5 books to hold over John Green fans until his next book
I am, as many readers are these days, a John Green fan. In college, I was assigned one of his books for one of my numerous English courses and instantly fell in love. He writes accessible stories with a wide emotional range. He has you laughing, crying (I can’t even put into words the ugly sobbing that went down during The Fault in Our Stars the few days after it came out) and seeing yourself within the pages. They’re introspective and full of depth and damn it if they aren’t some of the best books I’ve read over the last six years.
But, alas he has us pining over a new work that doesn’t have a release date or synopsis yet. While we have the hotly anticipated movie adaption of Paper Towns coming up next month, here are five YA books to tie us over until his next fly-off-the-shelves book appears in our personal libraries.
If you liked…
An Abundance of Katherines
You should try…
In this hilarious and enlightening memoir, paralympic skier Josh Sundquist finds himself at 25 without a girlfriend. Not just right now. He’s never had a girlfriend. Ever. Maybe it was the homeschooling until high school that stunted his social skills. Maybe it was the strict parents. Maybe it was the cancer that amputated his leg. Or maybe it was just Josh himself using those reasons to justify when he has never been successful with the ladies. Similar to Katherines, Josh uses his wit and intellect to hypothesize why it didn’t work out, review the evidence with each girl and conclude what went wrong. With charts and diagrams, we see him using math to chronicle his failure.
I loved this book almost as much as I loved Katherines (my favorite Green title). It was humorous and relatable and awkward in the best way. It tells a true story of a boy who just wanted to find love and trying to figure out what went wrong along the way. That and he finds out most of the girls really liked him once he reconnects with them.
If you liked…
Looking for Alaska
You should read…
Winger by Andrew Smith
It’s a new semester, and Ryan Dean finds himself in the bad kid dormitory of his boarding school. Not only that, but he’s rooming with someone who hates him, someone who he can’t get away from at rugby practice as they’re teammates. He’s two years younger than everyone else, which makes fitting in hard, especially with his teammates. Thankfully, his fellow teammate Joey takes him under his wing and helps him navigate what it means to be a 14-year-old boy who just wants to be happy.
What I love about Andrew Smith is that he weaves very intense subject matter in seamlessly. He shows the life of a 14-year-old boy with honesty and doesn’t skimp on the details. They’re confused, they’re horny and they’ve got an attitude. He seamlessly weaves in homosexuality and bullying into a coming of age story. Plus, there are cartoons throughout. This is one of the first books I tell everyone they should read. The sequel comes out this year, so pick it up soon.
If you loved..
The Fault in Our Stars
Why not try…
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
This book, which just got turned into a movie, centers on a teenager named Greg, who has always been on the periphery of all high school groups. He doesn’t hang out with anyone in particular and he doesn’t do anything to cause any problems. As long as he can coast through high school, he’s fine. The only person he really hangs out with is Earl, someone he’s not sure he actually likes but who is willing to watch weird movies and make even weirder short films. Well, until his mom asks him to hang out with Rachel, he girl he used to know and who now has cancer. He doesn’t want to do it and makes the hangouts awkward in an effort to get out of them.
Greg breaks down the fourth wall and speaks directly to the reader and gives you his account of social ineptitude, his confusion over Rachel and Earl and someone who learns that maybe he doesn’t have to keep people at arm’s length, that there are things that require us to really feel.
It’s been often compared to The Fault in Our Stars, but this is a much more brash telling of a teen learning to cope with growing up and the finite nature of life. It’s hilarious and sympathetic and altogether wonderful. Also, it’s about to come out in theaters, so jump on it now!
If you liked..
You should try…
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
It’s hard being the new girl in school. It’s harder when you’ve got fiery red hair, you’re a little overweight and your clothes aren’t exactly new. To avoid problems on the bus, she sits down next to Park, a boy who keeps to himself. They don’t really talk until he notices her reading his comics. Slowly, their friendship grows and soon so does their affection for one another. But she’s not telling Park everything. Eleanor has a tough home situation and a mother who refuses to do anything about it. Things start to get out of Eleanor’s control and everything changes.
Like Margot and Q, Eleanor doesn’t divulge everything to Park. However, unlike Margot and Q, Park truly cares for Eleanor and vise versa. However, there’s still the road trip element even if it differs. You might want to get to this one quick too. It’s being turned into a movie!
If you liked…
Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
It all started with a book in one of New York’s most famous bookshops. Dash finds a red journal hidden in the stacks of Strand bookstore filled with literary clues. For whatever reason, he’s intrigued and not only follows them, but leaves some of his own for Lily to find. The notebook passes between the two in various spots throughout the city without ever the two meeting. When an incredibly awkward situation draws them together, they meet and see that their reality isn’t exactly as they hoped it would be.
I love the backdrop of New York City at Christmastime in this. Like Will Grayson, it has two characters intertwining in a weird way and then colliding in an even weirder way in a big city. It has love and intrigue and is packed with fun. And David Levithan cowrote Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green, so you know this is going to be good!
I read all of these books fairly quickly, some in one sitting. I love John Green’s work and wouldn’t compare these reads to his if they weren’t unbelievable. But they are. Each book captures the ups and downs of growing up, the lessons we all need to learn or remember and how a book can be truly special. They’ll make you laugh, they’ll make you cry and they’ll make your heart swell for so many different reasons.
So, get your summer reading gear ready, grab your new stack of books and head outside to enjoy some quality time with some great stories!