summer reading

Summer Reading: Magic and Enchantment

Summer Reading: Magic and Enchantment

If you’re craving a reading list full of magic and fantastic creatures, these books deliver.

Summer Reading: Adventure and Suspense

Summer Reading: Adventure and Suspense

Looking for something action-packed? Dive into these books that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Summer Reading: If You Liked The Wizard of Oz

Summer Reading: If You Liked The Wizard of Oz

If you loved reading The Wizard of Oz, these books have similarly magical storylines.

Summer Reading: Books About Young Entrepreneurs

Summer Reading: Books About Young Entrepreneurs

Get inspired with these tales of kid-created businesses.


Camila’s Lemonade Stand by Lizzie Duncan

When Camila can't afford a ride on the Ferris wheel, a friend suggests that she start a business to finance her fun.



The Toothpaste Millionaire by Jean Merrill

Sixth-grader Rufus Mayflower’s determination to save money on toothpaste makes him a millionaire in this breezy guide to capitalism from The Pushcart War author.



Billy Sure Kid Entrepreneur by Luke Sharpe

Kid entrepreneur extraordinaire Billy Sure organizes a contest to find the next great kid inventor.



Lunch Money by Andrew Clements

Rivals team up in a mini comic-publishing business that hits a bump when their principal outlaws comic books at school.



Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen

An inherited lawn mower sends an ordinary boy into a whole new tax bracket.




The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies

A people-smart boy and his math-smart sister compete to see who can build the most successful lemonade stand empire.



Kristy's Great Idea by Ann M. Martin

Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, and Stacey start their own business, complete with officers, advertising, and a dedicated phone line.



Henry Reed’s Baby-Sitting Service by Keith Robertson

Henry and Midge team up for a summer of baby-sitting for profit in this sequel to Henry Reed, Inc.



Not for a Billion Gazillion Dollars by Paula Danziger

Matthew’s got a million ideas to make big bucks on his summer vacation—but entrepreneurship may be harder than he thought.




This list is adapted from the summer 2016 issue of HSL.

Summer Reading: Lian Tanner’s The Keepers Trilogy

Welcome to Summer Reading 2017! This year we’re taking advantage of the long summer days to read our way through some of our favorite series for children and young people.

One of the wildly inaccurate misconceptions about homeschoolers that I’ve encountered out in the world is that we are, as a group, overprotective of our overly sheltered children. After all, why else would we refuse to send our kids to school if not to spare them the tough-but-necessary life lessons that can only be learned on the playground? Part of this comes, I think, from the tendency to send children off to preschool at earlier and earlier ages, as a good friend discovered when, after choosing to keep her 3-year-old home with her for another year, a family member told her, “You’ve got to untie those apron strings at some point.”

It’s also confusing to me as a modern parent how protective I’m supposed to be. As a kindergartener I walked a half mile or so on my own to school every morning, and as a tween (a word that was not yet invented when I was one), I rode my bicycle (not wearing a helmet, of course) along a busy four-lane highway to visit friends, and I don’t think I would have been comfortable with either of those scenarios with my children. On the other hand, when I was a teenager, whenever I went out I was expected to let my (responsible and engaged) parents know who I was with, where we were going, and when I’d be back. Now that my kids are all cellphone-enabled, I’m lucky if they tell me they’re leaving before they run out the door, knowing that I can text them if I’m wondering where they are, and they can call me if they need to be rescued. And while I’m pretty much okay with that, given that it’s never been a problem and my kids are good about responding, I still wonder if that makes me irresponsible and disengaged. My high school freshman daughter’s friends were shocked that I was fine with her heading to the coffee shop or public library (both within easy walking distance) after school let out without asking my explicit permission beforehand, just texting me at some point to let me know where she was. Apparently, despite all those years of homeschooling, I’m actually more on the loose and easy-going side of the spectrum.

