Best of 2017: Books for Young Adults

We continue our list of the Best of 2017 as recommended by library staff today with a bunch of great titles from the world of Young Adult Fiction, Non-Fiction and Graphic Novels. Enjoy and make sure to check out the Library Newsletter for all of our recommendations.

Young Adult Fiction

Frogkisser! by Garth Nix

Princess Anya is an orphan and second in line to the throne. Her stepstepfather is an evil wizard, the frog population in the moat is growing, and visiting princes keep vanishing. The royal dogs send Anya on a quest for a potion to reverse her stepstepfather’s spells.

A bitingly funny fractured fairy tale that doesn’t take itself too seriously and even pokes gentle fun at the genre.  –Emily

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

After learning that her deep voice is keeping her from being cast in plays at her exclusive performing arts school, Jordan Sun, junior, disguises herself as a boy and auditions for an all-male octet hoping for a chance to perform internationally.

What I thought would be a quick romp or just a comedy of errors was surprisingly insightful and at times a total gut-punch. As they discovered and explored new truths about themselves, these characters kept me up all night reading.  –Carol

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel meet at a Stanford University summer program, Dimple is avoiding her parents’ obsession with “marriage prospects,” but Rishi hopes to woo her into accepting arranged marriage with him.

The best romantic comedy of the summer, and also a book I want to read over and over again. Adorable, quirky, and full of heart: this book will have you cheering out loud, and maybe swooning. Fantastic debut from a talented new Indian-American voice.  –Carol

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

A historical action/adventure/comedy/romance. When a reckless decision turns his Grand Tour of Europe into a harrowing manhunt, it calls into question everything Monty knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Spoiler: Monty is completely horrible for the first couple hundred pages (the vice). Get through it and be rewarded with his redemption story (the virtue)! Monty’s struggle with being bisexual in a time that doesn’t allow for it made me cry and cheer.  –Carol

The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins

Ariel’s mother abandoned her when she was still a toddler, and she’s been on the move with her hard-drinking, hard-loving father for as long as she can remember. When they finally settle in California, she begins to discover home, love, and, eventually, answers.

Plenty of drama and dysfunction, along with strong characters, keep readers engrossed. A parallel story of a woman and her troubled marriage sometimes seemed out of place until the stories intertwine.  –Elizabeth

The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares

A summer house is carefully shared by a bitterly divided family, assuring the two groups never meet. Although they’ve never met, Ray and Sasha, both children of second marriages, share a room, and for many years have wondered about each other.

You know they are going to meet up, you can’t wait for it to happen, but how and when, and what will they think of each other? The anticipation coupled with a compelling story of family love, hate, and the possibility of healing make for a great read.  –Elizabeth

The Art of Starving by Sam Miller

Sixteen- year-old Matt is gay and friendless in a small, backward town. To add to that misery, his beloved sister has just left mysteriously, his mom may lose her job, and he has a serious eating disorder. He believes starving enhances his perceptions.

While things are looking pretty bad for Matt, he finds love in the most unexpected place. Despite major struggles, I felt strangely hopeful for his outcome.  –Elizabeth

Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Before Adri launches on a one-way trip to the experimental Mars colony, she’s told to say her goodbyes and find closure. As an orphan who never knew her family, she assumes this won’t be necessary. She is wrong.

This story combines two of my favorite genres in one book: sci-fi and historical fiction. Adri meets a long-lost cousin and discovers letters and diaries from pioneering young women in the early 1900s.  –Emily

Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Six teenagers from a small town in Ireland are having a typical summer. Drunken parties. Hooking up. Breaking up. The discovery of a spell book and mysterious pages from a stranger’s journal turns everything upside down.

Untwisting this story is like unraveling a tangled mass of yarn. The middle must be unknotted to figure out the end and the beginning.  –Emily

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

On a desolate ranch, there lives a saint. It’s a strange place, where pilgrims receive the miracle they deserve, not necessarily the miracle they want. The teens growing up on the ranch start a pirate radio station, hoping for a miracle of their own.

