Good Reads For Teens

We live in a world where teens are practically attached to their phones or some other form of technology, so it is important to set time aside and take a break from the technological world around us. What better way to do just that than by reading? Here are some of the most popular books that have been published in the past seven years, guaranteed to enthrall teens of all ages!

(2010) Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

In 1878, Sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray comes to London in search of her older brother. When she arrives, Tessa is faced with the Downworld, where vampires, warlocks, and other supernatural beings await her. Only the Shadowhunters are able to keep the world in order. When Tessa is kidnapped by The Pandemonium Club, she discovers that she is a Downworlder, and she possess a rare power. Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters, who promise to help find her brother if she uses her power to help them.

(2011) Divergent by Veronica Roth

Beatrice Prior lives in a dystopian future where the world is divided into five factions- Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intelligent). On Appointed Day, Beatrice makes the decision to transfer to Dauntless, which will affect her and her family’s life forever. Beatrice is carrying a secret. She is Divergent. And if anyone were to discover her secret, she and everyone she loves will be in danger.

(2012) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Life hasn’t always been kind for Hazel Grace Lancaster. She has a tumor, and she also has cancer, which requires her to carry around a portable oxygen tank. When her mother convinces Hazel to attend a cancer patients’ support group, her life seems to turn towards the better. She forms friendships, and she catches the eye of Augustus Waters, who is now cancer free after having his leg amputated. As Hazel and Augustus grow closer, they face many struggles and try to power through the pain and loss that is thrown their way.

(2013) Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor Douglas and Park Sheridan live opposite lives. Eleanor lives in a home where her stepfather, Richie, is physically and verbally abusive to her mother. Eleanor wears loose-fitted clothes, ribbons in her hair, and is bullied in school. Park lives in a home that is surrounded with love. Park gets along with the popular kids in school. Against the odds, Eleanor and Park form an unlikely friendship that soon blooms into more, all the while trying to rise against the struggles that surround them.

(2014) We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Cadence doesn’t remember what happened during her 15th summer at Beechwood Island. She battled with chronic headaches and can’t even remember what caused it. It isn’t until Cadence’s 17th summer at Beechwood when she begins to recall the event of her 15th summer. As she begins to remember, her relationship with her group of four friends—the Liars—becomes destructive. As Cadence’s memory returns, she will have to redefine herself as her and her friends’ loyalty, trust, and acceptance are put to the test.

(2015) Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Madeline Whittier has severe combined immunodeficiency, which is a rare disease that makes her allergic to almost everything. Madeline cannot leave her house, and is cared for by her mother and her nurse Carla. When a family moves in next door, Madeline forms a friendship with Olly. Olly begins to sneak into Madeline’s home to see her, but when her mother finds out, she bans Madeline from ever seeing Olly again. Olly and Madeline go to Hawaii where she discovers secrets about her past and illness.

(2016) The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

The Sun is Also a Star focuses on the story of Natasha Kingsley, a Jamaican teenager who has to be deported in the next twenty-four hours, and Daniel Bae, a Korean-American who is on his way to Yale. As Daniel is going to his college admissions interview, he stumbles across Natasha, who is jamming out to music. Danielthen proceeds to follow Natasha around New York, trying to convince her about their instant connection. The bond between the two grows stronger, but Natasha’s deportation comes ticking closer with every second.

(2017) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Starr Carter balances moving between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives, and the prestigious prep school she attends. The balance is shattered, however, when Starr witnesses one of her childhood friends, Khalil, being fatally shot by a police officer. When his death becomes a national headline, peopledescribe him as a thug and a drug dealer while others protest in his name. The police officers and a local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family as everyone tries to figure out what truly happened. And the only one who has that answer is Starr.

If You Liked “Floods and Fires,” You’ll Love These!

Dan Leach’s book Floods and Fires is a prime example of Southern Literature. If you enjoy Southern Literature, you’re certain to enjoy reading these novels and short stories written by authors who inspired Dan Leach! Here are a few book recommendations that capture the true essence of Southern Literature! Happy reading!

Nothing Can Stay Gold by Ron Rash

Ron Rash’s Nothing Can Stay Gold is a collection of fourteen short stories set in Appalachia, including “The Trusty”, which first appeared in The New Yorker. Taking place in various time periods, ranging from the Civil War to present day, the stories focus on the unforgettable lives of those whom have been haunted by violence, hope, and fear in Appalachia. Like Fire and Floods, these short stories cover a variety of topics such as family, tragedy, love, and trust, and you won’t want to put them down.

