SLJ’s Best Books for Teens 2016

best-books-2016The editors of School Library Journal have announced their picks for the Best Books of 2016, including YA Fiction, Nonfiction and Adult Books 4 Teens. Check out the lists below for featured titles — books already in the library collection link to our catalog; the others are on their way!


Ashes (The Seeds of America Trilogy, Book 3) by Laurie Halse Anderson — As the Revolutionary War rages on, Isabel and Curzon are reported as runaways, and the awful Bellingham is determined to track them down.

The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry — In mid-thirteenth century Provence, Dolssa de Stigata is a fervently religious girl who feels the call to preach, condemned by the Inquisition as an “unnatural woman,” and hunted by the Dominican Friar Lucien who fears a resurgence of the Albigensian heresy.

The Reader by Traci Chee — Set in a world where reading is unheard of, Sefia makes use of a mysterious object to track down who kidnapped her aunt Nin and what really happened the night her father was murdered.

The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle — Teenaged Quinn, an aspiring screenwriter, copes with his sister’s death while his best friend forces him back out into the world to face his reality.

The Lie Tree by Francis Hardinge — On an island off the south coast of Victorian England, fourteen-year-old Faith investigates the mysterious death of her father, who was involved in a scandal, and discovers a tree that feeds upon lies and gives those who eat its fruit visions of truth.

We Are The Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson — Abducted by aliens periodically throughout his youth, Henry Denton is informed by his erstwhile captors that they will end the world in 144 days unless he stops them by deciding that humanity is worth saving.

Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King — A talented 16-year-old artist slowly discovers the history of domestic violence behind why her brother left the family years earlier and why she suddenly cannot make art.

Character, Driven by David Lubar — In his last year of high school, seventeen-year-old virgin Cliff Sparks has to figure out what to do with his life, including how to meet new girl Jillian and how to deal with old issues with his unemployed father.

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis — Three years after her sister’s murderer walked free and Alex Craft skillfully achieves her vengeance without detection, she begins to form a friendship with the preacher’s daughter and draws the attention of popular Jack Fisher, until the dark side of Alex finds its way out.

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina — During the summer of 1977 when New York City is besieged by arson, a massive blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam, seventeen-year-old Nora must also face her family’s financial woes, her father’s absence, and her brother’s growing violence.

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill —  A powerful story about the devastating effects of rape and public shaming, told through the awful experience of a young woman whose life is changed forever by an act of violence.

Salt To The Sea by Ruta Sepetys — As World War II draws to a close, refugees try to escape the war’s final dangers, only to find themselves aboard a ship with a target on its hull

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, Book 1) by Neil Shusterman — In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed by professional reapers called scythes. Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, Book 4) by Maggie Stiefvater — Not believing in true love, Blue never thought the warning that she will cause her true love’s death would be a problem, but as her life is entangled in the world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley — Agoraphobic sixteen-year-old Solomon has not left his house in three years, but Lisa is determined to change that–and to write a scholarship-winning essay based on the results.


Sabotage: The Mission To Destroy Hitler’s Atomic Bomb by Neal Bascomb — Bascomb delivers another nail-biting work of nonfiction for young adults in this incredible true story of spies and survival.

Vietnam: A History of the War by Russell Freedman — An account of the Vietnam War describing how it began, why it was so difficult to end, and how its tragic legacy endures today.

Bubonic Panic: When Plague Invaded America by Gail Jarrow — Acclaimed author and scientific expert Gail Jarrow brings the history of a medical mystery to life in vivid and exciting detail for young readers, including photographs and drawings, a glossary, a timeline, further resources, an author’s note, and source notes.

March: Book Three by John Lewis & Andrew Aydin with art by Nate Powell — In this stunning conclusion to the March trilogy, Congressman John Lewis, one of the key figures of the civil rights movement, joins co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell to bring the lessons of history to vivid life for a new generation, urgently relevant for today’s world.

The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century by Sarah Miller — In a compelling, linear narrative, Miller takes readers along as she investigates a brutal crime: the August 4, 1892 murders of wealthy and prominent Andrew and Abby Borden.

Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune by Pamela S. Turner — This real-life saga reads like a novel, but is the true story of Minamoto Yoshitsune, the greatest samurai in Japanese history, whose daring feats and impossible bravery earned him immortality.

Adult Books 4 Teens


New Nonfiction, Part 2

newbooksgraphicThe recent book flood continues, with all of the new books I’ve wanted to add to the library collection since June finally making it to the New Books shelves!

