Our awesome library page, Marissa, is heading off to college. But before she goes, she presented us with the best gift ever: A list of her top ten books from the Teen Room. Marissa is a terrific reader… so you know these books are going to be good!
*Please note: Some books may contain mature language or content*
10: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
By far the most popular book by the reclusive J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye chronicles four days in the life of teenage boy Holden Caulfield, who embarks on an adventure in New York City after being kicked out of his latest boarding school. Holden has strong opinions about the entertainment industry, “phonies,” and just about anything else. Though the book has been challenged innumerable times, it still remains a classic coming of age story.
9: Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Rilke’s letters go out to Mr. Kappus, a young man at a crossroads in his life. He bestows upon Kappus his advice regarding solitude, love, writing, and religion among other topics. Though a short compilation and a quick read, Rilke’s letters provide perspective and guidance for anyone at any stage in life. In fact, Lady GaGa is so enamored with Rilke that she got a tattoo of a quote from Letters to a Young Poet.
8: Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
Dave Eggers’s latest foray into non-fiction took him three years to complete, and chronicles the life of Abdulrahman Zeitoun and his family before, during, and in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Zeitoun remained in New Orleans during the hurricane against his wife’s wishes, and worked tirelessly to save others trapped around the city. However, Zeitoun was arrested and imprisoned for over three weeks in the aftermath, revealing a serious flaw in the law enforcement post-Katrina.
7: The Spell Book of Listen Taylor by Jaclyn Moriarty
The Spell Book of Listen Taylor details the life of the bizarre Zing Family and their secret that brings them together every Friday Night in their parents’ tool shed. Listen Taylor, whose father Nathaniel is dating a Zing, is thrown headfirst into their world of deception, sneaking, and wilderness romance novels. She discovers a spell book that bears the tagline “This book will make you fly, will make you strong, will make you glad. What’s more, this book will mend your broken heart.” And, as the book guides Listen through the spells, Moriarty’s book will do the same for its readers.
6: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut’s seminal novel follows Billy Pilgrim through both time and space as he struggles to cope with a war that he does not want to be in, and the bombing of the city where he is imprisoned. Pilgrim becomes “unstuck in time” and meets the extraterrestrial Tralfamadorians, who educate him on their nonlinear way of viewing time, and method for accepting death. Difficult to explain and nearly impossible to forget, Vonnegut’s book remains a stunning work of fiction even after his death. So it goes.
5: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Asher’s prose is both dark and beautiful as he narrates from both the perspective of Hannah Baker-a high school girl who committed suicide and left behind a box of tapes with the thirteen reasons why she ended her life-and Clay Jensen, who admired Hannah from afar and finds himself on her list. Hannah’s tapes reveal secrets not only about herself, but also secrets about bullying and its dramatic consequences.
4: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Greasers and the Socs are the two rival gangs in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Hinton’s story focuses on a young Greaser named Ponyboy, who, along with his friend Johnny, create intense violence between the two gangs that forces them to leave the city and go into hiding. Helped by his older brothers Darry and Sodapop, Ponyboy eventually learns that there’s more to being a Greaser than simply beating up Socs.
3: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Goblet of Fire introduces the readers to a much darker layer of the wizarding world. The Triwizard Tournament comes to Hogwarts, and someone enters Harry’s name into the cup, thus making him the fourth champion to compete in three rigorous and dangerous tasks over the course of the year. Rowling delves deeper into the powers that Harry’s scar possesses, the relationships between Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and what Dark magic really is.
2: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Told only through letters to an unidentified recipient, Stephen Chbosky’s book is the life of Charlie, a high school freshman. Charlie struggles with making friends, dealing with the suicide of his former best friend, the drama within his family, and adjusting to a whole new world. Charlie generally observes his surroundings and reports on them, but as he begins to feel more comfortable, he starts to participate with surprising results. Although many books are described as “heartbreaking,” or “hilarious,” The Perks of Being a Wallflower hits both extremes right on the head.
1: The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
The Spellman family is the brainchild of Lisa Lutz, and not until one reads this book will they comprehend exactly how simultaneously insane and genius her brain must be. The Spellmans are a family of private investigators, headed by Albert Spellman, ex-cop, husband to Olivia, and father to David, Isabel, and Rae. Told from the perspective of 28-year-old Isabel Spellman, the book circles around the various cases brought to Spellman Investigations, and the meddling, spying, and blackmailing that are commonplace in the Spellman household. Never before has a book with this level of wit and humor included footnotes and an appendix worth reading. *See also: Curse of the Spellmans, Revenge of the Spellmans. and The Spellmans Strike Again.