A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

Teen Book Bingo Recommendations from Avery Alexander

by Avery Alexander, Public Programs Intern

Rejoice! It’s officially time for 2024 Summer Book Bingo! This year we have introduced something that I’m personally extremely excited about ― the Teen Book Bingo Board!

I’m not a teenager, and yet I’ve had my eye on the teen board since I first saw it. I just can’t help myself when it comes to my love of YA literature, and this board seems wonderfully aligned to my personal reading tastes. Honestly, it is perfect for adults and teens alike, so if you’re an adult like me, or a teenager who wants to get in some leisure reading over the summer before you have to go back to school, this board is for you!

So, without further ado, here are my suggestions for some of the prompts on the Teen Book Bingo board. If you don’t quite know how to get started, feel free to use this list of authors and books as a friendly guide to point you in the right direction.

Picture Book: Today Will Be a Great Day! by Slimy Oddity

This category was the hardest for me to choose a recommendation for, mostly because I haven’t willingly read a picture book for myself since I was a child. However, it got me wondering if there are any picture books written for slightly older audiences. The answer? Yes! There are! Today Will Be a Great Day! is one such picture book. While this book would be appropriate for all ages, it discusses concepts like mindfulness, gratitude, and self-acceptance, all themes that would appeal to teenagers and adults. The art is adorable, and the words of encouragement on each page really do make it feel like the day will be as great as the title promises.

Another Time (Past of Future): Last Night At the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

I settled on historical fiction for this category. First thing’s first, I’m not an enjoyer of historical fiction. However, Malinda Lo single handedly changed my mind with this novel. Set in 1950s San Francisco, the author offers such an interesting look at history, from a perspective that is too often ignored in history class. Lily is the teenage daughter of Chinese immigrants, and the story follows her as she explores her sexuality, and her growing feelings for her new friend Kath. I have never seen a story that centers Chinese Americans and LGBTQ+ culture in this time period, and I firmly believe that it will stand the test of time as a great American classic.

Supernatural: Spell Bound by F.T. Lukens

I may or may not have written this blog post with the core intention of introducing more people to F.T. Lukens. I can’t help myself! After all, they are one of my favorite authors for a reason. I just finished reading all of the books they have ever released, and Spell Bound still sticks out as my favorite. There is magic and spells and ghosts and a non-magical main character who likes sticking his nose into places where it doesn’t belong. In other words, it’s pretty much perfect. F.T. Lukens is the master of magical realism, and the paranormal is a major undertow in many of their books. Besides Spell Bound, you also can’t go wrong with some of their other supernatural novels. Otherworldly and The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic (book #1 in The Rules Duology) are also both great places to start.

BIPOC Fantasy or Sci-Fi: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

I’m always on the hunt for fantasy that breaks the mold, and Aiden Thomas does exactly that in this debut novel. The story follows Yadriel, a trans teenager who is dead-set on claiming the magic which is due to him from birth, as a man. His traditional Latinx family is struggling to accept his gender and have barred him from performing the ceremony which would imbue him with his powers. So, naturally, Yadriel takes matters into his own hands and performs the ceremony himself. However, things get weird and dangerous when he accidentally summons the ghost of one of his classmates, Julian, who died under strange circumstances. The magic system is something I’ve never seen before in a mainstream novel, and the world is so rich you can practically taste it. Also, there’s an adorable and heart-warming romance to tie it all together! What’s not to love?

Based on Fairytale, Myth, Legend: Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

I’ll be fully transparent and say that I haven’t gotten around to reading this book yet. However, it’s been on my bookshelf for months. I love books based on mythology (I was and still am a huge fan of Percy Jackson), and recently I’ve been very interested in broadening my horizons beyond Greek mythology and reading books about other mythologies from around the world. Daughter of the Moon Goddess takes inspiration from Chinese mythology, and more specifically, the legend of moon goddess Chang’e. There is a perilous quest, and mythological creatures. Also, my personal favorite, it has plenty of court/political intrigue. I know for a fact that this is the book I will be using to satisfy this prompt, so feel free to use it as well if it piques your interest!

Made You LOL: Huda F Are You? by Huda Fahmy

Okay, so this is another book that I have yet to read, but I’ve heard only good things. All you have to do is look at the title to confirm that the author is no stranger to humor. She uses comedy as a backdrop for a coming-of-age story, all about finding your identity. Huda lives in a place where every girl wears hijab, and she doesn’t feel like she sticks out in any way. She isn’t a fashionista, she isn’t an athlete. She’s not even a nerd! So, Huda literally doesn’t know who she is. Queue the self-discovery! This graphic novel is also a fictionalized memoir, so the author is writing from a place of deep understanding. Now that I have an excuse to read this, I can’t wait to laugh and learn alongside Huda while she walks her path to discovering Huda F she is.

Short ‘n Sweet (Short Story/Article/Poetry): Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell

For this category, I decided that it would be best to recommend one of my favorite short story anthologies, to give people options. I’m a huge fan of Rainbow Rowell’s work, and when she dropped this book, I devoured it in a day. However, you don’t have to read the whole thing. Just choose one story that interests you from within, and there you go! You can’t go wrong with any of these nine options, which all focus on romance in one way or another. Also, if you’ve read Fangirl, The Simon Snow Trilogy, or Attachments, you’ll see some familiar faces in a few of these stories. My personal favorite from this collection is “Winter Songs for Summer,” and I wonder which one will stand out for you.

Nom Nom Nom (Food/Cooking): A Pho Love Story by Loan Le

The amount of times I’ve raved about his book is honestly funny at this point. I’m sure my friends are tired of me endlessly recommending this every time they ask for a good book to read, but I will never stop! To boil this book down to its most basic components, I will compare it to Romeo & Juliet, except nobody dies. Bao Nguyen and Linh Mai’s families both own pho restaurants, located right near each other, and their parents couldn’t hate each other more. The businesses seem to have always been at war, and Bao and Linh have just learned to go with the flow. However, a chance encounter brings the two teenagers dangerously close, and feelings start to sprout up despite their best efforts. While this book is a romance at its heart, the descriptions of restaurant culture and the food are equally important. Not only that, but the food serves as an entry point for deeper discussions about culture and the complexity of family ties.

Made Into a Show or Movie: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

There are so many options for this category that it was difficult to nail down one recommendation, but I eventually settled on this YA literary classic. This one is definitely a bit grittier than the other books on this list, due to its more intense themes and unflinching preoccupation with the darker sides of teenage life, but it’s just as wonderful. I read it for the first time last summer, and I am glad that I did! The book is written in letter format, as the main character writes to an unknown friend. This quintessential coming-of-age story is achingly raw, intimate, and personal, like you’re peering into someone’s personal diary and slowly picking apart their life. I’m sure that many people have read this book, or at least watched the movie, but for those of you who haven’t, you should really get on it! You won’t be disappointed.

Posted in Summer Book Bingo