My “to-read” list has gotten rather long over the years and has now expanded into a list that will take me more than a lifetime to read. One of the hazards of working at a library is coming across books, old (new to me) and new and receiving recommendations from patrons who come visit the library. I’m not at all complaining, because without the library I might not have discovered these books otherwise. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m never going to read every book on my list. With such a long list, the biggest problem I have is deciding how to then choose the books I really want to read. My second biggest problem is that my reading is all over the place. I can jump from literary fiction to a young adult book and on to non-fiction books about history or science and maybe a graphic novel thrown in for good measure. When I really have no idea what to read, I usually end up selecting a book from an award list.
The Alex Awards are one of my go-to award lists. The awards, which began in 1998, are given each year to 10 adult books that appeal to young adults ages 12-18. When I initially began looking through the list of winning books year by year, I realized I’d coincidently read a number of Alex Award winners and many of the others were already on my to-read list. I also discovered a few more titles to add to my “to-read” list. If you are looking for reading ideas, don’t forget to check out the different book award lists and explore the books you might have passed up before. Teens, if you are ready to add something new to your reading rotation and step into Adult Fiction, why not try out some Alex Award winners. Interested? Check out the 2013 Alex Award winners!
Here is a sampling of the Alex Award winning books that I’ve enjoyed through the years:
2002 Nickel and Dimed: on (not) getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
To find out if individuals can survive on the “wages available to the unskilled,” journalist Ehrenreich spent 12 months working at a variety of minimum-wage jobs. Her experiences offer a gritty glimpse into the world of day-to-day work, a stark picture of living from hand to mouth, and a personal perspective on the politics of welfare.
2004 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Christopher, an autistic math wiz, takes his life too literally and can’t relate to others. Inspired by Sherlock Holmes, he investigates the death of his neighbor’s dog and unravels secrets closer to home.
2005 Candyfreak: a journey through the chocolate underbelly of America by Steve Almond
Almond’s obsession with candy blends family memoir, reporting, and travelogue in a hilarious, unflinching examination of the world of sweets.
2006 Jesus Land: a memoir by Julia Scheeres
Scheere’s unflinching memoir chronicles life in rural Indiana with her disciplinarian father, fundamentalist mother, and adopted African American brothers. Each child finds a way to survive, with very different endings.
2011 The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: a novel by Aimee Bender
Being able to taste people’s emotions in food may at first be horrifying. But young, unassuming Rose Edelstein grows up learning to harness her gift as she becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.
2012 The New Kids: big dreams and brave journeys at a high school for immigrant teens by Brooke Hauser
Chronicles a year in the life of a diverse group of seniors, all recent immigrants for whom English is a second language, at the renowned International High School in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.
2012 Salvage The Bones: a novel by Jesmyn Ward
Enduring a hardscrabble existence as the children of alcoholic and absent parents, four siblings from a coastal Mississippi town prepare their meager stores for the arrival of Hurricane Katrina while struggling with such challenges as a teen pregnancy and a dying litter of prize pups.
2013 Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
After a layoff during the Great Recession sidelines his tech career, Clay Jannon takes a job at the titular bookstore in San Francisco, and soon realizes that the establishment is a facade for a strange secret.