2015 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults

YALSA's 2015 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults is presented annually around the ALA Midwinter Meeting. The 2015 list of 97 titles is arranged by the following four topics:

            Book to Movie: Ripped from the Pages. The recent trend in movies seems to be screenplay adaptations of popular novels. You will find your favorites here.

            Mysteries: Murder, Mayhem and Other Adventures. The committee’s update of the 2004 Guess Again list reflects the growing abundance of titles for young adults with Mystery themes.

            Lock Up: Teens behind Bars. A relevant issue and widely popular theme for 2015. These titles explore the very real and dangerous issues of incarceration.

            Narrative Non-Fiction: Inspired by Actual Events. This list of real life, factual stories supports Common Core State Standards and Critical Thinking Skills.

“Keeping YALSA’s mission in mind, we have worked together, listened to the teens we interact with, and kept abreast of topics and themes relevant to young adults,” said Jeanette Johnson, committee chair. “Our lists contain a mix of fiction, nonfiction and graphic novels. The majority of movies made currently are adapted from novels. This trend inspired our Book to Movie category. These titles reflect a wide variety of themes from current to classic. With the staggering increase of Mystery titles being published, we felt updating the 2004 Guess Again list was long overdue. The list contains a wide range of mystery styles from subtle to traditional. Lock Up is a real and relevant issue in society today. Major steps are being taken all over the country to bring awareness to this issue and educate incarcerated teens. Common Core State Standards play an important of part in our libraries today and our Narrative Non-Fiction is a perfect list which aligns to those standards. The Common Core asks students to be active readers, engaged in their reading, and critical of the content. Today’s teens are part of a diverse and fast paced world with a wide range of interests and concerns. The committee aimed to celebrate today’s young adults by creating a list a diverse as the youth we serve.”

Members of the Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults Committee are: Jeanette Johnson, chair, Oak Avenue Intermediate School, Temple City, CA; Heather Love Beverley, Cook Memorial Public Library District, Libertyville, IL; Joan Callen, MLIS Graduate currently working in a non-library position, Waukesha WI; Emma Carbone, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn, NY; Alison Edwards, Prince of Wales Collegiate, St. John's, NL, Canada; Debbie Fisher, Central Falls High School in Central Falls, RI; Mark Flowers, Solano County Library, Vallejo, CA; KE Hones, SFUSD Continuation High Schools, San Francisco, CA;Yolanda Hood, Curriculum Materials Center, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL; Jennifer Kendall, Prescott Public Library, Prescott, AZ; Amanda Margis, Northbrook Public Library, Northbrook, IL; Ryan Paulsen, New Rochelle High School, New Rochelle, NY; Ileana Pulu, San Francisco Public Library - Bayview Branch, San Francisco, CA; Courtney Saldana, Ovitt Family Community Library, Ontario, CA; Staci Terrell, Anderson Public Library, Anderson, IN

* denotes the title was selected as a top ten.

Download a handout of the list here.

Book to Movie: Ripped From the Pages

Courtney Saldana: subcommittee chair
Heather Beverley
Emma Carbone
Alison Edwards
Debbie Fisher
Yolanda Hood
Jeanette Johnson
Ryan Paulsen

Anderson, Laurie Halse. Speak. Square Fish, 2011; 9780312674397; $9.99. Melinda, a teenage outcast at school, works through her trauma to find her voice.

Blume, Judy. Tiger Eyes. Random House, 2013; 9780449816462; $8.99. While grieving for her dad, Davey moves to New Mexico and meets a friend who helps her through the process of healing.

Card, Orson Scott. Ender’s Game. Tor, 1994; 9780765337320; $12.99. Ender is drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training in order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack.

*Collins, Suzanne. Catching Fire. Scholastic Press, 2013; 9780545586177; $12.99. Katniss Everdeen and her co-victor Peeta are thrown back into the Hunger Games in the 75th Quarter Quell.

Crichton, Michael. Jurassic Park. Ballantine Books, 2012; 9780345538987; $9.99. Creatures extinct for eons roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery, and all the world can visit them—for a price.

Downham, Jenny. Before I Die. Random House, 2009; 9780385751834; $9.99.  Tessa enlists her best friend’s help in accomplishing her bucket list when she learns she only has months to live.

Forman, Gayle. If I Stay. Speak, 2010; 9780142415436; $9.99. Mia struggles to piece together her fragments of memory after a tragic accident takes the lives of her family.

Garcia, Kami and Margaret Stohl. Beautiful Creatures. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012; 9780316231657; $7.99. Lena Duchannes struggles to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations.

