The most recommended books about teenage boys

Who picked these books? Meet our 75 experts.

75 authors created a book list connected to teenage boys, and here are their favorite teenage boy books.
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What type of teenage boy book?


Rule of the Bone

By Russell Banks,

Book cover of Rule of the Bone

David Haynes Author Of Right by My Side

From the list on kids with attitude.

Who am I?

I am a forty-five-year career educator, sharing my classrooms with students from primary school through graduate programs in creative writing. What I love most in every classroom I enter is sharing the books and stories and poems I love with my students. The best days: when I’m reading one of my favorite parts of the book out loud to the group and I look up and they laugh or gasp, or I look up and see their eyes full of joy. If it’s my own work I’m reading from, all the better!

David's book list on kids with attitude

Why did David love this book?

Escaping his abusive home life in upstate New York, fourteen-year-old, Chappie—called Bone after his tattoo—falls in with an assortment of drug dealers and Rastafarians. Angry and hard, Bone is also resilient and proves to have the biggest heart with a soft spot for others who have been dealt a terrible hand by life. In Rule of the Bone, Russell Banks masterfully explores the themes of class and race and the lives of the forgotten in rural America. Chappie has a lot to say about everything, and you may not like how he says it, but he is more often right than wrong.  

By Russell Banks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rule of the Bone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bone is a punked-out teenager, living in a trailer with his alcoholic mother and abusive stepfather. Rejected by his parents, out of school and in trouble with the police, he's now into drugs and shoplifting as he drifts through dope squats and shopping malls. Until, breaking away from a group of biker thieves, he finds refuge in an abandoned school bus with I-Man, an exiled Rastafarian who dramatically changes his life.

So Long, See You Tomorrow

By William Maxwell,

Book cover of So Long, See You Tomorrow

Ellen Prentiss Campbell Author Of Frieda's Song

From the list on life in a haunted house.

Who am I?

In my stories and novels, in my reading, and in my life, I'm inspired and captivated by what I call resonant places, places with deep connections to the past as well as the present moment. I grew up in a mid-century modern house my parents built. Although no other family had lived in it before, our own family—like all families—was haunted by ghosts of our past. My childhood home was bulldozed by the next owners; the house has become a ghost itself. But memories remain long after a family or a home is gone. As a writer, a reader, and a psychotherapist, I believe that memories are the seeds for both remembering and imagining.

Ellen's book list on life in a haunted house

Why did Ellen love this book?

In So Long, See You Tomorrow, an adult narrator looks back at childhood and the lingering effects of childhood loss and displacement. He recalls his mother’s death, his father’s remarriage, and moving from a beloved home. The author also tells a parallel story of the scandal that befell his friend Cletus: his father shot his mother’s lover, and then drowned himself. For the narrator, his lost boyhood home is recalled like a dream of paradise lost, a mirage of another life: “I dream about it, the proportions are so satisfying to the eye and the rooms so bright, so charming and full of character that I feel I must somehow give up my present life and go live in that house: that nothing else will make me happy.” This novel about haunting memories of a lost place and past will haunt the reader. This was one of my father’s…

By William Maxwell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked So Long, See You Tomorrow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A novel which charts the lives of two former friends until the father of one was responsible for the murder of the father of the other. They do not speak following the tragedy, but the victims son realises fifty years later that he has failed in a fundamental act of friendship.

Jimmy Bluefeather

By Kim Heacox,

Book cover of Jimmy Bluefeather

Nancy Lord Author Of pH: A Novel

From the list on authentic Alaska by Alaskans.

Who am I?

I’m a long-time Alaskan (and former Alaska writer laureate) with a passion for my place—its people, environment, and history. I’ve always read widely in its literature and have watched it mature from superficial “last frontier” stories into a complex and diverse wealth of authentic and well-told stories. Since 2015 I’ve reviewed books for the Anchorage Daily News and have made it my business to know and support the growing Alaska writing community. Alaska is particularly strong in nonfiction writing while fiction (other than mysteries and short stories) has been slower to develop, and I’ve chosen to highlight five examples of novels that present truths through imaginative leaps.

Nancy's book list on authentic Alaska by Alaskans

Why did Nancy love this book?

