There’s nothing better than a great book, except, of course, two great books. And even better than that is two books that belong together, and are just better experienced when read side by side. So in the spirit of helping you plan your reading weekend, here are 6 YAs that should be read one after the other.
For the Social Media Addicted
First: TTYL, by Lauren Myracle
Then: Going Vintage, by Lindsey Leavitt
For better or worse, entire social lives can now be carried out through social media, but that wasn’t always the case. Ten years ago, when Myracle’s TTYL was written, social media was just starting to infiltrate teen’s lives, which is what made the concept—a book told entirely through instant message—so delightful. You can read the instant messages of three teens as they deal with growing up, and then you can read Going Vintage, which is basically the exact opposite. It follows a modern girl hurt by social media who decides to live like it’s 1962—meaning no cell phones, no social media, and hopefully, no fakeness.
For the Princess Experience
First: The Princess Diaries Series, by Meg Cabot
Then: The Selection Series, by Kiera Cass
Who doesn’t dream of being a princess at at least some point in their life? The Princess Diaries is the quintessential “I’m actually a princess” book, telling the story of Mia Thermopolis discovering her dad is the crown prince of Genovia. It’s a super-fun read, with lots of pop-culture references and squee moments. On the other hand, The Selection is about a girl named America who competes in a Bachelor-style competition to become a princess in a dystopian world. While the two sound like they couldn’t be more different, each follows a girl as she gets all the things she’s supposed to want…but maybe doesn’t. Plus, pretty dresses.
For the Reality TV Fan
First: Reality Boy, by A.S. King
Then: Something Real, by Heather Demetrios
Reality TV can be a guilty pleasure, but it’s all too easy to forget how it affects actually real lives. So if you’re interested in a nuanced look at what it’s like to live your life behind a camera, both Reality Boy and Something Real are excellent choices. Reality Boy uses magical realism to tell the story of Gerald, a former reality star, as he struggles to find a post-TV reality he can live with, while Something Real takes a more straightforward approach to tell the story of a reality “star” forced back into the life. Both books are about teens who crave normalcy in a world that is anything but.
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For Boarding School Life
First: A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
Then: Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Boarding school books aren’t uncommon in the YA world, but there’s something special about these two. While some don’t consider A Separate Peace young adult, it’s very much a classic coming-of-age story. Set in a New England boys’ boarding school during WWII, it explores themes of growing up, mortality, and love. The same themes can be found in Green’s Looking for Alaska, a love and self-discovery story also set at boarding school. It’s hard not to see parallels as the characters struggle to belong and find their place in a world that extends far beyond their schools’ walls.
For the Inside YA Experience
First: Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
Then: Famous in Love, by Rebecca Serle
Paranormal YA romance enjoyed a huge resurgence in 2005 thanks to Meyer’s massively popular Twilight series. Including four books, a short story, an illustrated encyclopedia, and five films, there’s plenty in the series for fans to dig in on. But Twilight didn’t just spark a resurgence of vampires. Serle takes a meta approach to the phenomenon in Famous in Love, which follows a girl cast in a massively popular YA film adaptation as she deals with a love triangle,new fame, and old friendships. Reading it is like reading about Kristen Stewart as she’s swept up in the intense world of fandom.
For Harry Potter Withdrawal/Everyone
First: The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling
Then: Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell
It’s literally never a bad time to reread Harry Potter, but the post-Potter book can be a tough choice—that’s where Fangirl comes in. Both are coming of age stories, about letting go of childhood and moving into a scarier world, but one follows a boy wizard and one a contemporary college freshman, Cath. In Cath’s world, everyone loves Simon Snow, a Harry Potter-esque character from a massively popular series. As the series draws to a close, Cath must decide who she is outside of the fanfiction world she’s created.