I can’t express the joys of a free cup of coffee. And exceptional coffee. I swear, it makes my day every time. People should go to cafes more often. Like every day. I forgot the sweet satisfaction of a smooth cup of black coffee. I’m pretty sure it’s what love would taste like. Remember when I said all those good things about my coffee strike? Well forget about it. As long as it’s top notch coffee, go for it. Plus, I’ve got an espresso machine sitting right next to my bed now.
Why did quit coffee again?
Drink more coffee.
Anyway. That’s not what I was going to talk about. Books (go great with coffee).
I went back to my YA days in 2017 in terms of books. I realized you’re never too old for young adult—I read it because I write it, and I write it because it’s such an extreme and exciting time of life. And always relatable!
Over the Christmas holiday, I picked up and continued a book I had been reading for months and I thought, “Song, why on earth don’t you do this more often?” I always get into this grind with school where I think I can only read plays or books about those plays or something dark and philosophical. (All great reads!) But oh the way a good story can make me feel. YA has a very special place in my heart. Most of the novels I read fall into YA realistic-fiction, with the few dystopian/sci-fi books thrown in the mix (and a great voice!). I think this is because the characters in these books get it. And even though they’re 16 or 17, they’re extremely intelligent (reason why I love John Green’s characters); and a way into their heads makes us go “oh goodness, I’ve totally been there.” Because we all have been.
Anyways, I was looking back at some of the novels I read this year (and trying not to judge myself for the guilty pleasures), and I smiled at the thought of what some of these stories have done for me personally. I can remember vividly being stuck in the worlds of the stories I had been reading—even dreaming about them! That, my friend, is getting lost in a book.
2017’s On the Shelf and Read
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
I read this early on in the year. I suppose you could compare it to The Fault in Our Stars but I’d be wary of this ruining the book (Fault in our Stars is very good). No matter, Niven does a great job at capturing what it’s like to stuck in the dark. It’s about a girl and a boy who meet on top of a building where they plan to jump—and somehow save each other. I must say, this was a tear-jerker. But it’s one of those to get you feeling.
A Different Blue by Amy Harmon
It took me some warming up to get into this book; probably because I took it on right after being absorbed by a 7-book series only a day before. However, when I finished it I took a deep breath and gave it a nod of approval. Oh jesus. It’s about a girl, Blue, who doesn’t know her parents, where she’s from, or how old she is. Stubborn and in her last year of high school, a British teacher begins to make her crack. It’s so very real, and extremely well written. I don’t relate to Blue very much, but the angst, grief and hope are very present. And the way the story unravels is somehow so satisfying.
The Keatyn Chronicles by Jillian Dodd
This is a mega guilty pleasure, and I’ll tell you why. My mother recommended me these books and told me they were an easy read and highly addicting. (She was right) But when I first started reading them, I hated Keatyn and I thought the writing was terrible. HOWEVER, at some point I got hooked and down, down, down I fell into the world. She lives under her Hollywood star mother and has thee perfect life on the beach until the stalking stalker takes over. It’s full of suspense, romance, and all the other things you’d expect from a high school girl. Although I think Keatyn is a bit dumb and unlikable (what more do you want from your protagonist?), there is so much to root for and daydream about in these novels. There are 7 of them in the series and I read the whole thing in less than 2 weeks (this was the series before a Different Blue, by the way). I realize I’ve just said many negative things; but if you’re into indulging in an angsty and dramatic high school world, do read this. I would drop this into YA, but a mature-YA (not completely innocent). It absorbed me for weeks, I couldn’t put the book down.
The Fall by Albert Camus
Okay, not young adult and definitely a little dark and philosophical. But, I have to admire this because of 1. the way it’s written and 2. the thoughts it provokes. It’s almost as if you the reader are having a conversation and the way it gets you involved is great. Of course, there is someone else being talked to, but you never find out his name or hear what he says—only the responses to what he says. It revolves around this man who has changed after witnessing an event in Paris, and we follow him as he walks around Amsterdam, talking about people and simply life. There are so many questions provoked in this! It is only about 100 pages so do give it a read.
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
I actually did a review of this here, so I won’t say too much about it. This rocked my world—I almost read it again straight after I finished it. It was that good. Jude and Noah have completely different voices and every character is very real—even the parents. Their lives aren’t filtered for the story, and every subject is covered; from depression, to sibling rivalry, divorced parents, death of family, young love, dreams, and so on! This has jumped towards the top of my favorites for sure.
Making Faces by Amy Harmon
Another very well-written, sophisticated YA/NA by Harmon. This one is written in 3rd person, which I don’t prefer, personally, but it did catch me at some point. It’s about champion wrestler, Ambrose, that goes to Iraq just after 9/11 upon finishing high school. His friends go with him but none of them come home. Ambrose returns with a mangled face and learns how to live again with the help of Fern, a shy girl he went to school with. It’s very real and touching, without being about mushy romances or anything too grand. And much to do about grief. I do recommend.
Arsen by Mia Asher
I’m not so sure how I feel about this one actually. It was extremely frustrating if I’m being honest. Not young adult. Not PG. It’s about a woman who finds herself cheating on her “perfect” husband, and is told from her point of view when they were younger and just met, and the present. It’s the type of stuff that makes your heart hurt a bit. And yet, I did somehow enjoy it. Very mixed feeling and in someway very invested.
2018’s On My Bedside Table to Read
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
FINALLY. John Green has returned and I’m now jumping up and down like it’s Christmas morning. To be honest, I have no idea why I haven’t already pre-ordered, read this, then read it again. I told myself I would, and yet, I never got around to it (damn school!). I’ve watched a video of John Green reading the first chapter of the book on YouTube before it came out and got all giddy about it (because he’s that good). If you didn’t know, he is my favorite author.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This has been sitting in the back of my mind for a while. Other authors have been raving about this book and I must get in on the hype. It’s about a girl who lives in a poor neighbourhood and witnesses her friend’s death at the hands of police. This is so relevant and I cannot wait to dive in.
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
This has actually been sitting on my shelf for a while now—partly because I couldn’t finish the other book I had been reading for months on end. It’s about a boy, Clay, who gets a package full of tapes recorded by his classmate and crush who committed suicide two before earlier. I’ve added this to my list because I see it on agents’ booklists nonstop and decided I needed to see what all the hubbub was about. And I’m all about an adventurous, mystery YA. So bring it on!
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
Guilt guilt guilt. I’ve had this on my shelf for nearly 9 months and haven’t absorbed it. (To be fair, I did start it) Then I left it in Norway for 4 months so it was quite literally out of my reach! There’s lots of hype about this book (again, not YA by any means) and that it’s going to blow my mind. I’ve placed it on my shelf here in London now, so I will pounce on that soon and tell you why I think you should read it.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Again, I’ve seen this on agents’ lists nonstop and decided to take a little peak inside the cover. This is young adult (nothing like Sapiens), about a not-so-openly-gay 16-year-old being blackmailed in high school. Oh boy. I couldn’t tell you much more than that (because I don’t know!), but it’s got great reviews and I’m looking forward to another story that’s going to sweep me off my feet.
Are there any books you recommend? These are only a few books on my I’ve read and look forward to. You can see more of what I’m reading on Goodreads!