Beyond Review Journals – Finding Cool Books for Your Collection

Review journals are always the first place most of us to go to find books to buy for our collections.  But good as they are (and as a reviewer for Booklist I think I’m contractually obligated to say that), we all know that not every book with teen appeal gets reviewed in one journal or another.

So – where else to go when you want to find some cool books for your collection? Well, your best bet is to go where the teens are going.  Or, read what mags they’re reading. Be open minded about what you see and you’re sure to find some neat titles at a number of venues – print, online, or physical.

1) Urban Outfitters – Okay, so you have to put aside all the drinking game and Kama Sutra titles loaded up on their book table, but I always find something I want in my collection when I browse this retailer which has branded itself cool and edgy.  You can look through their online “book store” (find it referenced under Apartment), but I really prefer to visit the stores.  That way I can actually skim through the books to determine whether it has content I can feel comfortable having in my collection (remember, no journal reviews means no back up if a book gets challenged), and it also gives me a chance to surreptitiously watch what teens in the store are picking up.  A cool title I just found there:  The World of Geekcraft

2) Modcloth – an online retailer.  Again, books come under their Apartment heading.  Since they mainly sell fashion, the majority of books I come across here have something to do with style, i.e. Fifty Dresses That Changed the World and Fifty Shoes That Changed the World are recent gems that will work well in my nonfiction collection.

3) “Rolling Stone,” “Entertainment Weekly,” etc. – Books reviewed in these pages often rank high in teen appeal – especially those that profile bands and entertainers.  And don’t be afraid to buy books about long gone bands or dead entertainers.  Among certain young adults I know, anything about Johnny Cash is hot (yeah!), so Roseanne Cash’s memoir is something to consider.

3) Bookstores – Whether you browse in  indies or chains, never visit a bookstore without a notebook.  I especially find books I want to buy in the humor section.  Examples? Desperate Cupcakes and Every Zombie Eats Somebody Sometime.  Peruse the comics and manga section too when you’re out and about.  I almost always find something I’ve missed.


Reading Your Collection

Lately I’ve been doing some thinking about reading. Specifically, about the time I spend reading and what I choose to read. I, like all of you, spend a lot of my free time reading. And not just books: zines, blogs, and magazines, too. Finding time for all of the things I want to read sometimes seems impossible. Being in charge of collection development for my library’s YA collection makes this even harder. How much time should I be devoting to reading the YA books on my library’s shelves? I am part of the Adult Services Department and so I need to be reading adult books as well. How do I find a balance between the two? Also, what about the books I want to have in my collection, but that I don’t necessarily want to read? I’m not a fan of fantasy or science fiction, but patrons ask for recommendations in these genres, so I need to know what to offer them. Or what about the super popular books that everyone is talking about, but that I have no interest in? L.A. Candy is a lighter read than what I’d choose to voluntarily read, but it’s so popular that I feel like I should read it to get my own take on it, even though I don’t really want to. Sometimes I feel torn, and my to-read pile next to my bed grows to an unrealistic height.

So what do I do? Well, a couple of things. I read a pretty equal mix of adult and teen books. I sometimes choose books that fall outside of the realistic fiction genre for my teen book club so that I am forced to read them. I spend some time looking through our new books to familiarize myself with them so that even though I won’t read all of them, at least I know they are there and what they are about. So I’m curious about you. How much of your collection do you actually read? Do you skim some books just to get a quick feel for them and their audience? And should I read Sweet Little Lies?

Great First Lines . . . Get Picked Up by A Good Book! Second Edition

Another list of first lines for great young adult literature.

It’s so hard to talk when you want to kill yourself.

It’s Kind of Funny Story Ned Vizzini

A cappuccino cost me my life.

Cupcake Rachel Cohn

I admit it. I’ve been scared shitless lots of times.

Black and White Paul Volponi

The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit.

Uglies Scott Westerfeld

First thing I did was, I stole a body.

Repossessed A. M. Jenkins

The woods were silent, other than the screaming.

The Game of Sunken Places M.T. Anderson

I was in my makeshift darkroom above the garage developing my umpteenth print of Peter Terris, an individual of full-orbed gorgeousness who needs absolutely no retouching, an individual oozing with classic tones and highlights who barely knew that I was alive.

Thwonk Joan Bauer

When the Dead Man got Rachel I was sitting in the back of a wrecked Mercedes wondering if the rain was going to stop.

The Road of the Dead Kevin Brooks

I am responsible for a great many things, but being put on detention for talking in history was not my fault (not technically, anyway).

Walking Naked Alyssa Brugman

Heller and his bike burst onto Sixth Avenue, and none of the cars saw him coming.

Burning City Ariel and Joaquin Dorfman

She was born Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, and she did not open her eyes for three days.

The Goose Girl Shannon Hale

Getting punched hard in the face is a singular experience.

Godless Pete Hautman

It was the stench seeping in through the car windows that bothered Tom the most.

Sign of the Raven Julie Hearn

When the doorbell rings at three in the morning, it’s never good news.

Stormbreaker Anthony Horowitz

Since I’ve been pretty much treading water all day, the marquee of the Rialto Theater looks like the prow of a ship coming to save me.

Stoner & Spaz Ron Koertge

The thing about a cavity search is this: it has nothing to do with the dentist.

Born to Rock Gordan Korman

The police arrived, then the paramedics, then the police photographer, and after that Jude lost track.

