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Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

Thanksgiving Booktalks

First, I would like to alert you all to an SLJ Best Books Twitter Party this afternoon, 4-5pm EST. The hashtag is #SLJBB11. I’ll be there — looking forward to sharing a few sneak peeks at our best of the year list!

Now, on to the business of the day. I am excited to share the results of my latest round of booktalks. For the last couple years, I have had the opportunity to booktalk to the 11th grade students during their English classes right before both Thanksgiving break and Spring break. I enjoy using it as a chance to test the appeal of adult books for teens, especially since the point of this exercise is to make sure our students have great books to talk about during college interviews.

I booktalk first, then turn it over to the students, who recommend books to each other. There is always plenty of time at the end of each period for students to browse and check out books. I place books on display all around the room, so they have plenty of choices at their fingertips.

The books that were checked out are starred. (And a quick reminder–this is an all-girls school.)

My booktalks:

Section 1
When She Woke by Hillary Jordan*
Zeitoun  by Dave Eggers
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern *
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer *
Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington  *
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson  *

Section 2
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh*
Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern *
The Tiger’s Wife  by Tea Obreht*
Little Bee by Chris Cleave *
The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston *
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

Section 3
Little Princes by Conor Grennan
Room by Emma Donoghue *
How I killed Pluto and Why it had it Coming by Mike Brown  *
Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh *
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer *

Student recommendations:
Divergent by Veronica Roth *
If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Help by Kathryn Stockett (twice) *
The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality by Richard Heinberg
Crank and Glass by Ellen Hopkins
The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan  *
Rafa by Rafael Nadal and John Carlin
Bossypants by Tina Fey  (twice)
Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Crashing Through by Robert Kurson
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
The Lazarus Project by Aleksander Hemon
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor  *
Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl *
The Tipping Point & Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Other books checked out:
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey through his Son’s Addiction by David Sheff
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
New Boy by Julian Houston
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King
Childhood Under Siege: How Big Business Targets Children by Joel Bakan
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks
One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies by Sonya Sones
The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
Among Others by Jo Walton

One thing I learned — I need to get a copy of Bossypants asap!

I hope this was interesting. For more, see the sessions from Thanksgiving 2010 and Spring break 2011.

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. Priscille Dando says:

    I love seeing your booktalk lists, and I always find it interesting that even though our school populations may be very different, many of the books your students like are also popular with my students. It’s that universality of a great story at work.