*Green, John. The Fault in Our Stars. Speak, 2014; 9780142424179; $12.99. The story of Hazel and Augustus, two teens who meet at a cancer support group and who share a love story filled with small infinities.

Hamilton, Bethany. Soul Surfer. MTV Books, 2006; 9781416503460; $15.00. A moving account of Bethany’s life as a young surfer and her recovery after a shark attack.

Jones, Diana Wynne. Howl’s Moving Castle. Greenwillow Books, 2008; 9780061478789; $7.99. Sophie must break her curse and her answers lie in the ever-moving castle in the hills.

Levine, Gail Carson. Ella Enchanted. HarperCollins, 2011; 9780064407052; $6.99. Ella begins a quest determined to break the curse of obedience given to her at birth.

Lore, Pittacus. I Am Number Four. HarperCollins, 2011; 9780061969577; $9.99. John must develop his legacies before the Mogadorians find and kill him and the other surviving Loric children.

Marchetta, Melina. Looking For Alibrandi. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2006; 9780375836947; $8.99. Set in the 1990’s in Australia, Josie deals with first love, family issues, loss of a loved one, and school life.

Mead, Richelle. Vampire Academy. Razorbill, 2007; 9781595141743; $9.99. After two years on the run, best friends Rose, a half-human/half-vampire, and Lissa, a mortal vampire princess, are caught and returned to St. Vladimir's Academy.

Moore, Alan. Watchmen. DC Comics, 2005; 9780930289232; $19.95. The story of a group called the Crimebusters and a plot to kill and discredit them during the US/Soviet missile conflict in 1985.

Rennison, Louise. Angus,Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging. HarperTeen, 2006; 9780064472272; $9.99. Wry observations and self-deprecating British humor pepper diary entries written by 14-year-old Georgia Nicolson.

Riordan, Rick. The Lightning Thief. Disney Hyperion, 2006; 9780786838653; $8.99. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy Jackson is the prime suspect.

Roth, Veronica. Divergent. Katherine Tegen Books, 2012; 9780062024039; $8.99. At 16, Beatrice Prior must decide which of the five factions she will devote the rest of her life to.

Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Mariner Books, 2012; 9780547750330; $14.95. Revelation of how the fast food industry has altered the landscape of America, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and transformed food production throughout the world.

Sebold, Alice. Lovely Bones. Back Bay Books, 2009; 9780316044936; $14.99. 14-year-old Susie Salmon is brutally raped and murdered by her neighbor, Mr. Harvey.

Tolkein, J.R.R. The Hobbit: or, There and Back Again. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012; 9780547928227; $13.95. Bilbo Baggins sets off with a band of Dwarves to help win back their home from a great dragon.

Zevin, Gabrielle. Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac. Square Fish, 2009; 9780312561284; $8.99. After a fall and loss of memory, Naomi must figure out how to live her new life.

Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief. Knopf, 2007; 9780375842207; $12.99. Liesel Meminger finds escape in the pages of stolen books during WWII in Germany.


Mysteries: Murder, Mayhem, and Other Adventures
Joan Callen: subcommittee chair
Emma Carbone
Debbie Fisher
Yolanda Hood
Jeanette Johnson
Jennifer Kendall
Amanda Margis
Staci Terrell


Black, Holly. White Cat. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2011; 9781416963974; $8.99. Cassel, a magical con artist, uncovers a conspiracy when people around him begin to lose their memories.

Blundell, Judy. Strings Attached. Scholastic, 2012; 9780545221276; $7.99. Kit is caught in a mix of love, mystery, Broadway glamour, and mob retribution in 1950 New York.

Bradbury, Jennifer. Shift. Simon and Schuster: Atheneum, 2012; 9781442408524; $9.99. Best friends celebrate their high school graduation by riding their bikes to the west coast, but only one of them makes it.

Brown, Teri. Born of Illusion. Balzer & Bray, 2014; 9780062187550; $9.99. Budding magician hides the fact that she possesses magnificent powers from her mother. 

Cameron, Sharon. The Dark Unwinding. Scholastic, 2008; 9780545327879; $8.99. Katherine discovers her uncle is a genius with childlike tendencies when she is sent to commit him to an asylum.

Carringer, Gail. Etiquette & Espionage. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013; 9780316190107; $10.00. Sophronia discovers her finishing school teaches more than just proper decorum.

Coley, Liz. Pretty Girl-13. Katherine Tegen Books, 2014; 978-0062127396; $9.99. Psychological thriller about a girl who must piece together the mystery of her kidnapping and abuse.

Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan, adapted by Ian Edginton, Illu., I.N.J. Culbard. A Study in Scarlet: A Sherlock Holmes Graphic Novel. Sterling, 2010; 9781402770821; $14.95. A man's body is found in an empty room and the only clue is a name partly written in blood on the wall.

Ellis, Kat. Blackfin Sky. Running Press, 2014; 9780762454013; $9.95. Presumed dead, Skylar will have to use strange dreams, the past and present to solve the mystery of her existence.

Ellison, Kate. The Butterfly Clues. Egmont, 2013; 9781606844175; $9.99. An obsessive-compulsive teen uncovers the secret behind her brother’s tragic death.

Gleason, Colleen. Clockwork Scarab. Chronicle Books, 2014; 9781452128733; $9.99. If Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes don't figure out why London's finest 16-year-old women are in danger, they'll become the next victims.

Harrington, Kim. Clarity. Point, 2012; 9780545230513; $8.99. When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's cheating ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case.

Henry, April. The Night She Disappeared. Square Fish, 2013; 9781250016744; $9.99. After one of their friends goes missing from the pizza place where they all work, Gabie and Drew find out the stalker took the wrong person, and one of them may be next.

Jones, Diana Wynne. Fire and Hemlock. Firebird, 2012; 9780142420140; $8.99. Polly must uncover the secrets in her memory, or her true love — and perhaps Polly herself — will be lost.

Lane, Andrew. Death Cloud: The Legend Begins. Square Fish, 2011; 9780312563714; $9.99. A teenage Sherlock Holmes uncovers a plot against the British Empire while staying with relatives in Hampshire.

Lee, Y.S. The Agency: A Spy in the House Candlewick, 2011; 9780763652890; $7.99. A house thief is spared the gallows when she's groomed to be a spy in this Victorian history mystery.

*Lyga, Barry. I Hunt Killers. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013; 9780316125833; $9.00. Son of an infamous serial killer, Jazz must help local police solve the new series of murders in his hometown.

Salerni, Dianne K. The Caged Graves. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, 2014; 9780544336223; $9.99. When Verity Boone returns to her hometown in 1867, nothing is as it seems, especially the cage around her mother’s grave.

*Sanderson, Brandon. The Rithmatist. Tor Teen, 2014; 9780765338440; $9.99. As Wild Chalklings threaten the American Isles, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that is humanity's only defense.

Schwab, Victoria. The Archived. Disney Hyperion, 2014; 9781423157311; $8.99. When the Archive is compromised from within, 16-year-old Mackenzie Bishop must use her skills as a Keeper to identify the traitor and prevent violent Histories from escaping into the world.

Sedgwick, Marcus. Midwinterblood. Square Fish, 2014; 9781250040077; $9.99. Seven stories of passion and love separated by centuries but mysteriously intertwined.

*Stroud, Jonathan. Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase. Disney Hyperion, 2014; 9781423186922; $9.99. In order to redeem their tarnished name, the Lockwood & Co agency must spend the night in the most haunted house in England.

Wasserman, Robin. The Book of Blood and Shadow. Random House Children's Books, 2013; 9780375872778; $10.99. While translating 400-year-old letters, Nora must solve a puzzle that spans continents and centuries.

Williams, Katie. The Space Between Trees. Chronicle Books, 2013; 9781452128542; $9.99. Story of a young girl who deals with the death of a classmate and her journey to find the killer.

Winters, Cat. In the Shadow of Blackbirds. Amulet, 2014; 9781419710230; $8.95. A young girl is caught in the horrors of war and the outbreak of the Spanish flu epidemic.


Lock Up: Teens Behind Bars

Amanda Margis: subcommittee chair
Heather Beverley
Alison Edwards
Mark Flowers
Kay Hones
Ileana Pulu
Courtney Saldana

Betts, Dwayne. A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison. Avery Publishing Group, 2010; 9781583333969; $15.00. At the age of sixteen, R. Dwayne Betts commits a carjacking with his friend and both boys are sentenced as adults.

Chura, David. I Don't Wish Nobody to Have a Life Like Mine: Tales of Kids in Adult Lockup. Beacon Press, 2011; 9780807001233; $14.00. A veteran teacher’s view of the lives of juveniles sentenced as adults.

Colfer, Eoin. Airman. Disney Hyperion, 2009; 9781423107514; $7.99. Conor Broekhart is a loyal bodyguard to the king until he is falsely accused of plotting to assassinate his king.

Dean, Carolee. Take Me There. Simon Pulse, 2012; 9781416989509; $8.99. Vowing to go straight after getting out of juvie, Dylan takes a cross-country road trip to see his father who is on death row.

