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Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

Spring Break Booktalks

Yesterday I had the opportunity to booktalk to our three 11th grade English classes. Although the last Friday before Spring Break may not be the ideal time to cover a class, I was thrilled to have the chance.

The last time I booktalked to these same classes was right before Thanksgiving vacation, and you can read about that experience here. I tried to highlight completely different titles this time, all recent adult fiction and nonfiction with teen appeal.

I also presented fewer books per section than I did in November, saving more time for students to talk about what they had been reading and recommend books to each other.  And of course, I left time at the end of each period for browsing and checking out books.

My library has limited shelf space so we usually only carry one copy of each book. I make exceptions for very popular titles, such as Room (4), The Help (3) , Hunger Games (3), The Tiger’s Wife (2), and Little Princes (4). I mention this because there were several titles that students asked for during the browsing time that were already checked out, and I was not always able to persuade them to try something else. This is one of the reasons that I am looking forward to having a downloadable ebook collection in my library (hopefully by fall) — at which point this should become a non-issue.

I have starred the books that were checked out. (Quick reminder–this is an all-girls school.)

My booktalks:

Section 1
Room by Emma Donoghue * (3)
House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni *
Horns by Joe Hill *
Breaking Night by Liz Murray *
The Book of Tomorrow by Cecilia Ahern *
Half Broke Horses (& The Glass Castle * recap) by Jeannette Walls

Section 2
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell *
The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht * (2)
How I Killed Pluto and Why it had it coming by Mike Brown *
Crave Radiance by Elizabeth Alexander
The Bells by Richard Harvell *

Section 3
Little Princes by Conor Grennan *
Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
When We Were Strangers by Pamela Schoenewaldt
The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton *
Juliet by Anne Fortier

Books recommended by students:
The Help (Kathryn Stockett)
Water for Elephants (Sara Gruen)
Anything by David Sedaris, especially Me Talk Pretty One Day
Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro)
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (long conversation ensued – must purchase!)
Robert Parker & Dashiell Hammett mysteries
The Things They Carried (Tim O’Brien)
Agatha Christie, especially And Then There Were None
Unbroken (Laura Hillenbrand — checked out already)
Hunger Games trilogy
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks  (E. Lockhart)
Truman Capote, especially Breakfast at Tiffany’s and short stories
Cutting for Stone (Abraham Verghese)
The Invisible Man (H.G. Wells)
Nothing (Janne Teller)
Lullaby (Church Palahniuk)
Triangle: the fire that changed America (Dave Von Drehle)
127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Aron Ralston)
Dead Beat (and entire Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher)
A Separate Country (Robert Hicks)
A Special Place (maybe the Peter Straub? not certain)
anything and everything by Ellen Hopkins
Special Topics in Calamity Physics (Marisha Pessl)
Every Boy’s Got One (Meg Cabot)
Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov)
The Lie (Chad Kultgen)
Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series (Bryan Lee O’Malley)
Before I Fall (Lauren Oliver)

Other books checked out by students:
The Glass Castle (Jeannette Walls)
So Much Pretty (by Cara Hoffman — watch for an upcoming blog review!)
Nothing (Janne Teller)
Finny (Justin Kramon)
On Writing (Stephen King)
Freakonomics (Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner)
The Shock Doctrine  (Naomi Klein)
The Lover’s Dictionary (David Levithan)
The Invisible Gorilla (Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons
Water for Elephants (Sara Gruen)
Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1
Zeitoun (Dave Eggers)
Little Bee (Chris Cleave)
Sing you Home (Jodi Picoult)
The Emperor of All Maladies (Siddhartha Mukherjee)
The Things They Carried (Tim O’Brien)
City of Thieves (David Benioff)
The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)

Titles fought over, or recommended more than once:
Room (could have checked out several more)
The Help
Water for Elephants

Finally, I had planned to booktalk Among Others by Jo Walton, but both of our copies were checked out earlier in the week.  Next time!

Angela Carstensen About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.


  1. amy cheney says:

    So much fun to booktalk to those kind of girls who love to read! Satisfying!