Which leads us (albeit in a roundabout sort of way) to one of my favorite fantasy series for upper elementary readers and above. No matter whether you’re protective or permissive, the world created by Lian Tanner in his Keepers trilogy will give you a new perspective on how we choose to look after our children. In the city of Jewel, children are literally chained to the Blessed Guardians for their own protection until Separation Day, learning such lessons as “An Impatient Child is an Unsafe Child, and an Unsafe Child puts All Others At Risk!”  


Museum of Thieves

When Separation Day is canceled, Goldie escapes from the Guardians and takes shelter in the mysterious Museum of Dunt, where she must quickly learn to navigate its shifting rooms and discover its secrets in order to save herself and the people she cares about.

City of Lies

Goldie joins her best friend, Toadspit, on the trail of his little sister, kidnapped by child-stealers and taken to the city of Spoke during its Festival of Lies, when everything is turned back to front and upside down.


Path of Beasts

Back in Jewel, Goldie and Toadspit (with the help of a magical dog, a talking cat, and the bloodthirsty spirit of a warrior princess) join the battle to free their city from the tyranny of the Blessed Guardians.

Summer Reading: If You Liked Anne of Green Gables

Home in these books takes many forms, but it’s always the place where you just belong.

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

When 16-year-old Hattie inherits her uncle’s Minnesota homestead claim, she sets off to build a home for herself in pioneer country. (Middle grades)

When Mischief Came to Town by Katrina Nannestad

When orphaned Inge Marie comes to live with her grandmother in a little island village, she’s not sure what to expect—but what she finds is just what she needed. (Elementary)

Bright Island by Mabel Louise Robinson

Island-reared Thankful wants to be a sea captain like her grandfather, but her parents send her to boarding school on the mainland. (High School)

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

Sam runs away from his crowded New York City apartment to live—alone—in the Catskill Mountains. (Middle grades)

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm 

Sent to live with relatives in Key West during the Great Depression, 11-year-old Turtle finally starts to come out of her shell. (Middle grades)

The House at World's End by Monica Dickens

Four siblings create a home of their own in a rundown old inn when they’re sent to live with their wealthy-but-unpleasant relatives while their mother is recovering in the hospital. (Middle Grades)

Summer Reading: M.T. Anderson’s Pals in Peril series

Welcome to Summer Reading 2017! This year we’re taking advantage of the long summer days to read our way through some of our favorite series for children and young people.

For me it all started with The Secret in the Old Clock. My dad was good about bringing home presents for my brother and I whenever he traveled for work, and after one trip (perhaps wildly overestimating the current reading comprehension level of his 2nd grade daughter) he gave me the first book in the Nancy Drew series. I had it by my bedside for months, doggedly making my way through, reading (and rereading) the pages until I could figure out what was going on, but eventually I triumphed—and immediately began working through the rest of the series. Downstairs in our homeschool room there is an entire shelf crammed with those familiar yellow hardbacks, next to a healthy sampling of Hardy Boys, half a dozen Happy Hollisters, a smattering of Bobbsey Twins, almost the entire run of Trixie Belden, not nearly enough Cherry Ames, and a selection of Tom Swift from my dad’s childhood.

I liked the way Tom Swift looked on my shelves, but I never did get around to actually reading them, so I probably shouldn’t have been so surprised when my children looked at my carefully preserved and lovingly displayed collection and said (more or less), “Naah, I don’t think so.” My older daughter read a handful of Nancy Drew mysteries, more out of duty than pleasure, but no one was really interested. Mostly they just sat there, collecting dust.

