuition for Cash, he must balance his broken past with the possibility of a future full of life and love.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club. By Malinda Lo.   Book, eBook & eAudio 

In 1954, 17-year-old Chinese American Lily Hu takes a chance and visits San Francisco's Telegraph Club, a lesbian nightclub, with her friend Kath and starts to understand why she's always felt a bit different from the other girls she's grown up with.


Little Thieves. By Margaret Owen.  eBook 

Vanja, the goddaughter of Death and Fortune, is a thief of epic proportions, stealing not only gold and jewels but even a certain princess's identity. But her hustle threatens to collapse when a lesser god puts a curse on her that will only break if she returns everything she stole.


Me (Moth). By Amber McBride  Book, Playaway & eBook 

Black teen Moth's family died in a car accident, leaving her lost and unmoored until she meets Sani, a Navajo teen with his own dark family struggles. As an impromptu road trip leads further west and closer to each other, they each begin to see their own way forward. 

The Ones We’re Meant to Find.By Joan He.    eBook

Cee, a multiracial young woman living alone on an island for three years, doesn’t know who she is or where she came from yet feels compelled to cross the vast ocean in search of her sister, until a stranger arrives and challenges everything she thought she knew.


For complete list see:

"2022 Best Fiction for Young Adults", American Library Association, February 4, 2022. (Accessed May 22, 2022)

Document ID: 68cf0f62-5950-4cca-b960-8dc8c930311f

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10 Middle Grade Novels That Address Mental Health

by Amanda MacGregor
Mar 09, 2022 | Filed in 
School Library Journal

These middle grade titles from the past three years depict compassionate, accurate mental health representation featuring a diversity of characters and diagnoses.

A Song Only I Can Hear. Barry Jonsberg.  2020.
In this novel set in Australia, Rob, who is trans, has a huge crush on a classmate, but panic attacks get in the way of his making a connection. Mysterious texts presenting personal challenges push him to work through his anxiety and shyness and help him find himself. Includes a grandfather with PTSD.

Being Clem. Lesa Cline-Ransome.  2021.
This work of historical fiction, set in Chicago in the 1940s, looks at the day-to-day reality of having a parent with an untreated mental illness. Clem navigates fears, friendships, and morals, all while his mother, who lacks support, is mired in grief and depression in the wake of his father’s death in the Port Chicago Disaster.

Breathing UnderwaterSarah Allen.  2021.
Thirteen-year-old Olivia works hard to understand her older sister’s increasingly debilitating depression as they travel with family from Tennessee to California to reclaim a buried time capsule of treasured memories. This road trip story is a compassionate, gentle look at how depression can affect a sibling, and it shows that the best way you can help is sometimes just by loving someone.

Five Things About Ava AndrewsMargaret Dilloway. 2020.
Biracial (Japanese and white) Ava, a sixth grader, who has anxiety and a heart condition (noncompaction cardiomyopathy), feels lost after her best friend moves away. She finds camaraderie and her voice when she joins an improv group. A strong, positive depiction of therapy and a supportive school that has 504 accommodations.

Give and Take. Elly Swartz. 2019.
While coping with the death of her grandma and the impending loss to adoption of the infant her parents are fostering, Maggie begins hoarding any little thing that feels like a special memory to her. When her parents discover her overflowing boxes, they seek treatment for her anxiety and hoarding disorder. A tender look at change and grief.

The Golden HourNiki Smith. 2021.
In the wake of an act of gun violence at school, Manuel, who is Latinx, is getting help through therapy for the trauma, anxiety, panic attacks, derealization, and PTSD. He finds surprising comfort in new friends, including Sebastian, with whom romance begins to bloom. A beautiful graphic novel about healing in the wake of tragedy.

How to Make Friends with the SeaTanya Guerrero. 2020.
Pablo’s anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder increase when he and his zoologist mother get used to new people and new experiences, including a foster sibling with a cleft lip and selective mutism, in the Philippines. A moving and complex look at identity, connection, and learning how to open up to others.

Sara and the Search for NormalWesley King. 2020.
Sara, who has depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, general anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, and is selectively mute, struggles with internalized shame and stigma. Not part of mainstream classrooms, she just wants to be “normal” and to stop taking the medications that help her. Therapy, including group therapy, and powerful new friendships help her learn to accept herself as she is.

The Sea in WinterChristine Day. 2021.
Native American (Makah/Piscataway) Maisie struggles with depression after tearing her ACL and feeling like her dream of being a dancer is over. Though she feels adrift, her loving and supportive blended family as well as eventually therapy help her through this difficult period.

Stuntboy, in the MeantimeJason Reynolds, illus. by Raúl the Third. 2021.
Portico Reeves starts experiencing an increase in anxiety, or, as he calls it, “the frets,” when his parents split up. His superhero alter ego, Stuntboy, works as a coping mechanism, keeping him busy in his apartment complex of mostly Black people with larger-than-life personalities, but those “frets” can sure be villainous. A lively illustrated novel heavy on humor and full of heart.

Amanda MacGregor currently works at an elementary school library in Minnesota. She blogs at “Teen Librarian Toolbox.”


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