By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian
I don’t know about you, but I love to give people books. After all, what can be better than sharing my love of books with others, and finding the perfect gift for someone? But it can be hard to come up with the right book for the right person. You don’t want to give a book someone’s already read or already owns, but you want to get a book they’ll like. So here’s a few quick, easy, and (somewhat) lesser known titles you could give book lovers in your life!
For Mystery Fans – Endangered by Lamar Giles or A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee
For those who can’t get enough of thrillers and modern mysteries, try Endangered, which focuses on the cat and mouse game that teen Panda plays with a stalker who’s caught her stalking. It’s fast paced, has great character development for Panda, and rushes towards an exciting and surprising conclusion. If your mystery lover is more interested in the past, try A Spy in the House, the first in a series of historical mysteries featuring orphan-turned-spy Mary Quinn as she infiltrates the upper levels of society in Victorian London.
For Sports Lovers: Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee or Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
For a sci-fi twist on a sports story, pick up Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee, about a zero gravity MMA fighter who rises to fame and the top of his profession, amidst revelations about his past and growing tensions between Earth and Mars. For a more current take on a sports story, gift Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. The story focuses on teen athlete D.J. as she tries to manage her family’s farm, train the quarterback from a rival high school, find her voice, and of course, keep up with her own sports dreams.
For Your Sister/Best Friend: This Side of Home by Renee Watson, Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee, or Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
If you have a sister, especially a twin, she might enjoy reading about twin sisters who have to negotiate a new relationship with each other as they find themselves disagreeing about the gentrification of their neighborhood in This Side of Home. In Under a Painted Sky, Samantha and Annamarie are thrown together as they each escape from a dangerous situation and test their luck on the Oregon Trail, and develop a deep friendship along the way. Gabi in Gabi, A Girl In Pieces is dealing with a lot in her life, as are her two best friends. But they are all three there for each other every step of the way, making even the most painful experiences bearable for each other.
For the Romance Fan: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCouer
In To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Lara Jean Covey must untangle the threads of her romantic life after every letter she has written – but not sent – get delivered to her previous and current crushes. Along the way, she has to navigate family, friendships, and her own self confidence. If your romance-loving friend is a little more excited by Hollywood glamour, they might enjoy Everything Leads to You about 18 year old set designer Emi, who spends the summer after graduation rooming with her best friend – and getting to know the beautiful and talented Ava.
For Fantasy Lovers: Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho or Huntress by Malinda Lo
If your fantasy loving friend or family member goes for the more light-hearted side of reading, they’ll probably love Sorcerer to the Crown, set in an alternate historical England. This book features title character Zacharias trying to solve England’s magical crisis, with the help (or hindrance) of the powerfully magical and powerfully determined Prunella. The combination of hijinks, spells, manner, and mayhem is irresistible. For the more serious-minded, Huntress takes inspiration from Chinese mythology, and follows the quest of Kaede and Taisin, who must try to end the endless winter their country is suffering with a visit to the fairy court and the undertaking of a quest.
For Those Who Follow Current Events: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely or All the Rage by Courtney Summers
Neither of these books is for the faint of heart, but both tackle some of the big issues we’ve seen in the news and discussed with our friends over the last few years, and both of them are powerful, maybe life-changing reads. In All American Boys, Rashad is brutally beaten by a police officer while trying to buy a bag of chips at a convenience store, and must struggle to recover in body and mind. In the meantime Quinn, who witnessed the beating and thinks of the police officer as family, must determine where his loyalties lie and what his conscience tells him. In All the Rage, Romy is bullied and ostracized after accusing a town golden boy of rape. While she is desperately trying to recover from her trauma and keep her life going, another girl in town goes missing, and Romy must decide whether to come forward all over again.
For the Dancer in Your Life: Pointe by Brandy Colbert, Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz, or Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
Pointe shoes, rivalries, eating disorders, auditions – these elements and more appear in all three of these ballet books. In Pointe, Theo is on track for a promising ballet career after high school, when her best friend returns after being abducted three years ago, and Theo must once again face their shared past. Etta in Not Otherwise Specified has quit ballet, is recovering from her eating disorder, and struggling to find her place in the world. When on top of it all she is rejected by her lesbian friends for not being lesbian enough, she starts to think she might not fit in anywhere. In Tiny Pretty Things, three elite high school ballerinas struggle and scheme for top roles and a chance to make it at the world-famous American Ballet Theatre. Revenge, drama, ambition, and romance abound.
For the Non-Fiction Fan: Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw, Rethinking Normal by Katie Rain Hill, or Taking Flight by Michaela DePrince and Elaine DePrince
All three of these memoirs feature someone overcoming the odds to fulfill their dreams, but that’s a pretty reductive way to describe these great reads. Laughing at My Nightmare truly is a laugh, and Shane Burcaw describes his life with muscular atrophy with wit, grace, and a fair amount of bathroom humor that many will enjoy. In Rethinking Normal, Katie Rain Hill tells readers, in her real teen voice, of her childhood struggling to fit in and feel at home in her skin, and her eventual realization that she was transgender and transition to show her true gender. Taking Flight chronicles the life of ballerina Michaela DePrince, who was orphaned in the war ravaged Sierra Leone at a young age, but adopted at four by an American couple and given the chance to develop her immense talent and passion for dance.
No matter who you have in your life to buy for, you can probably find a great gift for any reader in these suggestions. If none of them seem quite right for your bookish friends and family, don’t hesitate to visit the library for more suggestions!