2014 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults

YALSA's Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults is presented annually after the Midwinter Meeting. The 2014 list of 74 titles is arranged by the following three topics:

Conflicted: Life During Wartime. Today’s U.S. teens have lived most of their lives in a country at war. These books address direct combat as well as life in a war zone, across a broad swath of locations and historical periods.

GLBTQ: Books with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer-questioning, Intersex, Asexual Individuals, and Their Allies. The committee’s update of the 2006 GLBTQ list reflects the growing abundance of titles for young adults with GLBTQ themes. 

Humor Me: Funny, Fantastic and Witty Reads. Another revisited topic, these titles contain satire, slapstick, tragicomedy, and the more subtle humor that comes from everyday experience.

The committee also created a top ten list, denoted here by an asterisk.

 “As with all years, we highlighted topics that are both timely and have lasting value,” said Lisa Goldstein, committee chair. “All lists contain nonfiction titles to align with Common Core Standards, and this was a particular consideration when selecting the Conflicted topic. Conflicted concerns teens’ experiences of war, covering both contemporary conflicts and historical accounts. Updating the 2006 GLBTQ list revealed the staggering increase in titles for young adults with GLBTQ characters and themes. Humor Me showcases the lighter side of young adult literature, though many of the selections deftly handle serious issues with a great deal of humor. The committee strived to create lists inclusive in format, diversity, and character experience, and hope that they will assist librarians in creating appealing, well-rounded collections.”

Members of the Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults Committee are: Lisa Goldstein, chair, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn, NY; Joan Callen, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Information Studies, Milwaukee, WI; Sabrina Carnesi, Crittenden Middle School, Newport News, VA; Kelly Chaney, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little Rock, AR; Kate Denier, Public Library of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH; Jeanette Johnson, Emperor Elementary School, San Gabriel, CA; Jennifer Kendall, Prescott Public Library, Prescott, AZ; Karen Keys, Queens Borough Public Library, Flushing, NY; Amanda Margis, Warren-Newport Public Library, Gurnee, IL; Nicola McDonald, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn, NY; Olivia Morales Geaghan, Hathaway Brown School, Shaker Heights, OH; Mary Anne Nichols; Kent State University School of Library and Information Science, Kent, OH; Shilo Pearson, Chicago Public Library, Chicago, IL; Courtney Saldana, Ontario City Library, Ontario, CA; Paula Willey, administrative assistant, Baltimore County Public Library, Baltimore, MD.

Conflicted: Life During Wartime

Shilo Pearson, subcommittee chair
Sabrina Carnesi
Jeanette Johnson
Jennifer Kendall
Nicola McDonald
Mary Anne Nichols
Courtney Saldana
Paula Willey


Anderson, Laurie Halse. Chains: Seeds Of America. Atheneum, 2010; 9781416905868; $7.99.

Isabel fights for her freedom as the Revolutionary War breaks out.

Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. The Boy Who Dared. Scholastic Press, 2008; 9780545118798; $6.95.

A German boy risks his life to expose the truth behind the Nazi regime.

Bruchac, Joseph. Code Talker: A Novel About The Navajo Marines Of World War Two. Speak, 2006; 9780142405963; $7.99.

Sixteen-year-old Ned Begay joins an elite group of code breakers.

Davis, Tanita S. Mare’s War. Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 2011; 9780375850776; $9.99.

Two sisters learn about their grandmother's service as an African-American in the Women’s Army Corp during World War Two.

Gleitzman, Morris. Once. Square Fish, 2013; 9780312653040; $9.99.

A Jewish boy crosses Nazi-occupied Poland in search of his parents.

Janeczko, Paul B. Requiem: Poems of the Terezín Ghetto. Candlewick Press, 2013; 9780763664657; $7.99.

Poetry celebrates and mourns the creative community of Nazi concentration camp Theresienstadt.

Jordan, Hillary. Mudbound. Algonquin Books, 2009; 9781565126770; $14.95.

Two World War Two heroes return to rural Mississippi to find that while they have changed, home has not.

Mazer, Harry.  Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am.  Simon & Schuster, 2013;   9781416938965; $9.99.

Ben's decision to join the army after 9/11 has devastating consequences.

McCormick, Patricia. Never Fall Down. Balzer and Bray, 2013; 9780061730955; $9.99.

Life and death under the Khmer Rouge in 1970's Cambodia.

McKay, Sharon E. War Brothers. Illus. Daniel Lafrance. Annick Press, 2013; 9781554514885; $18.95.

