I’m constantly on the lookout for excellent YA books to read. While I also love adult novels, young adult books are downright fun. I might be a married gal in my twenties, but some of my all-time favorite books are the Harry Potter series, the Hunger Games series, The Fault in Our Stars, and basically anything VC Andrews, just to name a few.
I used to peruse bookstores to find my next read. But now that Borders is gone and Barnes & Nobles are few and far between, for a while I resorted to browsing Amazon’s Young Adult category page to find new books. But on Amazon, anything goes. It’s hard to tell off-the-bat if the book you’re buying was released by a well-respected publishing house, or if it was self-published. While some self-published books are amazing, like Thirteen Reasons Why, some authors garner tons of positive reviews, yet their books are just… not the best. I’ve suffered through several horrible books wondering whether everyone who wrote a review was simply crazy, if I was the crazy one, or if the the reviewers were paid to write a positive review.
So what’s a girl to do?
Fortunately, there are several other ways to find books vetted by your friends, or book reviewers you can trust, so you can easily find the next book to immerse yourself in.
Goodreads is a social networking and review site all about books. You can easily “friend” your Facebook friends and Twitter followers on Goodreads, and keep up with what they’re reading and recommending. I’m a latecomer to Goodreads — I only joined a couple months ago — but already read a bunch of great books I found through the platform. It’s a great way to find books from reviewers I know aren’t fake, because I’m friends with them!
The Recommendations section is also extremely valuable. It’s like Netflix, offering suggestions based on your past reviews and books marked as “Not interested.” There’s also a feature where you can ask for recommendations (click Recommendations > Ask for Recommendations).
2. Young Adult Lit Review Blogs
There are a TON of bloggers out there who review young adult books, and the blogs you follow should depend on your personal preference. Here are some of the best YA bloggers. You don’t have to follow all of them — that would probably be overwhelming. Instead, peruse each site, and find books you’ve read and see if the blogger’s opinion is similar to your own. This will be an indication that you have similar tastes. So if the blogger posts a positive review of the next YA book they read, chances are, you’ll enjoy that book, too.
- Forever Young Adult – Book Reports – this blog has multiple contributors
- Anna Reads – according to her about page, people should read her blog if they enjoy books about teenagers and books about kissing.
- Love YA Lit – focuses on YA literature from an adult perspective.
- Mostly YA Lit – young adult book reviews “from a teenager trapped in an adult’s body.” She lists her favorite books in the sidebar, so it’s easy to see if you’re a preference match.
- The Readathon – another blog from an adult perspective, this blog covers children’s novels including YA and MG (middle-grade)
- The Canary – this blog focuses on Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, and Young Adult fiction.
One important thing to note is that most of these blogs are by adults who love YA lit. If anyone knows of great YA review blogs written by young adults, or other blogs by adults that I’ve missed, please let me know in the comments below.
3. Ask your friends (in person or on Facebook/Twitter)
When in doubt, ask your friends what they’ve read recently. No marketing is more effective than social endorsement, and with good reason — your interests are likely similar to the people you’re friends with! So instead of spending hours sorting through the anonymous reviews on Amazon, just ask your friends what they’ve read recently.
4. Follow your favorite authors on Twitter
Chances are, your favorite YA authors are on Twitter. Follow these authors, and create a list that you can create a column in Tweetdeck or Hootsuite for, and easily keep track of these authors. They will often tweet about books they’ve recently read, which may be similar to the books they write. A lot of the time, these authors will have access to advanced copies of the books they read (because of connections they’ve made with other authors), so if the book hasn’t been released to the public yet, add it to your “Want to Read” list on Goodreads.
5. Subscribe to your favorite authors’ blogs
Similarly, Google your favorite authors and see if they have an active blog. Many of them maintain a blog — a lot of times, you’ll need to sift through a bunch of self-promotion (which you may not mind if you want to read their next book!), but these authors often blog about books similar to theirs that they enjoyed.
6. What Should I Read Next?
What Should I Read Next? is a search engine where you can enter a book you like, and the site will analyze their database of real readers’ favorite books to provide book recommendations and suggestions for what to read next.
All roads end at Amazon, I suppose. Despite being difficult to sift through, Amazon often has spot-on recommendations based on your recent purchases. Again, not all recommendations will be high-quality since they might be self-published books in need of an edit or two more. But when you find a book that looks interesting, verify its brilliance on Goodreads and your favorite book review blogs. If everything checks out, add it to your Wish List. This way, next time you’re in need of a new book, you can easily refer to your Wish List and make a quick purchase. Also refer to the specific Young Adult category to check out the latest releases and more popular books at the time.
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