If your teenagers are readers at all they probably know all about the “fashionable” young adult (YA) books starting with the Harry Potter, The Lord of The Rings, The Hunger Games, Twilight and even The Fault in Our Stars. It’s possible that they fiercely love or hate them, but the odds are they already know them, possibly better than you ever will.
Here are few recommendations of authors whose books are a good read and suitable for a teenager, but might be not known for them, yet.
1. Sir Terry Pratchett Discworld novels
Not a less known author but not always thought of for younger readers. One of the best writers of our time (my not so humble opinion, but shared by many). Some of his works aimed written sole for a YA reader, but his largest body of work, The Discworld series, are overlooked in this sense. With 41 novels it may sound too big of an undertaking, especially for a younger reader.
Fear not! First, the series is divided into a smaller sub-lines. Though they take place on one Disc-shaped planet, characters and stories are independent. Even more, most books also follow a single adventure and can be read independently of any other. See a Discworld reading order guide if you want to figure out the first book of each series.
While most of the 41 Discworld novels would be suitable for a young adult reader, teenagers can easily start with Tiffany Arching books, the first one is “The Wee Free Men”. A great read that doesn’t do the “pink princess and cute fairies” thing. The heroine, Tiffany, is 13-year old witch-to-be who goes to save her little brother from the fairy queen, her only weapons being her sharp mind and an iron frying pan. Accompanied by the Nac Mac Feegles, a small and smelly fairy folk who is great at stealing, fighting and boozing (no need to fear for a bad language though) she is a worthy role model to any kid.
The best part about choosing Pratchett’s books as a gift for your teenager, when your kid is done with them, you can read them yourself. Warning may cause you to pull an overnighter.
2. Gerald Durrell Corfu Trilogy
Books are written in 50-s and the stories take place during 30-s. Could kids still relate to any of it, without any magic or even a school in it?
Has your kid ever asked for a pet? Pestering you to get a dog, a cat or even a hamster? If so, they are likely to enjoy reading Gerry’s families adventures and his wild-life pets. I am not going to sing a praise to “the simpler times”, the thirties were pretty hard time, but Durrell’s writing makes a really lively and a funny story of a family through a teenagers eyes.
“My family and other animals” is the first book of the Corfu Trilogy, but any of them can be read separately.
Durrell grew up to be one of the best-known nature-scientist and started his own zoo on Jersey island. The popular TV-series “The Durrells” are based on the books only very loosely so no need to worry about the spoilers.
3. Astrid Lindgren
Best known for her books for small children, Pippi Longstocking and Karlson are characters loved by many eager toddlers as a bedtime story or rooted for in a theatrical play. However, a lot of her books are written for older kids and would be interesting for teenage readers and even a young adult reader.
If your kids liked Nancy Drew s/he will love Master Detective Kalle Blomkvist stories. A boy on a summer holiday with his friends, venturing about and solving mysteries. A page-turner book for any young reader.
Another story (and this one even comes with a flavor of magic) is Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter. Ronia is the only daughter of robber’s leader. The story follows her formative years and her friendship with an enemies son. What may sound like re-make of Romeo and Juliet, is actually a really captivating and moving story with a sensible ending. The story about friendship rather than romance. Also, the everyday world incorporates magical creatures from Scandinavian mythology (not Thor and that bunch, again. The other kind).
4. Douglas Addams
Easily one of the funniest authors I know. His books would be a good read for a teenager who appreciates a quirky humor.
Laugh-out-loud funny, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is the hilarious adventure of space flights, a green aliens and most of all, a band of misfits, including but (by far) not limited to the last earth man, the president of the galaxy and depressive-maniacal robot.
Dirk Gently detective stories are less known than they deserve, though a recent success of the TV-adaption has done a lot to remedy that. Thankfully, the producers were polite enough to completely ignore the original story, so the books would still be a novel read even after seeing the show. Read more about Dirk Gently books in my previous post.
5. Haruki Murakami
A Japanese writer mostly writes magical realism. His books are more lifelike and can be heavier, but then you would not want to underestimate your teenager.
“Kafka on the shore” is about a boy who leaves a home when he gets 15. He travels through Japan and ends up working in the library.
A parallel story follows the journey of an elderly cat-finder who has some pretty remarkable abilities, though reading is not among them. It would be hard to imagine two people more different, yet their destiny is intertwined. Long book, but a really captivating read.
From Haruki Murakami works also the “Norwegian woods” could interest young adults. The story deals with love and loss and growing up. No magic this time, just realism.
What books your teenager reads? Write a comment to share the books you recommend to a parent struggling to find suitable yet interesting reading for a middle school or a high school kid?
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