Set in Southeast Alaska, Jimmy Bluefeather honestly depicts both environmental and generational change.

A Tlingit-Norwegian canoe carver anticipates the end of his life while his grandson struggles with his own future and a whale biologist resists authority in favor of moral action. Heacox grounds his beautifully-written story in considerable research as well as with respect for cultural beliefs and practices.

The canoe carver in particular is well-drawn and memorable, with toughness, resilience, and humor earned from living close to the Earth and its waters, in a place of stories. A canoe journey carries the story into a wild landscape, questions about conflicts between economic development and the preservation of lands and cultural values, and understandings of human frailty and strength. 

By Kim Heacox,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jimmy Bluefeather as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner, National Outdoor Book Award

"Part quest, part rebirth, Heacox's debut novel spins a story of Alaska's Tlingit people and the land, an old man dying, and a young man learning to live."
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"A splendid, unique gem of a novel."
-Library Journal (starred review)

"Heacox does a superb job of transcending his characters' unique geography to create a heartwarming, all-American story."

"What makes this story so appealing is the character Old Keb. He is as finely wrought and memorable as any character in contemporary literature and energizes the tale with a humor and warmth that…

Book cover of We Need to Talk about Kevin

Philippa East Author Of I'll Never Tell

From the list on dark psychology in thriller fiction.

Who am I?

Before becoming a psychological thriller writer I trained as a Clinical Psychologist, and I continue to practice as a therapist alongside my writing. Clinical Psychologists work in the field of mental health, bringing me into regular contact with the more difficult, distressed, or disturbed aspects of human psychology. Similarly, my novels typically explore the darker sides of what it means to be human, including themes of guilt, loss, fractured relationships, and trauma. The books on my list delve into this compelling and fascinating territory, and have inspired me as both a psychologist and a storyteller.

Philippa's book list on dark psychology in thriller fiction

Why did Philippa love this book?

To me, this book brilliantly and unapologetically explores one of the darkest and most taboo areas of human psychology: a mother’s fear and hatred of her own child.

I don’t have children of my own (through choice), but my mother and sister both struggled in their roles as parents, so this theme has always been very personal. We Need To Talk About Kevin bravely spoke the “unspeakable,” bringing into the light thoughts, feelings, and experiences that I had perhaps never been fully able to articulate for myself.

In turn, Shriver’s book paved the way for me to explore similar themes in my own writing, particularly in my second novel.

By Lionel Shriver,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked We Need to Talk about Kevin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



Eva never really wanted to be a mother; certainly not the mother of a boy named Kevin who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher who had tried to befriend him. Now, two years after her son's horrific rampage, Eva comes to terms with her role as Kevin's mother in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her absent husband Franklyn about their son's upbringing. Fearing that her own shortcomings may have shaped what her son has become, she confesses to…

Fairy Tale

By Stephen King,

Book cover of Fairy Tale

Iris Carden Author Of Family Lies and Other Stories

From Iris' 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Reader Retired minister Former journalist Mother Grandmother

Iris' 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Iris love this book?

Stephen King is a master storyteller. I’ve always loved his work, and this was no exception. It was another of those books that kept me reading a long past bedtime.

It’s a simple story: a teenage boy helps a grumpy old man out and is rewarded with lots more work and an epic adventure to save a dog. I must stress that the dog is a very good girl. The old man and the teen both have varying levels of goodness, depending on circumstance.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I love the world-building in this story and the amazing people the boy encounters on his journey.

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Fairy Tale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A #1 New York Times Bestseller and New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice!

Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes into the deepest well of his imagination in this spellbinding novel about a seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for that world or ours.

Charlie Reade looks like a regular high school kid, great at baseball and football, a decent student. But he carries a heavy load. His mom was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was seven, and grief drove his dad…

Deposing Nathan

By Zack Smedley,

Book cover of Deposing Nathan

Heather DiAngelis Author Of Speech and Debacles

From the list on queer YA exploring mental health.

Who am I?

I’ve struggled with mental health for most of my life, as have family members and friends I love. It’s extremely important to me that we normalize discussions of mental health so that we can find the best solutions. Anxiety and depression have been major themes in all of the young adult novels I’ve written; it’s my little way of furthering these conversations with the people who need them. I hope you’ll find these suggestions relatable, enjoyable, and question-inducing!

