So You Want to Read YA?: Guest Post from Author Kody Keplinger

Today’s “So You Want to Read YA?” post comes to us from author Kody Keplinger.

Kody Keplinger is the author of three contemporary YA novels (THE DUFF, SHUT OUT, and A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHTMARE). Her next book, GOLDFISH, will be released in 2014. She lives in New York City, eats a lot of Thai food, and dabbles in improv (also known as: the art of making a fool of yourself).  You can check her out at or follow her on twitter at @Kody_Keplinger.

One of my favorite things is being asked for book recommendations. I get a lot of emails from readers saying things like, “Can you tell me other books I’ll like?” or “I don’t read much, but I want more books like yours.” It’s always very flattering, and I always have a huge, huge list of books to send them.

So when Stacked asked me to contribute to this series, I was really excited. I decided to focus particularly on contemporary YA, since those are the recommendations I most often get asked for. So, without farther ado, here we go!

For a Good Cry

Before I Die by Jenny Downham – this book is easily one of my favorites of all time. On top of being beautifully written, it also features great, well-drawn characters. It’s painful and hopeful at the same time.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – I loved this book far more than I expected to. I loved Hazel’s voice and the way it managed to make me smile and break my heart at the same time.

Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook – This book is the only one to date to make me Ugly Cry. I was sobbing and clutching my chest by the end. It left me with a wonderful ache, and I really, really fell for both of the narrators. An excellent read.

Dreamland by Sarah Dessen – This book holds a special place in my heart. It deals with abusive relationships in an honest, poignant way. I recommend it to everyone.

For a Good Swoon

Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott – Elizabeth Scott is one of my favorite authors, and this book really sealed the deal for me. It’s a sweet (and swoony) romance with a great family story, too.

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen – There’s something to be said for a slow burning love story. I love all of Sarah Dessen’s books, but this one really got me, though. Wes and Macy forever!

Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles – Simone Elkeles knows how to write a romance, but this one is easily my favorite. It’s complicated and angsty in the best possible way.

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard – This book tells two different love stories: a love story between a boy and girl, and a love story between a girl and the beauty around her. It’s possible to read this book and not want to hop on the next plane to a foreign country!

For a Great Character

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan – Two words: Tiny Cooper.

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard – Mandarin is one of the richest, most complicated characters I’ve ever read in YA, and the story of her friendship with Grace is incredibly powerful.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – I read this book when I was fourteen, and I remember thinking that I had had all of the same thoughts and feelings as Melinda. The voice in this book is so authentic, and that’s why it’s stayed popular for all these years. I think anyone can relate.

Sorta Like a Rockstar by Matthew Quick – This book took me totally be surprise. It has one of the quirkiest, most endearing voices you’ll find anywhere, and a great story to boot!

For a Darker Turn

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers – Oh, God, this book. This book will kick you in the gut, that’s for sure. It’s painfully real and really nails the complexity of girl-on- girl bullying.

Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert – Hands down, this is my favorite contemporary YA. There are a plethora of complicated characters dealing with complicated issues like sex, drugs, and suicide, all set against the 90s grunge era. Really, really wonderful book.

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott – Warning, this book is brutal. It’s a short, quick read, but it’s haunting in it’s portrayal of a girl living with her abductor. Not for younger readers.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson – You can’t go wrong with Laurie Halse Anderson, and Wintergirls is right up there with Speak for me as a favorite. It deals with anorexia in an honest, painful way. The writing is also genius.

I highly recommend all these books, especially if you’re a fan of contemporary YA. They cover a big range of stories and emotions, but I think they are all great books every YA reader, whether you are new to the genre or not.

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  1. says

    Nice mix of titles! The Truth About Forever is my favorite Sarah Dessen novel. Speak is a must-have YA staple. Kudos for including Some Girls Are and Living Dead Girl as well.

  2. says

    This is a fantastic list of titles. Considering how much I love Kody's books, I'm not surprised that I've already read most of these. I'm adding a few to my TBR list (Ballads of Suburbia and Perfect You).

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