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How to Write a Book Report

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Book Report Fundamentals

Preparing to write, an overview of the book report format, how to write the main body of a book report, how to write a conclusion to a book report, reading comprehension and book reports, book report resources for teachers .

Book reports remain a key educational assessment tool from elementary school through college. Sitting down to close read and critique texts for their content and form is a lifelong skill, one that benefits all of us well beyond our school years. With the help of this guide, you’ll develop your reading comprehension and note-taking skills. You’ll also find resources to guide you through the process of writing a book report, step-by-step, from choosing a book and reading actively to revising your work. Resources for teachers are also included, from creative assignment ideas to sample rubrics.

Book reports follow general rules for composition, yet are distinct from other types of writing assignments. Central to book reports are plot summaries, analyses of characters and themes, and concluding opinions. This format differs from an argumentative essay or critical research paper, in which impartiality and objectivity is encouraged. Differences also exist between book reports and book reviews, who do not share the same intent and audience. Here, you’ll learn the basics of what a book report is and is not.

What Is a Book Report?

"Book Report" ( ThoughtCo )

This article, written by a professor emeritus of rhetoric and English, describes the defining characteristics of book reports and offers observations on how they are composed.

"Writing a Book Report" (Purdue OWL)

Purdue’s Online Writing Lab outlines the steps in writing a book report, from keeping track of major characters as you read to providing adequate summary material.

"How to Write a Book Report" ( Your Dictionary )

This article provides another helpful guide to writing a book report, offering suggestions on taking notes and writing an outline before drafting. 

"How to Write a Successful Book Report" ( ThoughtCo )

Another post from ThoughtCo., this article highlights the ten steps for book report success. It was written by an academic advisor and college enrollment counselor.

What’s the Difference Between a Book Report and an Essay?

"Differences Between a Book Report & Essay Writing" ( Classroom)

In this article from the education resource Classroom,  you'll learn the differences and similarities between book reports and essay writing.

"Differences Between a Book Report and Essay Writing" (SeattlePi.com)

In this post from a Seattle newspaper's website, memoirist Christopher Cascio highlights how book report and essay writing differ.

"The Difference Between Essays and Reports" (Solent Online Learning)

This PDF from Southampton Solent University includes a chart demonstrating the differences between essays and reports. Though it is geared toward university students, it will help students of all levels understand the differing purposes of reports and analytical essays.

What’s the Difference Between a Book Report and a Book Review?

"How to Write a Book Review and a Book Report" (Concordia Univ.)

The library at Concordia University offers this helpful guide to writing book report and book reviews. It defines differences between the two, then presents components that both forms share.

"Book Reviews" (Univ. of North Carolina)

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s writing guide shows the step-by-step process of writing book reviews, offering a contrast to the composition of book reports.

Active reading and thoughtful preparation before you begin your book report are necessary components of crafting a successful piece of writing. Here, you’ll find tips and resources to help you learn how to select the right book, decide which format is best for your report, and outline your main points.

Selecting and Finding a Book

"30 Best Books for Elementary Readers" (Education.com)

This article from Education.com lists 30 engaging books for students from kindergarten through fifth grade. It was written by Esme Raji Codell, a teacher, author, and children's literature specialist.

"How to Choose a Good Book for a Report (Middle School)" (WikiHow)

This WikiHow article offers suggestions for middle schoolers on how to choose the right book for a report, from getting started early on the search process to making sure you understand the assignment's requirements.

"Best Book-Report Books for Middle Schoolers" (Common Sense Media)

Common Sense Media has compiled this list of 25 of the best books for middle school book reports. For younger students, the article suggests you check out the site's "50 Books All Kids Should Read Before They're 12."

"50 Books to Read in High School" (Lexington Public Library)

The Lexington, Kentucky Public Library has prepared this list to inspire high school students to choose the right book. It includes both classics and more modern favorites.

The Online Computer Library Center's catalogue helps you locate books in libraries near you, having itemized the collections of 72,000 libraries in 170 countries.

Formats of Book Reports

"Format for Writing a Book Report" ( Your Dictionary )

Here, Your Dictionary supplies guidelines for the basic book report format. It describes what you'll want to include in the heading, and what information to include in the introductory paragraph. Be sure to check these guidelines against your teacher's requirements.

"The Good Old Book Report" (Scholastic)

Nancy Barile’s blog post for Scholastic lists the questions students from middle through high school should address in their book reports.

How to Write an Outline

"Writer’s Web: Creating Outlines" (Univ. of Richmond)

The University of Richmond’s Writing Center shows how you can make use of micro and macro outlines to organize your argument.

"Why and How to Create a Useful Outline" (Purdue OWL)

Purdue’s Online Writing Lab demonstrates how outlines can help you organize your report, then teaches you how to create outlines.

"Creating an Outline" (EasyBib)

EasyBib, a website that generates bibliographies, offers sample outlines and tips for creating your own. The article encourages you to think about transitions and grouping your notes.

"How to Write an Outline: 4 Ways to Organize Your Thoughts" (Grammarly)

This blog post from a professional writer explains the advantages of using an outline, and presents different ways to gather your thoughts before writing.

In this section, you’ll find resources that offer an overview of how to write a book report, including first steps in preparing the introduction. A good book report's introduction hooks the reader with strong opening sentences and provides a preview of where the report is going.

"Step-by-Step Outline for a Book Report" ( Classroom )

This article from Classroom furnishes students with a guide to the stages of writing a book report, from writing the rough draft to revising.

"Your Roadmap to a Better Book Report" ( Time4Writing )

Time4Writing offers tips for outlining your book report, and describes all of the information that the introduction, body, and conclusion should include.

"How to Start a Book Report" ( ThoughtCo)

This ThoughtCo. post, another by academic advisor and college enrollment counselor Grace Fleming, demonstrates how to write a pithy introduction to your book report.

"How to Write an Introduction for a Book Report" ( Classroom )

This brief but helpful post from Classroom  details what makes a good book report introduction, down to the level of individual sentences.

The body paragraphs of your book report accomplish several goals: they describe the plot, delve more deeply into the characters and themes that make the book unique, and include quotations and examples from the book. Below are some resources to help you succeed in summarizing and analyzing your chosen text.

Plot Summary and Description

"How Do You Write a Plot Summary?" ( Reference )

This short article presents the goals of writing a plot summary, and suggests a word limit. It emphasizes that you should stick to the main points and avoid including too many specific details, such as what a particular character wears.

"How to Write a Plot for a Book Report" ( The Pen & The Pad )

In this article from a resource website for writers, Patricia Harrelson outlines what information to include in a plot summary for a book report. 

"How to Write a Book Summary" (WikiHow)

Using Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as an example, this WikiHow article demonstrates how to write a plot summary one step at a time.

Analyzing Characters and Themes

"How to Write a Character Analysis Book Report" ( The Pen & The Pad )

Kristine Tucker shows how to write a book report focusing on character. You can take her suggestions as they are, or consider  incorporating them into the more traditional book report format.

"How to Write a Character Analysis" (YouTube)

The SixMinuteScholar Channel utilizes analysis of the film  Finding Nemo to show you how to delve deeply into character, prioritizing inference over judgment.

"How to Define Theme" ( The Editor's Blog )

Fiction editor Beth Hill contributes an extended definition of theme. She also provides examples of common themes, such as "life is fragile."

"How to Find the Theme of a Book or Short Story" ( ThoughtCo )

This blog post from ThoughtCo. clarifies the definition of theme in relation to symbolism, plot, and moral. It also offers examples of themes in literature, such as love, death, and good vs. evil.

Selecting and Integrating Quotations

"How to Choose and Use Quotations" (Santa Barbara City College)

This guide from a college writing center will help you choose which quotations to use in your book report, and how to blend quotations with your own words.

"Guidelines for Incorporating Quotes" (Ashford Univ.)

This PDF from Ashford University's Writing Center introduces the ICE method for incorporating quotations: introduce, cite, explain.

"Quote Integration" (YouTube)

This video from The Write Way YouTube channel illustrates how to integrate quotations into writing, and also explains how to cite those quotations.

"Using Literary Quotations" (Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison)

This guide from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Writing Center helps you emphasize your analysis of a quotation, and explains how to incorporate quotations into your text.

Conclusions to any type of paper are notoriously tricky to write. Here, you’ll learn some creative ways to tie up loose ends in your report and express your own opinion of the book you read. This open space for sharing opinions that are not grounded in critical research is an element that often distinguishes book reports from other types of writing.

"How to Write a Conclusion for a Book Report" ( Classroom )

This brief article from the education resource  Classroom illustrates the essential points you should make in a book report conclusion.

"Conclusions" (Univ. of North Carolina)

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Writing Center lays out strategies for writing effective conclusions. Though the article is geared toward analytical essay conclusions, the tips offered here will also help you write a strong book report.

"Ending the Essay: Conclusions" (Harvard College Writing Center)

Pat Bellanca’s article for Harvard University’s Writing Center presents ways to conclude essays, along with tips. Again, these are suggestions for concluding analytical essays that can also be used to tie up a book report's loose ends.

Reading closely and in an engaged manner is the strong foundation upon which all good book reports are built. The resources below will give you a picture of what active reading looks like, and offer strategies to assess and improve your reading comprehension. Further, you’ll learn how to take notes—or “annotate” your text—making it easier to find important information as you write.

How to Be an Active Reader

"Active Reading Strategies: Remember and Analyze What You Read" (Princeton Univ.)

Princeton University’s McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning recommends ten strategies for active reading, and includes sample diagrams.

"Active Reading" (Open Univ.)

The Open University offers these techniques for reading actively alongside video examples. The author emphasizes that you should read for comprehension—not simply to finish the book as quickly as possible.

"7 Active Reading Strategies for Students" ( ThoughtCo )

In this post, Grace Fleming outlines seven methods for active reading. Her suggestions include identifying unfamiliar words and finding the main idea. 

"5 Active Reading Strategies for Textbook Assignments" (YouTube)

Thomas Frank’s seven-minute video demonstrates how you can retain the most important information from long and dense reading material.

Assessing Your Reading Comprehension

"Macmillan Readers Level Test" (MacMillan)

Take this online, interactive test from a publishing company to find out your reading level. You'll be asked a number of questions related to grammar and vocabulary.

"Reading Comprehension Practice Test" (ACCUPLACER)

ACCUPLACER is a placement test from The College Board. This 20-question practice test will help you see what information you retain after reading short passages.

"Reading Comprehension" ( English Maven )

The English Maven site has aggregated exercises and tests at various reading levels so you can quiz your reading comprehension skills.

How to Improve Your Reading Comprehension

"5 Tips for Improving Reading Comprehension" ( ThoughtCo )

ThoughtCo. recommends five tips to increase your reading comprehension ability, including reading with tools such as highlighters, and developing new vocabulary.

"How to Improve Reading Comprehension: 8 Expert Tips" (PrepScholar)

This blog post from PrepScholar provides ideas for improving your reading comprehension, from expanding your vocabulary to discussing texts with friends.

CrashCourse video: "Reading Assignments" (YouTube)

This CrashCourse video equips you with tools to read more effectively. It will help you determine how much material you need to read, and what strategies you can use to absorb what you read.

"Improving Reading Comprehension" ( Education Corner )

From a pre-reading survey through post-reading review, Education Corner  walks you through steps to improve reading comprehension.

Methods of In-text Annotation

"The Writing Process: Annotating a Text" (Hunter College)

This article from Hunter College’s Rockowitz Writing Center outlines how to take notes on a text and provides samples of annotation.

"How To Annotate Text While Reading" (YouTube)

This video from the SchoolHabits YouTube channel presents eleven annotation techniques you can use for better reading comprehension.

"5 Ways To Annotate Your Books" ( Book Riot )

This article from the Book Riot  blog highlights five efficient annotation methods that will save you time and protect your books from becoming cluttered with unnecessary markings.

"How Do You Annotate Your Books?" ( Epic Reads )

This post from Epic Reads highlights how different annotation methods work for different people, and showcases classic methods from sticky notes to keeping a reading notebook.

Students at every grade level can benefit from writing book reports, which sharpen critical reading skills. Here, we've aggregated sources to help you plan book report assignments and develop rubrics for written and oral book reports. You’ll also find alternative book report assessment ideas that move beyond the traditional formats.

Teaching Elementary School Students How to Write Book Reports

"Book Reports" ( Unique Teaching Resources )

These reading templates courtesy of Unique Teaching Resources make great visual aids for elementary school students writing their first book reports.

"Elementary Level Book Report Template" ( Teach Beside Me )

This   printable book report template from a teacher-turned-homeschooler is simple, classic, and effective. It asks basic questions, such as "who are the main characters?" and "how did you feel about the main characters?"

"Book Reports" ( ABC Teach )

ABC Teach ’s resource directory includes printables for book reports on various subjects at different grade levels, such as a middle school biography book report form and a "retelling a story" elementary book report template.

"Reading Worksheets" ( Busy Teacher's Cafe )

This page from Busy Teachers’ Cafe contains book report templates alongside reading comprehension and other language arts worksheets.

Teaching Middle School and High School Students How to Write Book Reports

"How to Write a Book Report: Middle and High School Level" ( Fact Monster)

Fact Monster ’s Homework Center discusses each section of a book report, and explains how to evaluate and analyze books based on genre for students in middle and high school.

"Middle School Outline Template for Book Report" (Trinity Catholic School)

This PDF outline template breaks the book report down into manageable sections for seventh and eighth graders by asking for specific information in each paragraph.

"Forms for Writing a Book Report for High School" ( Classroom )

In this article for Classroom,  Elizabeth Thomas describes what content high schoolers should focus on when writing their book reports.

"Forms for Writing a Book Report for High School" ( The Pen & The Pad )

Kori Morgan outlines techniques for adapting the book report assignment to the high school level in this post for The Pen & The Pad .

"High School Book Lists and Report Guidelines" (Highland Hall Waldorf School)

These sample report formats, grading paradigms, and tips are collected by Highland Hall Waldorf School. Attached are book lists by high school grade level.

Sample Rubrics

"Book Review Rubric Editable" (Teachers Pay Teachers)

This free resource from Teachers Pay Teachers allows you to edit your book report rubric to the specifications of your assignment and the grade level you teach.

"Book Review Rubric" (Winton Woods)

This PDF rubric from a city school district includes directions to take the assignment long-term, with follow-up exercises through school quarters.

"Multimedia Book Report Rubric" ( Midlink Magazine )

Perfect for oral book reports, this PDF rubric from North Carolina State University's Midlink Magazine  will help you evaluate your students’ spoken presentations.

Creative Book Report Assignments

"25 Book Report Alternatives" (Scholastic)

This article from the Scholastic website lists creative alternatives to the standard book report for pre-kindergarteners through high schoolers.

"Fresh Ideas for Creative Book Reports" ( Education World )

Education World offers nearly 50 alternative book report ideas in this article, from a book report sandwich to a character trait diagram.

"A Dozen Ways to Make Amazingly Creative Book Reports" ( We Are Teachers )

This post from We Are Teachers puts the spotlight on integrating visual arts into literary study through multimedia book report ideas.

"More Ideas Than You’ll Ever Use for Book Reports" (Teachnet.com)

This list from Teachnet.com includes over 300 ideas for book report assignments, from "interviewing" a character to preparing a travel brochure to the location in which the book is set.

"Fifty Alternatives to the Book Report" (National Council of Teachers of English)

In this PDF resource from the NCTE's  English Journal,  Diana Mitchell offers assignment ideas ranging from character astrology signs to a character alphabet.

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, the 31 best books to read in high school.

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A huge number of books exist out there, ready and waiting for you to read them. Whether you prefer manga or ancient, epic poems, reading is great for all sorts of reasons .

What follows is a list of highly beneficial books to read in high school (or after!). These are remarkable books— books that made history, books that challenge societal perceptions of the world, and books that are quite simply interesting and moving. The books are presented in alphabetical order, and a short description is given for each book, as well an explanation of why it is worth reading.

Why Is Reading Important?

Why should you read these books? Why should you read at all for that matter? Reading is essential to communication, especially in an era of emails and texting. Beyond even that, though, reading has an array of crucial purposes. It will help improve your grades and test scores. You'll learn about other places, other times, and other cultures. You'll encounter issues you can relate to—issues that speak to you and challenge you to think and feel in new ways. You will grow, empathetically and intellectually. Plus, you'll understand more of the references that crop up all the time in pop culture.

Below are 31 books to read in high school that will help you prepare for college and beyond.

1984 (George Orwell)

This dystopian novel by George Orwell was written 35 years before the date referenced by the title. In this book, Orwell tells a story that warns readers about the possible consequences of complacency in the face of rising dictators (think Hitler and Stalin) and burgeoning technology ripe for misuse. He describes a world where everything is monitored, right down to citizens’ thoughts, and where any opposition to the ruling class is punishable by extreme measures. The oft-encountered quote, "Big Brother is watching," finds its origin in this novel.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)

This sequel to Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is much graver in nature than its predecessor. There are still plenty of good antics worthy of a laugh, but it concerns itself largely with a young boy’s attempt to escape severe family dysfunction and the moral implications of his taking an escaped slave as a companion on his adventure down the Mississippi River. Readers should be warned that the " n -word" is used liberally throughout the novel, which tends to be jarring to many a modern ear.

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Mark Twain wants you to read his novel(s).

The Awakening (Kate Chopin)

Set in the Creole culture of the late 1800s, this novel by Kate Chopin details one woman’s process of becoming aware of herself. At the time, women were essentially property, and they were expected to act in demure and socially acceptable ways. As the protagonist "awakens" to her emotional and sexual needs, as well as the ultimate truth of her own independence , all sorts of problems ensue. The novel examines the balance between self-respect and selfishness.

The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath)

This autobiographical novel by poet Sylvia Plath explores the deep, dark reality of mental illness. The protagonist, Esther, a stand-in for Plath herself, is a college student exploring her talents, interests, and sexuality as she descends into an unsettling spiral of mental instability. It is essential for students to understand the seriousness of mental illness as it is so earnestly portrayed in this book.

Black Rain (Masuji Ibuse)

Black Rain , by Masuji Ibuse, is about the very immediate, human consequences of the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It follows a small family of survivors, detailing what happened to them during the days of the bombing and what the effects are some years later. The book adopts a gentle, subtle tone, and yet it is not afraid to delve into very explicit and challenging topics related to the bombings.

Bless Me, Ultima (Rudolfo Anaya)

This semi-autobiographical novel by Rudolfo Anaya contains a healthy dose of magical realism and is considered a staple of Chicano literature. It combines Spanish, Mexican, and Native American influences, showing openly the ways in which these forces within the protagonist’s life come into conflict. Young Antonio is growing up in a world that leaves him with more questions than answers: major questions about life and death, good and evil, and so on. These issues seem too big for his six-year-old mind, and yet he grapples with them valiantly through the end of the novel.

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Antonio has lots of questions surrounding his faith traditions.

Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

In Brave New World , Aldous Huxley explores themes similar to those found in Orwell’s 1984 . Huxley wrote this novel earlier than Orwell wrote his, and yet both deal with dystopian concepts. In particular, Huxley balances utopian and dystopian interpretations of a world that is highly controlled, easily manipulated, and extremely dysfunctional, ready to fall apart at any provocation. There are insiders of and outsiders to this world, and each character views and interacts with the society in a different light.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (Dee Brown)

Dee Brown covers a lot of historical ground in this book. In it, Brown describes the history of European Americans as they interact with (and slaughter) the Native Americans who already inhabit what they claim as their country. It’s an infuriating and accurate tale of mistreatments and abuses, as well as the unfortunate decline of a noble people trying to defend their established way of life. It’s essential for students to understand this part of United States history.

