Teen books are hot with adults

I’m a teen services librarian and lately I’m delighted to find that I’m serving more and more adult patrons.  Many teen book virgins feel some trepidation, but there is no need, there is something for almost everyone in the Teen section. Teen books are often fast-paced reads, but don’t let that fool you: They are not simplistic. Teen publishing often seems more willing to take risks and is interested in challenging social conventions — just like teens! However, not all teen books are created equal, and just like books for adults there is lots of mass-produced crap.  Here are a few suggestions of some outstanding books in several genres. 

There is a trend of great speculative fiction happening in teen publishing. Most of whhunger-gamesich is not your space type Sci-Fi but more dystopias, scary government, anti-consumerism type stuff. One of my all time favorites in this (and any genre) is House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer. Set in a not-too distant future,  we meet El Patron, drug business king pin and one of the most powerful men in the world. He is well over 100 years old and his body is giving out, and that is where his teenage clone Matt comes in. But Matt has his own personality and consciousness even if his destiny is predetermined. Bleak, scary, all too realistic and great for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale or Brave New World

Think reality TV goes a little far? Try The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. One male and one female teen from the 12 districts must be tithed yearly to a fight until death on a televised game show.  Think this has been done before? Think again. Collins creates a story full of surprises, action, and contemplative moments. Fair warning you will not be able to put this down! 

Fun for hipsters, geeks and nerds,  try these two smart and funny novels:
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. Thought provoking, hilarious and feminist. You’ll wish you knew Frankie. Hell, you’ll wish you were Frankie.
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green 
Sweet, dorky, road trip romance for those who love 16 Candles, High Fidelity or Say Anything

Some of the most beautifully written books in the teen section are from Europe and Australia. Many of them are marketed as “adult” books there, but “teen” books in the U.S.  

How I live now by Meg Rosoff is a short intense book that you will never forget. Setamar-by-mal-peet-book-covert in England during an attack by unnamed terrorists,15-year-old Daisy and her teen cousins try to survive on their own. It is as confusing, disturbing and heartbreaking as one might imagine it would be after a sudden breakdown in society. This war story focuses on desolation, hunger, longing, pain and an intense love story between two of the cousins.
Two very different novels about WWII are The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak and Tamar by Mal Peet. The Book Thief, a book club favorite, is a heartbreaking tale of friendship set during the holocaust. Tamar is a road trip/mystery that follows Tamar as she searches for the secret of her name and tries to solve the mystery her grandfather’s past as a Dutch resistance fighter.  

Touching Snow by Sindy M. Felin, a National Book Award finalist, is the story of a first generation Haitian immigrant dealing with culture clashes, child abuse and her own sexual orientation in 1980s NYC. Not for the faint hearted but still a hopeful story that would be great for a book group.

If you’d like other suggestions for teen books (for teens or adults!), please email teencenter@spl.org.
    ~ Jennifer, Teen Center

Life after Twilight

image from twilight courtesy of lyk3on3tym3 via flickrTeens all over the nation—not to mention quite a few adults—are suffering from symptoms of withdrawal.  Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series is over, the fifth book is apparently not going to be published, and they have no idea what to read next. 

If you or someone you know is suffering this terrible fate, the library wants to help.  We hope the books below can help to fill the Twilight-shaped hole in your life, or the life of someone you know.  If these don’t look quite right, you can always reach a Teen Services Librarian at teencenter@spl.org.  We’re happy to create a list of reading suggestions for your teen based on his or her reading tastes—or for you, if you want to delve more deeply into all the wonderful books that are currently being writtten for teens. 


For fans of brooding, mysterious Edward Cullen and his relationship with Bella, here are some similar paranormal romances to try.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
Seventeen-year-old Aislinn, who has the rare ability to see faeries, is drawn against her will into a centuries-old battle between the Summer King and Winter Queen. The survival of her life, her love, and summer all hang in the balance. Continue reading “Life after Twilight”

Spring Break Fun for Teens at the Seattle Public Library

Hey Seattle area parents:wii-mii-beatle-by-megnut

Stuck at home this spring break with a teenager (or two) who’s got nothing to do? Well, you’ll be glad to learn that the Seattle Public Library is offering a number of cool programs for teens—and they’re all free! For example, the Northgate Library will be showing anime videos on Tuesday, March 31, and hosting an afternoon of open videogame playing (featuring Dance Dance Revolution and the Nintendo Wii) on Thursday, April 2 at the Northgate Community Center. Find more details about these programs at Push To Talk, Seattle Public Library’s blog for teens, where you’ll also find lots of great content created for and by teenagers including book reviews, information about free programs and events for teens around town, and other fun stuff.  

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg—to find out what’s happening at other libraries, visit the Seattle Public Library’s calendar of events for teens.  There will be open gaming at 3 different locations, a hands-on workshop in which teens will make wearable, recycled robots, and more! All library events are free and open to the public.

None of these programs appeal to your teen? Well, don’t forget that the library also has thousands of great teen books — check out our recommended reads for teens in all genres and the latest teen fiction and nonfiction books to be added to the collection. 

Here’s hoping you and your teens have a relaxing and fun spring break next week—at your local library!

Harry Potter versus Twilight: Who did you vote for?

harry-potter-and-twilight-characters-from-the-movieYesterday Seattle teens tackled one of the biggest issues of 2009: Which is better, the Harry Potter or Twilight series? Three-hundred passionate Potter and Bella fans packed the auditorium at the Central Library for this hotly contested literary smackdown.

The winner? According to the debate judges … Harry Potter!  A poll of the audience also had Potter on top, capturing more than two-thirds of the people’s choice vote. Find out more at Push to Talk (they’ll be linking to a video soon).

This topic took on a life of its own in the past couple of weeks (a national story, lots of local coverage). Everyone has an opinion, it seems, and readers from as far as way as The Netherlands were emailing the Library’s Teen Center with information absolutely vital to the case (on both sides) and their essential viewpoints. The students in Team Read prepared as diligently as any debaters, responding to questions about which series has the better villain, the better representation of women and the most interesting minor characters.

Yesterday was a great day to work at the Central Library—there was so much energy in the building. I didn’t get to see all of the debate, but I’m definitely looking forward to the video.

The Oscars of children’s publishing

For some of us, early this morning was as exciting as watching the Academy Awards. Thousands of us were glued to our laptops, trying to get into the American Library Association’s webcast of Youth Media Awards (and maybe there were some, like me, who missed the bus because of this obsession). Thousands more followed on Twitter, and others tried to get the news via websites, all of which were maddeningly s-l-o-w. But we’ve got the winners here, and we’ll add links to the Library catalog so you can get on those hold lists!

John Newbery Medal: This award is given for a “contribution to American literature for children.” I mistakenly have thought of this award as being for books for approximately 8 to 12 year olds, but the official criteria is for children up to (and including) age 14.

The 2009 Newbery Medal Award Winner:graveyard
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean
A delicious mix of murder, fantasy, humor and human longing, the tale of Nobody Owens is told in magical, haunting prose. A child marked for death by an ancient league of assassins escapes into an abandoned graveyard, where he is reared and protected by its spirit denizens.

Newbery honor books:
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by David Small
The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle
Savvy by Ingrid Law
After Tupac & D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson Continue reading “The Oscars of children’s publishing”