Listening is a great way to experience a story.
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You can find books in any of the following groups:
And click below for some recommendations from some authors we trust.
is the undisputed Light Heavyweight Champion of All-Things-Wrestling-In-The-Library. This is his Book / Fight Club List: Ten best for teen boys about things in the ring.
There are many UFC biographies out, so it's who you like. I'm an old guy; I like the old guy.
A novel about a teen breaking into wrestling while wrestling with some problems of his own. The author is a Ric Flair fan (whooo!).
There's a lot of wrestling biographies out there, but Y2J's is probably best of the newer ones probably because he takes himself the least serious of all the squared circle scribes.
Filled with photos of these masked Mexican wrestlers, this is a must to understand the history and scope of pro wrestling.
Nothing but photos of UFC fighters through all stages of their careers. From the founders like Ken Shamrock to the modern kings of eight-sided cage, a wonderful way to browse the history of UFC.
The book follows the author's journey to become a MMA fighter. He thought training for the Army was hard work. Welcome to the cage.
The 4th novel of a series that started in the 1960s still punches hard with hard punches and harder choices.
A quick little read about a young man trying to earn money, and respect, by winning a boxing tournament.
The gritty covers lets you know the story inside is a tough one about a young man searching for himself, one fight at a time.
You get photos, lists, more photos, and more lists. As JR would say, "Business is about to pick up."
Adam Selzer was born in Des Moines and now lives in Chicago, where he writes humorous books by day and researches history, ghost stories and naughty playground rhymes by night. After eleven published books, including the acclaimed Smart Aleck's Guide to American History and I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It, not to mention How To Get Suspended and Influence People (which people try to ban now and then), he is just famous enough to have a page on wikipedia. He has been described as "subversive, but in a fun way....like the offspring of Bob Dylan and some Muppet." (taken from the author's website, adamselzer.com)
A story of two kids who sneak out to go to late night double feature picture shows and end up fighting aliens with wrestlers and detectives. I pretty much based my life on Pinkwater's teachings, and this one, in particular. It's set in a thinly-veiled version of Chicago, and the fact that I live near some of the locations now is not entirely a coincidence. It's available in a really good collection called "5 Novels" which also has a couple of other masterpieces in it.
A book about a guy who finds out that his father is a grave robber. I love grave robbing so much that my neighbors are reluctant to come to my barbecues.
How Nick Romano went from being an altar boy at 12 to dying in the electric chair at 21. A really tough, gritty novel about life on the streets in the 40s, this book is also the origin of the phrase "live fast, die young, have a good looking corpse." I found this in a bin at a thrift store in high school and bought it because I knew Jim Morrison had liked it; a week later it was my favorite novel ever. The writing just pounds you in the face.
The easiest Dickens to start with is A Christmas Carol (you already know the plot, and it's short), and the best ones are probably Great Expectations and Bleak House (which has a guy who spontaneously combusts in it). But sometimes I feel like I have a duty to tell people that Martin Chuzzlewit is under-rated; it comes right in between his early, zanier books and his later, more serious ones so you get the best of both worlds. Dickens books can take weeks to read, but they're worth it. You lose yourself in a larger-than-life world full of kooks and crooks with lots of droopy taverns and winding alleys. Even the most serious ones are funny as hell.
A collection of Ebert's worst reviews - just about everything you need to know about writing is mixed into these. Reading Ebert's best and worst reviews will tell you more than 100 "writing craft" books. He was really funny when he was ripping into a movie - he says one of them should be chopped up and made into free ukulele picks for the poor. And the notes he had for that movie where Shaq plays a genie are some of the best writing advice you can get.
Spinelli's first book, re-reading it in college is what made me realize that YA books could be just as "literary" as anything else on the shelves.
Roth's latest and apparently last book, a story about a gym teacher in a Jewish neighborhood in New Jersey during World War 2 who questions his faith when a couple of kids die of polio. He seems to have no idea what's going on in Europe. But the reader does.
A nonfiction book about controversies among Shakespeare scholars (like, does Juliet talk about having an orgasm? Did Shakespeare revise his work? How much of Macbeth is missing from the script we have?) Academia is weird world full of cliques and drama, Rosenbaum succeeds in making it look as though professors throw folding chairs at each other during conferences. He also speaks as well as anyone about how Shakespeare can just cast this spell over you that you may never recover from if it hits you just right (while freely admitting that most Shakespeare productions, and most essays about him, are boring as all get out).
Look, writing middle grade humor is really, really hard. Way harder than YA humor. I re-read this one lately and couldn't believe how funny it was. Barbara Park made it look so easy.
Bill Bryson drives across the country, makes fun of things, and muses about how America has changed over the decades. One of those books where you can just open to any page and read a bit.
BONUS REC OF OBSCURIA:
The Sears Catalog and Consumer's Guide, Fall 1900
They reprinted an abridged version of this in the 1970s; you can find it online for a couple of bucks. It's the best bathroom reading in the world. The 1927 one is neat, too.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
This was the first recent(ish) YA novel that got me excited to write about teens, because it made me think I was reading about, well . . . me.