Adolescent Literature Book List, Fall 2012

Several months ago I asked readers from Figment to help me develop the syllabus for the Adolescent Literature college course I will be teaching in the fall. I wanted to share the finalized book list with everyone. While not all of the books on this came from Figment, the help I got from YA fans was invaluable. Thank you. I will be posting the reading schedule online soon as well. Our class discussions will take place online and I encourage anyone interested to join in.

Here’s the list along with the ringing endorsements of many Figment readers.

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
  • Go Ask Alice, Anonymous
  • Going Bovine, Libba Bray
    • “Going Bovine is a laugh-out-loud hilarious book about a teenager with mad cow disease. He goes on a cross-country trip to find a cure, and attempt to save the world, along with his annoying friend, a talking gnome, and occasionally a manic pixie dream girl. No one, not him, not the people in the world he lives in, not the reader, is exactly sure what’s going on or if any of it is real, but the craziness only makes it more interesting. It is, surprisingly, deep.”
    • ” Going Bovine is my favorite novel by her. The main character, Cameron, starts a lot like Holden Caulfield but unlike Holden, gets over itself. It’s the journey you wanted Holden to go on to get better. That was Going Bovine and all of its wonderful craziness.”
  • The Plain Janes, Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
    •  “This is the book I most strongly recommend. I really hope you choose it. This book seriously changed me. The character of Charlie is just so beautiful and amazing and inspiring. I wouldn’t say the LGBT aspect of it is the most dominant, as much as an amazing coming of age story. There are some amazing quotes, and Charlie is intoxicating. You can’t not fall in love with him.”
  • City of Bones, Cassandra Clare
    • “The Mortal Instruments was Clare’s first series. It is very enjoyable and an easier enough of a read for many teens to have read it. It’s a blend of Paranormal, fantasy, some mystery and romance. I have already expressed my obsession with Harry Potter so seeing more than a dozen similarities between TMI and HP annoyed me. A lot. The series it self was captivating enough and was pretty good. Clare is a rather talented author and readers who might have not ever read/seen Harry Potter, Twilight, Star Wars, Buffy… everything else, may not notice its similarities. I liked it the first time I read it but after rereading it and reading City of Fallen Angels, I have realized it’s more similar to Twilight in its rip off stance than what I originally believed it to be. Though it’s quite devour worthy for teens.”
    • “It is amazing and appeals to pretty much everyone… :)”
  • The Chocolate War, Robert Cormier
  • Looking for Alaska, John Green
    • NOTE: I received A LOT of John Green recommendations for all of his books. I chose not to assign The Fault In Our Stars because I didn’t think I would be able to get through teaching without excessive tears being shed by instructor and students alike.
    • ” Two words: JOHN GREEN.”
    • ” As many people have said, anything by John Green. He has two Printz Awards (and deserves a third for his newest book). They are all amazing.”
    • ” First of all I just love it. It’s funny but emotional and interesting…You honest to god feel like the characters are your friends so it’s unbelievably enjoyable to read. Second, all the people who recommended it to me were boys. I, as a female, adored it and I think it’s pretty promising considering that I know and even number of boys and girls who loved the book. Thirdly, it got me thinking. There are moments in the novel that I literally, months later, cannot stop thinking about and for me that’s the best kind of book. There wasn’t some big revelation (hmm, that point is debatable, but I shall not debate it), but the big event of the book really stuck with me and the consequences were not only thought provoking, but something I don’t think lot of YA (that I’ve read anyway) go into as much detail about. I thought that was refreshing. It’s a very unique book in my mind.
      It’s probably my favourite book ever. I think that had we read more books like that in high school, more people (and a lot more boys) would enjoy English.”
  • Crank, Ellen Hopkins
  • Boy Meets Boy, David Levithan
  • I am Number Four, Pittacus Lore
  • Unwind, Neil Shusterman
    • I thought that book was beautifully done. It’s science fiction and deals a lot with moral questions. It all revolves around the Pro-Life vs. Pro-choice conflict.”
    • “I recommend this book to any person who hasn’t read it because it is so well-written and effective. I have read the book at least 3 times and still feel the impact of the message. I feel like it can also be good for either gender, even though I’m female. Additionally, I think the dystopian quality to it is reminiscent of The Giver by Lois Lowry (which is traditionally read in younger grades) and yet, Unwind is its own entity.” 
  • Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned, Brian K. Vaughn
  • Gossip Girl #1, Cecily von Ziegesar
  • The Pigman, Paul Zindel
  • The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
    • “It is amazing!!!and it has literary merit too 😀 It’s about the holocaust, so it’s pretty deep and sad..”
    • “I really loved the book, the Book Thief by Markus Zusak and I think that’s a great book to do for english class. It’s modern so it has the modern feel with a style of writing teenagers are familiar with but it takes during the Holocaust. I also LOVED the book Sarah’s Key which has a lot of true events about France during the Holocaust; I loved that one as well, but it’s more adult.
    • It’s a crime not to read this book. For realz.”


4 thoughts on “Adolescent Literature Book List, Fall 2012

  1. Amy

    When I told a student this past year that I have not read The Book Thief, she replied, ” I am going to pretend that you did not say that, because if that were true you cannot be my English teacher.”Wow. So, guess what I plan to read this summer.

    Also, I just finished the Y the Last Man series. The first vol. I can see reading with older teens and then I think I would need to get permission to have them read through the rest of it, due to the graphics and content.

    Sounds like a great list (yay to anything with Sherman Alexie too). Thanks for sharing!

  2. Sandy Hayes

    I was so surprised to see The Pigman on the list. My kiddos have read it for a lot of years. And with my own “a lot of years” I can talk about dial phones and the fruit roll we had in 5th grade (who knows how we came to do this; I’ve never heard of any other class in our tiny MN school who did one, and we did it because we loved our teacher Mrs. Peterson.) My kiddos love to hear that we didn’t have any other fruit at home so I had to bring a banana. As it slid to her desk, Mrs. Peterson screamed and leaped up; she thought one of Mrs. Sears’ white mice had escaped.

    I think the book’s theme of taking responsibility for unintended consequences is so important for adolescents, but this year I was thinking of reading Whirligig instead. (But then I wouldn’t get to use my fruit roll story.)

    If I don’t show up in your class, remind me. I’d love to see what your students think.

  3. Louann Reid

    Great list. What a range, including some of my favorites and some I still need to read. I taught Go Ask Alice only once. Students reacted badly to the back story, and I didn’t have the heart to do it again. I’ve heard widespread acclamation for Alexie, Greene, Zusak and Perks. I’m looking forward to the discussion.

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