That’s one reason I was so happy to discover M.T. Anderson’s Pals in Peril series. Anderson must have grown up reading the same books I did because these “Thrilling Tales!” are an affectionate tribute to the mystery and adventure series of decades past. The pals in question are Jasper Dash, Boy Technonaut (who is stuck in a bit of a time-warp), Katie Mulligan (a resident of Horror Hollow, where she regularly fights off zombies, werewolves, and rogue mind-sloths), and Lily Gefelty, an ordinary girl whose life feels a bit boring next to the exploits of her daring friends. My children hadn’t read much of the source material, but that didn’t stop them from enjoying these hilarious and ridiculously over-the-top adventures, stuffed with fabulous illustrations by Kurt Cyrus, absurd footnotes, and full-page advertisements for Gargletine Brand Patented Breakfast Drink, Official Beverage of Jasper Dash! (“Say, Kids, Want to Feel Peachy Keen? Drink a Quart of Gargletine!”) This series has been one of my favorite readalouds (though mid-elementary readers and up should be fine reading it on their own) and is worth checking out by anyone who grew up with Nancy and Frank and Trixie for both its humor and the sweetness of the friendship at its core.


Whales on Stilts!

“On Career Day Lily visited her dad’s work with him and discovered he worked for a mad scientist who wanted to rule the earth through destruction and desolation.” The whales cannot be trusted! Fortunately, Lily can rely on Jasper and Katie to help her save the world. The books get slightly more complicated as the series goes on, but this a great choice for young readers who are venturing beyond beginning chapter books.  (Though if parents do them as a readaloud they’ll be able to share the enjoyment of chapter openings like, “If you have ever been present at a vicious attack by elevated sea animals, you’ll know exactly what the people of Pelt felt like. I, for example, was unlucky enough to be working as a house-painter in Minneapolis that terrifying summer of the Manatee Offensive.”)

The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen

Jasper, Katie, and Lily are taking a well-deserved vacation at the Moose Tongue Lodge and Resort when they run into the adorable mystery-solving Hooper Quints, the brave but not-that-bright Manley Boys, and the boy-crazy Cutesy Dell Twins. But what happened to the heiress’s priceless diamond necklace?!?


Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware

The pals encounter dinosaurs! lost cities! gangsters! and monks! while exploring the Land That Time Forgot: mysterious DELAWARE. Plus, the Delaware state song! This novel is by far the longest of the series and ends with our pals still stuck in the trackless jungles of the Blue Hen State, leading directly into:


Agent Q, or The Smell of Danger!

The tyrant known as His Terrifying Majesty, the Awful and Adorable Autarch of Dagsboro, is determined that those meddling children shall not escape his clutches, and sends his Ministry of Silence spies out to disguise themselves as furniture and lay in wait for our unsuspecting trio.


Zombie Mommy

Back at home, Lily has to deal with her mom, who’s been acting strangely ever since her visit to Todburg, the most haunted town in America, while Katie is menaced by a visit from her cousin, bratty (and ever-so-bored) Snott Academy student Madigan Westlake-Duvet. Can Jasper help his friends survive the onslaught of the undead? Will the author successfully describe Madigan’s outfit every time she is mentioned in the narrative, as he is contractually obligated to do?

He Laughed With His Other Mouths

In the final Pals in Peril adventure, Jasper goes on a dangerous quest to find his father, who he has known only as a concentrated beam of energy from the region of the Horsehead Nebula. Fortunately, Lily and Katie refuse to let him go alone. And while the Pals are busy saving Earth from invading aliens, a second story—of Busby Spence, reading Jasper Dash novels while waiting for his father to return from the war—unfolds in a series of footnotes. (Warning: parents reading this book aloud should be prepared for unexplained allergy attacks—I did NOT cry, the room just got dusty!—and may want to lay in a store of tissues.)

The Joys of Summer Reading

The Joys of Summer Reading

Our Book Nerd is still recovering from vacation, so we’re revisiting her thoughts on the long, lovely stretches of reading time that defined her childhood summers. Stay tuned for an extra-extra long Library Chicken update!