The Catcher in the Rye (J. D. Salinger)

This bold and controversial novel by J. D. Salinger centers around ideas including adolescent sexuality and relationships. The protagonist is constantly bouncing around from person to person, place to place, activity to activity. Critics were greatly offended by Salinger’s frank discussions of sexual matters and his generally very casual style. This book is an important read in part because of its direct relevance to struggling adolescents and the issues they face.

The Crucible (Arthur Miller)

Arthur Miller wrote this tragic play in the early 1950s. While it is somewhat loosely based on the Salem witch trials of 1692, and while it is likely intended as an allegory to McCarthy’s rooting out of suspected Communists at the time of the play’s writing, the issues it touches on are much more broadly applicable. This is an important dramatic work on how hysteria, cruelty, and ignorant gullibility destroy communities.

Bonus: Studying The Crucible for school and struggling? Check out our The Crucible study guides here !

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There are lots of accusations of creepy stuff in The Crucible.

The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank)

Anne Frank’s published diary is different from a typical literary work. It’s a true account of the life of one Jewish girl during the Holocaust, and, while Anne Frank wrote some passages with publication in mind, others she did not. When the book was first published, many passages that her father, Otto Frank, found too long, unflattering, or inappropriate were excluded. Today, the book is available with all material included. Gaining some understanding of this horrific genocide is crucial to students.

Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)

Books are on trial in this astounding work by Ray Bradbury. Set in yet another dystopian future where firemen are employed to burn books and the houses that contain them, Fahrenheit 451 tells the story of a fireman who begins to wonder what books have to offer. This novel is an ode to literacy, and, while it has its tragic moments, it ultimately leaves readers with a message of hope.

Flowers for Algernon (Daniel Keyes)

Daniel Keyes writes a very warm and human form of science fiction in Flowers for Algernon . The novel tells the story of a man considered mentally retarded who is selected for an intelligence-enhancing surgery. The book follows the effects, both positive and negative, that come from the sudden change in his I.Q. This is a moving read for students who wish to understand how intelligence plays into our humanity.

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf (Ntozake Shange)

In For Colored Girls… , Ntozake Shange creates choreopoetry (poetry meant to be performed with movement and dance) that covers important themes of race, gender, abuse, and perseverance. It’s largely a deep and dark poem, but it contains a message of hope. This is an awesome opportunity for readers to get exposure to poetry in a very relevant and theatrical form.

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The rainbow contains all sorts of symbolism.

Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)

First off, let’s all be clear: as some will already know, Frankenstein is not a monster. Rather, the very human Victor Frankenstein is responsible for creating what we recognize as the monster from the story; the creature itself is nameless. Mary Shelley wrote this Gothic thriller in the early 1800s, and yet we remain fascinated by this tale of playing God and facing the consequences. It’s an eerie tale with themes that run deep.

The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)

John Steinbeck’s masterful The Grapes of Wrath centers around the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl in American history. It’s a story of hope and despair, moving from one to the other and back again seamlessly throughout the novel. While loaded with biblical allusions, it is not heavy-handed with them, and the writing is often praised as realistic and beautiful.

Great Expectations (Charles Dickens)

Great Expectations , by Charles Dickens, is a staple of English literature. It’s one of his most autobiographical works; it tells the story of a young boy, orphaned and poor, who ultimately experiences a drastic change in his fortunes. In addition, he learns much about love, trust, and relationships in this coming-of-age novel. As the title suggests, the novel also contains discussions of hope, disappointment, and expectations.

The Great Gatbsy (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in The Great Gatsby a novel that in many ways closely reflected his own experience. The decadence of the Jazz Age was, as is revealed in the novel, both enticing for many and revolting for some. The Great Gatsby follows the quest of a wealthy young man to win back the love of his life by extravagant displays of riches and social connections. As the plot builds to its climax, readers, along with Gatsby's simpler, humbler friend and neighbor, are left to ponder the passing of an era in American history.

BONUS: Reading The Great Gatsby for school but finding it hard to keep track of all the characters? We have several study guides that might be able to help, including our guide to all the characters in The Great Gatsby .

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The Joy Luck Club (Amy Tan)

Amy Tan’s novel, The Joy Luck Club , deals with intergenerational and intercultural questions. Tan seeks to represent the Chinese-American experience while also representing issues of mother-daughter relationships and the passage of time. The book focuses on four mother and four daughters across four sections of the novel for a total of sixteen stories that come together to complete this total work.

Lord of the Flies (William Golding)

William Golding’s Lord of the Flies speaks to the evil and degenerate potential that lurks within each human. It can be interpreted religiously, politically, psychoanalytically, or any number of other ways, but the basic premise is that a group of schoolboys stranded on an island descend into grotesque savagery. It’s a disturbing story, to be sure, but one that is important to be familiar with in a world where savage instinct too often presents itself today.

The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit (J. R. R. Tolkien)

As with any work, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are not everyone’s cup of tea, but they’re hugely rewarding pleasure reading for too many fans to count. Tolkien’s masterpieces are more than just pleasure reading, though; the trilogy covers major themes of the epic struggle between good and evil, the necessity of persevering through immensely difficult ordeals, and how to apply mercy. Tolkien asks major questions about those who are evil versus those who are misguided and what we should do when our paths intertwine with any such individuals. The Hobbit is lighter and more kid-focused, but still addresses important themes.

The Odyssey (Homer)

The Odyssey is an epic poem nearly three thousand years old that’s attributed to the blind poet Homer. It tells the story of a war hero’s ten-year quest to return to his home, wife, and son. He encounters a number of varied setbacks along the way, and the trouble isn’t over when he gets home. The Odyssey deals with human interactions with the gods, bringing up questions of righteousness, wrongdoing, and pride as well as ideas of faithfulness and patience.

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Oedipus Rex (Sophocles)

This play by Greek dramatist Sophocles is about a man who inadvertently kills his father and marries his mother. It’s dark subject matter, and nothing good comes of it, as you may well suspect. This another example, as in The Odyssey , of the divine tinkering with human lives and the great sin of pride.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Ken Kesey)

Ken Kesey documents in this work the darkest side of mental health care as it existed in the 1960s. While certainly not all mental health care was like what’s described in the book, nor is it all like that today, audiences of the novel are aghast that any care might even vaguely resemble the horrors discussed. Despite how disturbing the storyline is, it’s important for readers to recognize the vulnerability of this too often overlooked segment of society.

Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice follows a family with five daughters, all unwed, and all, due to English customs of the late 1700s and early 1800s, in need of wedding. Of the five daughters, Elizabeth is the focus of the novel, though the others are discussed aplenty. While marriage is one of the central ideas in the novel, there are plenty of other themes to be picked apart, including ones that touch on pride, prejudice, first impressions, love, misunderstanding, and manipulation. This is, all around, a classic piece of literature, and one with which to be familiar.

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Next up: one of my favorites, William Shakespeare.

Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet (William Shakespeare)

William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is familiar to most people on some level: two teenagers from feuding families fall in love and ultimately sacrifice their lives to their passion. Of all of Shakespeare’s works, it's a particularly popular one to read in high school for a variety of reasons. For one thing, it deals explicitly with teenaged love, and, for another, it’s a relatively simple plot that’s nonetheless action-packed. It also opens with a shameless series of very witty dirty jokes, and such humor is scattered throughout the rest of the show. Then there’s the thematic material, which includes obedience, fate, and rash decisions, among others.

For those who don’t wish to read about teenagers mooning for each other to the point of suicide, there’s always Hamlet . This story follows a Danish prince whose father has died and whose mother has almost instantly married the father’s brother. When Hamlet discovers, via an appearance of his father’s ghost, that his uncle murdered his father, all sorts of interesting events ensue. There’s madness (real and feigned), murder, suicide, treason, and a lot of waffling over the right course of action.

As an added bonus, those who read Hamlet may wish to read Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead . It follows the events of Hamlet from the perspective of two minor and typically much-maligned characters. It’s also hilarious, if absolutely weird.

Slaughterhouse-Five (Kurt Vonnegut)

Slaughterhouse-Five is a fictional account of events in some ways very similar to what the author himself experienced as a prisoner of war in WWII. He writes about the atrocities humans commit upon each other, and he also mixes in a number of other concerns, some heavy, some light, such as death, aliens, and the ability to see other points in time, past or future.

Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston)

The novel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston has been much criticized over the course of its history, and yet it stands as one of the great classics of American literature. It tells the story of a black woman who is full of zest and passion and who is passed from man to man as she goes through life. With her first husband, she is absolutely miserable; with her second husband, it’s more bearable, for a time; and with her third man, she finds happiness. The trials and tribulations she undergoes with all three make for an interesting examination of what it takes for Janie to free the strong, confident woman within.

body_wonderwoman-1.jpg

(Not an actual representation of Janie. Same approach to life, though.)

Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe)

In Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart , readers encounter a complex and beautifully rendered examination of life with the Igbo tribe in Africa, both before and after the white man’s interference. Okonkwo is the protagonist, and he goes through a number of difficulties that put him in the position of making distasteful decisions. Readers are left to wonder whether things are falling apart because that’s simply the way of the world or whether different decisions could have kept them together. The inevitability of change is neatly demonstrated.

To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird deals with elements of racism, courage, sympathy, understanding, and hope. It tells the story of a small town where a black man has been falsely accused of raping a white woman. The daughter of the lawyer defending the accused is the main protagonist, and another aspect of the story is her journey from bemused mockery to gentle understanding with regard to an eccentric man in the town. To Kill a Mockingbird rose to prominence during the Civil Rights Movement and remains as potent today as it ever was.

The Ugly American (Eugene Burdick and William Lederer)

The Ugly American by Burdick and Lederer is a denouncement of the American practice of sending insensitive diplomatic figures into foreign countries. Through a series of vignettes, it demonstrates American inefficiency overseas. It so impressed John F. Kennedy while he was a Democratic senator that he sent a copy to each and every one of his Senate colleagues. It can be an uncomfortable read, but a worthwhile one.

If you can read through these 30-odd books before you graduate high school, you'll be in a good shape, from a literary perspective.

Even if you can't read all of them, picking a few would not be a bad place to start. You might start with those that simply sound the most interesting to you, or you could look for themes in the books that relate to what you're learning in school. If you're studying McCarthyism, for instance, maybe try The Crucible ; if you're studying the Holocaust, maybe try The Diary of a Young Girl .

These stories are immensely powerful. Some are newer, having instantly won their place in the pantheon of classics, while others have proven themselves by withstanding the test of time.

Readers will find that they resonate with some books more than others, and that's fine; the point is that all of these books have important messages to communicate, and I encourage readers to be open to finding out what those messages are.

body_messageinabottle.png

Open a book, and you'll find all sorts of messages! Usually not in bottles, though.

What's Next?

A lot of these books may be read or referenced in AP English Lit classes. Check out our guide to AP Literature for tips on preparing for the exam. If you're not sure whether to take AP English Language or AP English Literature, allow us to provide you with some thoughts on the topic .

While we're on the topic of literature, why don't you take a moment to read some recommendations on which English classes you should take during your high school career?

Are you both a reader and interested in becoming a doctor ? Then you should definitely take a look at our list of books to read as a pre-med student .

And as a reminder, if you decide to read The Great Gatsby or The Crucible , you can check out our analyses of each to help you along the way!

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7 Independent Reading Assessments for High School English

November 6, 2020 by Samantha H.

As a high school English teacher, a robust independent reading program has always been a staple of my classroom and coming up with unique independent reading assessments to make sure students have actually read was always a difficult task. Allowing students to have a say in their reading is an incredibly motivating tool. Students are much more likely to be engaged in class if they are interested in the text. This leaves teachers with a problem. If we are letting students choose their own novels, how do we know they actually read ? Here are some ideas for assessing choice reading for your secondary students!

best books assignments

#1: One Pagers

independent-reading-activities

One Pagers are a popular form of independent reading assessment because they allow students to be creative and no two are alike. This makes it very hard for students to fabricate their knowledge because most of the included activities require students to analyze what they have read. This can include choosing theme songs for characters, illustrating a scene from the novel, or picking quotes that show the theme. The sky is the limit when coming up with the activities for your students to complete to fill their page.

One Pagers can easily be adapted for distance, 1:1, or hybrid learning if that is how you are teaching as well.

For more information about One Pagers, click here to see an in-depth blog post on the topic.

For a ready-made template with instructions, examples, and rubrics ready to go, click here to see my resource.

one-pager-project

#2: Response to Literature Activities

best books assignments

Response to Literature activities make powerful independent reading assessments because they have students engaging with the text before, during, and after reading. The possibilities are endless as far as coming up with ideas that can work for any novel. Here are just a few:

  • Before Reading : Set context, activate prior knowledge, make predictions, develop questions, study the time period, investigate the author, etc.
  • During Reading : These activities can include anything from doodle notetaking , close reading , and more. AdLit has an impressive list of ideas on their website as well.
  • After Reading : Use this blog post for 7 great ideas!

I created a resource for my own students and decided it was worth listing in my shop and sharing with all of you. Independent Reading Activities for Any Novel includes a variety of activities that allow students to demonstrate their learning. The activities are split into the three categories: before, during, and after reading. There are ten activities total and they’re completely done which means NO prep for you.

activities-for-independent-reading

#3: Book Flat Lays

best books assignments

One of my more recent favorite independent reading assessments has been Book Flat Lays. You’ve probably seen these on social media and I thought they were so clever that I decided to bring them into my classroom. This type of reading project requires students to think critically about elements in the novel and stage a photo of the book with props that show different aspects of the book. Again, this is another project that is very hard to fake, so if a student didn’t read, it’s almost always very clear.

For a full blog post on Book Flat Lays, click here to read through my entire process. This project is always a crowd pleaser and one that students talk about long after the cameras are put away.

book-flat-lay-project

#4: Literary Field Trips

book-assessments

One of my favorite ideas for independent reading assessments is to have your students create a literary field trip. This works especially well if your students are reading historical fiction or books that are based on a real place. (It even works for nonfiction as well!)

The gist of the project is that students research various places from a text. So, if students were reading Born a Crime by Trevor Noah , they could make a list of locations in South Africa to research and create their field trip on. It’s a really clever way to incorporate multiple skills into one project.

To check out my pre-made version with everything you need to introduce this project today, click here .

book-assessment

#5: Literary Quote Books

best books assignments

I got the idea for Literary Quote Books while scrolling social media one evening. I thought, “What if we have students choose the most meaningful quotes from any novel they’ve read and curate a book out of them then explain how they connect to the theme?” This was the basis for the idea, but it took off from there.

Truly, this can be a really flexible project for all types of learners. Students who are more artistic can draw a quote book out. Students who like to create digitally can use a program like Canva to design their quotes. (You could even have them create a social media carousel with them.) I’ve even had students who wanted to create and stage photos of the quotes or make them on large pieces of paper.

The possibilities really are endless with this idea. Since it incorporates close reading and theme analysis, the rigor is there no matter how the information is presented.

To check out my full resource, click here or the image below.

best books assignments

#6: Mood Boards

best books assignments

A  Mood Board  is a visual representation of carefully selected images that seek to elicit an emotional response from a viewer. Creating a mood board to represent a book requires a lot of analysis and critical thinking from our students.

I love having students put together mood boards because, again, it combines a lot of 21st century skills like spatial design, technology use, close reading, etc.

Check out my full blog post on Mood Boards here and see my ready-to-go resource in my shop right here .

choice-reading-projects

#7: Independent Reading Choice Board

best books assignments

Just like choice reading, students love a good choice board to pick their own assessment. I have an editable Independent Reading Choice Board already done for you. Subscribe to my newsletter below and the template will be delivered straight to your inbox!

Get the Bundle and SAVE!

Download my full Independent Reading Unit Bundle and save 20% on ONE FULL INDEPENDENT READING UNIT . From start to finish, this unit is fully stocked with engaging activities and everything you need to run an organized, meaningful choice reading unit. Check it out here !

independent-reading-unit

Giving students the gift of engaging literature makes for lifelong readers. I hope you’ll consider giving your students choice in their reading picks. I know that any of these assessments will help you manage the task in an authentic, engaging way.

Happy teaching!

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The 10 Best Book Reviews of 2020

Adam morgan picks parul sehgal on raven leilani, merve emre on lewis carroll, and more.

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The pandemic and the birth of my second daughter prevented me from reading most of the books I wanted to in 2020. But I was able to read vicariously  through book critics, whose writing was a true source of comfort and escape for me this year. I’ve long told my students that criticism is literature—a genre of nonfiction that can and should be as insightful, experimental, and compelling as the art it grapples with—and the following critics have beautifully proven my point. The word “best” is always a misnomer, but these are my personal favorite book reviews of 2020.

Nate Marshall on Barack Obama’s A Promised Land ( Chicago Tribune )

A book review rarely leads to a segment on The 11th Hour with Brian Williams , but that’s what happened to Nate Marshall last month. I love how he combines a traditional review with a personal essay—a hybrid form that has become my favorite subgenre of criticism.

“The presidential memoir so often falls flat because it works against the strengths of the memoir form. Rather than take a slice of one’s life to lay bare and come to a revelation about the self or the world, the presidential memoir seeks to take the sum of a life to defend one’s actions. These sorts of memoirs are an attempt maybe not to rewrite history, but to situate history in the most rosy frame. It is by nature defensive and in this book, we see Obama’s primary defensive tool, his prodigious mind and proclivity toward over-considering every detail.”

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Merve Emre on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland ( The Point )

I’m a huge fan of writing about books that weren’t just published in the last 10 seconds. And speaking of that hybrid form above, Merve Emre is one of its finest practitioners. This piece made me laugh out loud and changed the way I think about Lewis Carroll.

“I lie awake at night and concentrate on Alice,  on why my children have fixated on this book at this particular moment. Part of it must be that I have told them it ‘takes place’ in Oxford, and now Oxford—or more specifically, the college whose grounds grow into our garden—marks the physical limits of their world. Now that we can no longer move about freely, no longer go to new places to see new things, we are trying to find ways to estrange the places and objects that are already familiar to us.”

Parul Sehgal on Raven Leilani’s Luster ( The New York Times Book Review )

Once again, Sehgal remains the best lede writer in the business. I challenge you to read the opening of any  Sehgal review and stop there.

“You may know of the hemline theory—the idea that skirt lengths fluctuate with the stock market, rising in boom times and growing longer in recessions. Perhaps publishing has a parallel; call it the blurb theory. The more strained our circumstances, the more manic the publicity machine, the more breathless and orotund the advance praise. Blurbers (and critics) speak with a reverent quiver of this moment, anointing every other book its guide, every second writer its essential voice.”

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Constance Grady on Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall ( Vox )

Restoring the legacies of ill-forgotten books is one of our duties as critics. Grady’s take on “the least famous sister in a family of celebrated geniuses” makes a good case for Wildfell Hall’ s place alongside Wuthering Heights  and Jane Eyre  in the Romantic canon.

“[T]he heart of this book is a portrait of a woman surviving and flourishing after abuse, and in that, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall feels unnervingly modern. It is fresh, shocking, and wholly new today, 200 years after the birth of its author.”

Ismail Muhammad on Anna Wiener’s Uncanny Valley ( The Atlantic )

Muhammad is a philosophical critic, so it’s always fun to see him tackle a book with big ideas. Here, he makes an enlightened connection between Wiener’s Silicon Valley memoir and Michael Lewis’s 1989 Wall Street exposé, Liar’s Poker.

“Like Lewis, Wiener found ‘a way out of unhappiness’ by writing her own gimlet-eyed generational portrait that doubles as a cautionary tale of systemic dysfunction. But if her chronicle acquires anything like the must-read status that Lewis’s antic tale of a Princeton art-history major’s stint at Salomon Brothers did, it will be for a different reason. For all her caustic insight and droll portraiture, Wiener is on an earnest quest likely to resonate with a public that has been sleepwalking through tech’s gradual reshaping of society.”

