Today was my last day at Barnes & Noble, and I thought I’d celebrate by highlighting some of the great books I read this year from the Barnes & Noble’s teen section, which is where I find some of the most interesting and enjoyable books. So here is a lightly annotated list of some of my favorite young adult reads from the past 17 months.

  • Tithe, by Holly Black. This gritty urban fantasy is about a girl who discovers she’s a changeling, and finds herself struggling to save herself and her friends from the violence of an amoral faery world that is all too real. And it’s the first in a series: c’mon Holly, write a fourth!
  • Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan. A girl and a guy both on the rebound from problematic relationships meet at a concert and spend the night wandering Manhattan (and possibly falling in love).
  • S.E.X.: The all-you-need-to-know progressive sexuality guide to get you through high school and college, by Heather Corinna. Okay, it’s not fiction, but it’s a great read all the same. In my dream world, every school system in the country would be using this for their sex ed program.
  • Wicked Lovely, by Melisa Marr. Another modern fairytale about a girl who discovers she is gifted (or cursed) with the magical power to heal the world of faery . . . but at what personal cost?
  • Actually, anything by David Levithan, though my favorite (aside from Nick & Norah) is The Realm of Possibility, a series of interconnected narrative poems about a group of friends at a high school and their network of relationships, romantic, platonic, and every shade in between.
  • This is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn, by Aiden Chambers. I thought the end of this novel was a cop-out, but the rest is a voluble, maddening, tender and fascinating account of a young woman’s coming of age and her maturing relationships.
  • Runaways, by Brian K. Vaughn, et. al. Teenage superheros/heroines come into their powers and discover their parents are plotting to take over the world. Fun graphic novels that play confidently with the genre (and have some kick-ass young women as characters).
  • The Mislaid Magician; or, Ten Years After: Being the Private Correspondence Between Two Prominent Families Regarding a Scandal Touching the Highest Levels of Government and the Security of the Realm, by Patricia C. Wrede & Carolyn Stevermere. Besides deserving an award for Longest Title Ever, this third book in the Sorcery & Cecelia series provided me with one of the best quotes of last year: “The most unsettling result of this adventure is that we find ourselves in possession of a superfluous child.”
  • The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak. A story about a foster child, an accordian player, a Jew in hiding, some stolen books, Germany in the midst of the Second World War, and the way human beings respond to overwhelming crises–all narrated by the compelling character of Death. It’s hard to describe, so I just tell people to read the first paragraph and see if they can resist being hooked.

(images all snagged from Powell’s online store)