Heather's book list on queer YA exploring mental health

Why did Heather love this book?

Deposing Nathan was everything I'd dreamed it would be—deep, torturous, intense, and beautiful. Zack Smedley’s poignant and relevant storytelling hooked me from the first line to the unexpected twist and through the surprising ending. In this powerful story, Nate has been called to deliver a sworn statement against his ex-boyfriend Cam. What first seemed like a simple premise brought me back to my days of questioning sexuality, religion, family expectations, and familial commitment, and it unearthed memories of the struggles of finding myself as a teenager and navigating complex emotions. 

By Zack Smedley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Deposing Nathan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nate never imagined that he would be attacked by his best friend, Cam.

Now, Nate is being called to deliver a sworn statement that will get Cam convicted. The problem is, the real story isn't that easy or convenient - just like Nate and Cam's friendship. Cam challenged Nate on every level from the day the boys met. He pushed him to break the rules, to dream, and to accept himself. But Nate - armed with a fierce moral code and conflicted by his own beliefs - started to push back. With each push, Nate and Cam moved closer to…

The Boy Most Likely to

By Huntley Fitzpatrick,

Book cover of The Boy Most Likely to

Mindy Hardwick Author Of Weaving Magic

From the list on YA romance bad boys.

Who am I?

Bad boys in young adult romance have always been one of my favorite tropes to read. For seven years, I facilitated a poetry workshop with teens in a juvenile detention center and got to hear their stories—the heartbreak, the challenges, and the triumphs under all that bad boy façade. My memoir, Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention, is about the workshops and helped me understand both myself as a writer and the “bad boys” who wrote poetry each week. There are a lot of complexities to bad boy characters and the most satisfying stories are the ones where the bad boys redeem themselves and find love. 

Mindy's book list on YA romance bad boys

Why did Mindy love this book?

Bad boy, Tim, has struggled with drinking and now is a member of AA and is trying to start his life over. He and my character, Christopher, could attend AA meetings together and I am always happy to find a young adult character who is a reformed bad boy and trying to stay sober with AA and this story does not disappoint. 

By Huntley Fitzpatrick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Boy Most Likely to as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For fans of Morgan Matson's Since You've Been Gone, Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl and John Green's Paper Towns

Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To find the drinks cabinet blindfolded, need a liver transplant, and drive his car into a house.

Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To ... well, not date her little brother's baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.

For Tim, it wouldn't be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the…

The Wasp Factory

By Iain M. Banks,

Book cover of The Wasp Factory

Nick Roberts Author Of It Haunts the Mind: and Other Stories

From the list on that will haunt you for life.

Who am I?

Books that are haunting enough to stick with you long after you abandon their pages are the truly transformative ones. At the least, they leave a lingering thought, but the most effective ones can alter your perception of the world. As a person in recovery from substance use disorder since April 15, 2012, I have both dwelled in the darkness and lived in the light. This dual lived experience naturally informs my writing. I fluctuate between traditional horror stories and literary fiction with more mature themes. My goal in everything I write is to expose the reader to a new idea—one that sticks with them—for better or worse.

Nick's book list on that will haunt you for life

Why did Nick love this book?

Very few books have left such a searing image in my mind as Iain Banks did with one particular scene in his disturbing novel, The Wasp Factory.

The story is told first-person through an increasingly unreliable narrator who lets us in on his private rituals, unsettling relationship with his father, and anxieties about his escaped mental patient brother.

This is a novel that takes its time easing you into the narrator’s world, and by the time you reach the climax, the culminating effect of budding dread and pure shock is enough to haunt anyone for a lifetime.

By Iain M. Banks,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Wasp Factory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The polarizing literary debut by Scottish author Ian Banks, The Wasp Factory is the bizarre, imaginative, disturbing, and darkly comic look into the mind of a child psychopath.

Meet Frank Cauldhame. Just sixteen, and unconventional to say the least:

Two years after I killed Blyth I murdered my young brother Paul, for quite different and more fundamental reasons than I'd disposed of Blyth, and then a year after that I did for my young cousin Esmerelda, more or less on a whim.