Set in the early 1960s, the author weaves together strands of folklore, fable, legend, and historical fiction. The language and imagery is reminiscent of authors such as Clive Barker, Tom Robbins, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.  –Emily

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

When the creator of a high school gossip app mysteriously dies in front of four high-profile students, all four become suspects. It’s up to them to solve the case.

Part Breakfast Club, part Agatha Christie, part Gossip Girl, this ridiculously entertaining whodunit will keep you guessing to the end. The audiobook is especially well-performed by an ensemble cast.  –Alan

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

It begins like a traditional “orphan sent to grand manor house, discovers mystery” story. But this one has five endings. Did one ending actually happen? Or did all of them?

The five scenarios touch on just about every genre: contemporary realism, romance, mystery, fantasy, and science fiction. But with a twist or two.  –Emily

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Starr Carter lives in two worlds: the underserved neighborhood she lives in and the affluent prep school she attends. These worlds clash when Starr is the sole witness to the death of an old friend, an unarmed young black man shot by the police.

Thomas has written a book that is both timely and compelling. Starr Carter’s narrative gives the reader an important view into the life of a young black woman navigating a treacherous world.  –Jesse

Young Adult Graphic Novels

One-Punch Man Vols 10, 11, 12 by ONE

The mis-adventures of the “hero for fun” keep getting better with each volume, and the overall story arc across volumes is finally starting build beyond Saitama questing for recognition as the world’s greatest hero.

I can’t stop giggling at the contrast of unassuming Saitama’s appearance and his overwhelming strength. The development of top-level nemeses in these later volumes rewards returning readers and makes now the best time to start this series!  –Zac

The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks

In this new expanded edition based off of a web series, this comic follows Superhero Girl, a young woman with extraordinary powers and extraordinarily annoying problems, from her all-too-perfect brother to incompetent nemeses AND BEYOND!

Superhero Girl’s adventures are clever, hilarious, and delightfully illustrated. This book does an incredible job of capturing both the wonderful silliness of many superhero stories and the crippling angst of teenage life.  –Jesse

Young Adult Non-Fiction

Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager

This book is a collection of 23 mini-biographies of LGBTQ people throughout history, including a Roman Emperor, a First Lady, artists, actors, and many more. Perfect for activist, allies, and anyone curious about hidden history.

Many of these stories are inspiring accounts of public figures who were out and helped shape their time, but I was even more delighted to learn more about the surprising private lives of well-known individuals  –Jesse

Undefeated : Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football team by Steve Sheinkin

Jim Thorpe and Pop Warner are two towering figures of the sports world. This book finds them before they were household names, when Thorpe, a young Native American, and Warner revolutionized football and humbled the sport’s powerhouse teams.

Sheinkin manages to weave an incredible underdog sports story together with an account of the unforgivably shameful ways Native Americans have been maltreated by the United States. — Jesse

Because I was a Girl: True Stories for Girls of All Ages edited by Melissa De La Cruz

This volume features nearly forty stories told by successful women between the ages of 10 and 87. By taking the reader on their journeys, these incredible figures reveal their thoughts as they overcame obstacles to achieve great things.

These accounts are fascinating, inspiring and include impactful figures with lesser known stories. I also love the presentation of this volume, with full page quotes, beautiful photos, and decade by decade summaries of important achievements by women.
— Jesse

A Dog in the Cave: The Wolves Who Made Us Human by Kay Frydenborg

Frydenborg dives deep into the thousand plus year relationship between canines and humans, exploring not just how humans have influenced the evolution of the dog, but also how dogs have slowly changed us.

As a dog lover, it was fascinating to gain insight into our shared history with canines. Frydenborg also does a masterful job connecting the distant past to our current dynamic with these animals, showing how our relationship evolved along with us. — Jesse

Best of 2016: Adult, Young Adult & Children’s Non-Fiction

We are all about non-fiction in our Best of 2016 staff picks list for today. All things true for adults, young adults and children. As always, you can access the full list of our 2016 picks at the Library Newsletter.

