The best first "grown-up" books for teenagers to read

Who am I?

I’m a single dad of an awesome teenage girl and I gave her a similar list a few years ago.


I wrote...

The Man Who Screams at Nightfall: and other stories

By Rush Leaming,

Book cover of The Man Who Screams at Nightfall: and other stories

What is my book about?

Thailand. The Congo. Greece. Spain. America... Four continents and forty-plus years in the making.

The Man Who Screams at Nightfall is a landmark collection of short stories depicting a young man on a classic voyage of self-discovery, wandering the earth in search of some purpose in life. From childhood to parenthood and everything in between—these tales are raw and unflinching; at other times, poignant and moving. Get ready for a literary journey unlike any you've experienced before.
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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Gone Girl

Rush Leaming Why did I love this book?

She likes to do the same as me: Take the structure of a potboiler/page-turner and see how far below the surface you can go. It's a contemporary, accessible, entertaining thriller—but so much more. There are lots of layers to this juicy tome, and it's insanely well-written. Keeps you thinking long after finishing. The movie’s pretty good too!

By Gillian Flynn,

Why should I read it?

24 authors picked Gone Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE ADDICTIVE No.1 BESTSELLER AND INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON
OVER 20 MILLION COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE
THE BOOK THAT DEFINES PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER

Who are you?
What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren't made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on…


Book cover of The Sun Also Rises

Rush Leaming Why did I love this book?

I know Hemingway has fallen out of wokeness, but it's the original Lost Generation/Gen-X/Emo book about being young and partying through life (across Europe) while wondering what the hell does it all really mean? Toss a doomed love story and running with bulls in there, too and you have a classic.

By Ernest Hemingway,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Sun Also Rises as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jake Barnes is a man whose war wound has made him unable to have sex—and the promiscuous divorcée Lady Brett Ashley. Jake is an expatriate American journalist living in Paris, while Brett is a twice-divorced Englishwoman with bobbed hair and numerous love affairs, and embodies the new sexual freedom of the 1920s. The novel is a roman à clef: the characters are based on real people in Hemingway's circle, and the action is based on real events, particularly Hemingway's life in Paris in the 1920s and a trip to Spain in 1925 for the Pamplona festival and fishing in the…


Book cover of The Bluest Eye

Rush Leaming Why did I love this book?

Her haunting classic that was always both on point and ahead of its time. Beloved was her big hit, but this was always my favorite. It’s sparse and slim—you can read it in a day—but it lingers with you. Made this young teenage white boy really think about race at a time when it was the furthest thing from my mind.

By Toni Morrison,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Bluest Eye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Read the searing first novel from the celebrated author of Beloved, which immerses us in the tragic, torn lives of a poor black family in post-Depression 1940s Ohio.

Unlovely and unloved, Pecola prays each night for blue eyes like those of her privileged white schoolfellows. At once intimate and expansive, unsparing in its truth-telling, The Bluest Eye shows how the past savagely defines the present. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison's virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and grace that have always characterised her writing.

'She…


Book cover of Dubliners

Rush Leaming Why did I love this book?

Chaucer may have invented the short story collection but James Joyce took them to untouched heights with this visceral and poignant work. Never a fan of his novels which I found way too dense, I think his lyrical style works best when tightly focused and restrained as in this book. Includes both "Araby" and "The Dead" - two of the five best short stories ever written (the other three are: The Lottery by Shirley Jackson; A Clean, Well-Lighted Place by Hemingway; and Murder in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe)

By James Joyce,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Dubliners as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A definitive edition of perhaps the greatest short story collection in the English language

James Joyce's Dubliners is a vivid and unflinching portrait of "dear dirty Dublin" at the turn of the twentieth century. These fifteen stories, including such unforgettable ones as "Araby," "Grace," and "The Dead," delve into the heart of the city of Joyce's birth, capturing the cadences of Dubliners' speech and portraying with an almost brute realism their outer and inner lives. Dubliners is Joyce at his most accessible and most profound, and this edition is the definitive text, authorized by the Joyce estate and collated from…


Book cover of One Hundred Years of Solitude

Rush Leaming Why did I love this book?

His masterpiece and, in my opinion, the best novel of the 20th century. Yes, keeping track of all the names is a chore, but the magical realism will whisk you away and envelop you. How can you go wrong with a novel whose opening line is: Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

By Gabriel García Márquez,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked One Hundred Years of Solitude as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of the rise and fall, birth and death of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendía family. Inventive, amusing, magnetic, sad, and alive with unforgettable men and women -- brimming with truth, compassion, and a lyrical magic that strikes the soul -- this novel is a masterpiece in the art of fiction.


You might also like...

Bessie

By Linda Kass,

Book cover of Bessie

Linda Kass Author Of Bessie

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Bookstore owner Learner Reader Historical novelist Long distance cyclist

Linda's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

In the bigoted milieu of 1945, six days after the official end of World War II, Bess Myerson, the daughter of poor Russian immigrants living in the Bronx, remarkably rises to become Miss America, the first —and to date only— Jewish woman to do so. At stake is a $5,000 scholarship for the winner.

An intimate fictional portrait of Bess Myerson’s early life, Bessie reveals the transformation of the nearly six-foot-tall, self-deprecating yet talented preteen into an exemplar of beauty, a peripheral quality in her world. It is the unfamiliar secular society of pageantry she must choose to escape her roots as she searches for love and acceptance, eager to make her mark on the world.

Bessie

By Linda Kass,

What is this book about?

Just days after the close of World War II, Bess Myerson, the college-educated daughter of poor Russian Jewish immigrants living in the Bronx, is competing in the Miss America pageant. At stake: a $5,000 scholarship. The tension and excitement in Atlantic City's Warner Theatre is palpable, especially for traumatized Jews rooting for one of their own. So begins Bessie.


Drawing on biographical and historical sources, Bessie reimagines the early life of Bess Myerson, who, in 1945 at age twenty-one, remarkably rises to become one of the most famous women in America. This intimate fictional portrait reveals the transformation of the…


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