That's my score to date. Three. I haven't killed anybody for years, and don't intend to ever again.…

Death In Spring

By Merce Rodoreda, Martha Tennent (translator),

Book cover of Death In Spring

Vajra Chandrasekera Author Of The Saint of Bright Doors

From the list on feeling lost and obsessed by a haunted world.

Who am I?

I’m Vajra Chandrasekera, from Colombo, Sri Lanka. I’m a writer, and more importantly, a reader. My favourite kind of book is bigger on the inside, the kind that drops you into a world too big and too weird to really get a handle on, a world that’s strange in ways you feel you recognize, like how sometimes you wake up from a dream and think, I’ve dreamed about that place and those people before, but you can’t tell if you have, or whether you dreamed the memory, too. You read the book and look at the world and you ask yourself: Did I dream those people, that place? Or is this the dream?

Vajra's book list on feeling lost and obsessed by a haunted world

Why did Vajra love this book?

Death in Spring is a tiny book containing a bigger, more intricate world than many a doorstopper, for all that the whole story set in a small, nameless hamlet.

Life there too is made of strange, violent rituals, only not the ones we know. We follow a boy growing up and learning them, and being scarred by these mysteries—what do they fill the mouths of the dead with, before they are killed and put into a tree forever? (It’s cement.)

Rodoreda wrote in Catalan, and Tennent’s translation is fluid and beautiful.

Perfection is a rare thing; if you want to see what that looks like, here you go.   

By Merce Rodoreda, Martha Tennent (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death In Spring as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Considered by many to be the grand achievement of her later period, Death in Spring is one of Mercè Rodoreda's most complex and beautifully constructed works. The novel tells the story of the bizarre and destructive customs of a nameless town—burying the dead in trees after filling their mouths with cement to prevent their soul from escaping, or sending a man to swim in the river that courses underneath the town to discover if they will be washed away by a flood—through the eyes of a fourteen-year-old boy who must come to terms with the rhyme and reason of this…

Boy Meets Boy

By David Levithan,

Book cover of Boy Meets Boy

Michael Cart Author Of Young Adult Literature: From Romance to Realism

From the list on beautifully capturing gay teens’ lives and loves.

Who am I?

I’ve been a full-time writer since 1994 and have so far published twenty-seven books, three of them with gay themes: My Father’s Scar, a gay coming-of-age novel and two about LGBTQ+ issues: Top 250 LGTBQ Books for Teens and The Heart Has Its Reasons, a history of queer literature. I’ve been interested in this literature since I was a gay teen myself, because there were no YA books with queer characters then. I missed seeing my face in the pages of a good book and so I promised myself that when I became an adult. I would make sure there was an ample assortment for today’s queer kids. And, guess what? I’ve kept my promise!

Michael's book list on beautifully capturing gay teens’ lives and loves

Why did Michael love this book?

This whimsical and wonderful book is a modern classic of gay literature, one of the first upbeat gay novels with a happy ending, no less. It imagines a delightful, offbeat world where two boys can walk down the street hand in hand and no one cares; where the homecoming queen is the cross-dressing captain of the football team; where – well, you get the picture. It’s an offbeat and, well, sanguine one. I love the innocence and generous-spirited nature of the book that sets it apart and delights readers while demonstrating that love is sometimes not smooth but always comes right in the end. Who could ask for anything better?   

By David Levithan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Boy Meets Boy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best…

The "What's Happening to My Body?" Book for Boys

By Lynda Madaras, Area Madaras, Simon Sullivan

Book cover of The "What's Happening to My Body?" Book for Boys

Rachel Ginocchio Author Of Roads to Family: All the Ways We Come to Be

From the list on anatomy, modern human reproduction, and family.

Who am I?

For as long as I can remember, my parents answered any/all of my questions about the body, puberty, and sex; often giving me more information than I actually wanted! So when friends asked me questions, I was always eager to pass on my knowledge. Who knew that years later, it would land me a master’s degree in public health (MPH), jobs in sexuality health education, and a passion for writing about human reproduction and family formation? Plus, I have personal experience on the topic: I come from a three-generation family created through adoption and foster care; and overcame the trials and tribulations of infertility with the use of assisted reproduction. 

