unRequired Reading

Our unRequired Reading Blog features the latest picks for teens selected by library staff and volunteers.
Mon, 07/02/2018 - 8:08am
Cover to Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

Friends With Boys is a teenage slice-of-life story. Maggie is dealing with the first day of school. Not just the first day of the year, nor is it simply her first day of high school. This is Maggie's first day of school...ever. 

Once homeschooled, the freshman girl's mother (and teacher) has left home. Luckily, Maggie has three already initiated older brothers to show her the ropes around Sandford High. But Maggie's going to have to get used to the crowds, the schedule, and the fact that her siblings can't always be looking out for her.

Mon, 06/25/2018 - 8:34am
Cover to Finnikin of the Rock

Finnikin of the Rock, by Melina Marchetta, is a book for readers who don’t mind losing themselves. The land of Skuldenore is not always a pleasant place to be lost—in fact, it is often heartbreakingly dark. But I didn’t mind being lost within it, as long as I was with Finnikin.

Skuldenore is comprised of several countries, such as Osteria, Charyn, and Yutlind. Each country has its own interesting characterization, and there is much that goes into the world-building in this book, which makes it so successful. The country we care most about is Lumatere, Finnikin’s homeland.

Ten years ago, a power-greedy cousin infiltrated Lumatere’s royal castle, slaughtering the king, queen, and princesses. This violence set off another chain of violent events, which ended with the entire country being cursed and sealed off from the rest of the world. Those events are called “the five days of the unspeakable.” The people who escaped during that time roam the other countries, exiled, ignored, and mostly despised. They die from fever, starvation, and at the hands of other countries’ kings. It is not a good time to be Lumateren.

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 9:02am
If you like Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form, and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse the book matches here.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

Fahrenheit 451 is an upcoming 2018 dystopian television film written and directed by Ramin Bahrani, based on the book of the same name, set to premiere on HBO, Saturday, May 19. It will star Michael B. Jordan as Guy Montag, Michael Shannon as Captain Beatty, and Sofia Boutella as Clarisse. See the first trailer for the TV movie below.

Looking for other titles similar to Fahrenheit 451? Check out these recommended novels. See also the book matches for Brave New World and The Handmaid's Tale, both similar dystopian novels.

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 9:02am
Cover to Show Off

I don't care if you are a kid, teen or adult - it feels great to be able to do some impressive tricks for your family and friends at the next backyard barbecue, like blowing a bubble within a bubble or slicing an unpeeled banana. If you want to move beyond mere parlor tricks, you can learn how to identify clouds, ride a boogie board or fold fortune cookies thanks to the super-easy directions in Show Off: How to Do Absolutely Everything One Step at a Time, by Sarah Hines Stephens and Bethany Mann.

What makes "Show Off" a fantastic book are the step-by-step picture directions. Since I am a graphic learner, this makes it so much easier for me than trying to decipher a page of text describing how to fold a ninja star. The ingredient lists tend to be very slight, which is a bonus for parents. If you want to learn more about an activity, several of them have longer descriptions in the back under "tell me more." The 224 activities are grouped under the categories of "amaze," "investigate," "create," "explore," "cook," and "move." Most of these are easy to do by yourself if you're at least 10 years old, while others will require adult help.

Wed, 05/09/2018 - 9:57am
Cover to Grendel by John Gardner

Lurking in the shadows of the Dark Ages is the howling form of Grendel. He is the monster of midnight, the bone-gnasher, the ardent hunter of warriors who strews their bones and howls his fury to the world as he wreaks havoc on the safety of civilization. No hall fire burning brightly, no line of armed men can keep him back when he desires destruction. 

But, as John Gardner tells of Grendel, this was not always so. For the bane of the Hrothgar’s hall has a soul much tormented by his desire for good and fellowship with the humans even as his demonic appearance frightens them into violent action. To them, he is a thing, and so he becomes what they believe him to be—an adversary whose fame has spanned the centuries.

Wed, 05/09/2018 - 1:28pm

Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Claudia Emerson Teen Poetry Contest! Many thanks to our contest judges: University of Mary Washington faculty members Amanda Rutstein, adjunct English instructor, and Laura Bylenok, assistant professor of English.

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