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This week’s question was suggested by one of our readers:
Q: What genre books would you recommend to young teenage girls that read at an advanced level?
Here’s what they said…
Mari Ness is a speculative short story writer. She lives in central Florida, and blogs weekly about children’s literature over at Tor.com
I’m always a bit taken aback when I get a question like this, because my response is that young teenage girls that read at an advanced level should read, well, everything! At that point I was certainly still reading books that would be classified as young adult — but heading over to the science fiction and fantasy section whenever I could, and loving just about everything, the more epic and unrealistic, the better. (The one exception was The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, which I may have been a bit young for; I ended up loving Donaldson’s other, later stuff.) So I advise the same to any young teenage girl — go. Explore. Read whatever looks interesting. Some of it will suck. Some of it will make you babble endlessly to friends and family. Some of it will change your world.
Specific recommendations? That’s also tricky, without knowing what the girl might be looking for — epic? Funny? Romantic? I quite liked Ursula Le Guin’s Annals of the Western Shore series; Sorcery and Cecelia, by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Steverner, an amusing blend of magic and humor, and Robin McKinley’s Beauty and Deerskin, for fairy tale lovers, and nearly anything by William Sleator for science fiction fans. More recent young adult books that I can recommend include Inara Scott’s The Candidates, an entertaining superpowered high school tale; Rae Carson’s The Girl of Fire and Thorns, set in a land somewhat inspired by Spain, with a heroine who slowly learns how awesome she is; Justine Larbalestier’s Liar, which I can’t talk about without spoiling; Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series, ditto (but definitely start this series in the beginning); Nnedi Okorafor’s Zahrah the Windseeker, about a timid girl about to make a journey into a fabulous jungle. Jane Yolen’s Briar Rose still haunts me.
For those wanting to jump into adult stories — that was when I found Samuel Delany, Nancy Springer, J.R.R. Tolkien, Joe Haldeman, Douglas Adams, Julian May, Joan Vinge, Octavia Butler, Connie Willis, Lucy Maud Montgomery (I highly recommend seeking out her five volumes of journals) and other novelists that I really can’t exactly recommend, you understand. But it was a feast of reading, and something I encourage all readers to do: just explore, since this list is self evidently woefully incomplete.