Rachel's book list on anatomy, modern human reproduction, and family

Why did Rachel love this book?

How could you not love a book written by a mother-daughter combo? It’s impossible.

Though the books in this series (My Body, My Self for Boys/Girls; What’s Happening to My Body for Girls/Boys) are getting a little old copyright-date-wise, they are packed with detailed information that I go back to over and over again, each time I pull together material for a puberty class.

Though they were written at a time before gender-inclusive language hit the scene, they cover the topics youth are most curious about; and provide checklists, games, inquiries, and other interactive activities for readers to work through. 

By Lynda Madaras, Area Madaras, Simon Sullivan

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The "What's Happening to My Body?" Book for Boys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Everything preteen and teen boys need to know about their changing bodies and feelings Written by an experienced educator and her daughter in a reassuring and down-to earth style, The "What's Happening to My Body?" Book for Boys gives sensitive straight talk on: the body's changing size and shape; diet and exercise; the growth spurt; the reproductive organs; body hair; voice changes; romantic and sexual feelings; and puberty in the opposite sex. It also includes information on steroid abuse, acne treatment, sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, and birth control. Featuring detailed illustrations and real-life stories throughout, plus an introduction for parents…

Pryor Rendering

By Gary Reed,

Book cover of Pryor Rendering

Zev Good Author Of All About The Benjamins

From the list on books to come out any age.

Who am I?

I’ve been gay for as long as I can remember. I even told my mother, when I was five years old, that I was going to marry Hoss Cartwright (from the TV show Bonanza). But even knowing yourself that well doesn’t make it easy to actually be yourself, so I still had to come out to friends and family over a span of five or six years in my late teens and early twenties. And coming out is never easy, although it feels like a million bucks once you’ve done it. Also, it’s different for everyone, and having books like these I’ve recommended may not make it easier, but they show us that it can be done and that we’re not alone. 

Zev's book list on books to come out any age

Why did Zev love this book?

Having grown up gay in a small town in the South, this resonated with me as an out gay man in a big city in my twenties, because it got everything about being gay in a small Southern town right: the tone, the emotion, the terror, and most of all, it got how there are more of us in those small Southern towns than we realize at the time, and how leaving for bigger, “better” places isn’t always the answer. 

By Gary Reed,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pryor Rendering as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A lonely eighteen-year-old boy growing up in the working-class town of Pryor, Oklahoma, Charlie Hope struggles to cope with his passionately religious mother, the death of his hard-drinking grandfather, his enigmatic late father, and his own confusion over sexual orientation. A first novel.

The Catcher in the Rye

By J.D. Salinger,

Book cover of The Catcher in the Rye

Clark T. Carlton Author Of A Bitch for God

From the list on full of intimate self-revelations.

Who am I?

I’ve always been drawn to artists who expose their lives in a way that makes you feel you know them. The best of them have a raw honesty that shows their flaws, their wounds and struggles and hopefully the lessons they learned. Nobody likes bragging, but we’re captivated by accounts that echo our own secrets, embarrassments, and darker emotions, especially if told with a sense of humor. For decades, I’ve been addicted to the confessional lyrics of Joni Mitchell and have always been drawn to the unguarded openness of certain memoirs and the roman-à-clef or thinly disguised autobiography. In showing us their vulnerabilities, these authors have been heroic.  

Clark's book list on full of intimate self-revelations

Why did Clark love this book?

I was 12 or 13 when I first read The Catcher in the Rye and I was gobsmacked.

It’s a work of fiction but it was obviously autobiographical because it was so intimately detailed and genuinely rendered. It was like eavesdropping on someone’s psychiatric sessions, the narrative of a patient who holds nothing back from his doctor.

In Holden’s voice I heard so much of myself including a contempt for phoniness as well as a reluctance to enter adulthood. Holden doesn’t hold back on embarrassing details: an encounter with a prostitute and her pimp that goes wrong, and just before his breakdown, he lets you know he suffers from the most unpleasant of intestinal disorders.

The honesty of this book makes it both deeply sad and terribly funny and let me know someone else was like me. 

By J.D. Salinger,

Why should I read it?

14 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.