 

 

Calloustown by George Singleton

Calloustown is the seventh collection from Southern short story specialist, George Singleton, who was an inspiration to Dan Leach. In Calloustown, George Singleton explores the inhabitants of the small town in South Carolina, mostly through the perspective of an older male who often references his wife. Singleton explores families, religion, politics, and various other stories that range from deeply affecting to wildly absurd in the fifteen short stories that make up novel.

 

 

Facing the Music by Larry Brown

In Larry Brown’s first book, Facing the Music, he writes ten short stories about love. Love is often seen as a wonderful, cherished feeling, but in Brown’s short stories, he writes about the darker side this emotion brings. Brown writes how love can remain graceful, even if there maybe hardships involved, such as violence and drinking. Facing the Music’s brutally honest stories capture the struggles many loved ones experience and makes the reader stop and think about true meaning of love.

 

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

Pat Conroy’s The Prince of Tides follows the forty-year story of Tom Wingo and his talented, but troubled, twin sister Savannah. Tom and Savannah struggle to overcome their family’s dark and tragic legacy into which they were born.  The Prince of Tides is considered one of Pat Conroy’s best novels as he describes the beauty of low country South Carolina, all the way to upstate New York. Conroy captures the burden that family can often cause but which is the true essence of love and struggle.

Don’t Worry, There’s Always More Latino Lit

This is the final week of Hispanic Heritage Month, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of Latino Lit. We hope that you’ve been able to expand your reading horizons over the past month as we know we have. Remember that Local is Global. By reading about diverse cultures and people, we can understand more about ourselves and our community. If you want more, don’t forget about the UNG Reads events throughout October, including the movie showing of Bless Me, Ultima tonight!

Esperanza Rising—Pam Muñoz Ryan

Esperanza’s life in Mexico was perfect. Her family was wealthy, she wore pretty dresses, and she could have anything she ever wanted. Her life was idyllic, until her father was murdered. When Esperanza’s tio threatens her mother and family, they’re forced to move to California in the middle of the Great Depression, leaving her Abuelita behind. Now, Esperanza must work in the farm sheds, packing produce instead of attending school. Winner of the Pura Belpré Award, Esperanza Rising is the beautiful tale of what can happen when one girl rises above the circumstances and overcomes the obstacles that are thrown her way.

Signs Preceding the End of the World—Yuri Herrera, Translated by Lisa Dillman

Makina knows all about survival. Living in the dangerous parts of Mexico, it’s nothing new to her. So it’s not fear which drives her from Mexico, but her mother’s request to find her brother. The only way to reach American is to illegally cross the border, aided by Mr. Aitch, a “reptile in pants” and opportunistic drug lord. Now she’s searching for her brother, carrying two secret messages as she struggles to adapt to the different world she is exposed to. Yuri Herrera understand language, and Dillman’s translation help an English-speaking audience experience the otherworldliness of the original.

The Savage Detectives—Roberto Bolañom, Translated by Natasha Wimmer

The Savage Detectives, or  Los Detectives Salvajes as it was published first, follows Juan García Madero, college student and eventual drop-out, but it’s about Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, the Visceral Realists. Due to a violent encounter in the desert 20 years ago, they’re still on the run now. Following, Belano, Lima, and Madero, we meet a foul-mouthed American grad student, the great-granddaughter or Leon Trotsky, an Argentinian photojournalist, a Chilean stowaway, and so many more eclectic characters. Told in a non-linear story line, their lifelong quest to find the founder of Visceral Realism leads them on a journey that any young bohemian will love.

Xtabentum: A Novel of Yucatan—Rosy Hugener

This story follows two women who are living in the Mexican Revolution in Merida, Yucatan. Amanda Diaz is of European descent, one of the small families who dominate the politics and economy of the region. Amanda’s friend, Carmen is a Mayan Indian, daughter of one the Diaz’s servants. Carmen is whipped by the Diaz’s neighbors, and it releases the horrors of social injustice between the classes. Following the family across generations, this is the story of two women, their granddaughter, and unsureness about if their friendship can overcome everything else.

