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Help! Need reading recommendations for 13 year old

Quick post for help here…

I read about A Monster Calls:

and bought it for Lovely Daughter #2.

Now she has finished it and is looking at me in accusatory way saying that she is bored.

She asked me, “When did I start reading this?” and said “Tuesday, I think.”  She’s not enjoyed a book so much for ages, or spent so long reading voluntarily (as opposed to timetabled reading at school, for a certain amount of time each week.)

I tried The Diary of Anne Frank, but she didn’t take to it, or I Capture the Castle.  

I asked what she liked about A Monster Calls and to sum up:

– She doesn’t mind if books are a bit sad, because they tend to be more dramatic that way

– She prefers books that are set in modern times

– She doesn’t mind if books are a bit fantasy oriented, but that’s not her major thing – she didn’t take Harry Potter(How so?!) or Philip Pullman

Help rescue us from Saturday morning cookery shows and iPods – what can I buy her?



  1. She might like the very girly and incredibly fun Georgia Nicholson series by Louise Rennison. I think the first one is called Angus, Thongs and Full-frontal Snogging. It’s pretty much Bridget Jones at the age of 14 and I absolutely adored it at her age.
    She might also enjoy:
    – How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (slightly sad at times)
    – the Replica series by Marilyn Kaye (has a fantasy/sci-fi element to it)

    • Thanks for this – I’ve gone for Replica as it sounds adventurous and she’s usually gripped by adventure.

      Good to have a perspective from someone who’s been through the teenage reader stage more recently than me.

  2. I can’t help with a recommendation here I’m sorry as our kids are still at the stage of Captain Underpants. The books I enjoyed at that age were mostly classics like Pride and Prejudice, My Brilliant Career, Chronicles of Narnia etc.

    • This post has turned into a real trip down memory lane for me. I liked Narnia as identifying all the parallels pressed al my nerd buttons. But I didn’t get into Austen until I was an adult – I refused to accept a world where women had to think so much about marriage negotiations in order to survive. Age has made me a much more tolerant reader.

  3. What about ‘Goodnight Mr Tom’ or ‘Jane Eyre’ or even ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ (though read that last one yourself first as it has some disturbing themes)? Suggestions from my daughter.

    • I’ve ordered Wallflower to check it out – also I’d forgotten about Michele Magorian. I’ve gone for Mr Tom and Back Home. I remember it being fantastically sensitive writing – the end part of Goodnight Mr Tom made me cry when I read it as a teenager.

  4. I hardly ever read YA but I was blown away by Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now. I’ve also heard very good things about Malorie Blackman and her Noughts and Crosses series. There is so much exciting YA fiction out there… Oh I’ve remembered another: Sophie McKenzie and her Girl, Missing books. These are all edgy and contemporary and might strike a chord. If I think of any others, I’ll come back (I love recommendations!).

    • I’ve gone for Girl, Missing. They’ve both read How I Live Now, but I’d forgotten Meg Rosoff wrote some other books that LD#1 enjoyed so need to dig them out.

  5. Hi Denise – Have you heard of How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff? It was highly acclaimed when it came out and I’m pretty sure its aimed at that kind of age – in fact I bought it for my niece at the age of 13. They’ve also just made it into a film. Also my 13 & 14 year old nieces absolutely loved The Hunger Games trilogy (and so did I!). The 14 year old is currently loving The Mortal Instruments books too (by Cassandra Clare). As I mentioned in your review of The Hot Rock I remember reading (and loving) the Donald E Westlake comedies at that age. When I was writing and reviewing children’s books ten years ago I really liked the books of Robert Swindells but I do like crime fiction and these are kind of spooky, creepy, suspenseful tales for kids of that age. They’ve been described as thrilling, unpredictable and scary! Hope this is of some help!! X

    • I’m definitely going to look up some Meg Rosoff for her, although she’s read How I Live Now already (seemed really good from the accounts).

      Hunger Games is on its way – it sounds scary, but LD’s said her friends say it’s good. Great Amazon reviews too.