Ham on Rye

By Charles Bukowski,

Book cover of Ham on Rye

James Tyler Ball Author Of Matita: The Tragic Tale of a Writer's Pencil

From the list on the outrageous but still have serious meaning.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by absurdist comedy and ideas for as long as I can remember. At sixteen, I wrote my first book, Mr A, which followed a man who would turn into a superhero after taking LSD and his talking dog. As an adult, I continue to revel in these types of stories. I brought this passion to my chart-topping debut non-fiction book, where I interviewed several people who believe McDonald’s has interdimensional properties. Now, I hold no bars in fiction writing, having authored a ‘genius of a book’ that follows a talking pencil.

James' book list on the outrageous but still have serious meaning

Why did James love this book?

Many of us writers are subject to the terrible cliché of substance abuse, none so much as Charles Bukowski. Having dabbled in the debauched myself, Ham on Rye sadly reflects what life could be like if the idiocy of adolescence continues into adulthood. This book is hilarious, vulgar, shocking, and oddly insightful. Not only is this my favourite Bukowski book, but it’s the book that introduced me to his work and changed my writing forever.

By Charles Bukowski,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Ham on Rye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'He brought everyone down to earth, even the angels' LEONARD COHEN

Charles Bukowski is one of the greatest authors of the twentieth century. The autobiographical Ham on Rye is widely considered his finest novel. A classic of American literature, it offers powerful insight into his youth through the prism of his alter-ego Henry Chinaski, who grew up to be the legendary Hank Chinaski of Post Office and Factotum.

Hornet Flight

By Ken Follett,

Book cover of Hornet Flight

Cristina Loggia Author Of Lucifer's Game: An Emotional and Gut-Wrenching World War II Spy Thriller

From the list on World War 2 for people who love history and fiction.

Who am I?

I am a former journalist and corporate public relations expert with a Ph.D. in Foreign Languages, I’ve always been passionate about World War 2 history and truly fascinated by the deceptions put in place by both the Allies and the Axis. I believe that a story that mixes fiction with history is highly powerful and evocative. I set my debut novel in the Rome in 1942 because I was inspired by the numerous stories heard from both my grandfathers who fought in the war and because Fascist Italy is not as well-known as it should be. As one of the very few female thriller writers in this genre, I wanted to celebrate the contribution of women in World War 2!

Cristina's book list on World War 2 for people who love history and fiction

Why did Cristina love this book?

Another great thriller by Follett, what I found different and interesting for this book was the setting, Nazi-occupied Denmark during World War 2. The mixing of fictional and historical events is well accomplished. Typical of Follett, the novel presents intertwining stories in an adept way that builds tension throughout. It is very well researched and the places really come to life. I loved the abundance of technical details that don’t feel overwhelming, though. With memorable, strong characters, all determined to reach their goals, the writer did a great job in placing them into a well portrayed, true-life context. I loved the spinning swirl of actions that accompany the reader until the very end.

By Ken Follett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hornet Flight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ken Follett and the intrigue of World War II-"a winning formula" (Entertainment Weekly) if ever there was one. With his riveting prose and unerring instinct for suspense, the #1 New York Times bestselling author takes to the skies over Europe during the early days of the war in a most extraordinary novel. . . .

It is June 1941, and the war is not going well for England. Somehow, the Germans are anticipating the RAF's flight paths and shooting down British bombers with impunity. Meanwhile, across the North Sea, eighteen-year-old Harald Olufsen takes a shortcut on the German-occupied Danish island…

The Elfish Gene

By Mark Barrowcliffe,

Book cover of The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons and Growing Up Strange

Joseph Laycock Author Of Dangerous Games: What the Moral Panic over Role-Playing Games Says about Play, Religion, and Imagined Worlds

From the list on the history of fantasy role-playing games.

Who am I?

In the 1980s I was bullied for playing Dungeons and Dragons. Kids like to bully each other, but this was different: The bullies felt they had been given a moral license to pick on D&D players because pastors, talk-show hosts, and politicians were all claiming it was a Satanic, anti-Christian game. Those claims were my first inkling that adults did not know what they are talking about. After getting a PhD in the sociology of religion, I was finally able analyze and articulate why religious authorities felt threatened by a simple game of imagination.

Joseph's book list on the history of fantasy role-playing games

Why did Joseph love this book?