Breasts and Eggs_Mieko Kawakami

Hermione Hoby on Mieko Kawakami’s Breasts and Eggs ( 4 Columns )

Hoby’s thousand-word review is a great example of a critic reading beyond the book to place it in context.

“When Mieko Kawakami’s Breasts and Eggs  was first published in 2008, the then-governor of Tokyo, the ultraconservative Shintaro Ishihara, deemed the novel ‘unpleasant and intolerable.’ I wonder what he objected to? Perhaps he wasn’t into a scene in which the narrator, a struggling writer called Natsuko, pushes a few fingers into her vagina in a spirit of dejected exploration: ‘I . . . tried being rough and being gentle. Nothing worked.’”

Taylor Moore on C Pam Zhang’s How Much Of These Hills Is Gold ( The A.V. Club )

Describing Zhang’s wildly imaginative debut novel is hard, but Moore manages to convey the book’s shape and texture in less than 800 words, along with some critical analysis.

“Despite some characteristics endemic to Wild West narratives (buzzards circling prey, saloons filled with seedy strangers), the world of How Much Of These Hills Is Gold feels wholly original, and Zhang imbues its wide expanse with magical realism. According to local lore, tigers lurk in the shadows, despite having died out ‘decades ago’ with the buffalo. There also exists a profound sense of loss for an exploited land, ‘stripped of its gold, its rivers, its buffalo, its Indians, its tigers, its jackals, its birds and its green and its living.’”

Grace Ebert on Paul Christman’s Midwest Futures ( Chicago Review of Books )

I love how Ebert brings her lived experience as a Midwesterner into this review of Christman’s essay collection. (Disclosure: I founded the Chicago Review of Books five years ago, but handed over the keys in July 2019.)

“I have a deep and genuine love for Wisconsin, for rural supper clubs that always offer a choice between chicken soup or an iceberg lettuce salad, and for driving back, country roads that seemingly are endless. This love, though, is conflicting. How can I sing along to Waylon Jennings, Tanya Tucker, and Merle Haggard knowing that my current political views are in complete opposition to the lyrics I croon with a twang in my voice?”

Michael Schaub on Bryan Washington’s Memorial ( NPR )

How do you review a book you fall in love with? It’s one of the most challenging assignments a critic can tackle. But Schaub is a pro; he falls in love with a few books every year.

“Washington is an enormously gifted author, and his writing—spare, unadorned, but beautiful—reads like the work of a writer who’s been working for decades, not one who has yet to turn 30. Just like Lot, Memorial  is a quietly stunning book, a masterpiece that asks us to reflect on what we owe to the people who enter our lives.”

Mesha Maren on Fernanda Melchor’s Hurricane Season ( Southern Review of Books )

Maren opens with an irresistible comparison between Melchor’s irreverent novel and medieval surrealist art. (Another Disclosure: I founded the Southern Review of Books in early 2020.)

“Have you ever wondered what internal monologue might accompany the characters in a Hieronymus Bosch painting? What are the couple copulating upside down in the middle of that pond thinking? Or the man with flowers sprouting from his ass? Or the poor fellow being killed by a fire-breathing creature which is itself impaled upon a knife? I would venture to guess that their voices would sound something like the writing of Mexican novelist Fernanda Melchor.”

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How to write the best college assignments.

By Lois Weldon

When it comes to writing assignments, it is difficult to find a conceptualized guide with clear and simple tips that are easy to follow. That’s exactly what this guide will provide: few simple tips on how to write great assignments, right when you need them. Some of these points will probably be familiar to you, but there is no harm in being reminded of the most important things before you start writing the assignments, which are usually determining on your credits.

The most important aspects: Outline and Introduction

Preparation is the key to success, especially when it comes to academic assignments. It is recommended to always write an outline before you start writing the actual assignment. The outline should include the main points of discussion, which will keep you focused throughout the work and will make your key points clearly defined. Outlining the assignment will save you a lot of time because it will organize your thoughts and make your literature searches much easier. The outline will also help you to create different sections and divide up the word count between them, which will make the assignment more organized.

The introduction is the next important part you should focus on. This is the part that defines the quality of your assignment in the eyes of the reader. The introduction must include a brief background on the main points of discussion, the purpose of developing such work and clear indications on how the assignment is being organized. Keep this part brief, within one or two paragraphs.

This is an example of including the above mentioned points into the introduction of an assignment that elaborates the topic of obesity reaching proportions:

Background : The twenty first century is characterized by many public health challenges, among which obesity takes a major part. The increasing prevalence of obesity is creating an alarming situation in both developed and developing regions of the world.

Structure and aim : This assignment will elaborate and discuss the specific pattern of obesity epidemic development, as well as its epidemiology. Debt, trade and globalization will also be analyzed as factors that led to escalation of the problem. Moreover, the assignment will discuss the governmental interventions that make efforts to address this issue.

Practical tips on assignment writing

Here are some practical tips that will keep your work focused and effective:

–         Critical thinking – Academic writing has to be characterized by critical thinking, not only to provide the work with the needed level, but also because it takes part in the final mark.

–         Continuity of ideas – When you get to the middle of assignment, things can get confusing. You have to make sure that the ideas are flowing continuously within and between paragraphs, so the reader will be enabled to follow the argument easily. Dividing the work in different paragraphs is very important for this purpose.

–         Usage of ‘you’ and ‘I’ – According to the academic writing standards, the assignments should be written in an impersonal language, which means that the usage of ‘you’ and ‘I’ should be avoided. The only acceptable way of building your arguments is by using opinions and evidence from authoritative sources.

–         Referencing – this part of the assignment is extremely important and it takes a big part in the final mark. Make sure to use either Vancouver or Harvard referencing systems, and use the same system in the bibliography and while citing work of other sources within the text.  

–         Usage of examples – A clear understanding on your assignment’s topic should be provided by comparing different sources and identifying their strengths and weaknesses in an objective manner. This is the part where you should show how the knowledge can be applied into practice.

–         Numbering and bullets – Instead of using numbering and bullets, the academic writing style prefers the usage of paragraphs.

–         Including figures and tables – The figures and tables are an effective way of conveying information to the reader in a clear manner, without disturbing the word count. Each figure and table should have clear headings and you should make sure to mention their sources in the bibliography.

–         Word count – the word count of your assignment mustn’t be far above or far below the required word count. The outline will provide you with help in this aspect, so make sure to plan the work in order to keep it within the boundaries.

The importance of an effective conclusion

The conclusion of your assignment is your ultimate chance to provide powerful arguments that will impress the reader. The conclusion in academic writing is usually expressed through three main parts:

–         Stating the context and aim of the assignment

–         Summarizing the main points briefly

–         Providing final comments with consideration of the future (discussing clear examples of things that can be done in order to improve the situation concerning your topic of discussion).

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Lois Weldon is writer at  Uk.bestdissertation.com . Lives happily at London with her husband and lovely daughter. Adores writing tips for students. Passionate about Star Wars and yoga.

7 comments on “How To Write The Best College Assignments”

Extremely useful tip for students wanting to score well on their assignments. I concur with the writer that writing an outline before ACTUALLY starting to write assignments is extremely important. I have observed students who start off quite well but they tend to lose focus in between which causes them to lose marks. So an outline helps them to maintain the theme focused.

Hello Great information…. write assignments

Well elabrated

Thanks for the information. This site has amazing articles. Looking forward to continuing on this site.

This article is certainly going to help student . Well written.

Really good, thanks

Practical tips on assignment writing, the’re fantastic. Thank you!

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60 Best Second Grade Books To Update Your Classroom Library

Discover new favorite titles.

Examples of 2nd grade books including The Night Gardener and My Papi Has a Motorcycle

An awesome second grade classroom library needs so many types of books. You’ve got your favorite series, read-alouds, and teaching titles, but updating your shelves can help make sure your library represents diverse experiences and feels energizing and exciting for kids. Check out 60 of our favorite recent second grade picture books, chapter books, graphic novels, series, and more.

1. The Wilderness by Steve McCarthy

Book cover for The Wilderness as an example of second grade books

Oktober Vasylenko is part of an adventurous family, but he prefers to stay closer to home … and definitely indoors. He’s heard people speak of “the Wilderness” and he’s sure it’s a terrible monster lurking outside. This story about fear, bravery, imagination, differing perspectives, and, of course, nature, is sure to start some lively classroom discussions.

Buy it: The Wilderness on Amazon

2. This Book Is Banned by Raj Haldar

Book cover for This Book is Banned

This clever book puts a hilarious spin on an important topic. Introduce kids to the dangers of censorship in a developmentally appropriate way, while simultaneously making them laugh out loud.

Buy it: This Book Is Banned on Amazon

3. Dear Unicorn by Josh Funk

Book cover for Dear Unicorn

Not just for unicorn lovers, though you probably have plenty of them in second grade! Pen pals Connie and Nic send letters and art back and forth all year. They learn a lot about each other—but when they finally meet, they are shocked to find out Connie is a human and Nic is a unicorn! Perfect for discussing characters and relationships, along with themes of friendship, positivity, and acceptance.

Buy it: Dear Unicorn on Amazon

4. Moving the Millers’ Minnie Moore Mine Mansion: A True Story by Dave Eggers

Book cover for Moving the Millers' Minnie Moore Mine Mansion: A True Story as an example of second grade books

When Annie had to raise pigs to earn a living but her neighborhood did not allow livestock, what did she do? She figured out how to move her house 4 miles down the road! Second graders who love quirky true stories will adore this account of how a 19th-century widow in Idaho tackled a problem in an innovative way. Add this fun read-aloud to your second grade books for talking about story elements.

Buy it: Moving the Millers’ Minnie Moore Mine Mansion on Amazon

5. Lunch From Home by Joshua David Stein

Book cover for Lunch From Home

Four chefs contributed memories about being teased for bringing school lunches from their home cultures to create this school lunch story. The targeted kids try out bringing sandwiches like everyone else, but soon that feels … boring. Ultimately everyone agrees that a lunch from home that you love is always delicious. This title is good for discussions about author’s message. (Plus, the lunch descriptions will make your mouth water!)

Buy it: Lunch From Home on Amazon

6. The World’s Best Class Plant by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick

Book cover for The World's Best Class Plant

Students in Room 109 envy all the other classrooms that have animal pets. All they have is a plant. It’s so boring … or is it? Over time students come to appreciate their faithful spider plant and learn lots about plants in the process. We’re adding this to our second grade books to to share during a science unit on plants.

Buy it: The World’s Best Class Plant on Amazon

7. 100 Mighty Dragons All Named Broccoli by David LaRochelle

Book cover for 100 Mighty Dragons All Named Broccoli as an example of second grade books

This counting “down” book is perfect for introducing subtraction story problems. Through zany, random events, a crew of 100 dragons (all named Broccoli) gradually part ways. Perfect for adding a little laughter to math class.

Buy it: 100 Mighty Dragons All Named Broccoli on Amazon

8. My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero

Book cover for My Papi Has a Motorcycle as an example of second grade books

A young girl tells the tale of a motorcycle ride around her neighborhood with her Papi. Lean on this title for studying character traits and emotions and as a fresh, diverse mentor text for personal narrative writing.

Buy it: My Papi Has a Motorcycle on Amazon

9. If You Come to Earth by Sophie Blackall

Book cover for If You Come to Earth as an example of second grade books

The illustrations in this new title from two-time Caldecott medalist Sophie Blackall are gorgeous, as are the book’s themes of connectedness and inclusivity. Share it to open community-building conversations, or to support your social studies curriculum. Having students write their own “If you come to …” letters would be an awesome writing prompt too!

Buy it: If You Come to Earth on Amazon

10. Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

Book cover for Your Name is a Song as an example of second grade books

When Kora-Jalimuso’s teacher and classmates can’t pronounce her name, her mother gives her the most empowering, uplifting advice of all: Tell them her name is a song. Share this affirming story at the start of the school year or to lead off conversations about celebrating identity. Every classroom needs this book!

Buy it: Your Name Is a Song on Amazon

11. Norman: One Amazing Goldfish! by Kelly Bennett

Book cover for Norman: One Amazing Goldfish as an example of second grade books

Not Norman: A Goldfish Story is a longtime read-aloud favorite. Now there’s a sequel that makes us love that glug-glugging goldfish and his endearing owner even more! Norman and his human are excited to perform a routine of tricks at Pet-O-Rama—until an unexpected case of goldfish stage fright. The details are perfect for supporting kids’ narrative writing.

Buy it: Norman: One Amazing Goldfish! on Amazon

12. Ten Ways To Hear Snow by Cathy Camper

Book cover for Ten Ways to Hear Snow as an example of second grade books

Lina wakes up on the morning she’s meant to visit her grandmother to help cook grape leaves, only to discover a fresh blanket of snow. Her walk to her grandmother’s house inspires a poetic list of ways to “hear” snowcapped observations for her grandmother, who is blind. Use this text to support both narrative and poetry writing, or simply enjoy it on the first snowy morning of the school year.

Buy it: Ten Ways To Hear Snow on Amazon

13. Cat Problems by Jory John

Book cover for Cat Problems as an example of second grade books

The Animal Problems books are awesome second grade books for their perfect balance of humor, vocabulary, and curriculum connections. In this one, a cat complains about its life indoors. Meanwhile, a squirrel outside the window reminds the cat how cushy a life it has. Great for lessons about reading with expression or to discuss point of view.

Buy it: Cat Problems on Amazon

14. Skywatcher by Jamie Hogan

Book cover for Skywatcher as an example of second grade books

Tamen wishes he could see the stars, but that’s basically impossible in his bright urban neighborhood. His mom surprises him with a camping trip to make his dream come true. If you need more second grade books that portray single parents, this is a good one. The back matter teaches readers about astronomy and light pollution.

Buy it: Skywatcher on Amazon

15. Granny and Bean by Karen Hesse

Book cover for Granny and Bean as an example of second grade books

A grandmother and small child take a beach walk on a gray day. The story tells how they “crouched to greet dogs,” “skirted a fence,” “leapt over logs,” and more. The language is gorgeous but concise. Use this book as a mentor text for reading-comprehension strategies or narrative-writing craft techniques.

Buy it: Granny and Bean on Amazon

16. What Are Your Words? A Book About Pronouns by Katherine Locke

Book cover for What Are Your Words? A Book About Pronouns as an example of second grade books

This is an invaluable resource for talking to kids about pronouns and how pronoun choice is just one piece of someone’s identity. Uncle Lior, who prefers they/them pronouns, comes to visit and helps Ari explore the words that feel right to use.

Buy it: What Are Your Words? A Book About Pronouns on Amazon

17. and 18. I’m New Here and Someone New by Anne Sibley O’Brien

Book cover for I'm New Here as an example of second grade books

This pair of titles tells the story of three newly arrived immigrant children and the peers who welcome newcomers to their school community. Presenting the two books together offers a unique chance to examine an experience from multiple perspectives.

Buy it: I’m New Here and Someone New on Amazon

19. Hey, Wall by Susan Verde

Book cover for Hey, Wall as an example of second grade books

Ángel notices an ugly, neglected wall that spans an entire city block near his home and organizes a neighborhood effort to create a mural that celebrates their community. Inspire students with this kid-powered story of art and activism.

Buy it: Hey, Wall on Amazon

20. How To Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion by Ashima Shiraishi

Book cover for How to Solve a Problem as an example of second grade books

This autobiography shares how Ashima Shiraishi became one of the world’s top rock climbers—as a teenager! It’s an inspirational story that will wow kids (and teachers) and is a unique addition to a biography genre study.

Buy it: How To Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion on Amazon

21. How To Write a Story by Kate Messner

Book cover for How to Write a Story as an example of second grade books

Follow a young writer’s illustrated thought bubbles and tips as she works through the narrative-writing process from the seed of an idea to drafting, revising, and editing, and then to showcasing her work. Share this to inspire a budding author, or use it during a fiction-writing unit.

Buy it: How To Write a Story on Amazon

22. Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun’s Thanksgiving Story by Danielle Greendeer, Anthony Perry, and Alexis Bunten

Book cover for Keepunumuk as an example of second grade books

Thanksgiving stories from a Native perspective are essential to share in the classroom. Introduce students to how the Wampanoag people helped the Pilgrims survive by teaching them skills like how to grow “The Three Sisters”: corn, beans, and squash. Beyond the important social studies content, we love all the connections to second grade science standards about plants.

Buy it: Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun’s Thanksgiving Story on Amazon

23. The First Blade of Sweetgrass by Suzanne Greenlaw and Gabriel Frey

Book cover for The First Blade of Sweetgrass as an example of second grade books

A gorgeous Own Voices story about a present-day Wabanaki girl who joins her grandmother in harvesting sweetgrass to make baskets. Add this to your growing collection of second grade books that celebrate indigenous characters.

Buy it: The First Blade of Sweetgrass on Amazon

24. Abdul’s Story by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

Book cover for Abdul's Story as an example of second grade books

A new favorite! If you’re looking for second grade books to inspire students as writers, you absolutely need this one. Abdul has many stories to tell, but handwriting and spelling are so hard for him. A visiting author, Mr. Muhammad, gives him the reassuring nudge he needs to shine.

Buy it: Abdul’s Story on Amazon

25. Dream Street by Tricia Elam Walker and Ekua Holmes

Book cover for Dream Street as an example of second grade books

On this street, “the houses and dreams inside are as different as thumbprints.” This celebration of a diverse neighborhood is based on the author’s and illustrator’s own childhoods in Roxbury, Massachusetts. It would make a strong mentor text for descriptive writing. And a class display about students’ hopes and goals would be a perfect follow-up project.

Buy it: Dream Street on Amazon

26. The Cool Bean by Jory John and Pete Oswald

Book cover for The Cool Bean as an example of second grade books

If you loved The Bad Seed and The Good Egg , you need to meet the Cool Bean! Who knew legumes could be such good models for how it’s “cool to be kind”?

Buy it: The Cool Bean on Amazon

27. The Night Gardener by Terry and Eric Fan

Book cover for The Night Gardener as an example of second grade books

Every Fan Brothers book is gorgeous, but this is one of our favorite second grade books to mull over with students. One morning, William notices a mysterious topiary out his window. Soon, there are changes all over town.

Buy it: The Night Gardener on Amazon

28. Rodney Was a Tortoise by Nan Forler

Book cover for Rodney Was a Tortoise as an example of second grade books

Rodney was Bernadette’s treasured pet and companion. When he dies, no one seems to notice how Bernadette’s sadness lingers—until new friend Amar reaches out. This is a tender story to help second graders talk about important themes of grief, friendship, and empathy.

Buy it: Rodney Was a Tortoise on Amazon

29. The Flamingo by Guojing

Book cover for The Flamingo as an example of second grade books

This almost-wordless graphic novel shares the story of a girl who visits her grandmother, her Lao Lao, at the beach. When she finds a flamingo feather in Lao Lao’s house, the magical story-within-a-story explains where it came from. Definitely add this one to your second grade books for teaching about making inferences—there is so much to wonder and talk about!

Buy it: The Flamingo on Amazon

30. Five Minutes (That’s a Lot of Time) (No, It’s Not) (Yes, It Is) by Liz Garton Scanlon and Audrey Vernick

Book cover for Five Minutes (That's Not a Lot of Time) as an example of second grade books

We reference it all the time, but how long is five minutes, really? Well, that depends on whether you’re waiting in line or playing your favorite game! Add some fun to your math lessons about telling time by sharing this little gem.

Buy it: Five Minutes (That’s a Lot of Time) (No, It’s Not) (Yes, It Is) on Amazon

31. Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise

Book cover for Planting Stories as an example of second grade books

Storyteller and author Pura Belpré was the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City. Treat yourself and your class to this gorgeous and inspirational biography that offers just the right amount of detail for a classroom read-aloud and discussion. (Plus, motivate your students to explore other Pura Belpré Award titles!)

