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

2020 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 2020 Amazing Audiobooks list consists of 35 titles; with 30 fiction and 5 nonfiction audiobooks, selected from 63 official nominations.  The list has been edited to include only titles owned by the Santa Cruz Public Libraries.

 *indicates a top ten selection

*Becoming by Michelle Obama, narration by Michelle Obama.  Audio CD & Eaudio

Memoir of Michelle Obama's journey from child to professional and insights into her time as FLOTUS. Michelle's honest and heartfelt candor allows listeners to vicariously experience the many vicissitudes of her political and personal life.

Brave Face: A Memoir by Shaun David Hutchinson, narration by Shaun David Hutchinson.    Audio CD

Author’s ultimately hopeful memoir of growing up in the1990’s battling depression, and coming into his own awareness of his sexuality at a time when the world was deeply homophobic and the AIDS crisis dominated the American psyche. Hutchinson narrates his story as no one else could, bringing to life his trials and tribulations.

 Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, narration by Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, Judy Greer and Pablo Schreiber.   Eaudio

The tell-all of rock’s sensation Daisy Jones & the Six rise to fame, and to their sudden disbandment. This behind the scenes look at what makes, and breaks, a band is expertly narrated with a full cast bringing the mockumentary feel three dimensional.


*The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys, narration by Maite Jáuregui, with Richard Ferrone, Neil Hellegers, Joshua Kane, Liza Kaplan, and Oliver Wyman.  Playaway & Eaudio

Under the fascist dictatorship of General Franco, Daniel Matheson arrives in Madrid and fate introduces him to Ana, whose family's interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War and chilling definitions of fortune and fear. A full cast embodies the time period and brings the story to life.


Frankly in Love by David Yoon, narration by Raymond J. Lee. Playaway & Eaudio

 Frank Li is Korean-American, who's parents have one rule when it comes to romance, 'Date Korean,' which proves complicated when Frank falls for Brit, who is smart, beautiful, and white. Lee voices Frank with an earnest tenderness befitting a high school senior in the throes of first love.


*Hey Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, narration by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Jeanne Birdsall, Richard Ferrone, and Jenna Lamia. Playaway

Born to a heroin-addicted mother and an unknown father, Jarrett explores how his grandparents adopted him, what led him to become an artist, and his struggles and joys along the way. Jarrett himself narrates the book with a full cast, including many people from his actual life narrating their own voices.


How Long 'Til Black Future Month by N. K. Jemisin, narration by Shayna Small, Gail Nelson-Holgate, Robin Ray Eller, and Ron Butler. Eaudio

Culinary delights explore memory and what we hold on to, dragons rise up in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and Death has to learn survive after mankind is gone. The narrators are superb, each story is of the same caliber and flow into one another seamlessly.


*Internment by Samira Ahmed, narration by Soneela Nankani. Eaudio

In a near dystopian future, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her family are forced into an internment camp for Muslim Americans. After some time, Layla and her allies stage a revolution against the camp’s Director. Nankani’s narration amplifies the tense atmosphere and embodies Layla’s inner turmoil during difficult times.


Lovely War by Julie Berry, narration by Jayne Entwistle, John Lee, Dion Graham, Nathaniel Parker, Steve West, Fiona Hardingham, and Allan Corduner. Eaudio

The full cast brings narratorial range and nuance to Berry’s sweeping World War I epic, exploring giddy romance as well as the weary introspection of a generation lost in brutal trench warfare. Tender stolen moments between a solider boy and a piano girl lend universality to this heart-wrenching romance.


*On the Come Up by Angie Thomas, narration by Bahni Turpin. Playaway & Eaudio

Bri’s life has not been easy, but her family’s struggles grow when her mom loses her job. Bri dreams of becoming a famous rapper as an answer to their troubles. In Bri’s quest to become a rapper, she must decide what she is willing to compromise. Turpin’s skilled narration brings all of the distinct characters to life.


The Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds, narration by Nile Bullock. Eaudio

Jack has fallen in love hard for Kate. After her premature death, Jake finds himself back in time at night that they first met. Is he here to get a second chance at saving her? Bullock captures Jack’s vulnerability and persistence in trying to save Kate.