Barrowcliffe is a humorist, but reading his autobiographical account of playing D&D in the United Kingdom in the 1970s, you realize humor is a way of coping with tragedy. 

This book contains fascinating descriptions of the early history of D&D outside of the United States. Barrowcliffe is also adept at articulating what exactly is so compelling and fascinating about D&D. Most importantly, this book portrays the brutal culture of toxic masculinity that often existed around this game in its first decades. 

Gen Z players may be shocked by Barrowcliffe’s account of how players treated one another.

By Mark Barrowcliffe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Elfish Gene as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Coventry, 1976. For a brief, blazing summer, twelve-year-old Mark Barrowcliffe had the chance to be normal.

He blew it.

While other teenagers concentrated on being coolly rebellious, Mark - like twenty million other boys in the `70s and '80s - chose to spend his entire adolescence in fart-filled bedrooms pretending to be a wizard or a warrior, an evil priest or a dwarf. Armed only with pen, paper and some funny-shaped dice, this lost generation gave themselves up to the craze of fantasy role-playing games, stopped chatting up girls and started killing dragons.

Extremely funny, not a little sad and…

Book cover of Across the Nightingale Floor

Henry Lien Author Of Future Legend of Skate and Sword

From the list on readers seeking unique Asian fantasy.

Who am I?

As a kid, I had a tough time finding books with characters who looked like me after moving from Taiwan to America. That’s usually bad for most kids. However, I was a hideously self-absorbed kid. Having to read about characters who didn’t look or live like me made my childhood infinitely richer. Since becoming an author, I’ve written books that draw from my heritage and lectured about East Asian storytelling at various universities and writing programs. I do this as a love letter to my own heritage but also as a thank you letter to America for sharing its culture with me. Here’s a bit of mine in return.

Henry's book list on readers seeking unique Asian fantasy

Why did Henry love this book?

This book, the first in the rollicking The Tales of the Otori series, has been called “Shogun meets The Lord of the Rings.” The first book centers on a young man with some special abilities who is groomed to become an assassin due to one special talent — the ability to walk silently across a special floor composed of boards that chitter like birds when stepped on, which warlords sleep in the middle of as an alarm system. The series is one of the most gripping, wildly entertaining, and moving fantasies I’ve ever read. It is proof that it is possible for an artist to come to understand a culture deeply enough to honor its spirit, even if they weren’t born into that culture.

By Lian Hearn,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Across the Nightingale Floor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The most compelling novel to have been published this year' - Amanda Craig, "Observer". In his palace at Inuyama, Lord Iida Sadamu, warlord of the Tohan clan, surveys his famous nightingale floor. Its surface sings at the tread of every human foot, and no assassin can cross it. But 16-year-old Otori Takeo, his family murdered by Iida's warriors, has the magical skills of the Tribe - preternatural hearing, invisibility, a second self - that enable him to enter the lair of the Tohan. He has love in his heart and death at his fingertips...The stunningly powerful bestseller, "Across the Nightingale…

The Frozen Rabbi

By Steve Stern,

Book cover of The Frozen Rabbi

Mary Glickman Author Of An Undisturbed Peace

From the list on southern themes you’ve never heard of (maybe).

Who am I?

My heart has been Southern for 35 years although I was raised in Boston and never knew the South until well into my adulthood. I loved it as soon as I saw it but I needed to learn it before I could call it home. These books and others helped shape me as a Southerner and as an author of historical Southern Jewish novels. Cormac McCarthy doesn’t describe 19th-century North Carolina so much as immerse his voice and his reader in it. Dara Horn captures her era seamlessly. Steve Stern is so wedded to place he elevates it to mythic. I don’t know if these five are much read anymore but they should be.

Mary's book list on southern themes you’ve never heard of (maybe)

Why did Mary love this book?