 

The Cruel Country—Judith Ortiz Cofer

Judith Ortiz Cofer was a Puerto Rican native who moved to New Jersey with her family in 1956 and then to Augusta, GA in 1967. She was the Regents’ and Frankin Professor of English and Creative Writing at UGA. Winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, a Pushcart Prize, and inductee of the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, Cofer was “a beautiful representative of the Latino community, but.. a poet for everybody.” She wrote multiple works of poetry, creative nonfiction, and short stories, all of which are deserving of praise. Cofer’s stories described her characters fight to maintain “their own dignity and creative potential” amid the duality of Puerto Rican and American culture, which she herself lived up to. She will be dearly missed by everyone at the UNG Press.

 

Favorite Books Series: Staff Picks

October, just in case you didn’t know, is National Book Month, aka the perfect excuse to read, read, read! Fall is the best time for reading. It’s getting cold and chilly out, so you can snuggle up with a blanket and some fuzzy socks and hot chocolate and just lounge to your heart’s content. We’ll be showcasing some of our favorite books this month in celebration. To start, here are our favorites, picked from our own bookshelves.

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
Recommended by BJ Robinson, Director

Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy written by Shakespeare between 1598 and 1599. Lies, trickery, and deceit run rampant and prove that communication is important in a relationship! Don Pedro woos Hero for Claudio; Beatrice and Benedick are tricked into confessing their feelings; Hero fakes her own death. It’s a story where miscommunication is king, and chaos reigns.

Fun Fact: The majority of the text is written in prose, not iambic pentameter.


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 
by Mark Twain

Recommended by Corey Parson, Managing Editor

One of the most commonly banned books of all time The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn follows Huck where The Adventures of Tom Sawyer left off. First kidnapped by his drunkard father, then given over to be “sivilized,” Huck decides the only thing to do is fake his own death and run away. And that’s not even the craziest part. Huckleberry Finn is an adventure story, filled with bad luck and worse timing.

Fun Fact: It was first published in the U.K. It took two months before it was published in the U.S.

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
Recommended by Jillian Murphy, Assistant Managing Editor

Anne of Green Gables features Anne-with-an-E Shirley, accidentally adopted and supposed to be a boy. Written by Montgomery in 1908, the novel follows Anne and her life in the small, magical town of Avonlea. The novel became an instant classic and is considered one of the best children’s novels of all time. Anne lived a life of adventure and could do all the things we wished to (including cracking a slate over someone’s head. Childhood dream.).

Fun Fact: Anne of Green Gables is incredibly popular in Japan. Enough so that there’s a recreation of Green Gables in Hokkaido.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Recommended by Emilee, student worker

What would you do if the gods of old were still here? Would you know? Would you maybe even be one of them? That’s who Percy Jackson is: Demigod, son of Poseidon, and supposedly the lighting thief. Percy was never told who his father was until it was almost too late. Now, he has to find Zeus’ lightning bolt and clear his name. Riordan’s series started as bedtime stories for his son which is why they translate so well to kids and adults today.

Fun Fact: There is a musical version by the same name. It first premiered in 2014 and was re-released in 2017.

The First Bad Man by Miranda July
Recommended by Sam, student worker

The First Bad Man is the debut novel of Miranda July, and it’s a work of surrealism that can’t be clearly defined. It’s protagonist, Cheryl, is fortysomething, aggressively polite, and clearly going through an unresolved crisis. Cheryl’s bosses convince her to let their daughter (Clee, 21, certainly aggressive, not exactly polite) live with her. From there starts a path of chaos that is certainly odd, but oddly enthralling and which will guarantee a wild ride to any reader.

Fun Fact: Before the book was released, July auctioned off items from the story. These include a jester hat, a Tibetan cloth, and special shoes (green flip-flops with nails sticking out the bottoms).

Like our book recs? Disagree with one of our choices? Want to suggest a book? Leave a comment or visit us at Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to find more great content.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Dreamlike Stories, Real Experiences

We’re nearing the end of Hispanic Heritage Month, and we hope that you’ve been enjoying yourselves. We’re excited for the start of the UNG Reads events for Bless Me, Ultima (found here), and even more excited about these book recommendations. If you haven’t satisfied your love of Latino Lit yet, here are four more books, each with dreamlike writing, that we promise you’ll love.

The Private Lives of Trees — Alejandro Zambra

Every night, Julián tells a story about friendly trees to his stepdaughter, Daniela, before she goes to sleep, and every Sunday, he works on his own novel about his bonsai tree. The Private Lives of Trees captures the story of one night. On this night, Julián nervously waits for his wife, Verónica, to come home from her art class. As the night wears on, the air of uncertainty becomes heavier, with the audience as clueless and unsure about life as Julián is. But The Private Lives of Trees is gentle, with every sentence clearly crafted with care. The contrast makes for a bittersweet narration, the feelings of worry and love and loneliness a reminder of something we all know.

