The best books to grab your emotions and not let go even after you’ve read them

Robert Shaw Author Of Girlfriend Trouble
By Robert Shaw

The Books I Picked & Why

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

By Avi

Book cover of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

Why this book?

This book speaks to something we all had inside us when we were kids: a fervent hope that we’d all have an adventure like the one Charlotte Doyle has. As adults, we realize we wouldn’t last a day in the sort of life Charlotte falls into in this story, but if ever there was a Young Adult novel that should be famous and adapted into a movie, this is the one. Not a romance per se, unless 13-year-old Charlotte’s romance with action, adventure, and escaping to sea count, but certainly a book to fall in love with. Set in 1832, this novel is one that deserves to be called a rollicking good old-fashioned adventure.


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About a Boy

By Nick Hornby

Book cover of About a Boy

Why this book?

While not written for Young Adults, one of this book’s main characters is a young teen that I believe many of us can relate to; I know I certainly could, having been a total outsider and outcast when I was in school. Thank God, though, that I had both my parents and they were wonderful, and not ‘loopy’ like Marcus’s mom is made out to be. Still, I think that many of us are either going through similar experiences to what Marcus deals with throughout this story, or we went through them as teens. And I believe that, even though the character of Will starts out to be a somewhat reprehensibly selfish person, he learns, as we all need to, that the world doesn’t revolve around us as individuals. At least not all the time. 


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Made in the U.S.A.

By Billie Letts

Book cover of Made in the U.S.A.

Why this book?

For me, personally, this book taught me how truly lucky I was while living in my truck for 5 years in the early 2000s. 15-year-old Lutie and her 12-year-old brother, Fate, are thrown into a desperate adventure after their stepmom dies. Their odyssey across America in an attempt to find their long-lost father, and the perils of being homeless in Las Vegas and avoiding the life-threatening perils of living in a car and dodging unsavory and predatory people, is a harshly realistic depiction of...well, reality.


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Where the Heart Is

By Billie Letts

Book cover of Where the Heart Is

Why this book?

Because it really is about where the heart is, a tribute to the fact that one really can find love out in the world among strangers: brotherly or sisterly love that comes from the kindness and caring of good people; or the romantic love of someone who has given up their life’s dream to care for an ailing alcoholic. These may seem like ideals that can ‘only exist in a storybook’, but they are based, I believe, in the truth of the real world, if one is brave or desperate enough to seek them out; or, like Novalee, one has no choice but to hope love and salvation find them.


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Playing Beatie Bow

By Ruth Park

Book cover of Playing Beatie Bow

Why this book?

Like with my first recommendation, I feel that this book appeals to a desire for adventure that we all had as kids. Who didn’t dream of Time Travel adventures as a kid? And again, as an adult, I have of course come to realize that I’d not last a day if I were to fall into this sort of adventure – and although time travel is supposedly possible, albeit only as a one-way journey due to the nature of time-dilation, the undertaking of such a journey, and the physical aspects of what is involved, I’d never want to do it now. Of course, in Playing Beatie Bow, Abigail’s time travel method is very simple (and impossible), but the trouble she gets into in the past is complicated, complex, and dangerous. The book’s dual settings might not appeal to young readers of today, but its lessons about learning to live without pretensions, luxuries, or even the simplest of modern conveniences, are timeless and would, hopefully, always appeal to anyone’s better angels.


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