These days I read in bits and pieces. 􏰳􏰮I take a book with me everywhere I go, so I can grab 15 minutes while I’m waiting in the dentist, or 10 minutes waiting in the car for the kids to finish class. (I’d read at stoplights if I could.) Our family readaloud time can also get fragmented. We have a strict policy of reading together every night—except when dinner plans didn’t go as planned and we eat an hour later than normal, or someone isn’t feeling well, or we had a rough day homeschooling and my readaloud voice is shot, or whatever. On those nights we might cut our reading time in half, or forgo it altogether in favor of a group viewing of the latest episode of So You Think You Can Dance.

It sometimes feels like my reading progress can be measured in paragraphs instead of pages, so this time of year, I think back with longing to my childhood summers, when I could read uninterrupted for hours at a stretch. I’d pick the thickest books I could find, or check out every book in a series and stack them up beside me, devouring them like potato chips. With few distractions, I could get absorbed in a book in a way that’s much more difficult for me today. I can remember exactly where I was sitting in my grandmother’s living room, heart pounding, as Madeleine L’Engle’s A Swiftly Tilting Planet blew my mind. Another time I was reading science fiction in the hammock on the porch at home and suddenly looked up, startled and alarmed at the idea that I was outside breathing open air—until I remembered that I was on planet Earth and the air was okay to breathe.

A while ago, I was talking with a friend I’ve known since third grade (we bonded over The Chronicles of Narnia) and I said that while I was enjoying reading The Lord of the Rings with my kids, it was a much different experience from reading it on my own, on the long summer days, when I didn’t do much of anything but hang out in Middle Earth and worry about Ringwraiths. “I wish I’d been able to do that,” my friend said wistfully. I didn’t understand what she meant. I knew she was at least as big a Tolkien-nerd as I was, and we’d read the books about the same time.

“Don’t you remember?” she said. “My parents thought I read too much, so after half an hour I had to go play outside.” (My friend was much too well-behaved to do the logical thing and sneak the book out with her.) Clearly, if I had ever known about such traumatic events, I had blocked them from my memory. Of course, now that she is a grown-up with a full-time job and a household to support, it’s very nearly impossible for my friend to go back and recreate the summers she should have had, visiting other worlds and inhabiting other lives.

I’ve used her sad story as a cautionary tale in my own life. Whether we take a summer break or homeschool year-round (we’ve done both), I try to take advantage of the unique flexibility of homeschool life to make sure that my kids have the time and space to find their own reading obsessions. This year my younger son is tracking down The 39 Clues as quickly as the library can fulfill his hold requests, my 11-year-old daughter is matriculating at Hogwarts for the umpteenth time, my teenage daughter is spending a lot of time in various apocalyptic wastelands, and my teenage son is hanging out in small-town Maine with terrifying clowns. I can’t always join them (no way am I voluntarily reading about scary clowns), but I do try to schedule some marathon readaloud sessions, so that we can finally finish the His Dark Materials trilogy or get started with our first Jane Austen.

Occasionally (oh, happy day!) the kids will even ask me for reading suggestions, so I can pull out some recent favorites from the children’s/YA shelf. At the moment that list includes Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner, about a fantasy world where parental overprotectiveness has been taken to such extremes that children are literally chained to their guardians. Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld, is an alternate-history steampunk retelling of World War I, where the heroine disguises herself as a boy to serve on one of the massive, genetically modified, living airships in the British air force. Garth Nix’s Mister Monday envisions all of creation being run by a vast, supernatural bureaucracy, which our 12-year-old hero must learn to navigate to save his own life and ultimately the world (encountering quite a bit more adventure and danger along the way than we usually find in, say, the average DMV office). Each of these books is the first in a series, fulfilling my requirements for appropriate summer reading.

And as much as possible, I try to carve out some time for myself to grab my own over-large summer book—maybe Susannah Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, or Hilary Mantel’s latest Tudor epic, Bring Up the Bodies, or maybe I’ll finally tackle Anthony Trollope’s Chronicles of Barsetshire—and snuggle next to the kids to do some side-by-side reading, ignoring deadlines and household chores to get lost in a book together.

This post is reprinted from the summer 2014 issue of HSL magazine.