Adult Non-Fiction

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Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West

Shrill is an uproarious memoir, a feminist rallying cry in a world that thinks gender politics are tedious and that women, especially feminists, can’t be funny.

This book seriously changed my life. I gained confidence in my body, my voice, and my own thoughts and opinions. I can’t really put into words what this book means to me; I just want you to read it now. Lindy is a Seattle writer and is pretty much the best. -Carol’s pick

Hogs Wild by Ian Frazier

A decade’s worth of Frazier’s delightful essays–Frazier goes wherever his curiosity takes him. Whether the subject is wild hogs (they’re gaining ground!), or making a Styrofoam substitute from fungus, he makes the reader his willing companion.

I enjoyed (or was terrified by–Asian carp–oh no) all of these essays, but I loved learning about Dutch artist Theo Jansen and his strandbeests. -Eileen’s pick

Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavors by Diana Henry

Another wonderful cookbook by James Beard Award winning author Henry. You may need to go to the grocery store first, but these recipes are worth it. And yes, once you have what you need on hand, they are simple.

I love how Henry encourages home cooks to expand their flavor options. Her recipes are easy to follow, too. -Eileen’s pick

Evicted by Matthew Desmond

Desmond spent four months interviewing poor inner-city families of Milwaukee who were dealing with eviction from poorly maintained units owned by slumlords. Most were spending 70% or more of their income on rent, making their lives very difficult.

Evicted has three distinct sections. The majority tells the individual stories of these people. There is a section of national facts, figures, and many ideas for solutions. Wrapping up this excellent book is the author’s own experiences with his research. -Elizabeth’s pick

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Lust and Wonder by Augusten Burroughs

In another chapter of Burroughs life, (what happened after Dry), he delves into his love-life. After he settles for years in a bland but stable relationship, the lies he’s been telling himself surface, and he endeavors to see more clearly.

Each time I read a book by Burroughs I hesitate first, since it’s not my usual fare, but then I remember why I love his books. He still has it: honesty, humor, depth, and he really knows how to tell his story! -Elizabeth’s pick

The Perfect Horse: the Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis by Elizabeth Letts

This book traces the lesser-known efforts of Hitler to build a master race of the finest purebred horses, and the heroic achievements of American soldiers to rescue them.

I loved her other book entitled the Eighty Dollar Champion. -Leslie’s pick

Cooking For Jeffrey by Ina Garten

Ina’s most personal cookbook yet, Cooking for Jeffrey is filled with the recipes Jeffrey and their friends request most often, as well as charming stories from Ina and Jeffrey’s many years together.

Ina always includes gorgeous photos and foolproof recipes. I have already tried a few and they are winners. -Leslie’s pick

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

One young man’s journey from a poverty-stricken area of Ohio to the elite halls of Yale Law School.

Far from being a feel-good story of ‘bootstraps’ upward mobility, most of the discussion revolves around why his case is so rare for individuals growing up in Rust Belt and Appalachian towns. It’s a powerful look at the effects of generational poverty. -Lisa’s pick

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Simple Matters: Living With Less and Ending Up With More by Erin Boyle

The author explains that living in small apartments all her life has forced her to pare down and keep only the items that she really loves.

Of all the books I’ve been reading on organization lately, this has been one of my favorites. The simple and beautiful design of the book is a good representation of the author’s main message. -Liz’s pick

Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies by Ross King

King masterfully chronicles the story of the creation of the “Water Lilies,” even as Monet was challenged with aging, failing eyesight, the loss of his wife, and the advancing horrors of World War I.

A mesmerizing story of an artist’s creative vision and process as well as the challenges Monet overcame in his 30-year effort to paint his magnificent masterpiece at Giverny. -Pat’s pick

Of Arms and Artists: the American Revolution through Painters’ Eyes by Paul Staiti

Chronicles the American Revolution through the stories of the five great artists whose paintings animated the new American Republic: Charles Willson Peale, John Singleton Copley, John Trumbull, Benjamin West, and Gilbert Stuart.

