If the whole law school/lawyer thing doesn’t work out, my other dream career is bookstore owner. As any of my close friends can tell you, I am a book pusher extraordinaire. When I love a book, I want the world to know because I just want everyone else to love it too. Luckily my friends like to humor me and let me push books on to them (or at least they pretend to humor me).
Recently, one of them made a joke that it’s too bad I don’t work at a bookstore because then I could have my own staff picks—you know, those fabulous books you see out on the shelf of your favorite local bookstore with little cards describing why you just MUST read this book? And my first thought was I know, seriously! And my second thought was hey, we have a blog for that.
So, here it is—our very own recurring feature/regular meme! Our Staff Picks posts are going to be (semi) regular lists of book recommendations, with a twist: each post is going to be a list of 5 books (or authors), with a theme.
For the first Staff Picks post, the theme is Authors to Check Out If You Love John Green! This theme is near and dear to me, not just because I myself am just a little bit obsessed with John Green but also because the three of us have bonded in a bookish way over our love of his books. So, if you’re also into John Green’s realistic fiction full of smart, funny teens dealing with real-world problems (no sparkly vampires here!) then check out . . .
5 Authors to Check Out if You Love John Green
1. David Levithan
I actually discovered David Levithan before I discovered John Green and it was my love of Levithan’s books that led me to John Green. He writes incredible stories, many (but not all) of which are about LGBT youth.
I first read Boy Meets Boy (Levithan’s first book), a lovely book about what life might be like if being gay was not viewed as something unusual. Paul, the main character, lives in a town where the transgender homecoming queen is also the star quarterback of the high school team and the gay-straight alliance was formed in order to help teach the straight kids how to dance. It’s a romantic comedy of sorts, about finding and losing love.
Two Boys Kissing, his latest book, is absolutely incredible. It’s based on the true story of two gay teens who set out to break the world record for longest kiss and the book is narrated by a Greek chorus, made up of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS. It’s moving, and not one bit gimmicky, even with the unusual narrative voice.
Other fantastic books by Levithan, all of which I’ve loved: Every Day; Every You, Every Me; The Lover’s Dictionary; Wide Awake; and The Realm of Possibility.
Icing on the cake? David Levithan and John Green wrote a book together! It’s called Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and I promise you it is just as incredible as you imagine a book written by John Green and David Levithan would be. Read it.
2. A.S. King
A.S. King’s writing in many ways make me think of her as a sort of female John Green and she undoubtedly deserves just as much attention as he gets. But she is so fabulous in her own right that I also hate to call her “the female John Green.”
This is me using fantastic in a sentence. Please Ignore Vera Dietz is a fantastic example of really well done contemporary YA. Vera’s best friend Charlie, who she is in love with, is dead and it’s up to Vera to unravel what really happened. There are some deep, dark secrets involved and it gets heartbreaking at times, but Vera is a wonderful characters with a quirky and compelling narrative voice. [P.S. The “This is me using fantastic in a sentence” joke will make sense if you read the book, I promise.]
I’ve read The Dust of 100 Dogs and it was a great read too, though Please Ignore Vera Dietz was just so good that you should read that first. Everybody Sees the Ants and Ask the Passengers are also sitting on my bookshelf to be read soon, and you better believe that I have a hold at the library on A.S. King’s newest book, Reality Boy. I’m pretty sure A.S. King can do no wrong. I had hoped to meet her when she came to my favorite NYC bookstore a few months ago, but I ended up being super sick and with no voice that day. I was so bummed that my boyfriend called the store and ordered me a signed copy of Ask the Passengers to stop the pitiful sad faces I was making about not getting to meet her. Yep.
3. Rainbow Rowell
In case you couldn’t tell from our excitement over our Book of the Month pick for December, Rainbow Rowell is not one to miss. John Green himself wrote a glowing NY Times Review of Eleanor and Park, saying that he’d “never seen anything quite like ‘Eleanor and Park,'” calling it a “beautiful, haunting love story” and so much more. With that endorsement, how could you not read Rainbow Rowell? I read Eleanor & Park and all I have to say so far has basically already been said by that review. (And more eloquently, too.)
I admittedly haven’t read any of her other books yet, but I have Fangirl and Attachments sitting on my Nook and bookshelf, respectively, and I plan to read them soon because I have heard nothing but love for their quirky, fun humor. Check them out with me!
4. Matthew Quick Matthew Quick is one heck of a writer. His name might be familiar to you since the film version of The Silver Linings Playbook generated ALL THE BUZZ last year (because, honestly, who doesn’t love Jennifer Lawrence?). Well, I’m here to tell you that the book is just as good. So you should read it. If you liked the movie, you’ll like the book too. If you didn’t like the movie . . . well, read it anyways. It’s a little different from the movie. I recently read Quick’s latest book, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, and WOAH. It was powerful. The basic story is that Leonard Peacock is planning to shoot his best friend and himself at school, but he has to say a few goodbyes first. The book follows him on that path, building up to the final act. I don’t want to spoil anything, but believe me when I tell you this is not one to miss. I am seriously looking forward to Quick’s new book, The Good Luck of Right Now (coming out in February 2014), and to tackling the rest of his backlist!
Gayle Forman is awesome. Ignore the quote on the front of If I Stay saying that it is for fans of Twilight—it is for fans of good, contemporary YA (“young adult” for those not in the know yet; you will be soon!). If I Stay is the story of Mia, who lies in a coma after a horrible car accident that claims the lives of the rest of her family. Through flashbacks, Forman tells the story of Mia’s relationship with Adam and her life leading up to the accident, as Mia ponders whether to stay or to let go. If I Stay has a companion book as well, Where She Went, which continues the story from Adam’s point of view. Also, movie alert! There is going to be a movie soon, starring Chloe Moretz as Mia.
And that dual point of view thing works well for Gayle Forman. Her most recent duology is Just One Day and Just One Year, which tell the story of Allyson and Willem. Allyson is a sheltered good girl from America who takes a leap and spends a whirlwind day in Paris with Willem; one year later, both embark yet again on journeys to find themselves and to find love. Just One Day is told from Allyson’s point of view, while Just One Year is Willem’s story.
Hopefully this list will give you a few more ways to scratch that John Green YA itch—happy reading!