Elkeles, Simone. Leaving Paradise. Flux, 2007; 9780738710181; $9.95. Caleb is released after a year in juvie after being convicted of a hit and run, involving his neighbor Maggie.

Faryon, Cynthia. Real Justice: Sentenced to Life at Seventeen: The Story of David Milgaard. Lorimer, 2013; 9781552774335; $12.95. A Canadian teen is wrongfully imprisoned for 23 years.

Ferris, Jean. Bad. Square Fish, 2004; 9780374404758; $8.99. Dallas is sent to the Girls' Rehabilitation Center after holding up a convenience store at gunpoint.

*Gantos, Jack. Hole in My Life. Square Fish, 2012; 9780312641573; $9.99. Prizewinning author Jack Gantos confronts the period of struggle and confinement that marked the end of his own youth, his time in prison, and how he moved on.

Giles, Gail. What Happened to Cass McBride? Little, Brown and Company, 2007; 9780316166393; $7.99. Kyle sets out to avenge his brother's suicide by kidnapping the girl he holds responsible and burying her alive.

Griffin, Paul. Stay With Me. Speak, 2012; 9780142421727; $8.99. A straight A student and a high school dropout with a record fall in love until a tragic event tears them apart.

Jacobs, John Hornor. The Twelve-Fingered Boy. Carolrhoda Books: Carolrhoda Lab; 2014; 9781467737067; $9.95. Shreveport’s life gets more complicated and dangerous in the Juvenile Correctional Facility when he is assigned a new roommate, an odd boy with twelve fingers.

Korman, Gordon. Juvie 3. Disney Hyperion, 2010; 9781423101628; $8.99. Three boys in jail change their luck when Mr. Healy selects them to serve their sentences in his halfway house, until he loses his memory.

Kuklin, Susan. No Choirboy: Murder, Violence, and Teenagers on Death Row. Macmillan: Square Fish, 2014; 9781250044457; $12.99. Teenagers on death row speak about their lives before and after being locked up.

Mauer, Mark & Sabrina Jones. Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling. The New Press, 2013; 9781595585417; $17.95. Adapted from Mauer's 1999 classic text on the explosion of prison populations in the United States

McVoy, Terra Elan. Criminal. Simon Pulse, 2014; 9781442421639; $9.99. Nikki's reaction to an unthinkable crime and how her perceptions of the life she had change after her arrest.

*Myers, Walter Dean. Lockdown. HarperCollins, 2010; 9780061214820; $9.99. Reese needs to stay on track to get early release from the Progress juvenile detention facility in the Bronx.

Myers, Walter Dean. Monster. HarperCollins, 2001; 9780064407311; $9.99. While waiting for his trial, Steve Harmon recounts the events that lead to his arrest.

Perez, Ashley Hope. The Knife and the Butterfly. Carolrhoda Books: Carolrhoda Lab, 2012; 9781467716246; $9.99. Azael Arevalo wakes up locked up in a cell and must discover the truth about how he got there.

Sleator, William. House of Stairs. Penguin: Puffin, 2004; 9780140345803; $6.99. Five teens find themselves incarcerated in a bizarre labyrinth of stairs, subjected to an increasingly disturbing psychological experiment.

Smith, Alexander Gordon. Lockdown: Escape From Furnace 1. Square Fish, 2010; 9780312611934; $9.99. Convicted of a murder and sentenced to life, Alex Sawyer knows he has find a way out or resign himself to a death behind bars.

Strasser, Todd. Boot Camp. Simon & Schuster, 2012; 9781442433588; $8.99. Garrett, sent to Harmony Lake, has hopes of a risky escape plot after being beaten and humiliated.

Volponi, Paul. Rikers High. Speak, 2011; 9780142417782; $7.99. Martin is arrested and is absorbed in prison culture while waiting for his court case.

Warren, Andrea. Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps. HarperCollins, 2002; 9780060007676; $6.99. The horrifying true story of Jack Mandelbaum's life in Nazi concentration camps, being shuttled from one camp to another, trying to find a way to beat Hitler.

Yolen, Jane. Girl in a Cage. Speak, 2004; 9780142401323; $6.99. Marjorie Bruce tells the story of her weeks being held as a hostage by the King of England.


Narrative Non-Fiction: Inspired by Actual Events

Jennifer Kendall: subcommittee chair
Joan Callen
Mark Flowers
Kay Hones
Ryan Paulsen
Ileana Pulu
Staci Terrell

Allen, Thomas B. George Washington, Spymaster: How the Americans Outspied the British and Won the Revolutionary War. National Geographic, 2007; 9781426300417; $7.95. An account of espionage, counter-espionage, codes, and ciphers during the American Revolution.

