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The Ultimate Teen Book Guide

Hahn, Daniel, Flynn, Leonine, & Reuben, Susan, Eds. (2008). The Ultimate Teen Book Guide. New York: Walker & Company.

In today’s world of television reality shows showcasing the basest of human behavior and situation comedies where all of life’s problems are solved within a 30 minute time span (less time out for commercials). In a time where entertaining one’s self usually involves video games which absorb a teen’s focus for hours on end, it is refreshing to find a book about books. More specifically, a book about young adult books.

As a step-mother, I sometimes find it hard to recommend reading as an option for my 14 year-old step-son…and that’s coming from me, a former English teacher who has more books than some small town libraries. I find it difficult because, quite frankly, as an adolescent, I was a geek…OK, I admit it! I loved to read…I found no greater pleasure than curling up with a book and immersing myself in another world. My step-son, however, is the quintessential boys’ boy – skateboarding, tennis, hunting, and all things X-box 360. I have little to offer him in the way of book recommendations save for the classic “boy-themed” novels I’ve taught in my high school English classes: A Separate Peace; Lord of the Flies; Alas, Babylon; and the like. Great books, but not necessarily his proverbial “cup of tea”.

The Ultimate Teen Book Guide provides the user with reviews and summaries of young adult geared books as well as more adult novels that have themes that may be of interest to teens. The information provided is well-written, but not pretentious. Many of the books have recommendations provided by fellow teens, librarians, editors and authors. As a special feature, each book listed has a Next? sidebar recommending novels with a similar theme or writing style.

The Ultimate Teen Book Guide also contains a plethora of extras like readers’ poll results on topics like your favorite author, the character most like you, the book that scared you the most, and the book that changed your life; featurettes such as the best banned books of the century, adult books for teens, and books that make you laugh out loud; and genre top tens with lists of the top ten books in each of the following genres: horror, nonfiction, biography/memoir, graphic novels, adventure, fantasy, issues, dystopian worlds, series books, romance, mystery, coming of age, historical fiction, humor, award winners, and war.

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