Ugandan child slaves are forced to fight for the Lord's Resistance Army.

Novgorodoff, Danica. Refresh, Refresh. Illus. Danica Novgorodoff. First Second, 2009; 9781596435223; $17.99.

War takes its toll on teens whose fathers and brothers are deployed to Iraq.

Reinhardt, Dana. The Things A Brother Knows. Ember, 2011; 9780375844560; $8.99.

Boaz is no longer the brother Levi knew when he returns from the Middle East.

*Sepetys, Ruta. Between Shades Of Gray. Speak, 2012; 9780142420591; $8.99.

Soviet officers deport Lina and her family from Lithuania to a Siberian work camp during World War Two.

Sharenow, Robert. The Berlin Boxing Club. HarperTeen, 2012; 9780061579707; $9.99.

Boxing becomes Karl's refuge as a Jew in Nazi-era Berlin.

Smith, Sherri L. Flygirl. Speak, 2010; 9780142417256; $7.99.

Southern-born Ida Mae "passes" for white to fly planes during World War Two.

Wein, Elizabeth. Code Name Verity. Hyperion, 2013; 9781423152880; $9.99.

After her plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France, "Verity" is captured and interrogated by the Gestapo.

*Yang, Gene Luen. Boxers. Illus. Gene Luen Yang. First Second, 2013; 9781596433595; $34.99.

This two volume graphic novel tells parallel stories of the Chinese Boxer Rebellion.

*Yang, Gene Luen. Saints. Illus. Gene Luen Yang. First Second, 2013; 9781596436893; $34.99.

This two volume graphic novel tells parallel stories of the Chinese Boxer Rebellion.


Abirached, Zeina. A Game For Swallows: To Die, To Leave, To Return. Illus. Zeina Abirached. Graphic Universe, 2012; 9781575059419; $9.95.

Finding a safe haven in the midst of Beirut's bombing.

Guibert, Emmanuel. The Photographer. Illus. Emmanuel Guibert and Didier Lefèvre. First Second, 2009; 9781596433755; $32.99.

Photojournalist Didier Lefèvre documented the efforts of a team of doctors in Afghanistan in 1986.

Hillenbrand, Laura. Unbroken. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2012; 9780007378036; $16.00.

After competing in the 1936 Olympics, track and field star Louis Zamperini fought in World War Two, surviving a plane crash, a typhoon, and brutal POW camps.

Kamara, Mariatu with Susan McClelland. The Bite Of The Mango. Annick Press, 2008; 9781554511587; $12.95.

Kidnapped and tortured by rebels, Kamara fights for survival in Sierra Leone.

Sheinkin, Steve. The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story Of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery. Square Fish, 2013; 9781250024602; $9.99.

Benedict Arnold always wanted to be a war hero - so what turned him into a notorious villain?

*Stone, Tanya Lee. Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles: America's First Black Paratroopers. Candlewick Press. 2013; 9780763665487; $17.99.

Personal narratives of the courageous men who defended the American West during World War Two.

Wasdin, Howard E. and Stephen Templin. I Am A Seal Team Six Warrior: Memoirs of an American Soldier. Griffin, 2012; 9781250016430; $7.99.

After grueling training, Howard joins the elite of the Navy’s elite.

GLBTQ: Books with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer-questioning, Intersex, Asexual individuals, and Their Allies

Karen Keys, subcommittee chair
Joan Callen
Kelly Chaney
Kate Denier
Olivia Morales Geaghan
Lisa Goldstein
Amanda Margis


Adams, S.J. Sparks: The Epic, Completely True Blue, (Almost) Holy Quest of Debbie. Flux, 2011; 9780738726762; $9.95.

Debbie loves Lisa, but Lisa has a boyfriend.

Beam, Cris. I Am J. Little, Brown and Company, 2012; 9780316053600; $10.00.

J runs away from home to become his true self.

*Bray, Libba. Beauty Queens. Scholastic Press, 2012; 9780439895989; $9.99.

Fifty Miss Teen Dream Pageant contestants crash on a desert island with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

Chbosky, Stephen. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. MTV Books, 2012; 9781451696196; $14.00.

Charlie battles depression his freshman year of high school.

*Cronn-Mills, Kirstin. Beautiful Music For Ugly Children. Flux, 2012; 9780738732510; $9.99.

Elizabeth takes on a new identity as a radio DJ: Gabe.

Dole, Mayra Lazara. Down To The Bone. Bella Books Inc., 2012; 9781594933172; $14.95.