The Tango Singer — Tomás Eloy Martinez

Bruno Cadogan, an American graduate who specializes in Borges, arrives in Buenos Aires to begin his search of an elusive tango singer named Julio Martel, who’s voice is rumored to overshadow the famous Carlos Gardel. Julio has never been recorded, and his performances are unannounced and are located at seemingly arbitrary places. Cadogan hears of the famous Borges story “The Aleph,” and he finds himself drawn into the mystery and legends of the singer’s life. Martel’s performances aren’t as random as first believed and, in fact, are the keys to the city’s past that Cadogan has been searching for.

The Red Umbrella — Christina Diaz Gonzalez

Lucía Álvarez lives a carefree life; she dreams of her first crush and parties, but when soldiers invadeher Cuban town, everything changes. Her neighbors suddenly disappear, her friends treat her as though they were strangers, their freedom is stripped away, and Lucía’s family is being watched. As the Revolution becomes more oppressive, Lucía’s parents make a grave decision: to send her and her younger brother to the United States on their own. They’re part of Operation Pedro Pan—a exodus of more than 14,000 unaccompanied children, sent to the U.S. to escape Fidel Castro. Based on the experiences of her parents, Gonzalez shows the struggles and challenges that occur when you’re exposed to a whole new country, language, and culture.

The Weight of Feathers — Anna-Marie McLemore

For twenty years, the Paloma family and the Corbeau family have been enemies. Both families are traveling performers in competing shows: the Palomas swim in mermaid exhibitions underwater, while the Corbeaus perform tightrope acts in treetops, among the birds. Lace Paloma knows that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, from the devil himself. Even accidentally touching a member of the other family is enough to be exiled. But disaster always ignores the rules, and it is Cluck Corbeau who saves Lace’s life. Peppered with French and Spanish, The Weight of Feathers reads like a dreamlike fairytale that any romantic reader will love.

Hispanic Heritage Month Book Recommendations

Hi everyone! We hope that you’re enjoying the start of Hispanic Heritage Month. We’re here today to bring you even more great books to read. Have a recommendation you’d like to share? Read any of these and have an opinion on it? Leave a comment, visit us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter to share your thoughts and see even more great content.

Playing for the Devil’s Fire — Phillipee Diederich

Life in Boli’s pueblo, Izayoc, goes on how it normally does: uneventfully. Boli and his friends are focused on playing marbles and not much else. They’re trying to win the prized Devil’s Fire marble from an older boy named Mosca, but then the severed head of Enrique Quintanilla is discovered. Everything changes, like how Boli’s once poor neighbors suddenly have new SUVs. Boli’s parents leave for Toluca, but then disappear, and no one will talk about it. He decides to take matters into his own hands and uncover the truth, but he needs the unlikely help of a “has-been” luchador, El Chicano Estrada. Diederich’s writing is powerful, and his young narrator sees things others intentionally miss. It’s an instant classic in young adult fiction.

Dreaming in Cuban — Cristina García

This novel follows the story and struggles of Celia del Pino and her family as they survive the Cuban Revolution. Following three generations of the del Pino family, this dreamlike story goes into the heart and soul of Cuba. The depth and the division of the Cuban Revolution has struck Celia del Pino and her family, the politics and geography leaving their mark. Cristina Garcia focuses on the affect the Cuban Revolution has on the women of the family, creating a tale that is central around womanhood. Dreaming in Cuba uncovers and brings to light the bittersweet challenges that families go through when living in a country that is in a war with itself.

How the García Girls Lost Their Accents — Julia Alvarez

When their father gets in trouble and enlists help from a CIA operative, the four García sisters—Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia—find themselves suddenly uprooted from their Dominican Republic home and are forced to migrate to New York City in 1960. Narrated between the four García sisters, we see the experiences and challenges they face when exposed to a new culture. Overwhelmed, they try to assimilate to their new home, buying new clothes and straightening their hair, but their Dominican Republic culture is emphasized as the story is told in reverse. Considered an essential part of Latino literature, the García girls undoubtedly make their stories heard.