  6. I’m not sure if I can be much help here – focussing on the 9-12 fiction at the moment! I do read quite a lot of YA fiction myself though, a mix of ‘dystopian future’ stuff and fantasy… Garth Nix’s Sabriel and follow ups are very good, but fantasy. The likes of Sarah Crossan, Veronica Roth, Veronica Rossi and Melissa West are all good – all dystopian in theme – but quite ‘teenage’ so worth a check first. At 13, I was reading anything and everything! Alan Garner was one of my favourites, The Owl Service in particular. What about Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett? I’m afraid everything that pops into my head has at least a slight leaning towards fantasy! Except for Judy Blume, who I loved as a young teenager, but I’m not sure if her books are a bit dated now?!

    • So many thoughts! I’ve gone for Sarah Crossan The Weight of Water first of all. It sounds different but also sensitively written according to the reviews.

      They don’t like Pratchett because…. both girls have this strange, strong aversion to the small print used in many adult books! On the plus side, I am sure this has saved their eyesight, as I was wearing glasses by the time I was 7. But not a hint of needing them for either of them.

  7. amediablogger

    To kill a mockingbird. Has she read that yet? That’s one of my all time favourites.

  8. Ooh I am very pleased to hear that she enjoyed the book – and that in the first place that you went out and got a copy after reading my blog! That has got to be a first! 🙂

    I’ve read Patrick Ness’ other series, starting with The Knife of Never Letting Go (a little sad, dystopian, interesting premise) and quite enjoyed it. But I do think A Monster Calls is still better.

    Don’t have a 13yo (or girls for that matter) but shall attempt some suggestions:

    Lois Lowry’s The Giver series
    Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park
    Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series (young girl detective with an interest in chemistry)
    The Griffin and Sabine series – I remember reading those at 13/14 and recently reread them
    I’ve also heard a lot of good reviews of John Green’s books (The Fault in Our Stars etc) although I’ve not read them.

    Also, could try looking at Goodreads?

    • Oh man I love the Flavia de Luce books!!! Bonus here is that if she likes them, you will too!
      It’s been a long time since I was 13 but I remember loving the Anastasia Krupnik books and Anne of Green Gables.

    • So many books! I’ve started with Flavia just because I like the name…

      Thank you for starting a reading revolution in our house!

      • Flavia is a lot of fun! And I also have to second the Anne of Green Gables series. It was such a favourite of mine and my sister’s, and I still adore Anne today.

        Let us know how Flavia works out!

  9. My LD (I just asked her about what she liked when she was 13) liked Twilight, Harry Potter, and mysteries and murder. (She wants to work for the FBI though) She said “She could read ‘The Lovely Bones'”, which I thought was a good recommendation, but a little adult. Use your discretion, which I am sure you will do. Good post.. let me know.

  10. I remember enjoying Lois Lowry’s books growing up…they do tend to deal with some weighty issues so I am not sure how much sadness your daughter is interested in reading. On the lighter side, I’ve had both a friend and a teacher recently recommend Carl Hiassen’s books. (I haven’t read him yet.) Will be interested to see what your daughter chooses for her next read!

    • She’s got an enormous pile coming at her in the post now!

      I’ve gone for Hoot, because she likes animals and it had a cute cover. She likes that kind of thing too!

  11. This is a little late, but:

    To begin this, I didn’t really read YA when I was still a teen because I found it too simplistic (but I DID start with Sherlock Holmes and Lord of the Rings as a youngster so…). That being said, there’ve been a few recently if they haven’t already read them that I’ve liked. I saw The Giver up there, so I’ll skip to The Hunger Games (I’m assuming they’ve read this to be honest), the Divergent series is a good one, and A Tale of Time City (and other really wonderful Diana Wynne Jones books… she has a lot of them). The last is a stand alone, but if they like it, the author has written tons of stories that they can move on to. ^-^

    • I spoke to some kids at school today and EVERYONE has read the Hunger Games apart from mine… it arrived all shiny and gold in the post today.

      Oh I remember Sherlock Holmes as a teen – tbh I think it has a lot of the elements of YA – the spookiness, the mystery, the settings. But obviously better!

      I’m going to be making a list soon so I don’t lose any of these great recommendations. Thanks for your help!

  12. Here’s two more:

    Wild Wood – which unfortunately on Amazon appears to retail for almost 400 quid (or a penny secondhand) – a very odd combination of The Wind In The Willows, Animal Farm, and Willie Rushton.

    The Hound Of The D’Urbervilles – Kim Newman rewrites Sherlock Holmes from the viewpoint of Moriarty. Good, I think, if nothing else for all the other books it inspires you to read

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