As a book blogger and general book enthusiast, people tend to ask me for recommendations all the time. It can be a bit overwhelming because I don’t want to recommend a book that someone won’t enjoy, and everyone is different, so my ‘favourite book’ may be some else’s ‘least favourite book ever’. It’s a tough thing to recommend a book to another person, especially if you’re not familiar with their preferences.
But I think the most challenging person to recommend a book for, is the newbie reader; the person who never read before, but really wants to. I feel like the responsibility to get this person excited about reading suddenly falls on my shoulders and it’s a make-or-break situation. I would hate to turn someone away from reading. I think it would totally break my heart if I heard someone stopped reading books because they took my advice and read something I told them to pick up.
So today’s post is a list of young adult books that I always recommend for newbie readers, and so far everyone who has read these titles enjoyed them! I always enjoy feedback from people I recommend books to because I like to know if I made the right call, and if I didn’t then it’s also good to know why the person didn’t like the particular book. That way I can tell the next person the good and the bad, so that they can make a more informed decision about the books they read.
Synopsis: Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep kind of love that he’s been hoping for just hasn’t been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he’s been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything’s about to change.
Grace isn’t who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys’ clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It’s obvious there’s something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn’t your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland’s brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love.
Review: Our Chemical Hearts is one of my favourite YA books! I loved the storyline, the characters and the lesson behind the plot. I also enjoyed the modern references and humour; it really added a bit of lightness to take the emotional edge off what was happening. So far, everyone I recommended this book to enjoyed it and could not get enough of how cute Henry Page is. It is a short and sweet read too, which makes it perfect for newbie bookies. I wrote a full review over here.
Synopsis: In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.
Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?
Review: I like to think of this book as an “entry level” fantasy book because it’s the perfect story if you are new to the genre. The writing is absolutely stunning, almost poetic; and the characters are some of my favourites. It is a book I can read over and over just because of the tone and romantic suspense – the intense build up is electrifying but the romance is not too over the top so it’s perfect for less mature readers. I wrote a full review over here.
Synopsis: Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…
That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.
Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.
Review: I think this is one of my most recommended books. I love giving this book out to newbie readers because it is an emotional story that is so completely unpredictable. I remember the first time I read it; I was left disorientated because of all the different layers of twists that unfolded at the most unsuspecting times. It’s still one of my favourite books by Colleen Hoover and it’s another hit for everyone I pass it along to.
Synopsis: Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.
Review: Between Shades of Gray is another favourite book of mine that I enjoy recommending to newbie readers. I recommend this one to everyone who shows an interest in world history because it is a short, fast paced book that really packs a punch. I wrote a full review for this book over here which I really think you should check out because I wrote it shortly after reading it, so I really dig into how much I loved this one.
Synopsis: How would you describe yourself? Do you like to stand out, or fit in? Are you an Instagram junkie, or is Snapchat more your thing? Are you watching Zoella on YouTube, or reading Rookie on your phone? We’re all different, and no-one’s teenage years are the same. But we do all have one thing in common – being a teenager is about discovering who we are, and who we want to be.
It can be tricky, building and forming your own identity and sense of self, and sometimes, advice from someone who has been there and done it in the not-too-distant past can come in useful. Enter Rosalind Jana, who’s crammed more into her 20-odd years than most (including winning the Vogue Talent Contest for Young Writers AND ‘Well Dressed’ at the Observer Ethical Awards, but don’t tell her we told you that…). Notes on Being Teenage covers all aspects of teenhood, from the serious (mental health issues, bullying, staying safe online), to the slightly-less-so (dating, style, fashion, starting a blog) and everything in between. Rooted in her own experiences as a blogger, part-time model and eco-fashion-expert, but also as a teen who struggled with scoliosis, bullying and her dad’s depression, Rosalind is well-placed to offer advice and guidance to anyone navigating their teenage years.
She’s also spoken to loads of teens about their experiences, too, and their stories, problems, advice and wisdom are gathered here as well, along with interviews with inspirational and interesting people like Louise O’Neill, Juno Dawson and Rosianne Halse-Rojas. All this combines to form a warm, witty, wise book not just on how to survive but how to thrive as a teen. Essential reading for smart girls of any age.
Review: I wish this book was written when I was a young adult because it would’ve put SO much into perspective for me during those times. But I am thrilled that it’s written now because that means so many young girls out there have a book to refer and relate to. It’s brilliantly written and touches on so many different topics that are not spoken about enough. I wrote a full review of why I think everyone should read this book over here.
Have you read any of these books before? And what books are some of your top recommendations for newbie bookies?