The stories of these five artists and their vision of America during the Revolution is a fascinating study of the effect of history on art, and art’s lingering shaping of our view of history. -Pat’s pick

Fields of Battle: Pearl Harbor, the Rose Bowl, and the Boys Who Went to War by Brian Curtis

Curtis connects two seemingly unrelated events: the Pearl Harbor attack and, a few weeks later, the Rose Bowl, — played in Durham, North Carolina, because more air strikes were feared on the West Coast.

Fields of Battle is a detailed intersection of sport and war in World War II that is gripping, occasionally tragic, but always rewarding, as heroes on the field become heroes in war. -Pat’s pick

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Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach

Roach examines the odd intersection between science and the military with surreal and humorous results through interviews with the “experts” in the field.

You have to admire the author’s gung ho attitude and ability to keep a straight face when investigating things like caffeinated meat, army fashion, and maggot therapy. -Richard’s pick

While the City Slept by Eli Sanders

In 2009, Isaiah Kalebu broke into a home in the South Park neighborhood of Seattle, and brutally raped and attempted to kill two women.  Sanders tries to explain how Isaiah’s untreated mental illness lead him to Teresa and Jennifer’s house.

This is an unfortunate new classic in true crime literature, with an overpowering sense of love between two women, and a rational voice for change. -Sarah’s pick

Kill ‘Em and Leave by James McBride

James McBride sets off to explore the roots of the iconic soul legend, James Brown.

This is a lyrical account of the racial environments that produced a legend. -Sarah’s pick

Networks of New York: an Illustrated Field Guide to Urban Internet Infrastructure by Ingrid Burrington

Behind our Internet connection on our phones, tablets, laptops, televisions, and refrigerators is a vast system of hardware, cabling, and radio waves that join forces to make the whole thing work.

Despite the New York City setting, this book deals with the same infrastructure used across the US. The author breaks dense technicalities into digestible chunks, so you’ll never look at a radio tower or traffic camera the same way again. -Zac’s pick

Young Adult Non-Fiction

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Blood Brother: Jonathan Daniels and His Sacrifice for Civil Rights by Rich Wallace and Sandra Neil Wallace

The story of Jonathan Daniels, who travelled from New Hampshire to Alabama in 1965 to stand up against oppression, register black voters, and march with other heroes of the Civil Rights movement.

This is a taut, thrilling and terrifying account of Daniels experiences in the Deep South. This biography does an excellent job of depicting the courage of Daniels and his comrades and the horrible abuse that they fought against. -Jesse’s pick

The Duel: The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr  by Judith St. George

Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were two men who seemed drawn to each other, as if by gravity. This book explores their lives, from their early days fighting the British, to their infamous final meeting on the shores of the Hudson River.

It’s the year of Hamilton! St. George does an incredible job detailing the lives of these notorious frenemies, separating myth from truth, and showing the mirrored nature of their lives. – Jesse’s pick

Children’s Non-Fiction

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National Geographic Kids Awesome 8

Introduces the top eight examples of specific subjects, from wicked water slides and perilous predators to remarkable ruins and weirdest wonders.

This book is perfect for a curious mind with a short attention span. Each two-page spread is a list with eight awesome things in each category. There are 50 picture-packed lists that will capture the attention and interest of children and adults alike. -Andrea’s pick

Dear Pope Francis by Pope Francis

Questions written by children from across the world are presented to Pope Francis — and the Pope himself answers each letter.

This is a beautiful book that is not just for children or Catholics. In very simple words, Pope Francis answers some very difficult questions. Wonderful! -Leslie’s pick

The “What Was” Series by Various Authors

The “Who Was” biography series was so successful that now there’s an historical series of books about the San Francisco Earthquake and other events.

I like this series because kids love them!  They’re interesting reads and good for AR points. -Leslie’s pick