Pan's Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke, narration by Thom Rivera. Audio CD

A few years past the end of the Spanish Civil War, Ofelia moves next to an overgrown labyrinth. There she meets a faun and some fairies that send her on terrifying and crucial tasks. Rivera’s accented narration imbues a magical element to this creepy allegorical tale placing the reader in the Spanish countryside.


Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay, narration by Ramón de Ocampo. Eaudio

After his cousin Jun’s sudden death, high school senior Jay Reguero heads to the Philippines for answers. No one in his family wants to talk about as it is one more fatality tide to President Duterte's war on drugs. The emotional range Jay goes through is beautifully expressed by Ocampo.




 *Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson, narration by Laurie Halse Anderson. Playaway & Eaudio

In free verse, Anderson shares reflections, rants, and calls to action deeply personal stories from her life. Anderson’s voice starts small, mimicking the powerlessness of her childhood, and develops strength as she does, finding her stride as she discovers the library and speaks of favorite teachers who helped her.


Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus, narration by Erin Spencer and Kirby Heyborne. Audio CD & Eaudio

True crime fan, Ellery, and her twin brother Ezra move to a town where a high school girl was killed five years ago. Ellery is intrigued by the old crime, but when new threats surface, she could be in danger. Amoss and Heyborne bring distinctive yet complementary narration to life making each character easy to recognize and authentic.


We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia, narration by Kyla Garcia. Eaudio

Graduating top in her class, Daniela Vargas was the first wife of two to be matched with the rising politician Mateo, the other wife, her long-time rival. Garcia conveys the angst and determination of both main characters’ voices and delivers both the range of emotions and vocal pitches needed for the entire cast of characters.




This list was edited to include only titles owned by the Santa Cruz Public Libraries.  For complete list see:

"2020 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults", American Library Association, January 6, 2020. (Accessed December 18, 2020)

Document ID: 67e65e0f-b9e4-491b-b668-40f84463ccbb


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.  

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

2020 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. Wayward Son (Simon Snow, #2) by Rainbow Rowell. Wednesday Books/ Macmillan. 9781250146076. Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after… So why can’t Simon Snow get off the couch? What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light…That’s how Simon, Penny, and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West.


2. Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell. Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks. First Second/ Macmillan. 9781626721623. Josiah and Deja have been working the Succotash Hut together for the past three years and this is their last night working together before they go off to college. Deja is on a mission to help Josiah talk to his dream girl and eat snacks along the way. This dreamy graphic novel tells the cute story of these two teens’ last night at the pumpkin patch.


3. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo. HarperTeen/HarperCollins. 9780062662835. Emoni Santiago is a senior in high school and has a fiery passion for cooking and her family. With a young daughter and a grandma to take care of, Emoni is struggling to choose whether to follow her dreams of becoming a chef or stay with her family.


4. Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Alfred A. Knopf/Penguin Random House. 9781524720995. When Tyler Jones saves Aurora Jie-Lin O'Malley, he doesn't expect to be pulled into an intergalactic adventure that threatens the living universe and puts his very values to the test. Instead, he's more worried about the rag-tag squad of Aurora Academy dredges that he's been assigned after missing the Draft. But together they embark on a mission to understand Aurora's paranormal behavior, and in the process become more than just friends.


5. Broken Throne: A Red Queen Collection by Victoria Aveyard. HarperTeen/ HarperCollins. 9780062423023. Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the

Silverblooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.


6. #MurderFunding (#MurderTrending #2) by Gretchen McNeil. Freeform/Disney Book Group. 9781368026277. After Becca's mom's death, a mysterious girl shows up at Becca's school. With theories floating around the internet about the true identity of some famous serial killers, Becca goes on a mission to figure out her mom's past.


7. We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya) by Hafsah Faizal. Farrar Straus Giroux /Macmillan 9780374311544. Zafira Bint Iskandar is the Hunter. The savior for her people - but they will never know it, because their prejudice against women forces Zafira to hide her identity. Nasir, an assassin and the Prince, is forced to leave behind his compassion by his father. As the Arz, the darkness grows closer, the two embark on a quest for an artifact to save Arawiya, but while Zafira is set on stopping the Arz, Nasir is set on the mission given to him by his father: Kill the Hunter and take the Artifact to the palace.


