Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Meandering Monday (13)- Books Teen Boys Should Read

OK, so there's this whole hubbub going on about boys not reading and how it's because women are dominating YA (and blogging) and not making (or recommending) any books for boys or something like that.

Essentially, a lot of BS.

Yes, I'll grant you that boys do seem to read less, but it's not because of women writing stories for teen girls to read, or female bloggers supposedly not showing any attention to male POV books. It's because for some reason, reading is deemed as a girly attribute and expanding your mind and imagination is somehow uncool. It's society's fault rather than the publisher's or author's.

Honestly, I just want to shake all the teen boys who think reading is uncool and tell them to get over themselves. Reading doesn't make you girly, it makes you interesting. Reading doesn't turn you gay, it makes you smarter. Reading doesn't make you inferior in some way, it makes you SO MUCH better and superior to those that pick on readers.

Now that we've got that shocker of a message out of the way, I've compiled a small list of books I think teen boys should read. It's hardly comprehensive as I'm doing this sort of spur-of-the-moment, so there may be tons of books that I would recommend but can't think of right now. Feel free to throw in suggestions in the comments. Maybe I'll do a second list next week if I think of a bunch; I've already thought about doing a more extensive GLBT list (though not extensive as I haven't read everything) if people want one.

OK, so for those looking for some sports-related books, check out Joshua Cohen's Leverage, which is extremely intense and a superb book about just how far some people go to win. Some action-y books include Subject Seven by James A. Moore and Spray by Harry Edge, though both do have female narrators interspersed throughout the books. For a creepy urban fantasy, take a look at The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff, a book I really enjoyed and Mackie's (the MC) characterization was just so pitch-perfect.

Freefall by Mindi Scott (yes, a female author writing male- WHOA!) and Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft deal with the loss of a loved one close to the narrator and how they deal with it afterward. They're wonderful, more serious books if you're looking for that. It's the same sort of thing with Ellen Hopkins' books- some of them contain male narrators and I think boys will appreciate her raw, realistic, pull-no-punches story-telling. I'd recommend her books Impulse and Tricks. Be aware that they are books told in verse, so while they may look huge, the inside pages are probably less intimadating because there's usually lots of white space.

If you're a GLBT teen, look to the big three- Geography Club by Brent Hartinger, Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan, and Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez. Both Brent's and Alex's books have two sequels. Like I said earlier, if my readers want more GLBT titles, let me know and I'll put together a post that's more extensive.

Humor is a big draw, at least for me, and these books have plenty of them. Red Moon Rising by Peter Moore is about a vampire boy who may end up being more than he seems. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride is about a necromancer and it is a laugh-out-loud read. I think there's also a sequel being written, which is awesome.

If you're into music, Struts and Frets by Jon Skovron (and Freefall, for that matter) is a fantastic read. It's one of my favorite books.

Finally, for those a bit more adventurous and don't mind reading some books from a female perspective, I present the following books and series-

Forest trilogy by Carrie Ryan
Silver Phoenix and Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Tiffany Aching quartet by Terry Pratchett

Carrie's trilogy is set in a future where zombies have sprung up but there are still some small communities with barriers that keep them out. Each book is from a female perspective but aside from some small romances, you'd barely be able to tell. These books have some awesome action and thrilling moments throughout, all with zombies.

Cindy's two-book set is high fantasy set in Asia a long time ago and it's full of magic, monsters, and some great action scenes. The second book also has the plus of a male narrator for half of it (the origins of a character seen in Silver Phoenix). There is romance involved but I think the action and suspense will captivate male readers, though honestly, what's so bad about romance and love? It happens to boys too; they aren't immune to it.

Across the Universe has the awesome extra of having a dual cover with the spaceship design on the inside of the book jacket. Half of the book is told from a male perspective and there is a romance too, but the mysteries, intrigue, explosions, and people dying far outweigh that.

Terry Pratchett is one of my favorite authors ever and he has a YA series featuring a female protagonist. These are smart and funny adventure books with some magic thrown in and they're just really good reads. There's four books- The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, and I Shall Wear Midnight. I'd also recommend his adult books too.

Phew... this is much longer than I thought and I've barely scratched the surface. I may do a series of these and try to do more research during the week in anticipation of these posts. Hope you all enjoyed!


  1. an honor to be recommended. thanks so much james!

    i've enjoyed immensely and would recommend to boy readers:

    The Demon's Lexicon series by sarah rees brennan

    Flash Burnout by l. k. madigan

    Hold me Closer, Necromancer by lish mcbride

    Black Hole Sun by David Mcinnis Gill

    Break by hannah moskowitz

    The Demon King and The Exiled Queen by cinda williams chima

    The Devil's Kiss and Dark Goddess by sarwat chadda

    Paper Towns by john green

    The Queen's Thief series by megan whalen turner

    Candor by pam bachorz

    Unwind by neal shusterman

    The Knife of Never Letting go by patrick ness

  2. We on YouTube had a discussion about this topic I think like early last month. And we all got to give our own opinions on this topic, as well as recommend books that boys would read.

