The best books about young people finding themselves without a phone

Why am I passionate about this?

I love to travel, write, and work in film and TV. My thoughts about how technology is changing people mixed with love for the Mojave Desert drives the story in my first novel, Edna in the Desert. Most of the desert has cell phone service but you can still lose it for stretches. Occasionally, there's a house in the middle of one of these expanses, and I always wondered what a teen living there would do without the usual modern distractions.


I wrote...

Edna in the Desert

By Maddy Lederman,

Book cover of Edna in the Desert

What is my book about?

Can Edna survive a summer without her phone?

Edna is a trouble-maker at school. Her therapist advocates medication, but her parents come up with an alternative cure: Edna will spend the summer in the desert with her grandparents. Their remote cabin is cut off from cell phone signals and cable service. Edna can’t imagine a summer without WIFI. She’s determined to rebel, but she meets an older local boy and falls in love for the first time. How can she get to know him from the edge of nowhere?

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Into the Wild

Maddy Lederman Why did I love this book?

The unraveling of what people long for in the wild, and what they’re willing to endure to find it, is as compelling as going to the places on these pages. I was afraid of the sadness defining this book, but McCandless and seekers like him, including the writer, push us to contemplate a deeper relationship with nature and ways of being more fully alive.  

By Jon Krakauer,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked Into the Wild as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Krakauer’s page-turning bestseller explores a famed missing person mystery while unraveling the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.

"Terrifying... Eloquent... A heart-rending drama of human yearning." —New York Times

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all…


Book cover of The Catcher in the Rye

Maddy Lederman Why did I love this book?

In this quintessential coming of age story, Holden realizes that the rules governing society may be more aspirational than he was led to believe, and that adults can be unreliable and phony. I read this book when I was around his age, I also found these truths hard. We're still young and uncertain if we can trust our ability to decipher it all. It’s a tough time. 

By J.D. Salinger,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked The Catcher in the Rye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After leaving prep school Holden Caulfield spends three days on his own in New York City.


Book cover of Emma

Maddy Lederman Why did I love this book?

I love a comedy about a young woman who becomes a better person and realizes her boyfriend is the cute guy who’s always hanging around. Emma thinks she knows what everyone else needs to do, but (spoiler) she needs to figure herself out first. Her surprising inner shift makes this one of my favorite Jane Austen novels.

By Jane Austen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Her masterpiece, mixing the sparkle of her early books with a deep sensibility' Robert McCrum, Observer

Although described by Jane Austen as a character 'whom no one but myself will much like', the irrepressible Emma Woodhouse is one of her most beloved heroines. Clever, rich and beautiful, she sees no need for marriage, but loves interfering in the romantic lives of others, until her matchmaking plans unravel, with consequences that she never expected. Jane Austen's novel of youthful exuberance and gradual self-knowledge is a brilliant, sparkling comic masterpiece.

Edited with an Introduction by FIONA STAFFORD


Book cover of Anne of Green Gables

Maddy Lederman Why did I love this book?

I admire Anne’s ability to entertain herself, her tendency towards joy, and her rambling imagination, but she has issues with impulse control and reading people. In this way, the character from my book, Edna, is like her. As with many older books, there’s outdated thinking about being female in this one, but contemporary girls are also working out gender roles and obsessing about their looks. It's another classic story about becoming a better person, and to a lesser degree, about the possibilities with a nearby boy. 

By L.M. Montgomery,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked Anne of Green Gables as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Anne of Green Gables is the classic children's book by L M Montgomery, the inspiration for the Netflix Original series Anne with an E. Watch it now!

Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert are in for a big surprise. They are waiting for an orphan boy to help with the work at Green Gables - but a skinny, red-haired girl turns up instead. Feisty and full of spirit, Anne Shirley charms her way into the Cuthberts' affection with her vivid imagination and constant chatter. It's not long before Anne finds herself in trouble, but soon it becomes impossible for the Cuthberts to…


Book cover of The Psychology of Making Life Interesting

Maddy Lederman Why did I love this book?

The title appeals to me, and the list of books I love is overwhelming. I’m rounding out my recs with this out-of-print, self-help book published in 1939 that I came across it in a second-hand bookstore. You can open the guide to almost any page and find something simple and deep, or if not, old phraseology like, Preventing Unwholesome Behavior Due to Tedium, is amusing. Technology may be changing the way people meet and how we process information, but we have most of the same emotional needs as before.

You might also like...

Captain James Heron First Into the Fray: Prequel to Harry Heron Into the Unknown of the Harry Heron Series

By Patrick G. Cox, Janet Angelo (editor),

Book cover of Captain James Heron First Into the Fray: Prequel to Harry Heron Into the Unknown of the Harry Heron Series

Patrick G. Cox Author Of Ned Farrier Master Mariner: Call of the Cape

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

On the expertise I claim only a deep interest in history, leadership, and social history. After some thirty-six years in the fire and emergency services I can, I think, claim to have seen the best and the worst of human behaviour and condition. History, particularly naval history, has always been one of my interests and the Battle of Jutland is a truly fascinating study in the importance of communication between the leader and every level between him/her and the people performing whatever task is required.  In my own career, on a very much smaller scale, this is a lesson every officer learns very quickly.

Patrick's book list on the Battle of Jutland

What is my book about?

Captain Heron finds himself embroiled in a conflict that threatens to bring down the world order he is sworn to defend when a secretive Consortium seeks to undermine the World Treaty Organisation and the democracies it represents as he oversees the building and commissioning of a new starship.

When the Consortium employs an assassin from the Pantheon, it becomes personal.

Captain James Heron First Into the Fray: Prequel to Harry Heron Into the Unknown of the Harry Heron Series

By Patrick G. Cox, Janet Angelo (editor),

What is this book about?

The year is 2202, and the recently widowed Captain James Heron is appointed to stand by his next command, the starship NECS Vanguard, while she is being built. He and his team soon discover that they are battling the Consortium, a shadowy corporate group that seeks to steal the specs for the ship’s new super weapon. The Consortium hires the Pantheon, a mysterious espionage agency, to do their dirty work as they lay plans to take down the Fleet and gain supreme power on an intergalactic scale. When Pantheon Agent Bast and her team kidnap Felicity Rowanberg, a Fleet agent…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in choosing a mate, the American West, and Canada?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about choosing a mate, the American West, and Canada.

Choosing A Mate Explore 17 books about choosing a mate
The American West Explore 128 books about the American West
Canada Explore 404 books about Canada