Summer Reading: What to Read Next If You Like Roald Dahl

Summer Reading: What to Read Next If You Like Roald Dahl

If you love the fantasy, fun, and humor of Roald Dahl, you’ll enjoy these books that capture some of that same playful spirit.

Summer Reading: Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan Series

Welcome to Summer Reading 2017!  This year we’re taking advantage of the long summer days to read our way through some of our favorite series for children and young people.

In an alternate steampunk Europe on the brink of World War I, a young woman disguises herself as a boy so she can join the British Air Service and serve on their fleet of giant genetically-modified air beasts. Meanwhile, the Central Powers (or Clankers) are building up their army of steam-powered many-legged machines as the inevitable conflict approaches. You want to read these books already, don’t you?  But wait, there’s more! All three books (pick up the hardback editions, if you can) have wonderful full-page illustrations by Keith Thompson, including some of the most gorgeous endpapers I’ve ever seen.  

Many people are familiar with Scott Westerfeld’s YA science fiction series beginning with Uglies, but it seems that fewer have heard of this steampunk/biopunk alternate history. Marketed as YA, I’ve been recommending it for middle schoolers and up (including adults) ever since it first came out. It’s got adventure, flying whale-beasts, and a brave and resourceful heroine. The series also makes a great side-read for anyone studying World War I, since Westerfeld uses actual history as his jumping-off point and includes historical figures ranging from Archduke Franz Ferdinand to Nikola Tesla. As a bonus, after you’ve read the trilogy (including an extra final chapter and illustration on Westerfeld’s website) you can check out The Manual of Aeronautics, an illustrated guide (by the fabulous Keith Thompson) to the world and technology of Leviathan. What are you waiting for?


Young Scotswoman Deryn Sharp rejects the dresses that a “proper lady” should wear to disguise herself as a boy and study to be a midshipman on one of the great British air-beasts.  Meanwhile, Prince Aleksander, son of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, must go on the run after his parents are killed.  Will their paths cross when the ship Leviathan crash-lands in Switzerland?  (SPOILER: Yes.)



War has broken out, though Alek (an Austrian Clanker) and Deryn (a British Darwinist) still want to work together for peace.  After their mission goes awry, however, the friends are separated and their friendship will be tested as they end up on opposite sides of the conflict.




Together again, Alek and Deryn are still in the thick of things as their adventures take them to Siberia (where they rescue Nikola Tesla), California (and William Randolph Hearst’s estate), and Mexico (where they get help from Pancho Villa).  And don’t forget the bonus chapter!

Summer Reading: If You Liked The Hobbit

Epic adventure awaits in these fabulously constructed fantasy worlds.

The Fog Diver
By Joel Ross

When a deadly fog envelopes the Earth, people take to the skies, where a ragtag bunch of scavengers is ready to risk everything for a better life. First in a series. (Middle grades)

The Vengekeep Prophecies
By Brian Farrey

Jaxter Grimjinx was born to be a master thief—but it turns out that with disaster bearing down on his world, he may need to become a hero instead. (Middle grades)

Moril’s witnessed his father’s murder and his brother’s imprisonment, but that’s just the beginning of his problems. First in a quartet. (Middle grades)

Russian spies, magical potions, and a mysterious book star in an adventure that begins in 1950s California. First in a series. (Middle grades)

The Girl from Everywhere
By Heidi Heilig

Nix’s pirate father can sail his ship to any place, real or imagined, as long as he has a map. But the place he’s most determined to go may spell doom for his daughter. (Young adult)

The Mists of Avalon
By Marion Zimmer Bradley

Bradley reimagines the Arthurian legends from a feminist, pagan perspective in this dense volume told mostly from the perspective of the traditionally vilified Morgan le Fay. (Young adult)

Though it’s often recommended for middle grades, I think this subversive retelling of Paradise Lost is more likely to appeal to teens. (Young adult)

