My Bookish Christmas Shopping List # 4 — For My Picky Friend

Once a week, from now until Christmas, I’m going to be sharing my own shopping lists for family members or friends that I have on my list. I’ll be letting you know what they read, the challenges I face in choosing a book for them and some ideas I came up with. I’d love for you to also interject and recommend some that you think would fit as well! So check out my lists if you are also looking to find some books to give as Christmas gifts for the bookish people in your life.

Buying Books For

My friend that prefers literary fiction & just recently read & LOVED The Perks Of Being A Wallflower but still kind of doubts that YA can be “smart”, “deep” or poetic.Β  (Mwahaha I can now convert her!)

The “Challenges”


1) She just is skeptical of YA lit — she just sees it as all Twilight. This is where I see an opportunity!

2) She doesn’t really like “cutesy” love stories or anything like that!

My Strategy

I could go with safe & get her adult literary fiction titles that are popular OR I could challenge myself with mostly YA books I really, really do think she’d like if she gave a chance! YAngelism FTW!

Books I’ve Recommended To Her & She’s Enjoyed

All things John Green — Paper Towns, Looking For Alaska, The Fault In Our Stars, An Abundance Of Katherine
Marcelo in the Real World
It’s Kind of A Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
On The Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Please Ignore Vera Dietz, Ask The Passengers by AS King
The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan (not YA)
Every Day &Β Realm of Possibilities by David Levithan
The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
The Book Thief by Markus Zusack

So these are my prospective picks to buy for Christmas for my friend who is skeptical of YA! I hope this is useful for any of you looking for good book recommendations for family/friends this season…or for yourself :P. Let me know if you have any suggestions for me to look into as I try to shop for her and find the best choices for more “literary” (I hate that term but have no idea what else to say) YA.

Check out previous shopping lists:
Christmas shopping list for my sister who is a Twilight fan!
Christmas shopping list for my teen sister who loves realistic teen fiction
Christmas shopping list for my teen nephews who like to read

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 30 year old married lady who is in denial that she’s actually that old. When she’s not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, listening to music with oversized headphones and having adventures with her husband and dog.


  1. You have some really great choices there! The Scorpio Races and The Book Thief were both absolutely amazing, in my opinion. I hope she enjoys what you pick for her πŸ™‚

  2. I don’t know how she feels about fantasy (I often find that people who are dismissive of YA also tend to dislike sci-fi or fantasy on principle), but one of the most beautifully written stories I’ve ever read is a story called “The Perilous Gard,” by Elizabeth Marie Pope. It was written in 1971, before books were really meant to be aimed at the teen market, but I would label it as YA. It’s wonderful. I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t love it.

  3. MUCHO AGREED! I have tons of friends who are skeptical of YA, as well as parents who come in to my store and are all like, “Oh TEEN BOOKS? No I don’t want my kid reading that stuff.” Some people.

  4. Great list again! The Book Thief is a great crossover for adults to learn that YA doesn’t mean simplistic. Most of the others on your list are still on my TBR list (shame) but they seem like excellent choices.

  5. Love the list! I would also recommend The Diviners by Libba Bray, it’s really smart and poetic. Maybe Divergent? You can’t not love that book!

  6. As a person who also doesn’t love cutesy love stories — looking for alaska would be the last on my list! I’m in my late 20s so maybe I’m too old for it but I could not stand that book! I’m also very much alone in this opinion I have come to learn.

    It’s not so YA but “The Age of Miracles” was fantastic! “The Beginning of After” & “Where Things Come Back” were also great.

  7. Literary YA is one of my things. Also, YAngelism. =)

    I really think that your picky friend will probably like the Jessica Darling series. It’s very literary and quite experimental in its style and structure. Also, other old classics I love: ALL OF Madeleine L’Engle, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy (really great for people who don’t think they like YA at all), The Giver, and Anne of Green Gables.

  8. To go along with The Book Thief recommendation, I’d definitely suggest Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. It was very good.

  9. Already a great list but here are a few I picked from my bookshelf:

    13 Reasons Why
    Before I Fall
    The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
    Saving June by Hannah Harrington
    If I Stay/Where She Went

  10. I’ve read a lot of the books on that list, and something tells me not to go with either of those David Levithan titles. I love POH BUT I just don’t know if someone picky would enjoy it, same with LD. The styles are both so unique. (If you want a David one, I may suggest “Love is the Higher Law”… I bought it for a friend that doesn’t normally read YA and he really liked it.)

    I think, out of this list, your best bets are Jellicoe Road, Paper Towns, and The Book Thief. I’m going to have to suggest Second Chance Summer too… it’s almost like the perfect book to me. About romance, but mostly about family growing and changing.

    And because your friend liked Perks, how about Lexapros and Cons, who has a great male MC. πŸ™‚

    Good luck!! You’ll have to tell us how it all turns out.

  11. I think The Fault in Our Stars By John Green will be a great choice! It’s “literary” enough for people who want serious literature, but it’s still a fun YA novel. It’s one of my favorites to auto-recommend.

  12. Hi!

    I’ve been following your book recommendations closely, and today I picked up The Fault In Our Stars without hesitation. Thank you. It looks like I might enjoy it. πŸ™‚


  13. I’m not sure about The Fault in Our Stars – I can go either way with YA and I pretty much hated it. It’s the epitome of the ‘cutsey love story’ your friend doesn’t like! To me it was everything that was WRONG with YA. I mean, I know a lot of people liked it but I just think there are better choices on that list.

    I loved It’s Kind of A Funny Story and The Book Thief though – it still surprises me that the latter is classed as YA!

  14. That’s a great list you have put together! Some of my faves are on it (the John Green, The Marchetta, the J. Nelson, and the Steifvater.) If she is a fantasy fan I don’t think you can go wrong with Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles (Finnikin of the Rock is the first.) They are all amazing and could be enjoyed by any age group. Ditto for Beth Kephart’s Small Damages, which reminds me a lot of Wanderlove (travel themes) and G. Forman’s Just One Day (which I can see that you loved as much as I did based on your review:) in terms of BEAUTIFUL writing. The Diviners by Libba Bray was also pretty incredible, especially if she is a fan of historical fiction and paranormal, it definitely felt like a book that can cross age groups.

    What a bunch of lucky friends you have:) Happy Holidays!

  15. I wouldn’t consider Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One to be “deep,” or “poetic”…or “literary,” but I am convinced that nobody can possibly not like that book–that whole book is just so much fun! And there’s a bit of romance I guess…but oh well, it’s insignificant.

    Perhaps Courtney Summer’s This is Not A Test or Issac Marion’s Warm Bodies (even though the author insists that it shouldn’t be classified as YA.) Both of those books define “zombie books.”

    As much as I enjoyed Every Day for its concept..cutesy love story, no? On the other hand, I do not approve of its ending.

  16. I just want to hug most of the books you’ve selected (7 of which I’ve read, the rest of which are on my TBR). I have a feeling you’re going to be able to show your friend that YA can be more than just Twilight πŸ˜‰

  17. This looks like the perfect Christmas list. . . for myself! I love reading, but I typically don’t end up reading YA– not because I have anything against it, but because other things always catch my eye in the end– but lately I’ve been on a bit of a YA kick. I think I’m going to tackle a John Green book next, because I’ve read samples on the kindle and I’m already impressed with his writing!


  1. […] For some more ideas, check out Jamie’s post on picks for a picky reader over at The Perpetual Page Turner! […]