What are Teenagers Reading?

Last week I emailed five teenagers to tell them they had been successful in securing a place on our Leith Library podcast workshops. They’ll be attending four workshops, interviewing authors and making at least one podcast about the young adult fiction they’re reading. You can read more about the project here.

I’ve been chatting to the Edinburgh Libraries Children and Young Peoples Librarian Simon Radcliffe in advance of the workshops to find out more about what teenagers are reading. This is Simon:


I mentioned I didn’t like vampires and he said:

That’s okay, vampires aren’t in any more. First it was Wizards after Harry Potter, then it was vampires. Next it was werewolfs, then it was ghosts falling in love with humans or vice versa and now it’s dystopian futures.

If you’re wondering what’s a dystopian future is you could google image search it. It’s basically a frightening future, the opposite of utopia. Think The Hunger Games.

So Simon clearly know’s his stuff. I asked him to let me know a bit more about popular authors, books or series for teenagers. Here’s the list he sent to me:

Wolfson, Jill – Cold hands, warm heart

  • A young girl tragically dies at a gymnastics competition, while another girl with incurable heart disease awaits a transplant.

Meyer, Marissa – The Lunar chronicles: Cinder

  • Dystopian take on the Cinderella story. First of a series

Carter, Ally – Don’t judge a girl by her cover

  • Series about girl spies. Thrills, spills and romance!

Sepetys, Ruta – Between shades of gray

  • Harrowing story of 15 year old Lina, her mother and brother, taken by the soviets and transported to Siberia

Roberts, Jeyn – Dark inside

  • Post apocalyptic zombie horror. First of a series

Smith, Jennifer E – The statistical probability of love at first sight

  • A few seconds delay, a plane missed and a romantic friendship struck up between two strangers

Bachorz, Pam – Candor

  • A perfect town where everybody is happy. Too good to be true? Of course! Something must be keeping everyone in line!

Condie, Ally – Matched

  • Another dystopian trilogy where young people are matched with their perfect partner. But not everyone is happy

Pearce, Jackson – Sisters Red

  • Two sisters and their friend battle werewolves with more than a passing reference to the classic Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale

Anderson, R J – Ultraviolet

  • A young girl is incarcerated in a mental institution for murdering a fellow student. But no body was ever found and there were no witnesses to the apparent crime

Roth, Veronica – Divergent

  • Society has organised itself into 5 factions after pulling back from the brink of an apocalypse. This will ensure there will never be war again, or will it? A hard hitting dystopian trilogy, soon to be a film

Ness, Patrick – A Monster Calls

  • Immensely moving account of a boy coming to terms with his mother’s terminal illness. Written by Patrick Ness and based on an idea by the late award winning writer Siobahn Dowd

Dogar, Sharon – Annexed

  • The story of Anne Frank as seen through the eyes of Peter van Pels who’s family shared the hidden annexe with the Franks

Collins, Suzanne – Hunger games

  • This was the book that started the dystopian craze, one of the biggest sellers since Twilight. Will Katniss survive the hunger games and the fight to the death by the contestants? First of a trilogy and a mega successful film

Rayburn, Tricia – Siren

  • 17 year old Vanessa is afraid of everything but her life changes after the body of her older sister is found washed up on the shore. Despite the title this is a book about mermaids! First of a trilogy

Dale, Katie – Someone else’s life

  • Not only does Rosie have to come to terms with the death of her mother from Huntington’s disease, she then learns that Trudi was not in fact her biological mother and so begins a search for the truth with possible painful consequences

Clare, Cassandra – City of bones

  • An urban fantasy packed full of supernatural creatures including vampires with some romance thrown in. Currently five in the series with another planned. Also being made into a film. And who said vampires were dead!!

Garcia, Kami and Stohl, Margaret – Beautiful creatures

  • New girl at school Lena is a caster and can use magic. But will she be claimed by the dark or the light? A supernatural romance and the first of a series of 4. The film is due to be released soon

Link, K and Grant, G (Editors) – Steampunk

  • 14 ‘fantastically strange stories’ from amongst others Holly Black and Cassandra Clare celebrating alternate universes, clockwork automatons and steam powered airships!

The good news is we’ll be hearing more from Simon later in the year, he’ll be writing us a guest blog! Also, we’ll be finding out what our teenagers like reading and why.

Are there any books missing that you think should be on the list above?


About auntyemily

Screenwriter (CBeebies), science communicator, storyteller, author, podcaster and poet. @auntyemily on twitter (:
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3 Responses to What are Teenagers Reading?

  1. It’s not new, but I cannot get enough of the “His Dark Materials” series (I read it over and over) and I wish everyone would read it! One of the best things ever–and I say this as a member of a family of kids who really have read a lot more than the usual amount of books. That’s my two bits.

    • auntyemily says:

      Thanks! I’ve read ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy and loved it. That makes me feel a little better since I’ve actually read it! Reading that list I see I’ve got a lot of reading to do (:

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