Click here for some authors we’ve talked to about their books and their process.

And click below for some recommendations from some authors we trust.


Jason Reynolds

JASON REYNOLDS is crazy. About stories. After earning a BA in English from The University of Maryland, College Park, he moved to Brooklyn, New York, where you can often find him walking the four blocks from the train to his apartment talking to himself. Well, not really talking to himself, but just repeating character names and plot lines he thought of on the train, over and over again, because he’s afraid he’ll forget it all before he gets home. When I Was the Greatest is his debut novel. His next, The Boy in the Black Suit, comes out in 2015. He’s also the co-author of (in our opinion) the criminally-overlooked poetry/art hybrid memoir My Name is Jason. Mine Too.: Our Story. Our Way.

From his website: “Here’s what I know: I know there are a lot - A LOT - of young people who hate reading. I know that many of these book haters are boys. I know that many of these book-hating boys, don’t actually hate books, they hate boredom. If you are reading this, and you happen to be one of these boys, first of all, you’re reading this so my master plan is already working (muahahahahahaha) and second of all, know that I feel you. I REALLY do. Because even though I’m a writer, I hate reading boring books too.”

  • The Young Landlords
  • Walter Dean Myers
  • It’s a brilliantly gritty story about a bunch of kids who get swindled into taking over a slum building. Super creative, yet totally feasible in New York City.

  • Kira-Kira
  • Cynthia Kadohata
  • The story takes place in the sixties in the segregated south. Black people know where they stand. White people know where they stand. But what about a Japanese family?

  • Noggin
  • John Corey Whaley
  • Smart and hilarious story about a young man who is dying and his parents decide to cryogenically freeze his head. A few years later, he’s back from the dead. And he’s still in high school.

  • The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey
  • Walter Mosley
  • One of the gems that flew under the radar because Mosely is so prolific. But it’s a sweet, yet biting story about an elder man, Ptolemy Grey, suffering from dementia.

  • Erasure
  • Percival Everett
  • It’s a weird book about a stuffy writer and his hatred for the industry. His frustration with his agent wanting him to write a “sellable” book pushes him to pen “street fiction” just as a middle finger to the corporate publishing structure. Madness ensues, and it’s downright hilarious.

Mo Willems

Jeffrey Brown

Jeffrey Brown lives in Chicago with his wife and two sons. As a kid, he loved comics and dreamed of making them. With a long line of publications and art shows behind and in front of him, we'd say he's certainly living that dream. He's definitely a case of if you can dream it, with a lot of hard work, you can do it. Most lately he's the author of the New York Times bestselling Jedi Academy series. 

photo credit: Jill Liebhaber

  • The Complete Tales Of Winnie-The-Pooh
  • A.A. Milne
  • Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard
    I only knew the Disney version of Winnie-The-Pooh until I had a son, and discovered I'd really been missing out. I was familiar with Shepard's excellent drawings, but had no idea just how funny and smart the original Pooh stories are.

  • Anything by Roald Dahl
  • Roald Dahl
  • There have been some notable Dahl adaptations - the original Willy Wonka film, Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox - but Dahl's books are more than just great source material for movies. They're endlessly entertaining, often laugh-out-loud funny, and great to read at any age, alone or with someone else also of any age.

  • Labyrinth
  • A.C.H. Smith
  • Going in reverse, here's a novelization of film I loved, and read a ton all the way to my teenage years. Recently reprinted in a nice edition that includes some of Brian Froud's goblin sketches, it's a fairy tale informed by the imagination of Jim Henson and the humor of Monty Python's Terry Jones.

  • His Dark Materials Trilogy
  • Philip Pullman
  • Fans of Harry Potter, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien should be sure to check out this fantasy series. The tone is earnest and sincere, and the adventure is full of wonder and mystery.

Alison DeCamp

Alison DeCamp is the author of My Near-Death Adventures (99% True!), as well as a former teacher and current booksller at Between the Covers bookstore in Harbor Springs, Michigan. 

"I have a daughter and a son, I've taught middle school and high school and worked at a bookstore. These are all books I love, can sell, and that my children loved as well."

  • Across the Nightingale Floor, Tales of the Otori, Book 1
  • Lian Hearn
  • Kind of a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fantasy set in an alternate Japan where people can have superpowers. It's really well-done fantasy.

  • Knucklehead
  • Jon Scieszka
  • A fantastic graphic novel about Jon's boyhood in Flint, Michigan, where my husband is also from. It's funny and real and mostly funny.

  • Out from Boneville, Boneville Series, #1
  • Jeff Smith
  • These are so imaginative, innocent, and creative. I am a big fan of smart graphic novels and how they make us think.

  • The Eddie Dickens Trilogy
  • Philip Ardagh
  • There's a stuffed stoat in these books. I'm not even sure what that is, but do I really need to say more?

  • The Willoughbys
  • Lois Lowry
  • Same Lois Lowry as THE GIVER, but a completely different kind of story, one where the kids are super smart and the adults need to get a clue.

  • Winger
  • Andrew Smith
  • My 16 y.o. has read and reread this book about a 14 y.o. rugby player. It's a story about all the confusion that's part and parcel of growing up while simultaneously injecting humor and love and redemption into the entire mix.

  • Nicholas
  • Jean-Jacques Sempe
  • Nicholas is irreverent and slightly naughty and a bit clueless but always funny.

  • How They Croaked, The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous
  • Georgia Bragg
  • (by Georgia Bragg & Kevin O'Malley)

    Just like the title says, this is a book about how famous people died. But really it's a history book.

  • We Were Liars
  • E.Lockhart
  • I read this book in three hours. Granted, I told my family I wasn't feeling well so they actually left me alone for that amount of time, but I devoured this book. There's an unreliable narrator and a shocking ending and a slew of open-ended questions that we still argue about in our house.

Patrick Jones

is a Senior Librarian at the Hennepin County Library in Minneapolis, MN.  This is what he says:

The Great Eight: great books (kind of) for guys.  Also: Magazines. Anytime I’m asked for booklist, I ask, “What about magazines, don’t they count?” Well, it’s my list so they count.  Read a magazine every month or week.