Ambrose, Stephen E. Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne From Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest. Simon & Schuster, 2004; 9780743224543; $17.00. Dramatic account of E Company of the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army through the European theater during WWII.

*Backderf, Derf. My Friend Dahmer. Abrams Comicarts, 2012; 9781419702174; $17.95. A high school friend creates a graphic novel memoir based on his association with the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.

Bissinger, H. G. Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream. Da Capo Press, 2004; 9780306809903; $15.95. The ups and downs of a beloved hometown high school football team from Odessa, Texas.

Blumenthal, Karen. Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition. Square Fish, 2013; 9781250034274; $12.99. An account of the entire history of the prohibition movement.

Fleischman, John. Phineas Gage: a Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004; 9780618494781; $9.95. The story and the science of how a man lived 10 years after a tamping iron shot through his head and brain.

Frank, Anne. The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition. Random House, 1995; 9780553577129; $8.50. Story of a 13-year-old Jewish girl and her family living in Amsterdam who are forced into hiding by the Nazis during World War II.

Geary, Rick. Jack the Ripper: A Journal of the Whitechapel Murders, 1888-1889. NBM: Publishing, 2001; 9781561633081; $9.95. A graphic novel recounting of the Whitechapel murders of 1888.

Gownley, Jimmy. The Dumbest Idea Ever. Graphix, 2014; 9780545453479; $11.99. This is the real-life story of how the DUMBEST idea ever became the BEST thing that ever happened to Jimmy Gownley.

Hartzler, Aaron. Rapture Practice: A True Story About Growing Up Gay in an Evangelical Family. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2014; 9780316094641; $9.00.  Raised in a religious home and awaiting the Rapture, Aaron Hartzler begins to learn lessons that can’t be found in the Bible.

Heiligman, Deborah. Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith. Square Fish, 2011; 9780312661045; $9.99. Charles Darwin needed to marry, but could he marry someone whose religious convictions were in direct opposition to his own views?

Hopkinson, Deborah. Titanic: Voices From the Disaster. Scholastic, 2012; 9780545116756; $7.99. Voices from the past  and vintage photographs recreate the gripping historical account of the Titanic.

Krakauer, Jon. Into Thin Air. Anchor, 1999; 9780385494786; $15.95.  A riveting first-hand account of a catastrophic expedition up Mount Everest in March 1996.

*Levine, Ellen S. Freedom’s Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories. Penguin: Puffin, 2000; 9780698118706; $7.99. Oral histories from 50 African Americans who were children and teens in the Deep South during the 1950s-1960s. 

Millard, Candice. Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and Murder of a President. Random House: Imprint Books, 2012; 9780767929714; $16.00. A president, an assassin, and an inventor are brought together in this little known historical event.

Neri, G. Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty. Lee and Low Books, 2010; 9781584302674; $13.56. A young boy is shot and killed by his fellow gang members when he accidentally shoots a neighborhood girl.

Ralston, Aron. 127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place. Atria, 2005; 9780743492829; $16.00. Aron Ralston’s survival story of his devastating hike through a southeastern canyon in  Utah in 2001.

Rappaport, Doreen. Beyond Courage:The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust. Candlewick, 2014; 9780763669287; $15.99. Jewish resistance groups throughout Europe organize retaliation against Germany during World War II.

Rhodes-Courter, Ashley. Three Little Words. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2009; 9781416948070; $9.99. A young girl is taken away from her biological mother and lives with fourteen different foster care families before she's adopted by a loving family.

Rodriguez, Gaby. The Pregnancy Project. Simon & Schuster, 2013; 9781442446236; $9.99. A high school student pretends to be pregnant for her senior project in order to break down stereotypes.

*Spiegelman, Art. Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale. Pantheon, 1986; 9780679748403; $15.95. A son's attempt to come to grips with his father's experiences of living through the Holocaust.

Walls, Jeannette. The Glass Castle. Scribner, 2006; 9780743247542; $16.00. Memoir of the author’s unconventional childhood growing up with an alcoholic father and a mother who seems to be mentally ill.

Yousafzai, Malala. I Am Malala:The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. Little Brown & Company, 2013; 9780316286633; $24.00. The story of Malala's fight for education.

Zuckoff, Mitchell. Frozen in Time LP: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II. Harper Perennial, 2014; 9780062269379; $15.99. Bodies of World War II airmen who crashed in Greenland in 1942 are reclaimed in a 2012 expedition.