For my money, Stern is the South’s premiere literary comic writer. In this one, he is a Southern Philip Roth with an I.B. Singer twist. A teenage boy discovers a frozen rabbi in the Kelvinator inside his parent’s Memphis basement. The rabbi’s been frozen for one hundred years. Bernie thaws him and what ensues covers a universe of incident: teenage hope and angst, Talmudic wisdom, kabbalistic film-flammery, the seduction of all of Memphis, from lowlifes to elite, by a rabbi (who can fly) selling himself as the font of all magic and knowledge. Stern obviously loves his Memphis and his Jews. At the same time he skewers them with the sleekest wit. Even Israel gets a gratuitous knock. It was the only thing I did not like in the book but it was fleeting, so I got over it. Such is the power of genius.

By Steve Stern,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Frozen Rabbi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Award-winning novelist Steve Stern's exhilarating epic recounts the story of how a nineteenth-century rabbi from a small Polish town ends up in a basement freezer in a suburban Memphis home at the end of the twentieth century. What happens when an impressionable teenage boy inadvertently thaws out the ancient man and brings him back to life is nothing short of miraculous.

Hey, Kiddo

By Jarrett J. Krosoczka,

Book cover of Hey, Kiddo

Alyssa Bermudez Author Of Big Apple Diaries

From the list on graphic novels for young readers to encourage empathy.

Who am I?

As a graphic novel creator and art teacher with years of experience, I understand the importance of introducing serious topics for discussion in an accessible way. My art students of all ages are curious about different subjects, wondering what life is like for others and if their own feelings are normal. Graphic novels are a perfect tool for fostering these discussions. Having been interested in comics as a medium for a long time, I'm thrilled to share this with young audiences and encourage exploration of diverse perspectives.

Alyssa's book list on graphic novels for young readers to encourage empathy

Why did Alyssa love this book?

Families come in all shapes and sizes, and it's crucial for children to see a variety of experiences in literature.

Hey, Kiddo portrays the author's upbringing with his grandparents due to his absent father and mother's substance abuse. The book offers child-friendly talking points on the challenging topic of addiction. It captures the complexities of growing up and family life amidst life-changing events.

By Jarrett J. Krosoczka,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Hey, Kiddo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An important graphic novel memoir that was a US National
Book Award Finalist.
In kindergarten, Jarrett Krosoczka's teacher asks him to draw
his family, with a mommy and a daddy.

But Jarrett's family is much more complicated
than that.

His mom is an addict, in and out of rehab, and
in and out of Jarrett's life.

His father is a mystery - Jarrett doesn't know
where to find him, or even what his name is.

Jarrett lives with his grandparents - two very
loud, very loving, very opinionated people who had thought they
were through with raising children until Jarrett…


By Sjón,

Book cover of Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was: A Novel

Scott Alexander Hess Author Of The Butcher's Sons

From the list on LGBTQ with lush prose and rich settings.

Who am I?

Growing up gay in Missouri in the 1970s, it was LGBTQ novels that opened the door to the unraveling and discovery of my best self, my true queer identity. Initially potboilers with side gay characters (I hid my copy of Valley of the Dolls from the nuns in grade school) I soon discovered writers that unlocked worlds I did not know existed representing choices, loves, and adventures I would later make my own. As a writer, it was risk-taking, gorgeous LGBTQ novels that urged me along in my literary journey and helped me find and define my voice. 

Scott's book list on LGBTQ with lush prose and rich settings

Why did Scott love this book?

I confess to a huge writer crush on Sjon. I immediately fell head over heels for his vibrant, visceral prose in this magical moving story set in Reykjavik in 1918 (the same year I set my novella Lightning). There is nothing comparable to this author’s dreamy style (after discovering him I read his entire catalogue) and the journey of young queer Manni Steinn is unforgettable. I have to admit: I went so far as to reach out to the author on social media the year we were both nominated for a Lambda Literary Award and ask him to coffee. I did not expect an answer, but he wrote me saying he was not attending the NYC event but thanked me for the offer! Brilliant and approachable! 

By Sjón,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moonstone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The mind-bending miniature historical epic is Sjón's specialty, and Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was is no exception. But it is also Sjón's most realistic, accessible, and heartfelt work yet. It is the story of a young man on the fringes of a society that is itself at the fringes of the world--at what seems like history's most tumultuous, perhaps ultimate moment.

Máni Steinn is queer in a society in which the idea of homosexuality is beyond the furthest extreme. His city, Reykjavik in 1918, is homogeneous and isolated and seems entirely defenseless against the Spanish flu, which has already…