7 Beach Reads You Can Grab Off Your T(w)een's Bookshelf

shelved under Tween, Young Adult & Teen, and Beach Reads

A few years ago, my sister introduced me to the burgeoning genre of Young Adult fiction, and I haven't looked back. There's such an enormous variety in this genre and, if you haven't picked up a YA book in a while, you'll be surprised by how wonderful the writing can be and how much fun they are to read. And after all, isn't fun what a beach read is all about?

(Editor's Note: It was brilliant of the list author, Shannon, to focus her Beach Reads list on the YA genre — each of these titles is just long enough to get you through a lazy day on the sand, but short enough that it won't keep you up all night. Don't forget the sunscreen!)


The Hunger Games

by Suzanne Collins

Allow me to start with the most well-known titles on the list. All three of Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy have already crossed solidly over from Young Adult to mainstream reading. And no wonder. The books are a fast-paced blend of action, political intrigue, and which-boy-will-she-choose romance. Don't say I didn't give you fair warning — this book is not only Flashlight Worthy, but you'll likely stay up as late as it takes to finish the book before turning out the lights.


Catching Fire

by Suzanne Collins

With this second installment in the Hunger Games trilogy starts out somewhat slow compared to the first book, it soon segues into the intelligent action that made the first book so successful. Like the first, there's a very good chance you'll read the entire book in one sitting.

This book also appears on The Best Tween Books of 2009



by Kristin Cashore

The main character — a human monster named Fire — takes "don't hate me because I'm beautiful" to a whole new level. She has a superhuman beauty that incites dangerous emotions such as lust, desperation, and hate in people. Her self-imposed exile ends when the royal family requires her help to stop a political takeover, and Fire must figure out not only how to exist among others, but also how she will distance herself from the shame of her past. Like Suzanne Collins, Cashore has a huge fan base among teens and adults alike, though Cashore's books tend to have more character development than action.


The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1)

by Rick Riordan

You've heard of the book, you saw the movie posters... but it's likely you dismissed it out of hand as just another a Harry Potter impostor. Well, don't. Percy Jackson, the anti-hero of Riordan's series does have some similarities to Harry: He doesn't have a father and he's having a hard time fitting in to a normal life. Soon, Percy finds out that he is a half-God, which gives him access to a world of superhuman drama and danger. These books are full of action, mythology, and fun.

This book also appears on The Best Fantasy Series for Teens



by Gabrielle Zevin

If you're not looking for an action story, consider something a little more philosophical. In this story, Zevin imagines the world to which we go after we die, a world called Elsewhere. Fifteen-year-old Liz Hall goes to Elsewhere after she dies in a hit-and-run accident, though she's none too pleased about it. The subject matter is not light, but the book often is. It is moving and funny, and a quick read to boot.


Before I Fall

by Lauren Oliver

Another book that addresses the question: What happens after death? In this particular book, what happens is that teenage Samantha has to relive the last day of her life several times over. First-time author Oliver writes about high school with vivid, horrible (and realistic) detail. This story — a YALSA nominee for Best Fiction for Young Adults — is one of the best examples of how appealing Young Adult fiction can be to all ages.


Along for the Ride

by Sarah Dessen

Prolific YA author Dessen writes compelling stories full of realistic characters and romance. This story, set in a small beach town, follows teenage Auden as she spends the summer with her selfish dad, his new wife, and their brand-new baby. Perfectly responsible in every way, Auden has become grown up before her time — until she meets Eli, a boy with his own reasons for keeping to himself. One especially lovely theme in this book shows an evolving relationship between parents and their older children. With love and understanding, each can grow to empathize and accept the other.