Here’s a look at some of the new nonfiction titles we’ve added to the collection covering Social IssuesScience and Self-Help. Follow the links for more information, including reviews, availability and previews:

Social Issues

American Girls: Social Media And The Secret Lives Of Teenagers by Nancy Jo Sales — Explores the changes in the way teenage girls are growing up in America, discussing the new norms, from extreme behaviors to lack of basic communication skills. “A compelling read for teens and those who work with them, giving voice to those who might not be heard otherwise” (Library Journal).

Being Jazz: My Life As A (Transgender Teen) by Jazz Jennings — Teen advocate and trailblazer Jazz Jennings — named one of “The 25 Most Influential Teens” of the year by Time — shares her very public transgender journey, as she inspires people to accept the differences in others while they embrace their own truths. “Her story is an important addition to the slender but growing body of transgender literature and belongs in every library” (Booklist starred review).

A Different Kind Of Daughter: The Girl Who Hid From The Taliban In Plain Sight by Maria Toorpakai with Katharine Holstein — Maria Toorpakai hails from Pakistan’s violently oppressive northwest tribal region, where the idea of women playing sports is considered haram-un-Islamic – forbidden – and girls rarely leave their homes. But she did, passing as a boy in order to play the sports she loved, thus becoming a lightning rod of freedom in her country’s fierce battle over women’s rights. “With clarity and captivating sincerity, Toorpakai illuminates the struggles of living under the threat of violence simply because she dreamed of becoming her own champion” (Booklist).

Fair Play: How LGBT Athletes Are Gaining Their Rightful Place In Sports by Cyd Zeigler – Zeigler, cofounder of the online magazine Outsports, tells the story of how sports have transformed for LGBT athletes, diving into key moments and issues that have shaped sports for LGBT people today. “Well researched, timely, and provocative, Zeigler’s book provides readers with candid personal accounts of the struggles and triumphs of LGBT athletes across a wide spectrum of the sports world” (Booklist).

Feminism: Reinventing The F Word by Nadia Abushanab Higgins — While most people believe in equal rights, the word feminism–America’s new F-word–makes people uncomfortable. Explore the history of US feminism and learn from modern leaders what it means to be a feminist–and why some criticize it. “This informative, impeccably researched investigation of the history of feminism will do more than fill a collection gap-it firmly emphasizes that feminism and feminist are not dirty words” (School Library Journal).

Grunt: The Curious Science Of Humans At War by Mary Roach – Grunt tackles the science behind some of a soldier’s most challenging adversaries–panic, exhaustion, heat, noise–and introduces us to the scientists who seek to conquer them. “A must-read for fans of Roach and for those who relish learning about the secret histories of everyday things” (Library Journal).

Ordinarily Well: The Case For Antidepressants by Peter D. Kramer — Do antidepressants work, or are they glorified dummy pills? How can we tell? Psychiatrist and author Peter D. Kramer examines the growing controversy about the popular medications. “Aimed at those who may be doubtful about antidepressants but open to a different scientific perspective, Kramer’s interpretation of the research on antidepressant drug effects is worthy of consideration” (Library Journal).

Reproductive Rights: Who Decides? by Vicki Oransky Wittenstein – Examines reproductive rights through a historical lens, from early history’s methods for family planning to the introduction of the Pill in the 1960s and the Roe v Wade decision of the 1970s, to contemporary legal and societal battlegrounds. “Well written and impeccably researched, this volume will appeal to budding activists and feminists and to those concerned about human rights” (School Library Journal).

What Is Anxiety Disorder? by Carla Mooney — Experts estimate that as many as 40 million American adults experience anxiety disorder in a given year, making it the most common mental illness in the United States. This book examines what this disorder is, what causes it, what it is like to live with it, and how or whether it can be treated or cured. “A list of chapter notes, organizations, and sources round up the reference credentials of the book, which will be of value to student researchers” (Booklist).


Dead Zones: Why Earth’s Waters Are Losing Oxygen by Carol Hand — Currently the world has more than 400 identified dead zones – aquatic regions of low oxygen. The good news is that people can eliminate dead zones by changing agricultural practices and reducing pollution. Using real-world examples, this book looks at the impact of pollution on global water resources, and discusses the interconnectedness of ecosystems and organisms. “A significant overview for serious eco-activists or any students interested in our planet’s oceans and waterways” (School Library Journal).

The Ebola Epidemic: The Fight, The Future by Connie Goldsmith — Ebola has riveted–and terrified–the world. Since December 2013, the virus has killed more than eleven thousand people in West Africa. Hear from Ebola survivors and learn what experts say about this devastating disease. “A solid, valuable look at a still-mysterious illness and a tumultuous time in recent history” (Booklist).

