In just a few short days, middle and high school students will descend upon the University at Albany’s Downtown Campus for the second annual TeenReaderCon. Write this down—on Saturday, October 17th. Boasting nine authors, including a few famous locals, let me take a moment to share my favorite book from each of the authors in one sentence.
- Jennifer Armstrong’s Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and The Endurance: A riveting survival story with a killer setting.
- SA Bodeen’s The Raft: A smart thriller on the open water with mind-bending twists—a contemporary version of survival classics.
- Eric Devine’s Press Play: Compelling rather than sensationalistic, there’s a sensitivity and intelligence that makes the book so grounded.
- Helen Frost’s Salt: A Story of Friendship In a Time of War: An eloquent verse tale of two boys whose lives are changed by the War of 1812.
- David Levithan’s Every Day: Uniquely existential it allows readers to take a long, hard look at who we are, how we treat one another, and the fluidity of love.
- Jackie Morse Kessler’s Breath: The final book in her Riders of the Apocalypse foursome, Kessler kills it with imagination, creativity, humor, and Death perched on a balcony.
- James Preller’s Bystander: The necessary tale of Eric’s role in a middle school drama that can be happening in Anywhere, USA.
- Eliot Schrefer’s Endangered: With the bonobo sanctuary destroyed and war breaking out, a beautiful story unfolds of the riches of the animal kingdom and the cruelty of humanity.
- Todd Strasser’s Wish You Were Dead: The first in his ‘thrillogy’, I know it’s good when I’m scared in the middle of the day.
As anticipation builds, the most deeply personal images from our first event and the infectious excitement of the students reminded me of something Holden Caulfield said in The Catcher in the Rye that “what really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though,” so while I can’t promise that you’ll be able to call up any of them like they’re a terrific friend, you can get pretty darn close Saturday.