Buy it: Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré on Amazon

32. Now You Know How It Works by Valorie Fisher

Book cover for Now You Know How It Works as an example of second grade books

How often do we stop and think about how things we use every day, like soap or screws, work? This title explains it all, with labeled diagrams perfect for teaching students about using nonfiction text features for reading and their own writing.

Buy it: Now You Know How It Works on Amazon

33. How To Make a Mountain in Just 9 Simple Steps and Only 100 Million Years! by Amy Huntington

Book cover for How to Make a Mountain as an example of second grade books

Introduce second grade standards about processes that shape the earth with this funny and informative guide. The different text sizes and sections give you choices about how much detail to share if reading aloud.

Buy it: How To Make a Mountain in Just 9 Simple Steps and Only 100 Million Years! on Amazon

34. Seeds Move! by Robin Page

Book cover for Seeds Move! as an example of second grade books

Did you ever think of seed dispersal as involving “hitchhiking,” “catapulting,” or “parachuting”? Robin Page’s fresh, informative text and collage illustrations will get students thinking about grade-level science concepts.

Buy it: Seeds Move! on Amazon

35. We Move Together by Kelly Fritsch and Anne McGuire

Book cover for We Move Together as an example of second grade books

Everyone deserves to be able to move through their world with ease. This is one of our favorite all-ages books to open discussions about social justice and disability. It’s especially suited to second graders who are eager to connect to others and make the world a more fair place.

Buy it: We Move Together on Amazon

36. Money Math by David Adler

Book cover for Money Math: Addition and Subtraction as an example of second grade books

Content-area book guru David Adler addresses money identification and beginning addition and subtraction. Break out the piles of change!

Buy it: Money Math on Amazon

37. The Disgusting Critters Series by Elise Gravel

Book covers for examples of The Disgusting Critters series as an example of second grade books

This series combines science, silly humor, and just enough gross facts to delight any young reader.

Buy it: The Disgusting Critters Series on Amazon

38. The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng by Sophia Gholz

Book cover for The Boy Who Grew a Forest

Share this biography of an Indian environmental activist with students when you talk about the role of plants in an ecosystem. After reading, go outside and plant some native plants in your own habitat!

Buy it: The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng on Amazon

39. Big and Small and In-Between by Carter Higgins and Daniel Miyares

Book cover for Big and Small and In Between

Three whimsical chapters make poetic observations about the world based on size. This book invites readers to notice things like how big the quiet feels when it’s your turn to perform, the “in between” of a wiggling tooth, and how small you feel when you stare at the ocean. Add this title to your second grade books for Poetry Month or launching a poetry unit of study.

Buy it: Big and Small and In-Between on Amazon

40. On Duck Pond by Jane Yolen

Book cover for On Duck Pond

We still read Owl Moon every single year, but we also love Jane Yolen’s more recent nature offerings. Here, her signature poetic and precise language chronicles the brief moment when a child walks a dog past a pond.

Buy it: On Duck Pond on Amazon

41. A Place To Start a Family: Poems About Creatures That Build by David L. Harrison

Book cover for A Place to Start a Family

As anyone who has studied a bird’s nest up close knows, animal structures are amazing. Each poem describes how an animal creates a home for its young.

Buy it: A Place To Start a Family: Poems About Creatures That Build on Amazon

42. Gone Camping: A Novel in Verse by Tamera Will Wissinger

Book cover for Gone Camping: A Novel in Verse

Read about a family’s camping experience, as described by different family members. This fun title also includes a handy guide for teaching kids about different forms of poetry. Also check out Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse , starring the same characters.

Buy it: Gone Camping: A Novel in Verse on Amazon

43. Two-Headed Chicken series by Tom Angleberger

Book cover for Two-Headed Chicken

Share these hilarious graphic novels with your second graders who love funny books or need something to read after Dog Man .  A two-headed chicken has bizarre adventures as it hops around the multiverse and back and forth through time.

Buy it: Two-Headed Chicken series on Amazon

44. Frankie and Friends: Breaking News by Christine Platt

Book cover for Frankie and Friends: Breaking news as an example of second grade books

Add this illustrated chapter book series opener to your second grade books for building kids’ background knowledge about different careers. Frankie’s mom is a busy journalist. It’s tough on Frankie when her mother has to rush out of town to cover a breaking news story, but she decides to pass the time by honing her own reporting skills at home. The back matter includes information about journalism terms.

Buy it: Frankie and Friends: Breaking News on Amazon

45. Yasmin series by Saadia Faruqi

Book cover for Meet Yasmin!

Yasmin has plenty of spirit and a talent for looking on the bright side. This early chapter book series has lots of titles to keep kids reading. It’s a must-own on the growing list of kid-lit titles starring contemporary Muslim Americans.

Buy it: Yasmin series on Amazon

46. Diary of an Ice Princess series by Christina Soontornvat

Book cover for Diary of an Ice Princess: Icing on the Snowflake

Second graders love this fantasy series about a princess who lives in the clouds and wields a ton of cool weather-related powers. And teachers shouldn’t be discouraged by all the pink! The series has diverse characters and relatable themes to discuss with kids.

Buy it: Diary of an Ice Princess series on Amazon

47. Every Day With April & Mae series by Megan Dowd Lambert

Book cover for April and Mae and the Tea Party as an example of second grade books

April and Mae are best friends who navigate relatable kid situations and feelings. It’s so important to have second grade books available for readers who are still learning to decode. This series is easier but still engaging. Plus, we love the cheerful illustrations.

Buy it: April & Mae and the Tea Party on Amazon

48. Pets Rule! series by Susan Tan

Book cover for Pets Rule Book 1 as an example of second grade books

The Branches illustrated chapter book collection offers tons of great choices, but kids especially love this funny series about a pet chihuahua who has big dreams of world—or at least neighborhood—domination.

Buy it: Pets Rule! series on Amazon

49. Word Travelers series by Raj Haldar

Book cover for Word Travelers and the Taj Mahal Mystery as an example of second grade books

Best friends Eddie and MJ use an enchanted word book to go on fantastic treasure-hunting adventures. They’ve got to stretch their vocabulary knowledge to figure out clues. This is a fun series for advanced second grade readers who still need age-appropriate content.

Buy it: Word Travelers series on Amazon

50. Dragon Kingdom of Wrenly series by Jordan Quinn

Book cover for The Dragon Kingdom of Wrenly, Book 1 as an example of second grade books

A crew of young dragons goes head-to-head with one danger after another. These imaginative graphic novel spinoffs of a popular chapter book series have wide appeal, and there are plenty of titles to keep kids reading.

Buy it: The Coldfire Curse (Dragon Kingdom of Wrenly) on Amazon

51. The Apartment House on Poppy Hill by Nina LaCour

Book cover for The Apartment House on Poppy Hill as an example of second grade books

This feel-good series opener stars Ella, who lives with her two moms in an apartment building in San Francisco. She delights in knowing her neighbors, their habits, and their comings and goings. Add this title to your collection of endearing, character-driven second grade early chapter books.

Buy it: The Apartment House on Poppy Hill on Amazon

52. Too Small Tola series by Atinuke

Book cover for Too Small Tola as an example of second grade books

Stories by this author—we also love the Anna Hibiscus series—are great for adding representation of life in contemporary Africa to your classroom libraries. Tola lives with her siblings and grandmother in an apartment in Lagos, Nigeria, where things are never dull. These collections of stories have endearing characters and rich descriptions for kids working on noticing details about setting.

Buy it: Too Small Tola on Amazon

53. Ada Twist, Scientist: The Why Files by Andrea Beaty and Theanne Griffith

Book cover for Ada Twist Scientist: The Why Files, All About Plants

We love the Questioneers , and these nonfiction partner titles based on the Netflix show are awesome additions to your second grade science books. A fun journal format keeps readers interested.

Buy it: All About Plants (Ada Twist, Scientist: The Why Files) on Amazon

54. Geraldine Pu series by Maggie Chang

Book cover for Geraldine Pu and Her Lunch Box Too

Geraldine Pu has lots of relatable school experiences and is proud of her family’s Taiwanese culture. These are the perfect second grade books for introducing kids to reading graphic novels. Each one has a “How To Read This Book” tutorial to teach kids about speech and thought bubbles and how to read panels left to right and top to bottom.

Buy it: Geraldine Pu series on Amazon

55. Class Critters series by Kathryn Holmes

Class Critters Book 3

Mrs. Norrell’s second grade class seems normal, but kids learn in unusual ways. Each student gets the chance to turn into an animal for a day, giving them an interesting perspective! Relatable themes with an appealing fantasy twist make these excellent second grade chapter books.

Buy it: Class Critters series on Amazon

56. Classroom 13 series by Honest Lee and Matthew J. Gilbert

Book cover for Classroom 13 Book 1

Spark those 7- and 8-year-old imaginations! These second grade books work well as fun class read-alouds, book club picks, or independent reads. Each short chapter stars one student in Classroom 13, where plenty of wacky things take place.

Buy it: Classroom 13 series on Amazon

57. Mac B., Kid Spy series by Mac Barnett

Book cover for Mac B. Kid Spy book 1

Mac Barnett tells his childhood story—as a spy for the queen of England. It’s a spoof, of course, but there are real themes here too. This series would be a great fit for advanced but reluctant readers or as fun read-alouds (especially if you’re a kid of the ’80s and treasured your Game Boy as much as the author did).

Buy it: Mac B., Kid Spy series on Amazon

58. Planet Omar series by Zanib Mian

Book cover for Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble-Magnet as an example second grade books

Omar is a fun-loving and imaginative kid navigating relatable kid challenges like starting at a new school and trying to earn money. These fast-paced illustrated chapter books work well as read-alouds or as independent reading. We especially love how they highlight Muslim characters.

Buy it: Planet Omar series on Amazon

59. Legends of Lotus Island series by Christina Soontornvat

Book cover for Legends of Lotus Island series, Book 1

Plum learns about her own strength as a Novice student on magical and mysterious Lotus Island. Read the series opener aloud to introduce students to the fantasy genre. Or offer these chapter books as independent reading material for confident second grade readers. The stories weave in themes related to animals, protecting the environment, and friendship, making them appealing to a wide range of readers.

Buy it: Legends of Lotus Island series on Amazon

60. The Sheep, the Rooster, and the Duck by Matt Phelan

Book cover for The Sheep, The Rooster, and the Duck as an example of second grade books

This is one of our new favorite second grade chapter books to read aloud. Kids and clever farm animals (inspired by the real animals who rode in the first hot-air balloon!) work together to take down a villainous plot in 18th-century France. There’s some historical context, great vocabulary, humor, fun illustrations, and plenty of adventure.

Buy it: The Sheep, the Rooster, and the Duck on Amazon

Which second grade books are your recent favorites? Let us know in the comments!

Want more articles like this be sure to subscribe to our newsletters . plus, check out our book lists for the other elementary grade levels here:.

  • Kindergarten Books
  • First Grade Books
  • Third Grade Books
  • Fourth Grade Books

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The Ultimate Guide to Best Books for Teens by Age

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Kelly Jensen

Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen .

View All posts by Kelly Jensen

If you’re looking for the best books for teens, you’re in luck. We’re in the midst of a strong age for YA, building upon the legacies of early YA books, but now, more than any time before, the best books for teens are showcasing diverse and inclusive voices and experiences. Chances are you can pick up an outstanding book simply by perusing your local library or bookstore. While that’s certainly a boon, it’s also what makes it challenging to narrow down where to begin — or where to continue — your journey into YA books. There’s just so much to choose from.

Whether you’re a first time YA reader or hoping to discover some underrated gems, this guide to the best books for teens by age will help anyone, from the average readers to adults who help readers find books.

The best children’s books by age guide went up to 8th grade, or around ages 12 to 14. This guide will go from 9th grade through 12th. These are some of the best books you can read when it comes to YA lit.

As always, remember that every reader is different. Some 12th graders may prefer different books than the ones here, while some 9th graders may seek out the books included on the list for 12th graders. These are meant to be places to begin or continue a journey, not define that journey. The books collected on this list are all young adult books and include fiction, nonfiction, and comics that fall into both categories. Navigating through to additional lists will help you also find great adult literature and classics for teens.

The Ultimate Guide to the Best Books for Teens by Age, 14–18

Jump to: books for high school freshmen | books for high school sophomores | books for high school juniors | books for high school seniors

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Books for High School Freshmen | Books for 14-year-olds and Books for 15-year-olds

Freshman year can be scary. There are so many changes that come with entering high school, and both the expectations and responsibilities skyrocket for many 14- and 15-year-olds.

It’s also a challenge in terms of reading, particularly as the workload with school and homework makes precious little free time for leisure available. Here are some of the best books for high school freshmen and books for 14-year-olds and 15-year-olds. These books will hold reader attention while also offering both a place to find themselves and a place into which they can escape from their real world.

Among some of the best books for 9th graders :

Legend by Marie Lu

Legend by Mari Lu

“Inspired by  Les Misérables , Lu created a teenage version of the conflict between Valjean and Javert in  Legend .

The western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Fifteen-year-old June comes from an elite family living in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts and is being groomed for the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, 15-year-old Day is one of the Republic’s most wanted criminal. 

June and Day are from different worlds and have no reason to cross paths until June’s brother Metias is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. From there, they are caught in a game of cat and mouse as June seeks revenge for Metias’s death. In a shocking turn of events, the truth of what really brought them together is revealed.

The Legend series continues with  Prodigy ,  Champion , and  Rebel .”

best books assignments

A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck

“Even with his promising basketball skills, the only place where 15-year-old Matt Wainwright feels like himself is in English class where he can express his inner thoughts in quirky poems and essays. Matt also desperately hopes his lifelong best friend, Tabby, reciprocates his feelings until she starts dating Liam Branson, senior basketball star. Losing Tabby to Branson was bad enough, but Matt soon discovers he’s close to losing  everything  that matters most to him.”

cover image of Speak by Lauria Halse Anderson

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

“‘Speak up for yourself. We want to know what you have to say.’

From the first day of her freshman year at Merryweather High School, Melinda knows this is a lie. She is a friendless outcast because she called the cops to bust an end-of-summer party. Now, no one will talk (let alone listen) to Melinda.

As time passes, Melinda becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking. Her only solace is in art class. Through her art project, she is finally able to face what really happened at that party: Melinda was raped by an upperclassman who also attends Merryweather. When she has another violent encounter with him, Melinda fights back and refuses to be silent again.”

lgbtq+ books

Being Jazz: My Life As a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings

“Jazz Jennings has been one of the youngest voices in the discussion about gender identity. Her many projects included launching a  YouTube channel  and starring in  I Am Jazz . Jazz faced bullying, discrimination, and rejection, but continued to persevere and educate others about her life as a transgender teen.

With the support of her parents, Jazz began her transition at the age of 5. When the general public was less knowledgeable and even less accepting of the transgender community, she shared her story in an  interview with Barbara Walters . Following this groundbreaking interview, Jazz became one of the most recognizable activists for transgender children and teens.

In this memoir, Jazz reflects on her experience in the public eye and how this experience helped shape mainstream attitudes toward the transgender community.”

>>Find 25 of the best books for 9th graders here<<

The above are but the tip of the ice berg. Add a pile more of the best books for 14-year-olds and best books for 15-year-olds with these guides. Note that many of these lists would make excellent resources for sophomores, juniors, and seniors as well:

  • The best graphic novels for teens
  • Excellent poetry books for teens
  • Books for reluctant readers* age 14 and 15
  • Fabulous short stories for high schoolers

Books for High School Sophomores | Books for 15-year-olds and Books for 16-year-olds

Sixteen isn’t the universal age when all young people get a driver’s license, but for many teens, this is a rite of passage. Sophomore year can be a tricky one for many teens: you’re not old enough to be completely independent, but you’re getting more and more freedoms, both at home and in school.

Sophomore year is also when a number of teens take on their first part-time jobs.

Where demands on time were tough for teens entering high school, being on that precipice sophomore year can make that time even more narrow.

Here are some excellent books for sophomores, perfect for pleasure reading or for use in school assignments.

Among the best books for 10th graders :

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky cover

The Perks of Being a Wallflower  by Stephen Chobsky

“ The Perks of Being a Wallflower  is an epistolary novel told from the perspective of Charlie, an introverted high school freshman as he navigates the complexities of daily interactions. It is a novel that deals with many of the issues that high schoolers face as well as touching on mental illness and the ways in which that can affect our ability to relate to others.”

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

“When Daniel falls for Natasha on the eve of her deportation, he makes it his mission to get her back. While the love story is the primary focus of the novel, it also grapples with the very real issues of immigration and other intense topics that affect the lives of people in this country.”

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Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through the Motown Sound  by Andrea Davis Pinkney

“This book is a great glimpse into the origins of Motown and how this genre of music has shaped so much of the music we listen to today. This is one of the best books for 10th graders that have an interest in music and want to learn more about its origins.”

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Seafire by Natalie C. Parker

“After her family is killed by a corrupt warlord, pirate Caledonia Styx is left to chart her own course across the seas in search of vengeance. Her crew, made up of other women who’ve lost everything, join her on this quest for revenge and do all that they can to keep each other alive along the way.”

>>Find 20 of the best books for 10th graders here<<

For even more outstanding books for 15-year-olds and books for 16-year-olds, try these:

  • 13 of the best hard-hitting YA books
  • A wide range of YA books set around the world
  • 100 must-read LGBTQIA YA books
  • A roundup of some of the best YA thrillers
  • Sink your reading teeth into diverse YA horror

Books for High School Juniors | Books for 16-year-olds and Books for 17-year-olds

If there’s anything most people remember from high school, it’s that junior year was the most challenging. Between even more responsibilities, classes that push you to your limits, standardized tests, college entrance exams for those hoping to go onto higher education, and being still too far away from that coveted degree, it’s hard not to feel the anxiety well in your chest.

But junior year isn’t all bad. There are plenty of great things about being a junior, too: you’re an upperclassman. You’ve got this high school thing kind of figured out. You can see the end line. You might have the chance to attend prom and other big events.

When it comes to reading, books for 16-year-olds and books for 17-year-olds are abundant and packed with exciting stories, compelling characters, and situations that feel so REAL, whether set in the modern world or an entirely fantastical one.

Here are some of the best books for 11th graders:

Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman book cover

Dry  by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

“We’ve seen tons of teens lead the fight against global climate change. For those who aren’t as well-informed about climate change,  Dry  is a perfect read. It imagines a near-future where Southern California has run out of water. Panic ensues and a small group of kids ends up together, all trying to survive. The novel is fast-paced, exciting, and terrifying. It’s a commentary about climate change as well as human behavior.”

I, Claudia Cover

I, Claudia  by Mary McCoy

“Don’t sleep on this book: it was a Printz Honor Book and, despite the unfortunate cover art, is a compelling high school political drama. This book is for anyone who loves political and interpersonal drama. It’s narrated by Claudia, a novice historian. She recounts her rise to power in her high school’s prestigious student government. Despite seeing the abuses of her predecessors, Claudia can’t help but fall victim to the corruption of power.”

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Jason Reynolds. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1568739320l/52220686._SX318_SY475_.jpg

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

“Juniors are on the cusp of adulthood, and with that comes the right to vote. It’s important for 11th graders to be knowledgable about current events. “Stamped” lays out the history of racist ideas in America, how it affects teens today, and how we can reach an antiracist future.”

>>Find 21 of the best books for 11th graders here<<

Don’t stop there, though. Make your way through these best YA books for juniors, too:

  • Young Adult books set in each state
  • Must-read YA books with little or no romance
  • Award-winning YA books
  • Outstanding contemporary YA novels of the 2010s
  • YA books about sports
  • A roundup of the best short YA books

Books for High School Seniors | Books for 17-year-olds and Books for 18-year-olds

Senior year is both the most exciting and most terrifying year of high school. With it comes tremendous freedom, and that freedom means making a ton of new choices. Do you go to college? Get a job? Attend a trade school? Take a gap year? Are you responsible for family at home and can’t make any decisions until you know what your presence or absence at home might mean?