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee — Weaving science, social history, and personal narrative to tell us the story of one of the most important conceptual breakthroughs of modern times, Mukherjee animates the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates, and choices. “This highly accessible and thoughtful volume on a cornerstone of modern biology will have broad appeal” (Library Journal).

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren — An illuminating debut memoir of a woman in science, a moving portrait of a longtime friendship, and a stunningly fresh look at plants that will forever change how you see the natural world. “This title should be required reading for all budding scientists, especially young women. However, being a scientist is not essential in order to savor Jahren’s stories and reflections on living as well as fossil plant life” (Library Journal).

Wildlife Of The World, by DK editors — Spectacular portrait-style photography brings you “face-to-face” with individual animals in up-close and engrossing profiles on how the animals interact with their environments, mate, survive, and even play. “Like a classic children’s treasury book, this lavish work is an ideal option for researchers and browsers alike” (School Library Journal).


How To Like Yourself: A Teen’s Guide To Quieting Your Inner Critic & Building Lasting Self-Esteem by Cheryl M. Bradshaw — Don’t let your inner critic get in the way of being confident! How to Like Yourself offers a quirky, inspiring, and practical guide to help you overcome feelings of self-criticism, improve self-esteem, and be the true star in your life. “A solid text with good advice overall” (School Library Journal).

It’s Not A Perfect World, But I’ll Take It: 50 Life Lesssons For Teens Like Me Who Are Kind Of (You Know) Autistic by Jennifer Rose — Jennifer Rose is autistic. She’s also a college student who loves reading, writes fan fiction, and wants to be on TV someday. This is her uplifting guide to life, explainin how you can be different and still connect with others, how to deal with tough realities, and how to celebrate happy times. “Easy to digest and life-affirming, Rose’s honest narrative will resonate with readers” (School Library Journal).

Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths Of Introverts by Susan Cain with Gregory Mone and Erica Moroz — Susan Cain sparked a worldwide conversation when she published Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. With her inspiring book, she permanently changed the way we see introverts and the way introverts see themselves. This adapted young readers’ edition empowers introverted kids and teens. “Many will find value in this title that emphasizes that being an introvert is not a blemish on one’s personality but a benefit” (School Library Journal).

TED Talks: The Official TED Guide To Public Speaking by Chris Anderson — Since taking over TED in the early 2000s, Chris Anderson has shown how carefully crafted short talks can be the key to unlocking empathy, stirring excitement, spreading knowledge, and promoting a shared dream. This book explains how the miracle of powerful public speaking is achieved, and equips you to give it your best shot. “An invaluable guide to effective presentations, and catnip for all the TED fans out there” (Publishers Weekly).

Books We’re Looking Forward To In November

Future ReleasesHere’s a look at some of the books we’re looking forward to reading in November!

Note: Dates listed are on sale dates, not when they will be available in the library. Look for them in the New Books section a couple of weeks after their release dates.

November 1

Blood For Blood by Ryan Graudin (November 1) — In this thrilling sequel to Wolf By Wolf, death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run in 1950s Germany: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. “Graudin crafts another fast-paced, enthralling tale of sacrifice and dogged determination as she fuses alternate history and spy-thriller suspense” (Publishers Weekly starred review).

The Dog, Ray by Linda Coggin (November 1) — Daisy, age twelve, has died in a car accident. She finds herself in the afterworld, which resembles nothing more than a job center. Her soul is being returned to Earth, but not as a human being—she’s returning as a dog. A dog who retains Daisy’s thoughts and pluck and is determined to get back to her parents and to get back home. What she doesn’t expect is that life as a dog named Ray would come with such worries—and moments of jubilation—as she grows to care for others in a whole new way. “Coggin’s subtle narrative transitions her protagonist from dog-inhabited-by-the-soul-of-a-girl to solely-dog with exquisite grace, leading to a wholly original homecoming theme. A powerful story brought to heart-beating life by its cogent craftsmanship” (Kirkus starred review).

Legalizing Marijuana: Promises and Pitfalls by Margaret J. Goldstein (November 1) — With the increase in states legalizing marijuana, understanding the debate about marijuana is more important than ever. Learn about the movement to legalize, the arguments on each side, and what it means for patients, state economies, and legal systems. “Goldstein…draws a telling parallel between Prohibition and the rise of violent gang-related alcohol crimes and the horrifying cartel-controlled trade in marijuana that the war on drugs has only exacerbated. Hers is the eye of a science journalist, and she writes with levelheaded clarity” (Kirkus starred review).

Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth (November 1) — Emma Allen couldn’t be more excited to start her sophomore year. Not only is she the assistant stage manager for the drama club’s production of Hamlet, but her crush Brandon is directing, and she’s rocking a new haircut that’s sure to get his attention. But soon after school starts, everything goes haywire. One night after rehearsal, Emma stays behind to think through her life’s latest crises and distractedly falls through the stage’s trap door…landing in the basement of the Globe Theater in 1601 London. “This entertaining and original novel deals not just with growing up, but with a fresh and different interpretation of ‘to be or not to be'” (Kirkus starred review).

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon (November 1) — Natasha: “I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him”. Daniel: “I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that”. “Lyrical and sweeping, full of hope, heartbreak, fate…and the universal beating of the human heart” (Booklist starred review).

November 8

Florence Nightingale: The Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse by Catherine Reef (November 8) — Most people know Florence Nightingale was a compassionate and legendary nurse, but they don’t know her full story. This riveting biography explores the exceptional life of a woman who defied the stifling conventions of Victorian society to pursue what was considered an undesirable vocation. “A vividly written, richly layered portrait of a fascinating woman whose life and work influenced and inspired many” (Kirkus starred review).

Four-Four-Two by Dean Hughes (November 8) — A thought-provoking, action-packed page-turner based on the little-known history of the Japanese Americans who fought with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II. “Hughes’ writing effectively evokes the horrors of war and the internal conflict of young men fighting for a country that has treated them unjustly” (Booklist starred review).

Heartless by Marissa Meyer (November 8) — Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans. “Meyer has woven all the elements of darkness and light, fate and free will, and love and hatred into an unforgettable story of the evolution of the Red Queen from a young girl who dreamed of true love and freedom to a madwoman best remembered for the phrase ‘Off with his head'” (School Library Journal starred review).

Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity by Kristin Elizabeth Clark (November 8) — The last time Jess saw her father, she was a boy. Now she’s a high school graduate, soon to be on her way to art school. But first she has some unfinished business with her dad, so she’s driving halfway across the country to his wedding with her best friend, Christophe―nicknamed Chunk. Along the way, they learn a few things about themselves―and each other―which call their feelings about their relationship into question. “A thoughtful, engaging examination of a transition that is fraught with misunderstandings. This compelling novel…deserves a place at the forefront of the growing body of literature about transgender teens” (Booklist starred review).

Merrow by Ananda Braxton-Smith (November 8) — Twelve-year-old Neen Marrey must separate town gossip from town lore to learn the truth about her mother—and herself. The people of Carrick Island have been whispering behind Neen’s back ever since her father drowned and her mother disappeared. The townspeople say her mother was a merrow and has returned to the ocean. Neen, caught in her hazy new in-between self—not a child, but not quite grown up—can’t help but wonder if the villagers are right. “This exquisitely told work examines the power of stories and how a well-told tale can transcend truth and history” (School Library Journal starred review).

November 15

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier (November 15) — What if the most terrifying person you know is your ten-year-old sister? Seventeen-year-old Aussie Che Taylor loves his younger sister, Rosa. But he’s also certain that she’s a psychopath—clinically, threateningly, dangerously. Recently Rosa has been making trouble, hurting things — and Che is the only one who knows. “This dark thriller is the 1956 film The Bad Seed meets 2016; readers will be simultaneously terrified when Rosa’s present and afraid to let her out of their sight” (Kirkus starred review).

The Nerdy and the Dirty by B.T. Gottfried (November 15) — His classmates may consider him a nerd, but Benedict Pendleton knows he’s destined for great things. All he has to do is find a worthy girlfriend, and his social station will be secured. Pen Lupo is sick and tired of hiding who she is. On the outside, Pen is popular, quiet, and deferential to her boyfriend. On the inside, however, Pen is honest, opinionated–and not sure that she’s quite like other girls. Despite their differences, Pen and Benedict are drawn together. But is there such a thing as happily ever after for this unlikely pair? “Debut author Gottfred captures the starry-eyed exhilaration of first love (and nervous first explorations of sex) with tenderness and humor” (Publishers Weekly starred review).

And Then The Sky Exploded by David A. Poulsen (November 15) — While attending the funeral of his great-grandfather, ninth-grader Christian Larkin learns that the man he loved and respected was a member of the Manhattan Project, the team that designed and created the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during the Second World War. “[Hiroshima survivor] Yuko’s story and her meeting with Christian are worth reading and can start the conversation with young readers about Hiroshima and Nagasaki” (Kirkus Reviews).

November 22

Scythe by Neil Shusterman (November 22) — A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control. “Instead of exploring the ways in which men are monsters, [Shusterman’s latest] deals in what happens to men when there are no monsters” (Booklist starred review).

November 29