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Best Books for Teens 2015: Our Top 10 Favorites!

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It’s time for the second annual NYPL Best Books for Teens list! This year we’ve expanded the list from 25 titles to 51. You’d think that making the list longer, and therefore having more room for more titles, would make our list easier to compile but—nope! In fact, it was harder. For ten months we read, discussed and debated, and in the end these are the titles we decided were the most memorable, the most gut-wrenching, the most exciting, the most fun, the most swoony, the most informative and the most engaging. Doesn’t matter if you are a big reader or not—there’s books on here for all kinds of readers from all kinds of genres and subjects.

Once again we travel the globe. Making stops in the Middle East, Ethiopia, Russia and Haiti, and then we hit the road to see America to fall in love, find our inner Dolly Parton, discover family and uncover dark secrets (and that's just for starters). There’s also few set right here in New York City; from a boy nursing a broken heart in the Bronx to conjoined twins navigating life in Manhattan, to a Puerto Rican girl who’d grow up to live on Sesame Street and an Irish maid who took the fall for an epidemic. If you like history, some subjects tackled include the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, the Vietnam War, the California Gold Rush and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. There’s lots of science fiction and fantasy that will grab you and mystery/thrillers that will have you up all night. If you like graphic novels there’s a few to choose from including two unique looks at summer camp. If you like light and frothy books there’s plenty for you, or if you like your books edgy and dark, well, we have those too. Most of all you’ll find books and characters that you can connect to, diverse stories full of universal themes such as identity, forgiveness, grief, courage, resilience and the power of hope.

For all 51 titles you can check out our interactive list/website but to give you a taste the committee has chosen their Top Ten Favorites of the year. After reading for 10 months, these are the titles that stuck with us the most, the ones that still have us using exclamation point when we talk about them. Read them for yourself and let us know which one is your favorite using the hashtag #NYPLBBFT2015.

Top Ten Favorites (in alphabetical order)

bone gap

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Finn is the only person to see Roza disappear. The problem is, no one believes him.

"It's part love story, part nightmare, but all perception. Perception of love, life, and people. It’s a dreamy book and beautifully written." —Susen Shi, Seward Park Library

"This is magical realism with love, suspense and a great story." —Sandra Farag, BookOps

 
 

 

black suit

The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
After Matt's mom dies, the last place he thought he would want to work is a funeral home.

"I especially enjoyed the book's strong character development and refreshing approach to issues regarding male identity. In many scenes, it's less important what is said than what is withheld." —Thomas Knowlton, NYPL School Support.

"I found the book truly touching and a very solid read about working through grief and loss." —Susen Shi, Seward Park Library.

 

drowned

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and the City of New Orleans by Don Brown
Ten years later, this graphic novel reflects on the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans.

"Powerful, stirring illustrations.." —Teresa Silva, Mariner's Harbor

"Simply the best thing I have read this year." —Brian Stokes, Jefferson Market Library

 

 

dumplin

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Who says fat girls can't join beauty pageants? Willowdean reclaims her confidence with the help of Dolly Parton and some drag queens.

"Willowdean is an awesome protagonist, and I’m torn between feeling like I want us to be friends and feeling like I actually AM her friend." —Andrea Lipinski, Kingsbridge Library

"As someone who can heavily identify with all of Willowdean's neuroses and has a deep abiding love for Dolly Parton, I can highly endorse this book." —Anne Rouyer, Mulberry Street Library

 

more happy than not

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
How bad would your memories have to be before you decided to erase them?

"Total stunner of a debut. Wonderful storytelling that truly speaks to the teen experience of growing up Puerto Rican in New York City." —Charlie Radin, Inwood Library

"Wow! What a fantastic book with some fantastical ideas thrown in! NYC centric, realistic teen dialogue and a teen struggling with his sexuality all written with a deft hand." —Sandra Farag, BookOps.

nimona

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Nimona is an evil sidekick who is not quite what she seems.

"YAAAASSSSSS...Whether you love comic books/graphic novels... or hate them... seriously, this book is awesome." —Ariel Birdoff, NYPL School Support.

"It takes the conventional hero/villian dynamic and turns it on its head..." —Chantalle Uzan, Francis Martin Library.

 

rest of us

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Mikey and his friends are not The Chosen Ones, but they are still the heroes of their own lives... if only they can stay away from the zombie deer.

"I laughed out loud... but perhaps more importantly, I almost cried... I NEVER cry. (And for the record, I didn't this time either, but I got pretty darn close.)" —Lyndsie Guy, Chatham Square Library

"This book laughs at itself and the YA genre... Everyone should actually stop what they are doing and read this book." —Karen Ginman, BookOps

symphony

Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson
Composer Shostakovich survives Stalin's Russia, endures the horrors of war, and creates a masterpiece.

"Well researched, lengthy but never boring, this is a phenomenal piece of non-fiction." —Christopher Lassen, BookOps.

"There is power and beauty in Shostakovich's music and his story." —Anne Rouyer, Mulberry Street

violent ends

Violent Ends: A Novel in Seventeen Points of View compiled by Shaun David Hutchinson
Seventeen YA authors tell the story of what happened before, during, and after a school shooting.

"...once I dove in, I couldn't put it down." —Chantalle Uzan, Francis Martin Library

"The authors managed to humanize someone that we might typically dismiss as a monster. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? This book definitely kindled a lot of questions." —Teresa Silva, Mariner's Harbor

 

wrath

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdiah
Shahrzad marries the Caliph to get revenge for all the women he has killed, but maybe he is not the monster she expected.

"The author gives us a reason to love these characters and to love the way they love each other with a love so deep that it goes beyond words." —Lisa Goldstein, NYPL Out-of-School Time.

"The swoon in the book was so well done and I hate swoony books." —Susen Shi, Seward Park Library

Get the Full Best Books for Teens 2015 list!

Members of the NYPL's Best Books for Teens 2015 committee are: Co-chairs, Andrea Lipinski, Kingsbridge Library and Anne Rouyer, Mulberry Street Library; Ariel Birdoff, School Support; Shauntee Burns, School Support; Amber Certain, Columbus Library; Sandra Farag, BookOps; Katie Fernandez, Bronx Library Center; Karen Ginman, BookOps; Lisa Goldstein, Out-of-School Time; Ashley Gonzalez, St. Agnes Library; Lyndsie Guy, Chatham Square Library; Mina Hong, Epiphany Library; Thomas Knowlton, School Support; Jeanne Lamb, BookOps; Christopher Lassen, BookOps; Charlie Radin, Inwood Library; Nicole Rosenbluth, Pelham Bay Library; Susen Shi, Seward Park Library; Teresa Silva, Mariner's Harbor Library; Brian Stokes, Jefferson Market Library; Chantalle Uzan, Francis Martin Library.

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Best books for teens

I'd like to toss in my favorite: Ghost City by Madeline Franklin

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