Hey guys! So, as of today, I am officially back in school. I’m both a little excited (summers can get surprisingly boring after about a month and a half) and a little sad to see summer is over. And since I am an English teacher with many students who don’t read, I thought this list might be helpful. As you all probably know, every reader is different. Some of my students love YA, some don’t. And I wondered what YA books I could recommend to them that would be different but interesting. So let’s see what I found!
Top Ten Book Recommendations for People Who Don’t Normally Read YA
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
This brilliant book is exciting, action-packed, and even has aliens. I picture this as a book for some like Mission Impossible/James Bond fan. Or maybe Independence Day. Probably that one. It’s a bit slow in the beginning, but it gets way better. And not everything is predictable.
Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Already in its favor, it has won a Michael L. Pintz honor, so it’s basically critically acclaimed (some people are snobby about that stuff). Anyway, it’s kind of a utopian story, but also a bit of a mystery and a political thriller. It’s definitely weird, but I expected nothing less from Shusterman.
The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg
This is such a perfect life (er…afterlife…) story. Beautifully written and emotional, it takes a look at what it means to have lived and moving on. I think this is perfect for those philosophically minded folks who want some deeper meaning from their reading.
American Street by Ibi Zoboi
I like reading diverse books. This is the story of a young Haitian girl living in Detroit and trying to learn how American culture is different from her own in a very dangerous neighborhood. It’s real, and sometimes that makes it really hard to read. But this definitely means something and I want to spread the word. Oh, and if I remember right, it’s probably better for more mature audiences.
Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat
I adore this story. It deals predominantly with class and money, which I think is an underrated topic in books, regardless of genre. (Sometimes, they cover moving up in social classes, but this one discusses moving down, which is rarely written.) It talks about stereotypes and other things we don’t care to admit we think. And it’s cute.
A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Let’s enter the brief historical fiction section of this list. This takes a look at the very real terrors that were committed in insane asylums in the past from “professionals” who were little more than sadists. This book is alternately horrifying, emotional, and hopeful. But it’s also definitely dark.
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
This one is amazingly written and I probably should have moved it up higher if this was an actual ranking. A mystery set in the later 1800s, a young girl sets out to discover who murdered her father–and tried to make it look like an accident. It takes her all over the darkest corners of New York City, to places that you can barely even imagine existed at one point. Very historical, sometimes dark, and sometimes funny, I thought this mystery was one of the best I’ve read in a long time.
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Kind of a crossover hit already, Shatter Me seems perfect for more poetry minded people, since Juliette’s style is very lyrical already. Yes, it plays into the dystopian style that has become so common in YA–let alone the romance–but it is so beautifully written that I couldn’t leave it off the list.
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
A fascinating look at mental illness, this story will continually surprise you. I think this is great for people who don’t normally read YA because it seems to defy the genre in different ways–unreliable narration, shocking twists, maturity not always seen in main characters, etc. It’s different and I love it.
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
This is by far the darkest book I have on this list, but it’s also the one that I think matters the most. Following a girl of Middle Eastern descent, she tries to break with some of her parents’ traditions since she’s grown up in America and wants to act like an American. It’s absolutely horrifying what happens to her, but it’s also something that is socially acceptable in places around the world. Far from being written to shame a culture, it’s more written to explain the different culture and help us understand what girls like Naila are up against. This is definitely for more mature audiences. Like, this is one I would never ever recommend to middle schoolers.