Laura Amores gets kicked out of her home for having a girlfriend.

Goode, Laura. Sister Mischief. Candlewick Press, 2013; 9780763664565; $8.99.

Esme and her friends form hip hop crew Sister Mischief and shake up their suburban school.

Hyde, Catherine Ryan. Jumpstart The World. Ember, 2011; 9780375866265; $7.99.

Ellie develops a crush on her neighbor Frank and then finds out that he is transgender.

Kluger, Steve. My Most Excellent Year: A Novel Of Love, Mary Poppins, And Fenway Park. Speak, 2009; 9780142413432; $8.99.

T.C.'s best friend Augie falls for a boy.

Lam, Laura. Pantomime. Strange Chemistry, 2013; 9781908844378; $9.99.

Gene, raised to be a proper lady, runs away and joins the circus.

Levithan, David. Every Day. Ember, 2013; 9780307931894; $9.99.

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

*Lo, Malinda. Ash. Little, Brown and Company, 2009; 9780316040105; $9.00.

In this retelling of the Cinderella story Ash finds freedom from her evil stepmother in the love of Kaisha, the huntress.

Myracle, Lauren. Shine. Harry N. Abrams Inc., 2012; 9781419701849; $7.95.

Is Patrick in a coma because of a hate crime?

Parent, Dan. Kevin Keller: Welcome To Riverdale. Illus. Dan Parent. Archie Comics, 2012; 9781936975235; $11.99.

Archie's first gay character makes a splash in Riverdale.

Peters, Julie Anne. Between Mom And Jo. 2008. Little, Brown and Company, 2008; 9780316067102; $7.99.

Nick’s mother and her wife are splitting up.

Sanchez, Alex. The God Box. Simon & Schuster, 2009; 9781416909002; $9.99.

Growing up in a conservative town, Paul confronts the question of how a person can be both gay and Christian.

Tamaki, Mariko. Skim. Illus. Jillian Tamaki. Groundwood Books, 2010; 9780888999641; $12.95.

Kimberly Keiko Cameron, aka Skim, looks for life's answers in Wicca, tarot cards and her English teacher, Ms. Archer.

Tracey, Scott. Witch Eyes. Flux, 2011; 9780738725956; $9.95.

Braden falls for Trey, then learns their powerful witch families are on opposite sides.

Wise, Tama. Street Dreams. Bold Strokes Books, 2012; 9781602826502; $13.95.

Tyson gets involved in both the local hip hop scene and a possible romance.

Woodson, Jacqueline. The House You Pass On The Way. Puffin, 2010; 9780142417065; $7.99.

When Staggerlee meets Trout she begins to question what she thought she knew about herself.

Yee, Paul. Money Boy. Groundwood Books, 2013; 9781554980932; $9.95.

When his father throws him out on the street, Ray Liu wonders how far he'll have to go to survive.


Belge, Kathy and Marke Bieschke. Queer: The Ultimate LGBT Guide for Teens. Illus. Christian Robinson. Zest Books, 2011; 9780981973340; $14.99.

A guide for navigating homophobia, coming out, dating, and the ups and downs of teen life.

Berman Steve, ed. Speaking Out!: LGBTQ Youth Stand Up. Bold Strokes Books, 2011; 9781602825666; $13.95.

Life after coming out.

Savage, Dan and Terry Miller, ed. It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, And Creating A Life Worth Living. Plume, 2012; 9780452297616; $15.00.

A collection of moving essays and transcribed videos from the It Gets Better Project.

Winick, Judd. Pedro & Me: Friendship, Loss, & What I Learned. Illus. Judd Winick. Square Fish, 2009; 9780805089646; $17.99.

Judd met Pedro, an HIV-positive AIDS educator, on a reality show. This is his tribute to his friend.

Humor Me: Funny, Fantastic and Witty Reads

Jennifer Kendall, subcommittee chair
Joan Callen
Sabrina Carnesi
Kelly Chaney
Kate Denier
Lisa Goldstein
Jeanette Johnson
Karen Keys
Nicola McDonald
Olivia Morales Geaghan
Amanda Margis
Mary Anne Nichols
Shilo Pearson
Courtney Saldana
Paula Willey


Andrews, Jesse. Me and Earl And The Dying Girl. Harry N. Abrams Inc., 2013; 9781419705328; $7.95.

Greg’s mom gives him the awful task of “cheering up” a girl who is dying of leukemia.