Lost City Radio — Daniel Alarcón

Daniel Alarcón’s Lost City Radio depicts the life of Norma, who lives in a nameless South America country that is in the aftermath of a war. Norma is the host of the country’s most popular radio station, Lost City Radio. Every week, she lists the names of those who have disappeared and gone missing as the Indians in the mountains and the poor from the barrios listen. Norma has helped loved ones reunite, all while suffering from her own husband’s disappearance at the end of the war. When a boy named Victor arrives from the jungle and gives her a clue about the fate of her husband, Norma’s life changes once again. The loss of language and culture hang over this story as Norma tries to find more than her missing husband.

 

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month With Us!

Today is the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month! It’s a month long celebration of Hispanic and Latino culture which runs from September 15 to October 15 in the U.S. We’re excited to learn more about it, and we hope you join us!

What is Hispanic Heritage Month?

Hispanic Heritage Month started in 1968 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Originally only a week long, it was to honor the contributions and sacrifices of Hispanic and Latino Americans in the U.S. President Ronald Regan expanded it to a month-long celebration in 1988. It begins on September 15th because five Latin American countries celebrate their independence today: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile, and Belize also celebrate their independence during the month.

Why is Hispanic Heritage Month Important?

Hispanic Heritage Month gives people an opportunity to connect to their heritage that they may not have otherwise. Over 17% of the U.S. population is Hispanic or Latino, making Hispanic Americans the largest minority in the U.S., whether ethnically or racially. 9.4% of Georgians are Hispanic or Latino as of July 2016. The Latin American diaspora has separated many people from their homelands and identities. Hispanic Heritage Month allows them to reconnect with their communities and strengthen their cultural identity.

Ways to Participate

We believe that everyone has a right to their heritage and cultural identity. “Local is Global” after all. Each Hispanic Heritage Month, the University of North Georgia hosts a series of events for students and members of the local community. Dance performances, guest speakers, and a Day of the Dead presentation will all be occuring. These events are sponsored by the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) on the Dahlonega campus, the Latino Student Association (LSA) on the Gainesville campus, and the Spanish Club on the Oconee campus, as well as Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA), directed by Dr. Robert Robinson.

UNG Reads will also be reading Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya for Hispanic Heritage Month. Project director Dr. Tanya Bennett says that this novel was chosen because of “its relatability to north Georgians with a Hispanic heritage.” UNG Reads will host campus events through October, including visiting author Daina Chaviano on October 25. More information can be found here.

Learn More

Each Wednesday during Hispanic Heritage Month, the Press will have a blog post featuring different Hispanic authors and books, as well as any updated information about the UNG events. Below are our first three recommendations. If you want to discuss these books, or have any other recommendations or requests, leave a comment, tweet us @UnivPressNG, or follow us on Facebook!

1. The Barbarian Nurseries — Héctor Tobar

The Barbarian Nurseries follows the Torres-Thompson family—half Mexican only in name—and their live-in Mexican employee, Araceli Ramírez. When the Torres-Thompson parents disappear, leaving behind two boys who Araceli has never spoken to, she must find a way to bring them to their grandfather. Tobar’s tongue-in-cheek tone creates a compelling narrative. The duality of American and Mexican identity follows each character in this book about humanity and what it means to belong.

 

2. The House on Mango Street — Sandra Cisneros

A classic. Taught byevery English teach, read by children and adults alike. The House on Mango Street is a bittersweet memory shared to the world. Told in a series of vignettes, Cisneros wrote a novel that “can be opened at any page and… still make sense.” Mango Street creates the universal ache of growing up, the pain of conflicting identities and forlorn hope that each person experiences. But in its sorrows, it reminds us that we are not alone in the world. “You can’t erase what you know. You can’t forget who you are.” But you can still be free.

 

3. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao — Junot Díaz

The de León family is cursed. The fukú has followed them for generations, in the Dominican Republic, in America, lurking in every corner. The story rotates between characters, following Oscar, his sister Lola, and their mother Beli. This novel is heart-wrenching. A dreaded tale where something always gets worse. Your heart breaks for the de León’s, but the multigenerational tale creates the feelings of being part of something greater than everyday life. The novel makes you unsure of your footing from the start, but the chaos is authentic, and as you’ll learn, ever family has their own fukú.

Sources:
National Hispanic Heritage Month 2017 (Gov)
National Hispanic Heritage Month 2017
U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Georgia
Latino Student Association connects UNG students to Hispanic culture
UNG reads “Bless Me Ultima”