Friday, 18 May 2012

Contempo-May Reading list: Let's Hear it for the Boys!

So much of Contemporary YA focuses on the girlie stuff - admittedly it’s what I tend to read more of. But after recently reading Geekhood by Andy Robb and Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli I thought I’d highlight the guys that are doing it for the genre. And you know what? It’s not all stereotypically staring at tits, smoking and drinking. Teenage guys have feelings too - who would have thought?! To get on this list, not only do the narrators have to be male, but the writers too. This time it’s all about the boys. 
In the interest of transparency I’m going to admit that I haven’t read most of what’s on this list, but they are all titles on my wish list, and titles I have been personally recommended by friends, booksellers and bloggers. And so I am passing on the recommends to you, testosterone and all! 
Please note that this is not a reading list 'for boys', just one highlighting the great blokey blokes doing it for YA in a genre that often seems saturated by the ladies. I encourage anyone of any gender to read absolutely everything!

1. Swim the Fly by Don Calame

This is great comic fun; a little bit American Pie, a little bit Inbetweeners. Filled with moments of excrutiating agony and surprising charm, this is a perfect Summer read for those of you looking for some light relief. 
2. Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Here I’m giving you two awesome blokey narrators for the price of one! Written in alternate chapters, this is a stunning story about two boys who have the same name, and whose lives change forever once they accidentally meet. This book also features the greatest gay YA character of all time, the magnificent Tiny Cooper.

3. The Absolutely True Story of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

One I’ll admit that I haven’t read yet, but from what I’ve heard, a story about being an outsider and learning how to fit in when you might be out of your depth. Plus it has cartoons. 
4. Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X Stork
This one has been recommended at me countless times, but I haven’t read it yet! Personally I think you should read it for the title and the name of the author alone. The premise is bizarre, but it could be one of those novels that changes the course of your life.
5. One Seriously Messed Up Week in the Otherwise Uneventful Life of Jack Samsonite by Tom Clempson
Well this book definitely wins in the longest title stakes... definitely one for fans of the comedy-geek novel, exemplified by Andy Robb in Geekhood, or maybe one for people who have grown up and grown out of the Wimpy Kid novels. 
6. Candy by Kevin Brooks
A book that draws you in slowly, then hits you with dark pow! I adore Kevin Brooks, and all his books come with an awesome level of grit. Prepare to be haunted. 
7. Doing It by Melvin Burgess 
Well hello there super-provocative cover! This book looks at the ins and outs of sexytimes for boys, featuring three characters in very different situations. Frank and honest, this is a book you won’t forget about in a hurry!
8. Being Billy by Phil Earle
New on the scene and one to watch, Mr Earle grabs the first person point of view and runs away over the hills with it. A compelling and thrilling read, and partly based on Phil’s own experiences working with young people. 
9. Tamar by Mal Peet
Mal Peet is an achingly underated writer - I wish that more people would read his books. This one won the Carnegie medal in 2005, and the scope of it will absolutely blow you away. 
10. Killing Honour by Bali Rai
Bali Rai is another writer I’ve heard loads and loads about but have never got around to reading. In deciding which of his books to feature on this list, it was this one that really stood out because it’s the one I most want to read. So you should read it too. 

I'd love to hear what you think of my choices, plus your suggestions and recommendations! Let me have them in the doobree below. 

Hugs and high fives,



  1. More please! As you say, there's often an undue emphasis in YA on girlie books, which seems completely misplaced given that teenage boys are notorious for Not Reading. I'll look up these titles for my 13 year-old son. Well perhaps not 'Doing It'. Not necessarily because I don't think it's suitable (although I'm not sure he's quite old enough), but can you imagine your mum buying you something like that?

  2. I'd have to recommend The Knife of Never Letting Go - a book about an angry bloke trying to deal with growing up and being manly. IN THE FUUUTUUUREEE.