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Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

Booklist Editors’ Choice, 2012

Booklist is the only other review source that publishes a best of the year list in our category. The Booklist Editors’ Choice: Adult Books for Young Adults, 2012 was released yesterday. Let’s compare to the AB4T Best Books of the Year, shall we?


Of the 12 fiction titles chosen by Booklist, we overlap on 4 —
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
The Book of Jonas by Stephen Dau
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Of the remaining Booklist fiction picks, the following were reviewed very positively here on AB4T:
Edge of Dark Water by Joe R. Lansdale
Pure by Julianna Baggott
That’s Not a Feeling by Dan Josefson
When Captain Flint was Still a Good Man by Nick Dybek

Pure made our Best of the Year So Far list back in June, but didn’t quite make the cut for our end-of-the-year list.

Four Booklist picks were not reviewed here, including these three that were not assigned for review:
Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman
A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson
So Far Away by Meg Mitchell Moore

The other Booklist pick not reviewed here, Little Star by John Lindqvist, was assigned and read by an AB4T reviewer. We reviewed and recommended Lindqvist’s last two books — Harbor last year, and Handling the Undead in 2010. In the case of Little Star, the reviewer determined that it was too dark to appeal to a teen audience citing the “level of brutality” and creepiness “especially regarding young girls.”  Obviously, horror is a genre where appeal varies depending on explicitness and the source of the horror. Handling the Undead is a thought-provoking zombie novel. And about Harbor our reviewer (Carla Riemer) wrote that “the mystery of the terrifying incidents is unraveled in a way that is more fantasy than horror. This would be a good book for teens who enjoy scary stories but don’t want to be kept up at night.”


Booklist includes 4 nonfiction titles among their Editors’ Choices. None of them overlap with the AB4T list.

We reviewed one — Muck City: Winning and Losing in Football’s Forgotten Town by Bryan Mealer

Another was assigned for review — This is How: Proven to Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More, for Young and Old Alike by Augusten Burroughs

Burroughs is a teen favorite, especially for Running with Scissors. However, in the case of This is How, our reviewer sent me the following summary back around publication date, “Pithy, insightful and resonating, quick to read, and I found a lot of food for thought. But I didn’t really think it had much teen appeal, so I tried it out on some of my teens. Not one of the three finished it and one said she just couldn’t make herself care enough to finish it. Two of the three liked the cover, but were expecting something completely different because of it, and the overall opinion was that it’s very much a “self-help for an adult” book.”

I was unaware of the third Booklist pick until now — Fortress Europe: Dispatches from a Gated Continent by Matthew Carr

And the fourth is Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made by Alan Eisenstock and others. I assigned this title only a couple weeks ago, so a review may yet show up here.

In summary, we should celebrate the variety of titles highlighted by these lists. There are so very many adult books released every year – the more the merrier! And of course I am looking forward to YALSA’s upcoming Alex Awards announcement (January 28th!), which is the other adult books best list related to teen readers.

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. I was planning on trying to get some input from Carla Riemer (Edge of Dark Water), John Sexton (When Captain Flint was Still a Good Man), and Karyn Silverman (Pure) as to why they didn’t recommend those books for our final list of best books, but with the impending hiatus in the blog, I’ll just offer my own thoughts on THAT’S NOT A FEELING, which I reviewed.

    I have to say I was pretty surprised to see it on Booklist’s list, because I was conflicted both about whether the book had teen appeal and whether it was even worth recommending, because I felt that it had some significant flaws. I ended up reviewing it and recommending it for teens, but more as an interesting and thought-provoking experiment than a fully successful work. Certainly, I thought that many of the books we put on our year end list (especially SONG OF ACHILLES, THE YELLOW BIRDS, and THE LAND OF DECORATION) were much superior. I’d be very interested to know if Booklist considered any of those titles and why they might not have included them.

  2. John Sexton says:

    When I chose titles for the AB4T best list, I self-imposed a limit of three titles from among the handful I’d reviewed. WHEN CAPTAIN FLINT WAS STILL A GOOD MAN was not among my top three, all of which I would believe would find a broader readership among teens than CAPTAIN FLINT. One of my very subjective criteria is how much of the novel’s plot and which of its characters remain with me in the weeks and months after reading. The books i consider best are those that imprint passages and language like tattoos on my memory. Each of my top three: WILD, BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK, and BOOK OF JONAS did that for me with passages that I will always remember. CAPTAIN FLINT, not so much; I had to go back to the book to recall the resolution. It was in re-visiting the book that it seemed more like a screenplay than a fully realized novel, by which i mean it lacked the degree of depth and fluidity that was so satisfying in the other titles. It was a good book, but of less appeal to teens, in my opinion, than the others i chose. Had I my own top ten list, CAPTAIN FLINT would be included.