Many seniors turn 18, too, opening up the door to legal adulthood and many of the rights and privileges therein.

And, of course, senior year means celebrations aplenty, between prom, graduation, and other milestone events honoring a decade and a half of hard work in school.

So what are some of the best books for high school seniors? For those entering into adulthood? Here’s a look:

YA books about music

Finding Yvonne  by Brandy Colbert

“Since she was 7, Yvonne has never been without her trusted violin. With high school graduation around the corner, Yvonne must face the hard truth that even with years of dedication, she might not be good enough for the prestige conservatory she’s dreamed of attending. Full of doubt about her future and frustrated with her strained relationship with her father, Yvonne finds comfort in a street musician and fellow violinist named Omar. He’s mysterious, charming, and the opposite of familiar and reliable Warren, the boy who has her heart. When Yvonne becomes unexpectedly pregnant, she must make the most difficult decision of her life.”

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Forest of a Thousand Lanterns  by Julie C. Dao

“Xifeng is 18 years old and beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness as Empress of Feng Lu, if she embraces the darkness within her. Xifeng longs to fulfill that destiny foreseen by the witch Guma, but is the price of the throne worth the cost? In order to achieve her promised greatness, Xifeng must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the dark magic within her.”

The Downstairs Girl book cover

The Downstairs Girl  by Stacey Lee

“By day, 17-year-old Jo Kuan is a lady’s maid for the daughter of one of Atlanta’s wealthiest men. By night, she is the author behind “Dear Miss Sweetie,” a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady. As the column gains popularity, Jo uses the power of her pen to challenge society’s ideas on race and gender, but she is not prepared for the backlash. While opponents seek to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. When she crosses paths with Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide if the girl who lives in the shadows is ready to step into the light.”

Books like "Terrible Things That Can Happen to You"

This Book is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work  by Tiffany Jewell and Aurelia Durand

“From  anti-bias antiracist (ABAR) educator  Tiffany Jewell comes this #1  New York Times  bestseller for young people (and everyone else) who are ready to wake up, take action, and work to become antiracist. Readers will learn about privilege, inclusion, and conscious/unconscious bias with straightforward information and historical facts. Then they will put what they learned to work with action items and prompts for reflection.”

>>Find 21 of the best books for 12th graders here<<

Of course, there are so many more excellent books for 17-year-olds and books for 18-year-olds. Some more starting points:

  • YA books for older teen reluctant readers *
  • Excellent YA verse novels
  • Dig into the longest YA books you can read
  • The best Asian American YA books on shelves
  • YA books with 19-year-old main characters
  • Fantastic adult books for teen readers

*Note: the phrase “reluctant readers” is a loaded one. Consider this particular list, as well as other lists aimed at readers who may be less enthusiastic for reading or who may be challenged by reading for any number of reasons (English isn’t their first language, they have anxiety about their reading skills, they haven’t been given choice in the kinds of materials they consume, among others) a powerful tool for inviting a wide array of more accessible books into the lives of emerging readers.

Don’t miss these guides, either, including compelling YA nonfiction on audio , YA comics for new comic readers , books for the college bound , and must-read queer comics for teens .

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15 Student Planners That Will Make This Year Their Most Productive One Yet

Screen-free planning ahead.

student planners

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Getting on board with using a planner might be quite the task, as most of us are used to clicking and tapping our notes into digital devices, like iPads and smartphones . Luckily for you, we've rounded up the best academic planners to transform even the most tech-obsessed person into a planner pro. From agendas designed to optimize your academic life to options that keep track of busy school and extracurricular schedules, these planners will help start the school year off right.

Planner 2023-2024

Planner 2023-2024

This student planner combines old-school sophistication with modern convenience. The cover design is classically minimal, with an elastic-band closure and pen holder at the spine to keep everything neatly together.

The interior page layout is similarly straightforward, offering weekly and monthly page views with plenty of lined and blank space to write, cross out, and rewrite. The design is unobtrusive, allowing for students to mold it to fit their needs. It's easy to follow with enough direction to keep students on-task, and it's durable enough that if it gets thrown around — which it definitely will — it won't fall apart partway through the year. Overall, the combination of style, durability, and price makes this student planner our number-one pick.

More: 20 High-Quality Backpacks That'll Actually Last All Year

2023-2024 Academic Planner + Study App

2023-2024 Academic Planner + Study App

A brilliantly laid out study app comes with the Five Star planner. It's one more way for kids to integrate their digital and analog planning and studying. It's a simple plan with an easy layout to follow, and teens love it. It has daily, weekly, and monthly sections with more than enough room for everything.

Dated Bilingual Middle High School Student Planner

Dated Bilingual Middle High School Student Planner

Bilingual English and Spanish planners are wonderful for really any child in the U.S. but especially good for Spanish speakers and Spanish learners. The planner has plenty of guidance as to what to put where and plenty of space in which to do it. It's also a great option for middle school students!

2023-2024 Academic Planner

2023-2024 Academic Planner

At-a-Glance planners are favorites of teachers I spoke with because they aren't distracting, but they're also very guided and have plenty of room. Even if your child decides to use markers in it, the pages don't bleed like some thinner-papered planners. These lay flat, allowing the student to look at everything at a glance.

Student Planner 2023-2024

Student Planner 2023-2024

A big part of why this one will be so popular is because of the design on the outside — celestial images are hot right now. But what's inside is even more important, and you'll find a well-laid out planer with 380 stickers, goal areas, weekly, daily, and monthly spaces ready to be filled out.

2023-2024 Monthly Planner

2023-2024 Monthly Planner

If you need to motivate your student, gifting them a package like this is a wonderful way to do it. It has everything a kid could want for planning, pens, stickers, tabs, and a design that's alluring even for the planner-shy.

Again, it has weekly, daily, and monthly spaces with great paper and lines that aren't too close together.

2023-24 Monthly & Weekly Academic Planner Kit

2023-24 Monthly & Weekly Academic Planner Kit

There's so much to love about this extremely durable zippered planner starting with the fact that it's not just an undated planner — it's an entire planner system.

Useful school supplies like fine-liner pens, sticky notes, tabs, note stickers, and highlighters are all included. That means that you can color-code by program or activity, highlight deadlines, coordinate your needs, and get everything put down exactly when you need to begin because you are the one filling in the date.

2023-2024 Academic Year Weekly and Monthly Planner

2023-2024 Academic Year Weekly and Monthly Planner

This notebook-sized student planner from Blue Sky helps plan out projects by week while also including a bird's-eye view of the entire month when opened to each tab.

It also provides more than enough space for writing down due dates and monthly appointments, and it lays everything out neatly on a clean-lined spread.

What we love about this one is that it's a smaller size, perfect for the front pocket of a backpack. There's even a section for jotting down yearly goals for the academic year to stay on track through the semesters.

The Jag Academic Planner

The Jag Academic Planner

Whether you're a consistent planner user or go weeks without writing down anything, this gorgeous, blank weekly planner is perfect. It feels grown up and ready for adulthood. Each page allows you to fill in the year and the date so that you can plan your way.

With generous space to write down daily tasks, assignments, and social engagements, you'll never miss a beat. Thanks to the sections for goals, important dates, and to-do lists, you'll be the image of productivity and organization.

Panda Reusable Academic Daily Planner

Panda Reusable Academic Daily Planner

Undated planners are gaining popularity, and this one keeps track of way more than just your day-to-day schedule.

The top-rated Panda Planner includes daily, weekly, and monthly pages, all designed with the goal-oriented user in mind. It helps break big goals into smaller tasks and lets users get as granular as they'd like with long-term planning. This means that you can plan their semester by the week, month, or the whole chunk.

The best part is that the cloud-integrated planner is totally reusable, as users can jot down tasks and notes with the smudge-proof pen, scan them with the compatible app, and erase the notes with the included cloth. It'll likely be the only planner-and-notebook combo that you'll ever need.

Daily Planner 2023-2024

Daily Planner 2023-2024

With weekly practices designed to inspire and encourage self-care, you will find this planner to be incredibly useful. Its lined pages are the perfect place to jot down notes, how you're feeling, or your progress and goals for that month. The weekly and monthly view allows you to write down detailed daily plans and broader monthly events.

The color-coded sections make finding a specific month quick and easy. You can design their planner to look as trendy as you want with the chic included sticker pack.

Simple Elephant Planner 2023-2024

Simple Elephant Planner 2023-2024

Straight to the point and focused on productivity, the Simple Elephant Planner is designed to keep you motivated and ready to achieve your goals.

School is far more than just going to class and going home. The Elephant Planner is designed for everything in between. With weekly and monthly pages, you can keep track of your bigger and smaller assignments.

Your will be setting and completing goals like a pro with the yearly goal tracker. The gratitude and affirmation pages help you shape a mindfulness practice while keeping you focused on what you want to achieve during the academic year. Plus, the mindmap pages allow you to create a mini vision board to engage with your more creative side, which is great for art majors or students involved in theatre.

Watercolor Checkered Academic Planner

Watercolor Checkered Academic Planner

In the planner community, many would hail Erin Condren as the brand that ushered them into an organization obsession .

Designed with students in mind, this academic planner has a section to manage projects and exams, pages for notes, and the standard weekly/monthly calendar grid. Customize this planner with your name in eye-catching metallic gold for an added pop.

Erin Condren's planner keeps everything from sorority parties to work study and dissertation dates in their place. It's also easy to find what you need when you need it, thanks to the specific tabbing on the sides.

Hardcover Daily Planner 2023-2024

Hardcover Daily Planner 2023-2024

Some of us are all about the low-key aesthetic, and this planner fits the bill. Simple and small enough to toss in your backpack, this planner will get plenty of use.

The weekly planning pages feature boxes to an open plan for dates, allowing maximum customization. Structured to last, the simple planner has a sleek look that is truly unisex and mature.

Planner Set

Planner Set

Who says that using a planner has to be boring? This colorful set comes with everything you need to become a planning pro.

Complete with stickers, pens, and markers, you'll be able to customize their agenda to your exact taste. Each month starts with a page for you to jot down reminders, like phone calls to make and texts to return.

The weekly and monthly view will keep you on top of your assignments, while the included accessories will make writing down homework due dates a bit more fun.

What to Consider

black line break

Choosing the right planner for the right person is no small task, especially for college students dealing with the beginning of their life as an adult. There's a lot to jot down when you consider work and school schedules that include not only term-long projects but also goals for the future, grade calculations, and important notes about prerequisites and scheduling. Planners are pretty individual things, so check in with your kid about their preferred style. My own 15-year-old son prefers to have a larger planner with more room because he's visually inclined in that way, but my 12-year-old daughter is just the opposite. Her planner is precise, but notebooks are for figuring things out.

A good student planner should have space not only for assignments but also for schedules, notes, and important email addresses and numbers, such as the At a Glance planner . It's also a good idea to give yourself the option of having multiple views of the dates — a month at a glance, a week, and a daily breakdown. It's not 100% necessary, but it is extremely useful. You also want your student planner to be durable, just like the Feela planner system , because planners get pretty beaten up over time. Think about it — they're thrown in backpacks , tossed into desk drawers, and even jammed into lockers, so they need to stand up to some knocking around. Flimsy is fine for something that stays at home but not for an academic planner that needs to travel.

Headshot of Cat Bowen

Cat Bowen has been covering parenting and home for over a decade. At Best Products, she has tested hundreds of products for parents and for the home, often spending dozens of hours per product to ensure her reviews are accurate and informative. Prior to joining the team, she was at Romper where she covered everything from breastfeeding to child sleep habits to abortion rights access. You can find her work on Bustle , Romper , and more. Cat is a bit of an intellectual magpie and perpetual student, most recently receiving a graduate degree in gender studies where she examined a topic that vexes so many — pockets in women’s clothing.

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Melanie Yates is the senior service editor of Best Products, where she writes and reports pieces pertaining to the etiquette, dilemmas, and how-tos of gift-giving for different occasions. Previously, she was the site's senior home editor, covering all things decor- and bedding-related since 2015. Her digital byline can also be found on Bustle, House Beautiful , and Elle Decor . A longtime classical-music enthusiast, Melanie spends her off-hours enjoying performances big and small across New York City.

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The Greatest Books of All Time

Click to learn how this list is calculated.

This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books in literature. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 200 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed literary works. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details about the selection process can be found on the rankings page .

List Calculation Details

If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Cover of 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This novel is a multi-generational saga that focuses on the Buendía family, who founded the fictional town of Macondo. It explores themes of love, loss, family, and the cyclical nature of history. The story is filled with magical realism, blending the supernatural with the ordinary, as it chronicles the family's experiences, including civil war, marriages, births, and deaths. The book is renowned for its narrative style and its exploration of solitude, fate, and the inevitability of repetition in history.

2. Ulysses by James Joyce

Cover of 'Ulysses' by James Joyce

Set in Dublin, the novel follows a day in the life of Leopold Bloom, an advertising salesman, as he navigates the city. The narrative, heavily influenced by Homer's Odyssey, explores themes of identity, heroism, and the complexities of everyday life. It is renowned for its stream-of-consciousness style and complex structure, making it a challenging but rewarding read.

3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Cover of 'The Great Gatsby' by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Set in the summer of 1922, the novel follows the life of a young and mysterious millionaire, his extravagant lifestyle in Long Island, and his obsessive love for a beautiful former debutante. As the story unfolds, the millionaire's dark secrets and the corrupt reality of the American dream during the Jazz Age are revealed. The narrative is a critique of the hedonistic excess and moral decay of the era, ultimately leading to tragic consequences.

4. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

Cover of 'In Search of Lost Time' by Marcel Proust

This renowned novel is a sweeping exploration of memory, love, art, and the passage of time, told through the narrator's recollections of his childhood and experiences into adulthood in the late 19th and early 20th century aristocratic France. The narrative is notable for its lengthy and intricate involuntary memory episodes, the most famous being the "madeleine episode". It explores the themes of time, space and memory, but also raises questions about the nature of art and literature, and the complex relationships between love, sexuality, and possession.

5. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Cover of 'Don Quixote' by Miguel de Cervantes

This classic novel follows the adventures of a man who, driven mad by reading too many chivalric romances, decides to become a knight-errant and roam the world righting wrongs under the name Don Quixote. Accompanied by his loyal squire, Sancho Panza, he battles windmills he believes to be giants and champions the virtuous lady Dulcinea, who is in reality a simple peasant girl. The book is a richly layered critique of the popular literature of Cervantes' time and a profound exploration of reality and illusion, madness and sanity.

6. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Cover of 'The Catcher in the Rye' by J. D. Salinger

The novel follows the story of a teenager named Holden Caulfield, who has just been expelled from his prep school. The narrative unfolds over the course of three days, during which Holden experiences various forms of alienation and his mental state continues to unravel. He criticizes the adult world as "phony" and struggles with his own transition into adulthood. The book is a profound exploration of teenage rebellion, alienation, and the loss of innocence.

7. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Cover of 'Moby Dick' by Herman Melville

The novel is a detailed narrative of a vengeful sea captain's obsessive quest to hunt down a giant white sperm whale that bit off his leg. The captain's relentless pursuit, despite the warnings and concerns of his crew, leads them on a dangerous journey across the seas. The story is a complex exploration of good and evil, obsession, and the nature of reality, filled with rich descriptions of whaling and the sea.

8. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Cover of 'Crime and Punishment' by Fyodor Dostoevsky

A young, impoverished former student in Saint Petersburg, Russia, formulates a plan to kill an unscrupulous pawnbroker to redistribute her wealth among the needy. However, after carrying out the act, he is consumed by guilt and paranoia, leading to a psychological battle within himself. As he grapples with his actions, he also navigates complex relationships with a variety of characters, including a virtuous prostitute, his sister, and a relentless detective. The narrative explores themes of morality, redemption, and the psychological impacts of crime.

9. Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

Cover of 'Nineteen Eighty Four' by George Orwell

Set in a dystopian future, the novel presents a society under the total control of a totalitarian regime, led by the omnipresent Big Brother. The protagonist, a low-ranking member of 'the Party', begins to question the regime and falls in love with a woman, an act of rebellion in a world where independent thought, dissent, and love are prohibited. The novel explores themes of surveillance, censorship, and the manipulation of truth.

10. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Cover of 'War and Peace' by Leo Tolstoy

Set in the backdrop of the Napoleonic era, the novel presents a panorama of Russian society and its descent into the chaos of war. It follows the interconnected lives of five aristocratic families, their struggles, romances, and personal journeys through the tumultuous period of history. The narrative explores themes of love, war, and the meaning of life, as it weaves together historical events with the personal stories of its characters.

11. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Cover of 'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Brontë

This classic novel is a tale of love, revenge and social class set in the Yorkshire moors. It revolves around the intense, complex relationship between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, an orphan adopted by Catherine's father. Despite their deep affection for each other, Catherine marries Edgar Linton, a wealthy neighbor, leading Heathcliff to seek revenge on the two families. The story unfolds over two generations, reflecting the consequences of their choices and the destructive power of obsessive love.

12. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Cover of 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' by Lewis Carroll

This novel follows the story of a young girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantastical world full of peculiar creatures and bizarre experiences. As she navigates through this strange land, she encounters a series of nonsensical events, including a tea party with a Mad Hatter, a pool of tears, and a trial over stolen tarts. The book is renowned for its playful use of language, logic, and its exploration of the boundaries of reality.

13. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Cover of 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen

Set in early 19th-century England, this classic novel revolves around the lives of the Bennet family, particularly the five unmarried daughters. The narrative explores themes of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage within the society of the landed gentry. It follows the romantic entanglements of Elizabeth Bennet, the second eldest daughter, who is intelligent, lively, and quick-witted, and her tumultuous relationship with the proud, wealthy, and seemingly aloof Mr. Darcy. Their story unfolds as they navigate societal expectations, personal misunderstandings, and their own pride and prejudice.

14. The Bible by Christian Church

Cover of 'The Bible' by Christian Church

This religious text is a compilation of 66 books divided into the Old and New Testaments, forming the central narrative for Christianity. It encompasses a variety of genres, including historical accounts, poetry, prophecy, and teaching, telling the story of God's relationship with humanity, from creation to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the early Christian church. It is considered by believers to be divinely inspired and serves as a guide for faith and practice.

15. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Cover of 'Lolita' by Vladimir Nabokov

The novel tells the story of Humbert Humbert, a man with a disturbing obsession for young girls, or "nymphets" as he calls them. His obsession leads him to engage in a manipulative and destructive relationship with his 12-year-old stepdaughter, Lolita. The narrative is a controversial exploration of manipulation, obsession, and unreliable narration, as Humbert attempts to justify his actions and feelings throughout the story.

16. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

Cover of 'The Divine Comedy' by Dante Alighieri

In this epic poem, the protagonist embarks on an extraordinary journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio), and Paradise (Paradiso). Guided by the ancient Roman poet Virgil and his beloved Beatrice, he encounters various historical and mythological figures in each realm, witnessing the eternal consequences of earthly sins and virtues. The journey serves as an allegory for the soul's progression towards God, offering profound insights into the nature of good and evil, free will, and divine justice.

17. The Odyssey by Homer

Cover of 'The Odyssey' by Homer

This epic poem follows the Greek hero Odysseus on his journey home after the fall of Troy. It takes Odysseus ten years to reach Ithaca after the ten-year Trojan War. Along the way, he encounters many obstacles including mythical creatures, divine beings, and natural disasters. Meanwhile, back in Ithaca, his wife Penelope and son Telemachus fend off suitors vying for Penelope's hand in marriage, believing Odysseus to be dead. The story concludes with Odysseus's return, his slaughter of the suitors, and his reunion with his family.

18. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Cover of 'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' by Mark Twain

The novel follows the journey of a young boy named Huckleberry Finn and a runaway slave named Jim as they travel down the Mississippi River on a raft. Set in the American South before the Civil War, the story explores themes of friendship, freedom, and the hypocrisy of society. Through various adventures and encounters with a host of colorful characters, Huck grapples with his personal values, often clashing with the societal norms of the time.

19. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Cover of 'The Brothers Karamazov' by Fyodor Dostoevsky

This classic novel explores the complex, passionate, and troubled relationship between four brothers and their father in 19th century Russia. The narrative delves into the themes of faith, doubt, morality, and redemption, as each brother grapples with personal dilemmas and family conflicts. The story culminates in a dramatic trial following a murder, which serves as a microcosm of the moral and philosophical struggles faced by each character, and by extension, humanity itself.

20. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Cover of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee

Set in the racially charged South during the Depression, the novel follows a young girl and her older brother as they navigate their small town's societal norms and prejudices. Their father, a lawyer, is appointed to defend a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman, forcing the children to confront the harsh realities of racism and injustice. The story explores themes of morality, innocence, and the loss of innocence through the eyes of the young protagonists.

21. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Cover of 'Heart of Darkness' by Joseph Conrad

This classic novel follows the journey of a seaman who travels up the Congo River into the African interior to meet a mysterious ivory trader. Throughout his journey, he encounters the harsh realities of imperialism, the brutal treatment of native Africans, and the depths of human cruelty and madness. The protagonist's journey into the 'heart of darkness' serves as both a physical exploration of the African continent and a metaphorical exploration into the depths of human nature.

22. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Cover of 'Anna Karenina' by Leo Tolstoy

Set in 19th-century Russia, this novel revolves around the life of Anna Karenina, a high-society woman who, dissatisfied with her loveless marriage, embarks on a passionate affair with a charming officer named Count Vronsky. This scandalous affair leads to her social downfall, while parallel to this, the novel also explores the rural life and struggles of Levin, a landowner who seeks the meaning of life and true happiness. The book explores themes such as love, marriage, fidelity, societal norms, and the human quest for happiness.

23. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Cover of 'Madame Bovary' by Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary is a tragic novel about a young woman, Emma Bovary, who is married to a dull, but kind-hearted doctor. Dissatisfied with her life, she embarks on a series of extramarital affairs and indulges in a luxurious lifestyle in an attempt to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life. Her desire for passion and excitement leads her down a path of financial ruin and despair, ultimately resulting in a tragic end.

24. The Iliad by Homer

Cover of 'The Iliad' by Homer

This epic poem focuses on the final weeks of the Trojan War, a conflict between the city of Troy and the Greek city-states. The story explores themes of war, honor, wrath, and divine intervention, with a particular focus on the Greek hero Achilles, whose anger and refusal to fight have devastating consequences. The narrative also delves into the lives of the gods, their relationships with humans, and their influence on the course of events.

25. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Cover of 'Catch-22' by Joseph Heller

The book is a satirical critique of military bureaucracy and the illogical nature of war, set during World War II. The story follows a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier stationed in Italy, who is trying to maintain his sanity while fulfilling his service requirements so that he can go home. The novel explores the absurdity of war and military life through the experiences of the protagonist, who discovers that a bureaucratic rule, the "Catch-22", makes it impossible for him to escape his dangerous situation. The more he tries to avoid his military assignments, the deeper he gets sucked into the irrational world of military rule.

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best books assignments

Whether you're looking to challenge voracious readers or intrigue more reluctant students, a diversified library filled with compelling, engaging texts is an essential part of any classroom. The titles in this collection have been carefully chosen by Scholastic Editors to specifically meet the needs of fourth grade learners.

For instance, The Bad Guys is a hilarious graphic novel  series about a misfit crew that often fails miserably when trying so hard to be good. These are titles that reluctant or voracious readers will be sure to laugh their way through. The engaging text and fun graphics will be appealing and relevant to your students. There's also Who Would Win?: Killer Whale vs. Great White Shark   — a nonfiction book that showcases facts about mighty animals. Your student will love the full-color pictures and easy-to-read scientific facts. 

Filled with award-winners, favorite authors, beloved characters, and engaging fiction and nonfiction titles across a wide range of reading levels, these texts will keep students reading while also challenging them to think more deeply and make more complex connections with the books they love. 

Shop these noteworthy books below! You can find all books and activities at  The Teacher Store .

48 best books on photography for beginners and pros in 2024

Improve your camera skills and get visual inspiration with the best books on photography

The best books on photography

Improving your photography

  • Photography skills
  • Business skills
  • Photo inspiration

Best photography books for students

The best books on photography are a great way to kick back, enjoy an entertaining read, get inspired, and improve your camera skills. 

Whether you're a veteran shooter, a total beginner, or somewhere in between, every photographer needs to be constantly learning and exposing themselves to great work. And to help you do just that, below you'll find the best photography books on the market today. 

These include the best books on photography for beginners looking to learn the basics, plus skills guides for intermediate and advanced camera users. We've also included some beautiful coffee table photography books for inspiration, and a number of insightful guides to the business of photography. 

Best photography books for beginners

Cover of BetterPhoto Basics, one of the best books on photography

1. BetterPhoto Basics

Specifications, reasons to buy, reasons to avoid.

If you're a photography novice looking for a relatively light and friendly read, this guide from Jim Miotke, the brains behind online photography school BetterPhoto.com, should be just up your street. 

Explaining everything an absolute beginner needs to get started taking great photos, it's packed with tips and advice, and explanations are friendly sounding and written in plain English.

Once you've got to grips with the basics, Miotke walks you through taking 20 common categories of photos, including family and pet portraits, flowers, sunsets, candids, close-ups, and monochrome shots.

Suitable for children and adults, this is one of the best photography books to make learning photography fun and rewarding, and ultimately whether it succeeds will be down to you.

Read more: 10  best online photography courses

Cover of Read this if You Want to Take Good Photographs, one of the best books on photography

2. Read This if You Want to Take Good Photographs

Getting to grips with the basics of photography has never been easier – or more fun – than with Read This if You Want to Take Good Photographs. An easy-to-follow, accessible guide, this book is perfect for anyone new to using DSLRs, compact systems, and bridge cameras. The author – teacher, writer, and photographer Henry Carroll – has dialed down the technical jargon and instead opted for the handbook that champions the art of photography via iconic images, playful dialogue, and expert tips. 

Inspired by the greats, Carroll draws on acclaimed photographers such as Sebastião Salgado, Nadav Kander, and Daido Moriyama to help illustrate the technique and encourage readers to get involved. 

Read more: 12 essential photography tips for beginners

Cover of How to Create Stunning Digital Photography, one of the best books on photography

3. Tony Northrup's DSLR Book: How to Create Stunning Digital Photography

When it comes to learning photography, reading from books and watching videos are two approaches that each have strengths and weaknesses. So why not combine the two for the best of both worlds?

That's exactly what this package from Tony Northrup, the founder of photo.net, offers. As well as this 233-page book, you get over three hours of supplementary online training videos, and free help from the author and other readers via an online readers group.

This is very much a practical, hands-on course that requires you to grab your camera and get shooting right away. There are exercises at the end of every chapter to give you the real-world experience you need, and the emphasis is very much on learning by doing.

Cover of The Digital Photography Book: Part 1, one of the best books on photography

4. The Digital Photography Book: Part 1

This book takes an approach to improve your photography that makes perfect sense to us. Here's how author Scott Kelby, co-host of Photoshop User TV, explains it... 

“If you and I were out on a shoot, and you asked me, 'Hey, how do I get this flower to be in focus, with the background out of focus?,' I wouldn't stand there and give you a photography lecture," he says. "In real life, I’d just say, 'Put on your zoom lens, set your f-stop to f/2.8, focus on the flower, and fire away.'"

In exactly that spirit, this book offers more than 200 photographic tricks of the trade, to help you get looking, sharper, more colorful, more professional-looking photos, explained in the same way you would in a normal conversation. So you learn how using a different setting, tool or trick in a particular situation can truly transform the quality of your work, and make it look more like the work of a pro than an amateur. 

Kelby really does write like you're standing next to you, and while that might sometimes be off-putting (depending on whether you 'get' his sense of humor), there's no denying that these tricks really work, whether you're a beginner or an experienced photographer. 

Cover of One Face, Fifty Ways, one of the best books on photography

5. One Face, Fifty Ways

Mark Wilkinson is an enthusiastic photographer, and Imogen – the model of the titular “one face” – an acquaintance. Their chance encounter spawned not only Europe’s most popular photography YouTube channel Weekly Imogen , but now this book. 

Its simple premise is to offer easy-to-follow examples you can use to get as many different looks as possible with the same model. In so doing it also covers many basics of photographing all people (and there is a chapter with models other than Imogen). Since so many of us start out with family members or cooperative friends serving in that role, this light-hearted but informative guide is a good way to build your confidence in shooting people.

Cover of Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs of People, one of the best books on photography

6. Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs of People

Henry Carroll’s series of books on photography are an example of exceptional publishing – and this one dedicated to portraiture is no exception. They show what a little academic knowledge can do when boiled down by great editors, skilled illustrators, and an investment in the images – many publishers skimp on using photographs from famous photographers for books of this price because of the cost of licensing, but not LK. 

They’re also beautifully bound, with matt paper, some shiny (foil), and debossed lettering. That tactile experience and flickability are why, ultimately, they are superb gifts. They are inspiring to browse through, and contain some useful nuggets of information which any creative person of your acquaintance should enjoy. The recipient, in other words, will not be disappointed. Experienced photographers, however, will find every other book on this list more useful.

Cover of The Headshot, one of the best books on photography

7. The Headshot: The Secrets to Creating Amazing Headshot Portraits

In the modern social media age, having a decent-looking head-and-shoulders portrait is something that concerns everyone, not just actors and models. So if you want to know how to take professional-looking headshots, this book by professional portraitist Peter Hurley is just what you need. 

You'll learn the same techniques the author used to take amazing headshots of Fortune 500 CEOs, actors, and public figures, from lighting your subjects correctly to putting them in flattering positions. 

Hurley also shares his trade secrets for getting genuine smiles and authentic expressions rather than people's standard 'photo face' that always makes a headshot look dull and lifeless. 

Note that this is not so much a step-by-step training manual or reference guide as an insight into how one man approaches his art. But when it's someone at the top of his game like this, there's a huge amount any photographer can learn here.

See also The best books on portrait photography

Cover of The Art of Photography, one of the best books on photography

8. The Art of Photography 2nd edition: A Personal Approach to Artistic Expression

First published in 1994, this book is considered a classic of photography instruction. It was fully updated in 2010 to incorporate digital photography. But actually, it's not so much a technical guide as a deep dive into the philosophical and creative side of photography.

The author's main aim is to dissuade photographers from the approach of taking hundreds of shots in the hope of getting one good image, and instead understand the processes by which you can shoot fewer, but better pictures overall.

In other words, if you're at the stage of your photography journey where you understand all the tools and techniques, but you're still taking unimpressive pictures, this is the book for you.

Cover of Studio Anywhere, one of the best books on photography

9. Studio Anywhere: A Photographer's Guide to Shooting in Unconventional Locations

There's something magical about the idea of a photo studio, a place where you can ensure the right lighting, space, and ambiance to capture the perfect shot. 

But in the real world, photography takes place in much more challenging locations, and that's where this book comes in.   

Whether you're shooting a corporate portrait of a CEO, a test shoot with a model, or a promo shoot with a band, professional portraitist Nick Fancher explains how to get great-looking shots in less-than-ideal scenarios.

He takes you behind the scenes of his own photo shoots and explains how getting creative, from changing the lighting to post-processing, allows you to develop your own vision and achieve professional-looking shots in the potentially worst places.

If you do a lot of portrait photography and want some tips on thinking outside the box, you won't find it better.

Cover of The Photographer's Eye Remastered, one of the best books on photography

10. The Photographer's Eye Remastered

There's no point in understanding the technical side of photography if you don't understand the composition. This classic book, updated to celebrate its 10th anniversary, explains the principles of good composition, and how to put them into practice.

It's divided up into bite-size chapters to make everything easy to follow. And usefully the images (which are mainly from the author's travel photography) are shown with multiple crops, thus demonstrating how one particular composition of a picture works better than another. 

Following the author's reasoned and well-explained advice will help you develop your compositions and take better pictures as a result. In short, if you struggle with composition as a photographer, then you need this book.

photography rules, one of the best books on photography 2020 paul lowe

11. Photography Rules, Paul Lowe

Imagine having some of the most significant insights and memorable aphorisms about photography in your camera bag. 

Dream no longer… Photography Rules is a compendium of wisdom gleaned from photographers and industry professionals including Robert Capa, Diane Arbus, Martin Parr , and many more. 

Helpfully arranged in three discrete sections, ‘Making Photographs’, ‘Being a Photographer’ and ‘Professional Practice’, Photography Rules doesn’t over-egg its messages; each image featured is accompanied by text that’s as digestible as it is concise – making this book a handy reference guide for keeping on or around you when you’re in the field. 

Read more: The best books on street photography

Cover of Extraordinary Everyday Photography, one of the best books on photography

12. Extraordinary Everyday Photography

Great photography lies not so much in technical expertise but in learning to see things in a different way from the norm. The starting point for this book is that you don't have to travel to far-flung locations to take arresting pictures; great images are possible anywhere. You just have to scratch the surface and find them. 

Authors Brenda Tharp and Jed Manwaring encourage you to slow down, open your eyes and respond to what you see through advice, discussions, and exercises. Throughout this book, you'll learn to use composition, available light, color, and different points of view to raise the quality and interest level of your shots. 

Aimed at amateur photographers who have technical knowledge but are lacking purpose and vision, this insightful read will help you rediscover your photographic soul and give you new ideas and enthusiasm. 

Develop your technical skills

Cover of On Composition, one of the best photography books

13. On Composition

In many ways, composition is the most powerful tool in a photographer's armory. In this new book for 2022 Michael Freeman, one of the world's leading reportage photographers, explains both why and how composition works, from perception to visual imagination. He includes lots of real-life examples of composition in practice to demonstrate the key rules you need to follow. And most usefully, this book includes a number of compositional templates, from the 'Walk-in to the Frame Break' to the 'Fibonacci Point', which you can use to compose your shots.

Cover of Mastering Portrait, one of the best books on photography

14. Mastering Portrait Photography

If portrait photography is your area of expertise, or you want it to be, Mastering Portraits by Sarah Plater and multi-award-winning portrait photographer Paul Wilkinson is one of the best photography books on the subject. The authoritative guide explains the essential techniques of portrait photography in a clear and concise way, with minimal jargon to make it as accessible as possible. 

Inside you'll find advice on choosing the right camera and equipment for you, right through to understanding exposure, aperture, metering, shutter speed, depth of field, and white balance settings. No matter what your subject, the technical know-how, tips, and hints in this book will help you get the very best portrait possible. 

Cover of The Landscape Photography Workshop, one of the best books on photography

15. The Landscape Photography Workshop

Get to grips with landscape photography with one of the best photography books around. A beautifully illustrated workshop-in-a-book, this photography handbook acts as a training session in the art of landscape photography, mixing detailed written explanations with easy-to-follow creative assignments to help you hone your skills. And you’re in safe hands with authors Ross Hoddinott and Mark Bauer – the duo is leading landscape photographers in the UK, who offer a range of workshops in South-West England. 

No matter what you’re skill level, there’s something here for everyone, starting with the basics of equipment and exposure right through to more advanced photography techniques, post-processing, and printing.

Cover of Understanding Exposure, one of the best books on photography

16. Understanding Exposure

Updated for 2016, this popular book explains the fundamentals of exposure as it relates to light, aperture and shutter speed, in order to help you taking successful photographs in almost any situation. 

Author Bryan Peterson, founder of www.ppsop.com, demonstrates how to get sharpness and contrast in images, freeze action, take meter readings and more, as well as explaining everything you need to know about filters, flash and light. 

Peterson has a clear enthusiasm for his subject, and whether you're an experienced beginner or an intermediate photographer looking for a refresher, you'll get a deeper understanding of exposure from this guide that can't help but improve the quality of your images.  

Cover of Mastering Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO & Exposure, one of the best books on photography

17. Mastering Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO & Exposure

Many of the most basic photography terms can be off-putting to the beginner, and even experienced photographers don't always understand them properly. So this book explains the fundamentals in a quick, easy, and very accessible manner, allowing you to have more control over the quality of your images.

By the end, you'll fully understand exposure and its components, aperture, shutter speed, and ISO – also known as the Exposure Triangle – and how they work together. Every photographic term is clearly defined and thoroughly explained, as well as is highlighted by using bold caps, so that you can easily find them again to refresh your memory.

With handy charts and relevant photos included to aid understanding, this book is tightly focused on helping you explain what can be complex and confusing concepts, so it's the ideal purchase for anyone who's struggling with them.

Best photo books 2021 night sky adam woodworth image

18: Night Sky Photography

Astrophotography has become more and more popular in recent years, and anyone looking for a good grounding in the genre will do well to buy a copy of this comprehensive new guide. 

Author Adam Woodworth takes the reader through the fundamentals of astrophotography and shows how even using a modest camera setup can yield great results. 

Chapters about camera gear and settings are complemented by ones about night sky subjects and how to plan for shooting them, as well as other useful areas including exposure blending, shooting panoramas, and the practicalities of working outside in the dark. 

A comprehensive chapter about editing ties everything together, as do the use case studies about approaching specific shooting situations. 

Best for Anyone keen to kick-start their journey of discovery into astrophotography.

• Read more: The best cameras for astrophotography

Best photo books 2021 digital darkroom james abbott image

19: The Digital Darkroom

Over 256 pages, regular Digital Camera World contributor James Abbott shares his expert image editing insights for users of Adobe Photoshop and Affinity Photo. 

As he notes in his introduction, “post-production can make the difference between a good image and a great image,” and the remaining 11 chapters show you how to turn your photos into great ones. 

From making basic adjustments to more advanced black and white, color, and special effects, it’s all here. 

The design of the book aids understanding; with plenty of pages to spread the techniques over, ‘The Digital Darkroom’ can eschew slabs of impenetrable text in favor of more manageable lengths, backed up by nugget-sized tips that are easy to grasp. 

Abbott’s decision to cover the excellent-value Affinity Photo alongside Photoshop meets the subscription/ non-subscription preferences of image-editing software buyers and widens the scope of the book. 

Best for Beginner to intermediate-level users of Photoshop and Affinity Photo can’t fail to improve their editing skills after reading this. 

• Read more: The best photo editing software in 2022

Cover of Shooting in Sh*tty Light, one of the best books on photography

20. Shooting in Sh*tty Light: The Top Ten Worst Photography Lighting Situations and How to Conquer Them

You don't always have the perfect lighting for the image you want to capture, and this can be particularly problematic for beginner and amateur photographers. In this provocatively titled book, pro photographers Lindsay Adler and Erik Valind discuss 10 challenging lighting situations and provide practical solutions for each. 

Each challenge and solution and is explained clearly and logically, and you'll come away with an array of tools at your disposal next time you attempt to take a decent photograph in poor lighting conditions. 

Note though that although the title doesn't suggest this, all the examples given involve photographing people (at weddings, etc) so there's nothing here on landscape or wildlife photography, for example. 

Cover of How to Photograph Food, one of the best books on photography

21. How to Photograph Food

Written by Instagram sensation Beata Lubas, who has 163K followers and rising, this hardback is a must-read for food bloggers or anyone looking to diversify into food photography. It covers both the art and science of food styling and camera skills, not to mention the business side, too. 

You'll learn how to tell food stories using light, colour and shape to evoke atmosphere, and discover methods for shaping natural light to produce magical images in any environment. This book is beautifully designed, with gorgeous photos and a layout that gives everything room to breathe. 