Jude Kate Morgenroth

The wait of the dead was the loneliest thing Nikki could ever have imagined.

Dead Connection Charlie Price

It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dries-out bed of the old North Sea.

Mortal Engines Philip Reeve

I don’t really remember when I first met the Schwa, he was just kind of always there, like the killer potholes on Avenue U or the Afghans barking out the windows above Crawley’s restaurant.

The Schwa Was Here Neal Shusterman

I can remember what things were like before she got sick: my whole family climbed into the big hammock on the moondappled beach, wove ourselves together, and swayed as one.

Stop Pretending Sonya Sones

The airship lumbered low overhead, it’s long, lined belly a dull smear of silvery light in the fog as it reflected the gas lamps of the city beneath.

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray Chris Wooding

I never thought I would save the world – or die saving it.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp Rick Yancey

Though I tried to clear my head of the effects of the fat, resiny doobie I polished off an hour before, things were still fuzzy as I stumbled into the senior counselor Jeff DeMouy’s office.

Rats Saw God Rob Thomas

So, I got kicked out of school today, which is not so great but also not entirely unexpected, and I went back to Public Housing where I live to tell my parents all about it and my mom went visiting someone or other and probably isn’t coming back and my dad is stoned off his ass on the couch like he always is, so somehow I’m not getting the vibe that he’d really, you know, care, so I think, Here’s what I’m going to do: First I’ve got to make a plan.

Saint Iggy K.L. Going

It wasn’t a normal Thursday, but all day long it had seemed like one, so when the final bell rang, Mick Nichols did what he normally did.

Zipped Laura and Tom McNeal

Booklist created by Rose Allen

Great First Lines . . . Get Picked Up by A Good Book!

First lines of books are a great tool for reader’s advisory.  Check out these first lines of popular young adult titles.

Somehow I knew my time had come when Bambi Barnes tore her order book into little pieces, hurled it in the air like confetti, and got fired from the Rainbow Diner in Pensacola right in the middle of lunchtime rush.

Hope Was Here Joan Bauer

The worst night of my life?  My first and last date with Angela O’Bannon.

Son of the Mob Gordon Korman

Things had been getting a little better until I got a letter from my dead sister.  That more or less ruined my day.

Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters Gail Giles

It is a sad and shocking fact of my young life that my parents named me Mary Elizabeth Cep by mistake.

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen Dyan Sheldon

I was the first one in the family to know when Mama started to go insane.

Or Give Me Death: A Novel of Patrick Henry’s Family Ann Rinaldi

12th Day of September.  I am commanded to write an account of my days: I am bit by fleas and plagued by family.  That is all there is to say.

Catherine, Called Birdy Karen Cushman

Once upon a time there was a pair of pants.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Ann Brashares

The reason Weetzie Bat hated high school was because no one understood.

Weetzie Bat Francesca Lia Block

Henry got up early on the day that changed his life.

Faerie Wars Herbie Brennan

It’s the first morning of high school.  I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate, and a stomachache.

Speak Laurie Halse Anderson

We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.

Feed M.T. Anderson

My name is Shawn McDaniel.  My life is like one of those good news-bad news jokes.  Like, I’ve got some good news and some bad news which do you want hear first?

Stuck in Neutral Terry Trueman

I shouldn’t have come back to Miami.

Nothing to Lose Alex Flinn

I was the ghost of school corridors.  Skye was the devil.  And I was doomed from the day she spoke to me.

Playing in Traffic Gail Giles

My mother is dead.  Dad killed her.

When Dad Killed Mom Julius Lester

April used to be my sister.  She used to be nine and charming.  She used to respect the two most important laws of sisterhood:  Thou shalt not spy and Thou shalt not report thy sister’s crimes to the authorities.

Perfect Natasha Friend

I’m a sweating fat kid standing on the edge of the subway platform staring at the tracks.

Fat Kid Rules the World K.L. Going

This is a nightmare.  Working at the Toronto Transit Commission’s lost and found.  Nine to five.  Monday to Friday.  A little slice of death, one day at a time.

Acceleration Graham McNamee

When the carriage turned onto Stone Street, it was as though the house were watching.  There were two gables with a window in each, curtains slightly parted like cats’ eyes, not quite closed, spying.

Jade Green Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

When summer comes to the North Woods, time slows down.  And some days it stops altogether.

A Northern Light Jennifer Donnelly

I found him in the garage on a Sunday afternoon.

Skellig David Almond

Simon Glass was easy to hate.

Shattering Glass Gail Giles

My name is Elizabeth but no one’s ever called me that.  My father took one look at me when I was born and must have thought I had the face of someone dignified and sad, like an old-fashioned queen or dead person, but what I turned out like is plain, not much there to notice.  Even my life so far has been plain.  More Daisy than Elizabeth from the word go…Mostly everything changed because of Edmond.

How I Live Now Meg Rosoff

I was a misfit.  If you’d asked me, I’d have guessed school uniforms were a good idea.  Like camouflage.  I’d been kidding myself.

Breaking Point Alex Flinn

All I want is a maple bar; but I don’t think these kids with the guns care about what I want.

Inside Out Terry Trueman

My only brother is a veg.  Yep, a full-fledged drooling, fourteen-year-old idiot.  If you were to call him that, you’d have a big problem on your hands – namely me!

Cruise Control Terry Trueman

Booklist created by Rose Allen