*Benway, Robin. Audrey, Wait! Razorbill, 2009; 9781595141927; $8.99.

Audrey is so much more than a hit song about how evil she is.

Bradley, Alex. 24 Girls In 7 Days. Speak, 2006; 9780142405437; $6.99.

Jack has a week to find a prom date.

Cabot, Meg. The Princess Diaries. HarperTeen, 2008; 9780061479939; $9.99.

Flat-chested fresh(wo)men flunking algebra can't be princesses!

*Calame, Don. Swim The Fly. Candlewick Press, 2010; 9780763647766; $7.99.

Sean's summer's bucket list: swim the 100 meter fly and see a real live naked girl!

Cliff, Tony. Delilah Dirk And The Turkish Lieutenant. Illus. Tony Cliff. First Second, 2013; 9781596438132; $15.99.

Delilah and her new friend Selim fight their way across the Ottoman Empire.

*Crawford, Brent. Carter Finally Gets It. Hyperion, 2010; 9781423112471; $8.99.

A freshman year like no other.

Grahame-Smith, Seth. Pride And Prejudice And Zombies. Quirk Books, 2009; 9781594743344; $12.95.

Spirited, intelligent Lizzie Bennet proves to be as adept at spearing the shambling undead as she is at puncturing bourgeois pomposity.

Headley, Justina Chen. Nothing But The Truth (And A Few White Lies). Little, Brown and Company, 2007; 9780316011310; $7.99.

Patty Ho, half Taiwanese, half white, can't figure out where she fits in.

Jaffe, Michele. Bad Kitty. HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2007; 9780060781101; $9.99.

Jasmine is on vacation with her family in Vegas when a mystery lands in her lap.

Kennedy, James. The Order of Odd-Fish. Laurel Leaf, 2010; 9780440240655; $7.99.

Thirteen-year-old Jo Larouche lives a quiet life with her Aunt Lily until the arrival of the Order of Odd Fish.

Lubar, David. Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie. Speak, 2007; 9780142407806; $7.99.

Wise words from Scott for his unborn baby sister or brother, unaffectionately nicknamed Smelly.

Martinez, A. Lee. Helen & Troy's Epic Road Quest. Orbit, 2013; 9780316226431; $15.00.

Helen is a minotaur, Troy a hero. Together they embark on a classic quest, in a classic car.

*McBride, Lish. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. Square Fish, 2012; 9780312674373;  $9.99.

Supernatural peril plus plenty of banter.

Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. Dairy Queen. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007; 9780618863358; $8.99.

D.J. decides to try out for her school's football team while running the family farm.

Rennison, Louise. A Midsummer Tights Dream. HarperTeen, 2013; 9780061799389; $9.99.

Tallulah’s ready to return to the stage - and her crushes.

Scott, Jerry. Zits: Chillax. Illus. Jim Borgman. Harper Teen. 2013. 9780062228512. $9.99.

Zits comic strip character Jeremy Duncan stars in a novel.

Shen, Prudence. Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong. Illus. Faith Erin Hicks. First Second, 2013; 9781596436596; $16.99.

The cheerleaders want new uniforms, but the robotics club needs money to enter their masterpiece in a robot rumble.

Sonnenblick, Jordan. Zen And The Art of Faking It. Scholastic Press, 2010; 9780439837095; $7.99.

If no one knows the Zen master is faking it, is the Zen master real?

Strand, Jeff. A Bad Day For Voodoo. Sourcebooks Fire, 2012; 9781402266805; $8.99.

Ever blown your history teacher’s leg off with a voodoo doll, only to find out that the next doll looks a lot like...you?

Van Draanen, Wendelin. Flipped. Ember, 2003; 9780375825446; $8.99.

Julianna meets Bryce and flips!

Wizner, Jake. Spanking Shakespeare. Ember, 2008; 9780375855948; $8.99.

Shakespeare Shapiro writes his memoir in spite of his humiliating past, his humiliating present, and his humiliating name.


Bragg, Georgia. How They Croaked: The Awful Ends Of The Awfully Famous. Illus. Kevin O’Malley. Walker & Company, 2012; 9780802727947; $9.99.

Gruesome accounts of famous lives and bizarre deaths.

Kaling, Mindy. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). Three Rivers Press, 2012; 9780307886279; $14.00.

Comedian Mindy Kaling’s observations about romance, shopping, and more.

Vizzini, Ned. Teen Angst? Naaah . . . . Ember, 2010; 9780385739450; $8.99.

More humor than angst in these essays by a teenaged Vizzini.