Another London—filled with magic and intrigue—exists parallel to the city Richard Mayhew knows—and Mayhew is about to slip through one of the cracks between worlds. (Young adult)

By Rachel Hartman

Spectacular world-building lights up this fantasy about a world where humans and intelligent dragons live in an uneasy truce. (Young adult)

Story Thieves
By James Riley

When Owen finds out his friend Bethany is half-fictional, he can’t wait to join her next jump into his favorite books—but fictional adventure proves more hazardous than he’s anticipated. (Middle grades)

On the Blue Comet
By Rosemary Wells

Witnessing a murder wins Oscar a seat on a magical train that travels through time and space. (Middle grades)

The Two Princesses of Bamarre
By Gail Carson Levine

Addie’s always been happy in the shadow of her adventurous sister Meryl, but when Meryl catches the Gray Death, Addie must summon her own courage and set out alone to save her sister. (Middle grades

This list is reprinted from the summer 2016 issue of HSL.

Stuff We Like :: 6.30.17

home|school|life’s Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources. 

Where did June go, you guys!?


around the web

This is our official high school summer reading list: A curriculum for white Americans to educate themselves on race and racism. (See also: Reading list for summer in participatory citizenship)

Will somebody please buy me all of these wall decals of women scientists/engineers/mathematicians? Thank you very much. (The whole Beyond Curie project is awesome.)

Relevant to my interests: Gendered Treatments of Trauma during the First World War

Hilarious: How Dr Seuss could simplify boring, wordy documents

You may notice the absence of the video for "Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)." That's because I broke down crying in the middle of watching it and couldn't finish. Maybe you'll have better luck.


at home/school/life

in the classroom: Just an FYI that we’re putting a hold on our online classes for one more term while I help my husband get his hybrid high school up and running this fall. (If you’re in the Atlanta area, you can always take a class with Suzanne or with me at the Academy.) We do plan to get back to classes—but a girl can only have so much on her to-do list at a time.

on the blog: Are you keeping up with our summer reading series? Suzanne has some great recommendations for addictive summer series.

one year ago: 6 surprising signs you’re actually doing a great job homeschooling

two years ago: The Rory Gilmore reading challenge, Emily Dickinson on Facebook, spoon puppets, Richard III and more feature in this Stuff We Like roundup from July 2015. 

three years ago: 11 reasons we love the summer (2014) issue of home/school/life (our second official issue!)


reading list

My Library Chicken report for this week: Socratic Circles: Fostering Critical and Creative Thinking in Middle and High School (+1, work-related), Habits of Mind Across the Curriculum: Practical and Creative Strategies for Teachers (+1, work-related), Queen Lucia (+0, read on Kindle), Miss Mapp (+0, read on Kindle), The Hearts We Sold (+0, advance copy), Just One Damned Thing After Another (-1, returned unread—I wanted to read this so much [British time travel antics!], but then I made the mistake of reading a review that compared it to Douglas Adams and another that called it a funnier Connie Willis, and I just knew it couldn't live up to that and I needed more space between reading it [which I will eventually because British time travel antics] and reading about it)

Homeschool reading: The Book of Unknown Americans, Art and Physics (with my almost-10th grader); The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardobe, The Race to Save the Lord God Bird, Ick! Yuck! Eew!: Our Gross American History (with my almost-4th grader)

Our current family readaloud: The Dark Is Rising


at home

I am in that place where I am trying to do too much, but everything I am doing is really important, so I have to keep juggling all the balls for a while. If you, too, find yourself in this position, I encourage you to (1.) get better at saying no! and (2.) invest in a bottle of Library of Flowers Forget Me Not bubble bath to make the most of those cobbled-together minutes of down time.

Cookie of the week: Billionaire bars (I could eat all of these by myself, but that might just be the deadline talking. :))

Summer Reading: John Connolly’s Samuel Johnson Series

Welcome to Summer Reading 2017! This year we’re taking advantage of the long summer days to read our way through some of our favorite series for children and young people. 