Best photo books 2021 mastering lighting richard bradbury image

22: Mastering Lighting & Flash Photography

Photography is painting with light, so knowing how to master it pays dividends. 

That’s the mission statement of this 176-page guide penned by the leading British photographer Richard Bradbury. 

Following some helpful introductory chapters that define light and its various forms, the author offers a series of step-by-step tutorials for shooting portraits, still-life, products and cars and vehicles, supported by diagrams and tip boxes. 

Alongside useful case study interviews with other leading pros, you’ll also find a chapter on post-production and using software to enhance lighting effects. 

Best for If you’re looking to get to grips with the intricacies of lighting in its various forms, then this book will be a great place to start.

Best books on photography business skills

Cover of Hashtag Authentic, one of the best books on photography

23. Hashtag Authentic

Instagram looks like it's here to stay. And love it or hate it, it can work wonders for building a business when used in the right way. Sara Tasker is a woman who has done just that, and luckily for us, she's decided to generously note her recipe for success in this rather wonderful book, Hashtag Authentic. 

Having given up her job as a speech therapist when she was pregnant, activating her Instagram account and three months later having over 35,000 followers, we don't know about you, but we were very interested to hear what she had to say. If you need help building an social following, want to turn your account into profitable creative outlet, or just need a few pointers on how to present your imagery online, this is a resource you'll visit time and time again. 

Cover of The Photography Storytelling Workshop, one of the best books on photography

24. The Photography Storytelling Workshop

It’s all in the title – author Finn Beales walks the reader through five steps towards creating unforgettable photos (‘Pitch’, ‘Prep’, ‘Shoot’, ‘Edit’ and ‘Deliver’). 

Beales’ journey to amassing 600,000 followers on Instagram started after he gave up his career as a designer to shoot better images than what he was getting from commissioning other photographers. 

This in itself is something of a tell, because The Photography Storytelling Workshop is a well conceived and structured book, with an easy-to-navigate design and a good balance between text and images. 

What it exhorts the reader to go out and do feels achievable, but it’s only the beginning – as the title of the final heading in the book puts it, ‘There Is No Finish Line’. There’s always more to learn, whatever your level of experience. A wise buy for any photographer seeking to hone their craft to tell better stories. 

Cover of Best Business Practices for Photographers, one of the best books on photography

25. Best Business Practices for Photographers

Best Business Practices for Photographers delivers exactly what it promises in the title. This updated and expanded third edition of a 1980s classic is a comprehensive guide to succeeding in your business as a photographer, including negotiating contracts and licenses, making a profit, hiring staff, making the career change from staff to freelancer, and so on. 

Once more, quite a bit of this is specifically American, so non-US residents will want to skip the chapter on How to Survive an IRS audit, for example. Also note that it's largely focused on commercial photographers, which is where the author's speciality lies. But with that said, there's still plenty of useful information to be had for photographers of all types, wherever you are in the world.

Cover of Capture Your Style, one of the best books on photography

26. Capture Your Style

With over 3 million Instagram followers, Aimee Song has mastered the art of capturing an image that's going to appeal to a wide audience and draw them in. Song reveals her secrets behind creating an engaging feed and drawing thousands of followers to help gain you opportunities and connections. While this might be more helpful to fashion, lifestyle and portrait photographers, it's still an engaging read for anyone who wants to break into the Instagram game. 

Best books on photography for inspiration

Cover of Peter Lindbergh On Fashion Photography, one of the best photography books

27. Peter Lindbergh On Fashion Photography

If you're seeking inspiration for your fashion photography, look no further than this retrospective of Peter Lindberg, rereleased in a 40th anniversary edition in 2021. The late German photographer was known for his groundbreaking work, which celebrated the essence and individuality of his subjects such as Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Mariacarla Boscono, Lara Stone, Claudia Schiffer and Amber Valletta. This beautifully produced book gathers more than 300 images from his spectacular career.

Cover of Rankin's Play, one of the best books on photography

If you want to learn from the best, then check out this collection of work by Rankin, one of the most celebrated portrait photographers of modern times. This book brings together almost 200 of his most iconic music portraits, including Tom Jones, Bryan Ferry, Elton John, Blondie and Marianne Faithfull, as well as images of ‘Cool Britannia’ in the late 1990s. 

As well as these inspiration visuals, Rankin provides commentary to set them in context. He outlines his process and explaining how he empowers his subjects, so they give him part of themselves in return. 

Cover of David Bailey Look Again, one of the best books on photography

29. Look Again

Released in 2020, this no-holds-barred memoir by the world's most famous living photographer was well worth the wait. It's riveting from start to finish, packed as it is with evocative anecdotes and vignettes, featuring veritable Who’s Who of the movers and shakers of late 20th century culture. Co-author James Fox sits in on some conversations between Bailey and his collaborators to provide added insight and analysis of this great man and his work. 

Cover of Annie Leibovitz At Work, one of the best books on photography

30. Annie Leibovitz At Work

With a career spanning five decades, Annie Leibovitz is one of the world's best known portrait photographers and has shot some of the last half-century's most famous people. If, like many, you've ever fancied watching her in action, this new edition of the bestselling book Annie Leibovitz At Work is the closest you'll come to the real thing. 

First released in 2008 and recently out of print, At Work is aimed mainly at young photographers and those interested in how an image comes to be. Subjects covered include photojournalism, studio work, working with writers, and making the transition from film to digital cameras. If you're a fan of Leibovitz, it doesn't get much better than this. 

See also: Best books on portrait photography

Cover of Street photography now, one of the best books on photography

31. Street Photography Now

Successful street photographers recognise and capture the beauty of everyday life. Street Photography Now showcases the work of 46 photographers, all recognised for their inspirational depictions of the day-to-day. 

Included among them are Magnum Photo members Bruce Gilden, best known for his candid close-ups of people on the streets of NYC, and Alex Web, whose colourful and complex images have made their way in to the New York Times Magazine and National Geographic. There's also a collection of work from some emerging street photographers depicting life in New York, Tokyo and Delhi. 

With over 300 images to look through and multiple conversations between the photographers on the genre, you sure to find some street art inspiration here. 

See also: B est books on street photography

Cover of Humans of New York, one of the best books on photography

32. Humans of New York

In the summer of 2010, Brandon Stanton left his job in finance to do "something artistic" but wasn't sure what it should be. He began crisscrossing New York City, talking to passers-by and asking to photograph them. This ultimately became the source material for Humans of New York, a blog that now attracts more than a million followers. 

With 400 color photos, including exclusive portraits and all-new stories, this collection of Stanton's images is a stunning achievement. Capturing a breathtaking sweep of humanity, these images are a heartfelt and moving tribute to the spirit of a city. 

However, do note that unlike with the blog, this book is all about the images. The captions that accompany them are a few words at most, rather than the detailed stories the blog followers will be used to.

Cover of The World at Night, one of the best books on photography

33. The World at Night

Six continents, 40 countries and some of the most remote corners of Planet Earth feature in this collection of night-sky images – all of which makes The World at Night a great introduction to astrophotography. 

Author Babak Tafreshi has drawn together the work of a team of photographers from 20 countries for this partnership with international bodies The World at Night (which Tafreshi founded) and Astronomy Without Borders. 

Organized into six chapters covering themes including UNESCO World Heritage Sites at Night, celestial events, dark sky refuges and the threat posed by grey-light polluted urban skies, the book features no end of astonishing images, many previously unseen. 

Fascinating for anyone faintly interested in photographing the night sky (and there’s a ‘how to’ section on p235), and inspirational for those already doing it, The World at Night really is a journey to some of the most far-flung places on the earth. 

But it also strikes a note of caution: “By losing the night sky [to light pollution] we risk the loss of a deep-rooted connection to our origins.” 

Cover of Portraits – Steve McCurry, one of the best books on photography

34. Portraits – Steve McCurry

Sometimes you just need to flick through the work of an undisputed master of the genre, and it’s impossible to argue with Steve McCurry’s credentials on that score. The Afghan Girl, the cover photo, is the leading contender for most famous photograph of all time, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to see more of the Kodachrome master. This is, too, very accessibly priced for a collection of 255 books because it’s presented in a compact hardback format which makes it a nice gift (or self-gift) for photo lovers. It’d be nice to have a little more detail in the captions, and it is a monograph so variety is limited, but this is far from Phaidon’s most expensive book – really you can have no complaints.

Cover of Steve McCurry Untold, one of the best books on photography

35. Steve McCurry Untold

Several photographers told me I had to put a Steve McCurry book in this list, and for me this is the obvious pick – this are bigger books out there, but at 11 inches (27cm) on the long side this is big enough to enjoy Magnum-photographer McCurry’s amazing assignments for National Geographic back in the day, while being small enough to make it readable. 

That’s a good thing too – this book doesn’t just caption photos with location and year as other McCurry collections do, but tell the story, partly in his own words, of being on those assignments over 30 years. So much so, in fact, that it’s hard to read too much with out self-assigning your self, grabbing your camera, and setting off right away.

Cover of Gregory Heisler: 50 Portraits, one of the best books on photography

36. Gregory Heisler: 50 Portraits

Photographer Gregory Heisler is best known for his work for Time magazine, including a number of Man, Person, and People of the Year covers. This first-ever collection of his work includes 50 evocative portraits of celebrities, athletes and world leaders, along with fascinating tales of how the images were made. 

From his controversial portrait of President George H.W. Bush to his Time magazine cover of Rudolph Giuliani, and including shots of Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, Hillary Clinton, Michael Phelps, Muhammad Ali, and many more, Heisler reveals the creative and technical processes behind the creation of each frame. 

With a foreword by New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, this is both a gorgeous collection of world-class portraiture and a revealing insight into the work of a master photographer.

Cover of National Geographic Rarely Seen, one of the best books on photography

37. National Geographic Rarely Seen: Photographs of the Extraordinary

Over several decades, National Geographic has made a name for itself bringing the epic, the eye-catching and the unusual into people's home. And this large-format photography book is brings together some of the world's strangest and more wonderful sights. The desert flower that only blooms once a year; a priceless Egyptian artefact buried for years in King Tut's tomb; 30,000-year-old cave art; volcanic lightning; giant crystals that weigh more than 50 tons... all life is here, and all brilliantly captured by world-class photographers. 

Cover of Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the best books on photography

38. Henri Cartier-Bresson

If your goal is understanding Henry Cartier-Bresson but your budget doesn't stretch to a big volume like the Decisive Moment , above, then this is a great alternative. Published a few years after his death in 2004, the book features images from Cartier-Bresson’s entire working life, and gives a thorough overview of his own story, from experiences in WW2, the development of his own style, and, of course, the founding of Magnum (which goes such a long way to maintain his legend today). All this in a book the size of paperback which can be had for less than the latest dystopian novel (or seasonal take-away coffee).

Cover of Ansel Adams in the National Parks, one of the best books on photography

39. Ansel Adams in the National Parks: Photographs from America's Wild Places

Ansel Easton Adams (1902-1984) was a landscape photographer whose black-and-white pictures of the American wilderness have been widely reproduced and become iconic and historic images. He worked in more than 40 national parks over five decades, and some of his most stunning work features in this volume, including 50 never-before-published images. There's also an essay by  critic and historian Richard B. Woodward about Adams' role in the conservation movement. 

Cover of Bystander: A History of Street Photography, one of the best books on photography

40. Bystander: A History of Street Photography

A collaboration between an esteemed curator and a distinguished photographer, this book brings together the work of some of street photography's greatest names, including Arget, Stieglitz, Cartier-Bresson, Brassai, Walker Evans, Frank and Winogrand, along with some impressive work by complete unknowns. Colin Westerbeck's delightfully detailed text explains the story behind each image, and the photographers who took them. An excellent overview of street photography from the earliest Victorian experiments to the end of the 20th century.

Cover of Langford's Basic Photography, one of the best books on photography

41. Langford’s Basic Photography by Michael Langford

This seminal photography text is in its 10th edition, which should go some way to show what a popular resource it's been over the past 50 years or so. This book is written by Michael Langford (former Photography Course Director at the Royal College of Art, London), Anna Fox (Professor of Photography at University for the Arts, Farnham) and Richard Sawdon Smith (Professor of Photography and Dean of Media at Norwich University of the Arts).

While previous editions focused heavily on film photography, the 10th edition has been revamped, reorganized and modernized to include the most up-to-date information for photographers. However, the heart of the text still retains the same comprehensive mix of scholarly and practical information. 

Cover of Susan Sontag's On Photography, one of the best books on photography

42. On Photography by Susan Sontag

This groundbreaking critique of photography should be required reading for every photography student. In six essays that were originally published serially in the New York Review of Books, 'On Photography' delves into the meaning and purpose of a photograph. While it might be light on technique, it's heavy on philosophy and passion. Read this to rediscover your love for the art of photography. 

Cover of David Campany's On Photographs, one of the best books on photography

43. On Photographs

This could well become a classic of photography writing, says its publisher. 

The author, a leading writer and curator, has gathered a collection of photographs from across various genres to produce a personal and playful take on the history of the medium, and what images mean. 

Images from many greats of photography appear in this book, on the right-hand page of each spread, with commentary and analysis from the author opposite. 

This intriguing selection of images with erudite commentary will appeal to any photography lover. Whether you choose to dip in and out, or read it for prolonged spells, the sequencing of this book will always have you coming back for more. 

Cover of From Above: The Story of Aerial Photography, one of the best books on photography

44. From Above: The Story of Aerial Photography

Wondering how aerial photography happened before drones? In this enlightening book, the late Eamonn McCabe and Gemma Padley pull together some fascinating images from the 1850s up to the modern day. They trace the evolution of the discipline masterfully, with balloons and airships giving way to airplanes, helicoptersand satellites. And along with the work of pioneers like Edward Burtynsky, Sebastiao Salgado and Yann Arthus-Bertrandt there are some incredible images, including San Francisco after the earthquake in 1906.

Cover of Sebastião Salgado: GENESIS, one of the best books on photography

45. Sebastião Salgado: GENESIS

One of the world's most respected contemporary documentary photographers, Sebastião Salgado is renowned for his spellbinding black and white imagery of the world as we don't know it. For his latest book Genesis, Salgado documents some of the very few areas of Earth that remain relatively untouched by man with a epic collection of imagery. 

There are several hundred images to peruse, which take you on a journey through polar regions, the African savannah and rainforests of Amazonia. "In Genesis, my camera allowed nature to speak to me. And it was my privilege to listen" – Sebastião Salgado. 

With over 500 pages and hardcover to boot, you're not going to want to carry this book around. But as a firm fixture on your coffee table, this rare look into Earth's somewhat unseen environments is a gift that keeps on giving. 

Cover of Behind the Lens: My Life, one of the best books on photography

46. Behind the Lens: My Life

He's best known as the actor behind Hercule Poirot on British television. But leading character actor David Suchet is also one of those celebrities who take pictures . And that gives this unusual autobiography a distinctive hook. 

He traces this lifelong passion back to being inspired as a young child by his press photographer grandfather Jimmy Jarché, and it resulted in more than 8,000 images to choose from when putting this book together. This is neither, then, your usual celeb memoir nor photography monograph, but it brilliantly combines both approaches, and is hugely entertaining and inspirational.

Cover of Masters of Street Photography, one of the best books on photography

47. Masters of Street Photography

Sixteen leading practitioners of street photography are chosen to showcase their wares in this cleverly curated collection of images. Printed on quality paper, the reproduction of the photographs, a mixture of color and black and white, is of a high standard. 

The clue to the organisation of the book lies in the title. Individual photographers are each assigned to a ‘Master of…’ chapter – for example, Flash (The Bragdon Brothers), Urban landscape (Sally Davies), Noir (Giacomo Brunelli) and Hidden stories (Melissa Breyer) – and contribute six images. 

Interviews with the photographers within each chapter allow the readers to get an insight into their artistic missions and working methods, while image thumbnails at the close of each chapter contain at-a-glance technical information. 

With these themed chapters permitting a clear focus on a particular area – especially one you may not have considered before – this cleverly curated book is an ideal introduction to the possibilities of street photography. 

• The best books on street photography

Best photo books 2021 face time prodger image

48: Face Time

Now that everyone is a photographer, thanks to camera phones, the photographic portrait is more popular than ever. 

But anyone curious about the origins and development of the form should treat themselves to a copy of this book. The author is a curator and art historian who has worked at London’s National Portrait Gallery but ‘Face Time’ is anything but a stuffy treatise about photo portraiture. 

With chapter headings like ‘Me, Myself and I’ and ‘Death by Selfie’ setting the tone, ‘Face Time’ is a compelling exploration of this type of photographic practice, and the selection of images – stretching from the Victorian period to the present day – is always engaging, fun – and insightful. 

Read more: The best books on street photography The best books on food photography Best coffee table books on photography Best books on fashion photography Best books on portrait photography 50 best photographers ever 20 famous photographers you must follow on Twitter 100 best photography quotes from famous photographers   25 celebrities who also take pictures  

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Niall Hampton

Niall is the editor of Digital Camera Magazine , and has been shooting on interchangeable lens cameras for over 20 years, and on various point-and-shoot models for years before that. 

Working alongside professional photographers for many years as a jobbing journalist gave Niall the curiosity to also start working on the other side of the lens. These days his favored shooting subjects include wildlife, travel and street photography, and he also enjoys dabbling with studio still life. 

On the site you will see him writing photographer profiles, asking questions for Q&As and interviews, reporting on the latest and most noteworthy photography competitions, and sharing his knowledge on website building. 

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12 Best Books For New Managers To Read in 2024

You found our list of top books for new managers .

Books for new managers are guides that teach new leaders skills and best practices for being good bosses. These guides cover topics like performance management, motivation and coaching, and team development. The purpose of these works is to help new leaders level up quickly and gain the skills necessary to manage employees effectively.

These works are a subset of management books and leadership books . These works contain tips for new managers .

This list includes:

  • books for new female managers
  • business books for new managers
  • resources for new managers
  • first time manager books

Here we go!

List of books for new managers

Here is a list of books for first time leaders to help ease the transition from technical worker to supervisor.

1. Welcome to Management: How to Grow From Top Performer to Excellent Leader by Ryan Hawk

welcome to management book cover

Welcome to Management is a guide for making the transition from being a star employee to an effective manager. The book is split into three parts: lead yourself, build your team, and lead your team. Throughout these sections, Ryan Hawk provides a framework for becoming a dynamic leader. The text covers topics such as self-discipline, continuous learning, response management, and preparation, and points out the qualities and behaviors that make managers great. Leaders will learn how to build productive and supportive work environments and direct teams towards positive results. Welcome to Management lays out the unspoken rules of managing and teaches young professionals how to embrace and get the most out of their new roles.

Notable Quote: “If we don’t trust people, how will we engage them, innovate, create, inspire, be a team? You can trust too much and get burned, but you can also not trust enough, and you wouldn’t see the possibilities.”

Read Welcome to Management .

2. Bringing Up the Boss: Practical Lessons for New Managers by Rachel Pacheco

bringing up the boss book cover

Bringing Up the Boss is the ultimate anthology of advice for new leaders. The book breaks down the basics of being a good boss, such as managing performance, helping employees find meaning in the work, hiring and firing, motivating teammates, and overseeing team dynamics. Leadership blogger Rachel Pacheco gives practical management tips for bringing the best out in yourself and the team, complete with supplementary charts and diagrams. The tone is humorous and relatable and the text is full of entertaining anecdotes. The book also includes an appendix full of templates and tools such as a development plan template, psychological safety team assessment, and coaching questions. Bringing Up the Boss goes beyond theory and best practices and gives emerging leaders a toolkit to make supervising more seamless.

