Bestselling Teen & Young Adult Friendship Fiction eBooks in 2020
Girl in the Blue Coat
The Sky: A Complete Post-Apocalyptic Series with Twists and Turns (The Sky Series, Books 1-4)
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Turtles All the Way Down
Taking The Reins (The Rosewoods Book 1)
Prom, Magic, And Other Man-Made Disasters
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children Book 1)
- Miss Peregrine s Home for Peculiar Children
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust, Volume 1)
The Running Dream (Schneider Family Book Award - Teen Book Winner)
Catalyst (The Deception Game Book 1)
One of Us Is Lying
Great Books for Your 2020 Summer Reading List
It's time for my Fourth Annual Summer Reading List, one that anyone can stick to. As before, I have included fourteen books, one for each week between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
With a few exceptions the list leaves off current best sellers for the simple reason that these are not yet out in paperback. This is important because while most, if not all, are available at your local library, many cities are drastically cutting library staff and hours, making obtaining these books more difficult. And as always there are several repeats from previous years; they were just too good to remove.
1. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. If I continue this list for the next 50 years, this book will still be first out of the gate. It has moved into a tie with The Razor's Edge as my all time favorite. It touches on such diverse topics as forbidden love, the Spanish Civil War, and the innate need we have for books. It layers all of these things on the mystery of why a disfigured man is burning all of the copies of books by Julian Carax, an obscure author whose novel, The Shadow of the Wind, was discovered by main character Daniel Sempere when he was 10. But be sure you have a lot of free time when you start this one; I stayed up all night reading the last 250 pages.
2. The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee. The San Francisco author who started as a clerk at a San Jose bookstore during his freshman year of college and continued in either book selling or as a publisher's sales rep for the next thirty years gives us a glimpse into the world of the bookseller that few knew existed. The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop takes the reader on a fascinating journey from the first papyrus scrolls and the great Library of Alexandria through the e-book and mega-chains like Borders and Barnes and Noble. Mixed throughout this 3000-year odyssey are Buzbee's own journey, his love of books, and some laugh-out-loud moments. By the time you finish the book, you will definitely want to sneak a peek into the back room of your local bookstore, hoping to see some of the things he has seen.
3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. This runaway bestseller is available in paperback just in time to make this list. The story takes place immediately following World War II in both London and the English Channel island of Guernsey, which was occupied by the Nazis from 1940 through the end of the war; it centers around Juliet Ashton, an author and columnist in her early thirties, and her correspondence with her publisher, friends and the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a group of islanders who used a love of books as way to survive the hardships of the German occupation. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is captivating because of its story of perseverance in wartime and the discovery of love in unexpected places; the hardships the islanders endure actually help keep the story from being mere lighthearted fluff. But at its heart, this is a book about books and the role they play in our lives.
4. The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway. This novelpacks a lot of emotion into its slim 256 pages as we follow the sometimes-intertwined stories of four characters trapped during the devastating Siege of Sarajevo in the mid-1990s. Much has been written and reported about the large-scale atrocities committed during the war in the former Yugoslavia; this novel brings the vast human tragedy down to a much more accessible scale. And reading it close to July 4th gives a whole new perspective on the importance and fragility of democracy.
5. The Ghost and the Haunted Mansion by Alice Kimberly. This is the fifth book in the Haunted Bookshop series, one that has both an interesting premise and a different twist on the mystery genre. Penelope Thornton-McClure owns a mystery bookshop in Rhode Island; she's the "cozy" side of the story. The shop is also inhabited by the ghost of Jack Shepard, a private investigator murdered in the store 50 years earlier; he's the "hard-boiled" side of the story. I've never seen the two mixed before, and never to such satisfying effect. And the four earlier titles in the series are easily as entertaining (reading them out of order is no problem).
6. Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill. Unless you've been living in a cave for the past few years or so, you already know that Joe Hill's real name is Joe Hill King, son of Stephen King, and if his first novel is any indication, he should have a run of success that will eventually rival his dad's. Heart Shaped Box is a great read, and much more than your typical horror novel. The characters are well written and three-dimensional, the pace picks up with each page, and in the correct places it is really, really scary.
7. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. Brooks is best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel March, but her follow-up effort, The People of the Book, may be even better. The novel is, interestingly enough, the fictional story of a real-life book, the Sarajevo Haggadah. The Sarajevo Haggadah is one of the first Jewish religious books to contain images, written and illuminated at a time when only Christian texts were illuminated because both Jews and Muslims considered it idolatrous. The book's journey from Spain in 1492 to 1996 Sarajevo is unveiled through a series of vignettes explaining its history over the past 500 years: from Spain at the time of the Inquisition to Renaissance Venice to Sarajevo in both World War II and the ethnic wars of the 1990s.
8. The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham. Maugham's finest novel, one of the best ever written, and one I'll soon be re-reading for the 24th time. It's become an annual ritual for me, and each time I get something new out of it. Larry Darrell's search for meaning after WWI is just as timely and relevant to our world today as it was when Maugham wrote it over 60 years ago.
9. The Wishbones by Tom Perrotta. Perrotta's first novel, and much more fun to read than his more acclaimed Little Children. The main character, Dave Raymond, is a courier by day and a guitarist in a really good New Jersey wedding band on weekends, and we ride along with Dave as he confronts the idea of "growing up." It will make you wish you hadn't given up on those guitar lessons in 8th grade.
10. On the Road by Jack Kerouac. It was required reading in college, but most of us ignored that and simply carried it around to impress girls. Here's your chance to finally get to know Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, two icons of American literature. On the Road is one heck of a trip. This is also one of the few times I would suggest listening to the book on disc rather than actually reading it. Matt Dillon reads the audio version, and does a magnificent job.
11. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe. This was one of the surprise best-sellers of the past few years, made all the more so because of the strange title. The story actually has dual protagonists: Connie Goodwin, a Harvard graduate student in 1991, and Deliverance Dane, a woman in late 1600s Salem, Massachusetts. And while Connie's storyline takes up the majority of the novel, the sections featuring Deliverance Dane (and later her daughter and granddaughter) are by far the most compelling. It is in these vignettes that the reader learns a great deal about life in Salem at the time of the Witch Trials, and the lives of women in that society.
12. Flabbergasted by Ray Blackston. The first installment of a comic trilogy set in South Carolina, this may be the perfect beach novel. The characters are vividly drawn, and definitely grow on you as narrator Jay Jarvis and his friends navigate the Southern singles scene by, of all things, visiting various church singles classes. Not a bad idea for those tired of the online dating sites. It's good enough to warrant going immediately on to the sequel...
13. A Delirious Summer by Ray Blackston. The premise is similar to Flabbergasted, but with a twist. The narrator this time is Neil Rucker, a missionary on furlough for the summer looking for a wife in the wilds of Greenville, South Carolina. In the end, Carolina beaches may be even more dangerous than the Amazon jungle.
14. The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Zafon's semi-prequel to The Shadow of the Wind.The Angel's Game is the story of David MartÃn, a young Barcelona author with a troubled past who writes crime novels under a pseudonym. As he struggles with his love for a woman he cannot have, he also realizes that his talent has been sold to the highest (in fact only) bidder, and despair overtakes him. Then he receives a surprising and lucrative offer from a mysterious French publisher to write a book that will change people's lives forever. He accepts the offer, only to learn that his new situation is far more deadly than the first. This novel is the perfect way to end a summer of great reading.