    I particularly love the Gone series by Michael Grant. That's just one fo the many I have to recommend.

  3. Right on! I may not be a teen boy, but I definitely agree with some of these choices.
    Another (upcoming) male-POV book is Compulsion by Heidi Ayarbe--and it's fantastic.

    Thanks for the list! :)

  4. I'm not a boy but I love boy books. Leverage was awesome. You should def put together a big list of GLBT books too. I'm always up for more suggestions.

  5. I strongly recommend Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson. All her books are awesome, but this one has a male MC.

    Some of the books in Cynthia Voigt's Tillerman Saga are male POV- A Solitary Blue, The Runner and Sons from a Far, although I believe that all 7 are easily enjoyable by both girls and boys.

    The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer is amazing, another one that I strongly recommend.

    Definitely Markus Zusak! I've read The Book Thief and I am the Messenger, and strongly recommend both to girls and boys. Amazing.

    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is another fabulous one.

    I also think that If I Stay and the sequel, Where She Went can be enjoyed by both, although male readers will possibly connect more with book 2, because it's told by Adam. But, whatever. I LOVE them!

    Melina Marchetta is also a phenomenal writer with appeal to both genders. The Piper's Son is from a Male POV but the others of hers that I've read definitely work for guys and girls.

    The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks is another awesome book. It's a female narrator, but she does to what used to be an all boys school & she infiltrates the old fashioned all-boys club. It's awesome!

    Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher is another must read, narrated by a boy listening to a post-suicide narration of a female friend and crush.

    I could probably go on, but am going to stop here for now... I'll have to keep thinking about this though! The books are out there! Now we need to make sure the boys are aware of them!

  6. Thanks for this post!

    I am a mom to a teenage boy, so this list sure will help me in finding material for him. He's outgrown the ole standby -> "Goosebumps". LOL!!!

    Thanks again, and thanks to everyone leaving books in their comments!!!

  7. Awesome post. I have a girl, but I teach mostly boys at an alternative school. My range is a little limited being a new reader of YA. I have a lot of catching up to do. Thanks for the suggestions. These are probably obvious, but our boys like the Hunger Games series, The Mortal Instrament Series and all Rick Riordan's series. Even though they are high school boys a lot of them hadn't read these younger audience books.

  8. Great list! I loved Don Calame's Swim the Fly and Beat the Band. Both are very boy books.

  9. "Honestly, I just want to shake all the teen boys who think reading is uncool and tell them to get over themselves. Reading doesn't make you girly, it makes you interesting. Reading doesn't turn you gay, it makes you smarter. Reading doesn't make you inferior in some way, it makes you SO MUCH better and superior to those that pick on readers."

    THIS. YES. <3

  10. Fantastic list for teen boys.
    The real question that needs to be answered is are the books stimulating enough to encourage boys to read and well can they relate to them.
    I found in Australia there were insufficient adventure books for the post modern teenage boy that not only challenged them to read more but also inspired them to further themselves in creative adventure.
    To fill the void I wrote a trilogy with an unlikely teenager who became the hero he never wanted to be but what a nation needed. The novels, Only The Brave Dare, Canyon and A Ritre Of Passage see Scott Morrow have to battle with Russian drug Mafia; a liefe and death situation during a canyoning incident and warring motorcycle gangs. From all this a hero emerged.
    The books are based on real life where today's teenager would feel right at home participating in the events the books are based on. They also fire up boys drives to do more outdoors and learn new skills to have a lot more fun.
    I took the teenage book challenge to a new height when I wrote Finding Thomas, which is about a near death experience. Here a teenage boy 'dies' on the operating table but is revived. He can now see and talk with spirits and teams up with the dead son of his father's boss to stop both men being murdered by a rogue cop.
    Finding Thomas pushes the boundaries in relation to life after death and again, what would the teenage reader do in the circumstances presented.
    Please keep up the good work with your lists of top books for teenagers to read as parents need a good guide for their children too.


  11. So sad that all but two comments were from women. Trying like crazy to get my 14 yo son to read, but ya material tends to be either gory/scary or girly.

    1. It shouldn't matter what gender the comments are from, if the book they're recommending are great for teen boys. None of the books I recommended (or that people recommended in comments) were gory/scary (well, maybe The Replacement) or girly. Hope you can find something for your boy in this list.