Books written by Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett rank high in various lists of mine, including Comfort Reads, Series to Recommend to Just About Everyone, and Books That In General Make Me Feel Better About Being a Human. Humor is subjective, however, and I’ve found that when I run across a book blurbed as “the next Douglas Adams!” or “in the spirit of Terry Pratchett!” it usually ends up in the “meh” category, provoking maybe the occasional smirk but that’s about it. John Connolly’s Samuel Johnson series is the exception.

I knew things were looking good on the very first page where we have both (1) footnotes (I ADORE FOOTNOTES IN FICTION IT’S A SICKNESS HELP ME) and (2) entertaining chapter titles (e.g., In Which We Delve Deeper into the Bowels of Hell, Which Is One of Those Chapter Headings That Make Parents Worry About the Kind of Books Their Children Are Reading). We soon meet 11-year-old Samuel and his very important dachshund, Boswell, and Samuel soon learns that his neighbors (with an accidental assist from CERN’s Large Hadron Collider) have opened The Gates of Hell. After that it’s up to Samuel, Boswell, Samuel’s friends Tom and Maria, and unlikely ally Nurd the Demonic Scourge of Five Deities (including Erics’, the Demon of Bad Punctuation) to save the world.

For me, Connolly’s Samuel Johnson series hits the sweet spot, reminding me (in the best ways) of Hitchhiker’s Guide and Discworld without feeling derivative, while at the same time telling a story about friendships, unexpected and otherwise. I know humor is subjective, but this one is definitely worth trying—and if you aren’t immediately sucked in by the footnotes and chapter headings, you can at least use it as an excuse to revisit the masters and spend some time with Arthur Dent and Rincewind. (Bonus recommendation: John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things, a “fairy tale for adults” about a boy who finds himself in a fantasy world and must search for the way home, is also excellent and I highly recommend it for YA readers and up. Please be aware, however, that it contains some very dark elements, and I would not hand it to a middle-grade reader, even though the publisher is trying to market it to that age group by putting a preview chapter in with The Gates.)


In Which We Learn That Even If You’re Super-Bored You’re Better Off Not Messing Around With Old Books Written In Languages You Don’t Recognize But Still Understand Somehow, Especially If You Happen To Live At 666 Crowley Road. 


In Which We Learn That Even After You’ve Defeated A Demon Wearing The Appearance Of Your Ex-Neighbor Mrs. Abernathy It May Still Return to Seek Revenge By Plunging You Down Into The Dark Realm Of Hades


In Which We Learn That Even After It Seems Like The Bad Guys Have Been Defeated And Everything Is Going Well You Should Still Avoid Demonic Toy-Shops That Open Just In Time For Christmas

Summer Reading: If You Liked The Fault in Our Stars

Love and life get complicated in these young adult novels. Bring your own tissues.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Misfits Park and Eleanor fall in love in high school, but both of them are smart enough to know that first love never lasts forever.




Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts

Stoic Zac meets fiery Mia in the hospital, where they’re both undergoing treatment for leukemia.




It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

A suicide attempts lands anxiety-ridden Craig in an institution, where he meets a motley crew of residents who help him face his fears.



The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

Ponyboy isn’t sure where he fits into the sharply divided social castes of his 1960s Oklahoma town, but when trouble strikes, he’s forced to choose sides.



Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

It doesn’t pay to be different in Standish Treadwell’s world, where a Nazi-like government keeps everyone living in fear and hope is hard to find.



My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi

One bad decision changes Lucy’s life forever. Now she—and her friends and family—must deal with the fallout.




Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher 

Social outcasts Sarah and Eric forge a deep friendship, but when Eric’s life takes a different turn and Sarah ends up in a mental hospital, refusing to speak, everything they think they know about each other will be challenged.


The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Grieving the loss of her universally beloved older sister, Lennie finds herself in an unexpected love triangle: drawn to one boy who shares her grief and one boy who pulls her toward joy.