8. Lovely War by Julie Berry Viking/Penguin Random House. 9780451469939. It's 1917, and World War I is at its zenith when Hazel and James first catch sight of each other at a London party. She's a shy and talented pianist; he's a newly minted soldier with dreams of becoming an architect. When they fall in love, it's immediate and deep – and cut short when James is shipped off to the killing fields.


9. Wilder Girls by Rory Power. Delacorte Press/Penguin Random House. 9780525645580. The Raxter School has been under quarantine for eighteen months. Nobody knows what caused the mysterious outbreak of the tox. Everyone at the school started getting infected and makes them feel strangers in their own body. Hetty has been dealing with her own demons since this began and waiting for a cure seems pointless. Once her friend Byatt goes missing, she becomes restless and wants answers.


10. The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy. Blink/HarperCollins Publishing. 9780310767657. 17-year-old Etta Lark wants to live outside of the corrupt culture of her realm, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When the ruler of the city, Madame, threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a "criminal's" memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. To save her mother, Etta rejoins the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier, and sets out to steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm.

For more information about how you can participate in the Teen Top Ten selection see: 

 "YALSA's Teens' Top Ten", American Library Association, July 7, 2006. (Accessed January 22, 2021)

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

2020 Top Ten

Best Fiction for Young Adults

                                           Compiled by the Young Adult Library Services Association

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager. By Ben Philippe. 

After his mother gets a new job as a professor at the University of Texas, Norris, a Black French Canadian who has lived in Montreal his whole life, has to adjust to high school in Austin, Texas.

Girls on the Verge. By Sharon Biggs Waller. 

After learning she is pregnant from her first sexual encounter, Camille is forced to make a decision. When she runs out of options in her Texas hometown, she, Annabelle, and her disapproving best friend, Bea, set off on a road trip to get an abortion.

Heroine. By Mindy McGinnis. 

After Mickey Catalan, a star athlete, is sidelined by a car crash, she relies on pain medicine to help her recover faster. When she discovers that it isn't enough, Mickey spirals out of control, and her need for relief leads her to lie, steal, and shoot up.

Like a Love Story. By Abdi Nazemian. 

Three teens—an Iranian youth hiding his sexuality for fear of death, an openly gay photographer, and an aspiring fashion designer with an HIV-positive uncle—all find love, along with their voices, as activists in 1989 New York during the height of the AIDS crisis.

Lovely War. By Julie Berry. 

Aphrodite leads her legal self-defense in front of Hephaestus and Ares to justify her infidelity. Her proof? The love stories—that she helped create—of two couples during WWI. When her tale is done, both lives and love will be different in this beautiful book.

On the Come Up. By Angie Thomas. 

Bri, an aspiring rapper who wants to step out of the shadow of her famous but dead father, helps her family survive after her mother loses her job.

Patron Saints of Nothing. By Randy Ribay. 

After Jay, a Filipino American high school senior gets word that his once-close cousin and pen pal Jun is dead, he travels to the Philippines to uncover the truth.

Pet. By Akwaeke Emezi. 

Pet lives in a world without monsters, or so she thinks. After a monster shows itself to her, she must work to uncover the secrets her world has been hiding and to protect people she loves.

The Stars and the Blackness between Them. By Junauda Petrus. 

After Audre’s relationship with a young woman is exposed, her mother sends her away from Trinidad to live with her father in Minneapolis. There she connects with Mabel, who is suffering from a life-threatening illness. Told in alternating viewpoints, this is a moving novel of discovering how to live and love.

With the Fire on High. By Elizabeth Acevedo. 

As both a senior in high school and a mother, Emoni must balance her last year at school with her culinary aspirations, as well as also her obligations to her daughter and grandmother. When Malachi and a new cooking elective enter the picture, Emoni’s strengths begin to shine bright.


For complete list see:

"2020 Best Fiction for Young Adults", American Library Association, January 21, 2020. (Accessed December 15, 2020)

Document ID: 38bb611f-3674-42f9-9844-4d2d5080d56b