Competing with amusement parks, television and Nintendo Wii, reading isn't often a top priority for teens.
Though I've always been a voracious reader, I can understand why Melville doesn't thrill my friends; 700 pages is a bit long, especially if there's no pop quiz looming in 4th period. Besides, the local shopping mall definitely trumps the library as a hip hangout among the teen crowd.
But while enticing us to read of our own free will during the one time of year we're not locked up in school is a daunting task, here are a few books that can steal even the most reluctant readers away from Guitar Hero — if only for a few hours.
'Thirteen Reasons Why'
Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher, hardcover, 304 pages
Males and females alike will appreciate Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why. This is an intense novel about a boy, Clay, dealing with the death of a girl he liked. Before she committed suicide, Hannah Baker left a series of cassette tapes behind, explaining the events that led her to end her life.
Depressing, yes. But teens know how brutal high school can be, and will sympathize with Hannah and Clay. Asher shows how frighteningly interconnected our lives are, and how much of an impact we can unknowingly have on others. Thirteen Reasons Why will leave you with chills long after you have finished reading.
If you're a teen who hates to read, you'll be surprised by how much you enjoy these books! Maybe books will even replace TV as your primary form of entertainment ... Nah, I doubt it.
Three Books ... is produced and edited by Ellen Silva and Bridget Bentz.
'Violet on the Runway'
Violet on the Runway, by Melissa Walker, paperback, 240 pages
For girls who think Cosmopolitan constitutes summer reading, I recommend Melissa Walker's Violet on the Runway. Let's be honest — even the most tomboyish girls dream of being a supermodel, and this book provides an exclusive view at life on the runway.
Violet is transformed from awkward teenager to high-fashion diva almost overnight, when she is unexpectedly "discovered" and whisked away to the New York catwalks. But you don't get jealous of her, because being a model isn't as glossy as it appears in the magazines; Walker uses her insider experience as a fashion writer for magazines like ElleGirl and Teen Vogue to paint a realistic portrait of the fashion industry. Even after her makeover, readers will relate to Violet's insecurities and cheer for her to defy expectations. Not only a great escapist read for a day at the beach, Violet on the Runway is endearing and empowering as well. Think America's Next Top Model in book form — only better.
Spud, by John Howard van de Ruit, hardcover, 352 pages
For those with testosterone and a great sense of humor, Spud, by South African author John Howard van de Ruit is a great choice.
South Africa in 1990 might be foreign to American teens who have never heard of apartheid, but 13-year-old John Milton and the rowdy boys at boarding school make for an unforgettable cast of characters. Read the book, and discover the crude origins of John's nickname, Spud.
Spud's honest and often politically incorrect thoughts are refreshing and laugh-out-loud funny. And his silly — but occasionally insightful — diary entries are like catching up with an old friend who has gone off to college and come back with outrageous stories that you can't quite believe.