Notable Quote: “It’s hard to manage people who aren’t performing well. You’ll spend countless hours giving feedback, coaching them to improve, and repeatedly clarifying your expectations of their work. But it might be even harder to manage a team member who is blowing it out of the water. You’ll spend countless hours with the over-performers to ensure that they have plenty of autonomy and lots of responsibility. You’ll struggle to assign work that challenges them and reflects development goals that they are inspired to work toward.”

Read Bringing Up the Boss .

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3. The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo

The Making of a Manager

The Making of a Manager is one of the top new manager books. Julie Zhou draws on her expertise as a leader at Facebook to help other young bosses take the reins and effectively manage a modern workforce. The book traces the transition into management, from ramping up in the first months, to growing as a leader after gaining your bearings. The guide identifies the qualities and behaviors of effective managers, and shows that leadership is a journey of constant education, self-appraisal, and improvement. Zhou uses her own career as a springboard to show the experience of leading while learning. The book lays bare the unspoken rules of management and shows young professionals how to gain a grasp on being a new boss fast.

Notable Quote: “Your role as a manager is not to do the work yourself, even if you are the best at it, because that will only take you so far. Your role is to improve the purpose, people, and process of your team to get as high a multiplier effect on your collective outcome as you can.”

Read The Making of a Manager , and book Zhou as a virtual speaker .

4. HBR’s 10 Must Reads for New Managers by Harvard Business Review

HBRs must read for new managers book cover

HBR’s 10 Must Reads for New Managers is one of the best resources for new managers. This anthology gathers the most interesting essays ever published in Harvard Business Review on the topic of emerging management. The collection includes works such as “Leading the Team You Inherit,” “Managing the High-Intensity Workplace,” and “Saving Your Rookie Managers From Themselves.” The works within these pages present a variety of angles and perspectives from prominent leadership experts, and the guide is like getting mentorship from some of the best bosses in the world.

Notable Quote: “Executives are shaped irrevocably by their first management positions. Decades later, they recall those first months as transformational experiences that forged their leadership philosophies and styles in ways that may continue to haunt and hobble them throughout their careers.”

Read HBR’s 10 Must Reads for New Managers .

5. Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For: A Guide for New Leaders by William A. Gentry Ph.D.

be the boss everyone wants to work for book cover

Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For is a masterclass in how to adopt a management mindset. The guide identifies the attitudes and approaches that need to change when moving into management. For instance, relying more on soft skills than technical skills, delegating instead of doing all tasks yourself, and focusing on the team’s performance rather than on your own performance. The transition can be stressful and difficult, and this guide prepares readers to better face the challenges that come with the switch.

Notable Quote: “Realize that the biggest driver of any new leader’s success is not about “me” anymore. Make others– your staff, your team, the people you lead and serve– successful and help them fulfill their potential.”

Read Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For .

6. The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter by Michael Watkins

The first 90 days book cover

The First 90 Days is a guide to beating the learning curve that comes with transitions, particularly promotions within leadership roles. The book explains proven ways to close the knowledge gap and set yourself up for success within your first months of a new and higher position. Michael Watkins outlines common mistakes leaders make, suggests strategies to avoid these pitfalls, and explores a variety of scenarios that cover the full range of possible transitions. The First 90 Days shows how to make a good first impression and a strong start as a new leader.

Notable Quote: “The most important decisions you make in your first 90 days will probably be about people.”

Read The First 90 Days .

7. From Supervisor to Super Leader: How to Break Free from Stress and Build a Thriving Team That Gets Results by Shanda K. Miller

From supervisor to super leader book cover

From Supervisor to Super Leader is a management guide that puts an emphasis on team dynamics. This guide outlines nine key practices that help leaders build high-functioning and healthy teams. The author also points out obstacles and blindspots that cause resistance for less experienced managers and lays out ways to overcome these issues. The book is basic and uses simple language to explore the building blocks of being a good leader.

Notable Quote: “The biggest personal transformations and breakthroughs in leadership come from doing the work to know ourselves more. On the other hand, what we don’t know about ourselves– our blind spots– can hinder our success.”

Read From Supervisor to Super Leader , and check out more books on teamwork .

8. Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team by Scott Jeffrey Miller and Todd Davis

Everyone deserves a great manager book cover

Everyone Deserves a Great Manager is one of the most helpful first time manager books. This resource distills the art of successful and supportive management into six key practices like create a culture of feedback and lead your team through change. The book helps younger managers pinpoint the priorities when taking on a leadership role, and establishes a firm foundation to build up from. The idea behind the book is that by mastering these fundamentals, the finer points of leadership will fall into place. Everyone Deserves a Great Manager names the habits and actions that make the transition to leadership easier and make supervisors more impactful.

Notable Quote: “We know your role is difficult, but it is worth doing– and doing well– because you can truly improve the lives and careers of your team members. That’s not hyperbole. Work stress can manifest as physical, mental, and emotional challenges for everyone, including you. As a leader, you will have an impact (for better or worse) on your team’s ability to successfully overcome those challenges.”

Read Everyone Deserves a Great Manager .

9. The First-Time Manager by Jim McCormick, Loren B. Belker, Gary S. Topchik

The first time manager book cover

The First-Time Manager is an exploration of the challenges and expectations that face new leaders. The guide compares and contrasts being a star employee with becoming a leader, and clarifies the different demands of the roles. The pages are full of advice on how to hire, motivate staff, push back against pushback, and stay calm and clear-headed in crises. The book shows readers how to avoid common errors, find a personal leadership style, build teams, and gain employee trust. The First-Time Manager helps new bosses develop the resilience and tact needed to handle tough situations, and prepares emerging managers for the challenges ahead.

Notable Quote: “If appreciation is important to you in your relationship with your manager, realize that it is equally important to the people you manage.”

Read The First-Time Manager .

10. From Expert to Executive: Mastering the SOPs of Leading by Edward E. Tyson and Michael Ashley

From Expert to executive book cover

From Expert to Executive is one of the most useful business books for new managers. The guide explains how to move from a technical mindset to a team mindset and focus more on group performance than individual performance. The book clarifies different roles and duties within companies and teams to give leaders a better understanding of how each position should function. This approach helps leaders adopt a bigger-picture perspective and delegate more effectively. From Expert to Executive functions like an instruction manual to help supervisors build and oversee optimal teams and become more responsible and responsive leaders.

Notable Quote: “…as these leaders “lean in” too hard and too far into the team’s work, they can’t help but displace or knock into those who are supposed to be doing it. This is often intimidating and awkward for the team. Even when it is welcome, and the team asks for the support, it can result in lower employee engagement and the stagnation of capabilities as the leader continues laying claim to the most interesting and advanced work of the team.”

Read From Expert to Executive .

11. Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott

Radical Candor

Radical Candor is one of the best books for new female managers. Women leaders often wrongly believe that to be a boss, they must choose between being respected and being liked, or being a pushover or being labeled as aggressive. Kim Scott shows leaders of any gender how to be firm yet compassionate. Radical Candor advocates for honesty, and shows readers how to give difficult feedback and be humane when addressing tricky issues and harsh situations. The guide overturns the myth that bosses must make a choice between being nice and being strict and asserts that managers actually have a responsibility to be real with employees. The book argues that frankness can be kindness and shows bosses how to be fair yet firm leaders.

Notable Quote: “When bosses are too invested in everyone getting along they also fail to encourage the people on their team to criticize one another for fear of sowing discord. They create the kind of work environment where being “nice” is prioritized at the expense of critiquing and therefore improving actual performance.”

Read Radical Candor , and check out more leadership books for women .

12. The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier

The Coaching Habit cover

Many new leaders struggle with influencing employees instead of swooping in and playing the savior.  The Coaching Habit shows how to be more hands-off and provide guidance instead of solving problems for staff. The book preaches mentorship over management and advocates for coaching as an essential leadership skill. Beyond empathizing the importance of coaching, the book gives readers a toolkit for performing the practice effectively. For instance, how to word questions, how to listen and acknowledge answers, and skillfully use silence. The Coaching Habit helps leaders uncover the tricks of the trade that most managers learn with time and more successfully influence their staff.

Notable Quote: “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”

Read The Coaching Habit , and check out more coaching books and this list of employee coaching examples .

Final Thoughts

Books for new managers are one of the most useful tools available to emerging leaders. Many first time bosses want to prove themselves and are too embarrassed to admit struggles or ask for help. These books often save these supervisors from having to alert higher-ups to their possible shortcomings.

Not to mention, these guides speak directly to the experience of transitioning from technical worker to leadership. The books give new bosses a heads up on what approaches need to change, skills to develop, and pitfalls to avoid. Many companies fail to provide solid management training programs early in leaders’ careers, and these books can help to fill that gap.

Next, check out habit books , problem solving books for work , and books on time management .

We also have a list of important leadership traits , ways to give employee feedback effectively and a guide to management vs leadership .

Plus a guide to coaching styles at work and one one management styles .

FAQ: Books for new managers

Here are answers to common questions about books for new managers.

What are new manager books?

New manager books are resources for first time bosses that explain how to make the transition from technical taskmasters to supervisors and leaders. These books cover topics such as hiring and firing, leading meetings and assigning workloads, and motivating and coaching team members. These guides

What are some good books for new managers?

Some good books for new managers include The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier, The First-Time Manager by Jim McCormick, Loren B. Belker, Gary S. Topchik, and Welcome to Management by Ryan Hawk.

What books should first time managers read?

Books first time managers should read include HBR’s 10 Must Reads for New Managers by The Harvard Business Review, The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo, and Bringing Up the Boss by Rachel Pacheco.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Marketing Coordinator at teambuilding.com. Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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Michael Rosen, whose Sad Book deals with the death of his son.

Five of the best books about grief

Moving memoirs and a magic-realist novella are among these stories that can help provide comfort and perspective

W hen it comes to grief, a list of a thousand books wouldn’t be enough. This small selection is offered in the hope that it might contain something that provides solace – or at least that it might point the way to something that does.

Grief is the Thing With Feathers by Max Porter

The premise of this poetic novella – giant crow moves in with bereaved family after mother dies – sounds unlikely. But through this brilliant semi-allegory, Porter captures how loss can upend a family, seemingly stretching space and logic in surreal ways. Told through voices of two boys, their father, and a shapeshifting crow, this is a funny, frightening and loving experiment in magical thinking. As an adult who was bereaved as a child, I approached this tale with some trepidation – fearing it might cut too close. In fact, it provided a kind of fierce comfort – holding pain up to the light, and aslant.

Sad Book by Michael Rosen

Grief might not always be beyond words, but it sometimes needs little elaboration. This spare book, written about the sudden death of Rosen’s son, Eddie, illuminates how grief’s complexity can be rendered through seemingly simple words and images. “Who is sad?” , Rosen writes. “Sad is anyone. It comes along and finds you”. This is not strictly a children’s book, but a book that recognises how acutely grief can speak to the child within us. Quentin Blake’s grey wash illustrations create a space for sadness to breathe.

You Are Not Alone: A New Way to Grieve by Cariad Lloyd

Guests on Lloyd’s award-winning podcast Griefcast have included those who have experienced the death of a loved one by suicide, those who have lost siblings, children, parents and close friends. Lloyd’s brilliant book draws on excerpts from these podcast interviews, together with her own account of negotiating grief – her father died when she was 15. This is an outward-reaching guide, full of humility and humour. A reading list at the book’s close offers further resources and a “handrail through the grief fog”.

Time Lived, Without Its Flow by Denise Riley

Sixteen months after her son’s sudden death, Riley writes of being “superficially ‘fine’” but “with an unseen crater blown into my head”. Moving in diary-like intervals, Riley brings her poet’s skill and formal ice-cold grace to this tender, philosophical account of “an altered condition of life” – the “stopping of time” that occurs after the death of a loved one.

Late Fragments: Everything I Want to Tell You (About this Magnificent Life) by Kate Gross

Kate Gross was 34 when she was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer. She died two years later, when her twin boys were just five years old. Gross wrote this luminously beautiful memoir-cum-commonplace book partly as way of articulating her own grief for the things she would not live to see and partly as a legacy and love letter to those she left behind. A clear-eyed and extraordinarily uplifting book.

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Demons, Haunted Forests and Arctic Nightmares in 4 New Horror Novels

Premee Mohamed, C.J. Cooke, Tim Lebbon and Amanda Jayatissa return with their latest terrifying books.

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This illustration shows the silhouette of a person standing alone in the middle of a large and dense forest. Instead of typical trees, the trunks and branches of this wood look like snaking tendrils reaching toward the figure.

By Gabino Iglesias

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, editor, literary critic and professor. He is the Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson award-winning author of “The Devil Takes You Home.”

Premee Mohamed’s THE BUTCHER OF THE FOREST (Tordotcom, 157 pp., paperback, $18.99) is a genre-blending adventure full of bizarre creatures and dark magic.

At the center of this novel is a forbidden forest that sits at the northern edge of a nameless town. No one who sets foot in the wood returns, with the exception of Veris Thorn, who once entered, somehow survived and came back. Now, the ruthless foreign tyrant who rules the region has pulled Veris from her home and given her a task: Go back into the forest and retrieve his children who are ensnared there. The tyrant gives Veris only one day to recover them, and if she fails, he will kill her family.

Fast-paced, tense, fantastical and uncanny, “The Butcher of the Forest” is a perfect mix of horror and fantasy. The perilous dimension hidden inside the forest is full of wicked shape-shifting beings, undead deer and other monstrosities, but it’s Mohamed’s beautiful prose and endearing characters that make this a powerful story.

C.J. Cooke’s new book, A HAUNTING IN THE ARCTIC (Berkley, 340 pp., paperback, $18) , weaves together two narratives. In 1901, Nicky Duthie wakes up aboard the Ormen, a whaling ship owned by her father. She’s not sure how she got there — the last thing she remembers is being attacked in a park and blacking out. On the ship, she’s held against her will and sexually assaulted, forced to become the “selkie wife” for the entire crew. All the while, she’s changing, beginning with an injured foot that is slowly turning into something like “the fin of a cetacean, dark and slick as ink.”

In 2023, the urban explorer Dominique has traveled to the wreckage of the Ormen. Three other explorers are there too, hoping to document the ship, but they also seem to have some secret plans for the expedition. Dominique needs to stay sharp, a task made difficult when she starts seeing strange visions of a mysterious woman, having recurring nightmares and hearing weird sounds around her.

“A Haunting in the Arctic” is an unnerving tale full of ghosts, selkies and plenty of mystery, which Cooke deploys not only to craft the novel’s frights but also to probe ideas of grief and retribution. The result is a story that is as haunting as the Ormen itself.

“It was the bad magic of the modern world that had broken these tunnels and ancient wards, and animated the infection once again.” That line holds the soul of Tim Lebbon’s AMONG THE LIVING (Titan Books, 286 pp., paperback, $16.99) . At once a thrilling horror novel and a call to action against climate change, this book follows a group of people as they try to control a cataclysmic danger.

Dean and Bethan were lovers, but after a tragedy during one of their adventures as environmental activists, they drifted apart. Now, half a decade later, they meet again near a network of caves on a remote Arctic island. Dean is there with a crew searching for valuable geological information to sell to exploitative companies. Bethan is there with a group of activists to protect the place. Unfortunately, when excavating, Dean’s group finds more than just minerals. Something deadly has been waiting under the earth for millenniums, and now it wants to spread. When people start dying, Dean and Bethan must join forces to keep what’s been unleashed from becoming a worldwide contagion.

This novel is wildly entertaining. The ragtag band of survivors must traverse dangerous, unpredictable terrain full of snow bears and sinkholes, all while fighting creatures that emerge from the ground. The tension and violence are as aggressive as a revving engine here, but Lebbon’s timely message — that hurting our planet is hurting ourselves — is just as loud.

Amanda Jayatissa’s ISLAND WITCH (Berkley, 367 pp., $28) , which was inspired by Sri Lankan folklore, is a tale of demons that cuts deep with its focus on family and the impacts of colonialism.

The story follows a young woman named Amara. Her father, Thaththa, is his village’s demon-priest who appeals to the gods to ward off evil. As long as Amara can remember, Thaththa has been a valued member of society, but that has changed with the arrival of British colonizers. Now the old ways are frowned upon.

Amara is juggling several dilemmas. First, when something starts attacking men in the jungle and the village blames Thaththa, Amara sets out to clear his name. Then Thaththa is attacked himself, and Amara must find the culprit. Meanwhile, Amara is haunted by nightmares of a yakshaniya, a demon, and is worried about her family marrying her off to a man she doesn’t love.

In “Island Witch," Jayatissa blends a coming-of-age story with a violent supernatural tale and a critique of colonialism. The pacing drags in parts, but the novel makes up for it with a memorable heroine and the creepiness of a mutilated demon. Unique and rich, this book is a welcome addition to the growing list of horror narratives by underrepresented voices that focus on previously ignored identities, cultures and traditions while simultaneously criticizing hegemonic powers.

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In Lucy Sante’s new memoir, “I Heard Her Call My Name,” the author reflects on her life and embarking on a gender transition  in her late 60s.

For people of all ages in Pasadena, Calif., Vroman’s Bookstore, founded in 1894, has been a mainstay in a world of rapid change. Now, its longtime owner says he’s ready to turn over the reins .

Do you want to be a better reader?   Here’s some helpful advice to show you how to get the most out of your literary endeavor .

Each week, top authors and critics join the Book Review’s podcast to talk about the latest news in the literary world. Listen here .

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  1. The Ultimate Novel Study Bundle: 50 Projects and Assignments for ANY

    best books assignments

  2. BOOK REVIEW ASSIGNMENT

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  3. Pin by Heidi Willoughby on Books Worth Reading

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  4. If you're looking to spice up your book report assignments, then this

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  5. Independent Reading Book Assignments- Digital Work Online by Art of Words

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  6. Reading Homework For 1st Grade

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VIDEO

  1. Most Books Published Simultaneously by School Students

  2. #book #booktube #writers #writing #writingbook #study #students #studentsmotivation #studentslife #

  3. On Keeping Commonplace Books

  4. Revision BMS Time Value of Money

  5. CS Course

  6. Best books from different book series 📚

COMMENTS

  1. 5 Innovative Activities & Projects for Any Novel Unit

    Find this assignment with the Task Cards as part of The Ultimate Novel Study Bundle: 50 Projects and Assignments for ANY NOVEL. Novel Theme Park Project For this project, students work in a group to design a theme park based upon the literary elements of a selected novel.

  2. Best School Assigned Books (764 books)

    Meet your next favorite book Join Goodreads Listopia Best School Assigned Books I hated that I had to read it, but grateful that I read them when I did. They stick with you for years and it's fun to look back and see what public school thought every child should read. flag All Votes Add Books To This List ← Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Next →

  3. 9 New Books We Recommend This Week

    9 New Books We Recommend This Week. Suggested reading from critics and editors at The New York Times. Feb. 15, 2024. It's too early to know the full story behind the mass shooting at yesterday ...

  4. How to Write a Book Report

    Book reports follow general rules for composition, yet are distinct from other types of writing assignments. Central to book reports are plot summaries, analyses of characters and themes, and concluding opinions. This format differs from an argumentative essay or critical research paper, in which impartiality and objectivity is encouraged.

  5. 20 Best Academic Writing Books of All Time

    Writing Academic Research Academic Paper Writing. > Longman Academic Writing Level 4 has been transformed into a digital experience. The Interactive Student Book, powered by MyEnglishLab, allows students and teachers to better assess the writing process.

  6. The 31 Best Books to Read in High School

    Plus, you'll understand more of the references that crop up all the time in pop culture. Below are 31 books to read in high school that will help you prepare for college and beyond. This dystopian novel by George Orwell was written 35 years before the date referenced by the title.

  7. 7 Independent Reading Assessments for High School English

    The possibilities are endless as far as coming up with ideas that can work for any novel. Here are just a few: Before Reading: Set context, activate prior knowledge, make predictions, develop questions, study the time period, investigate the author, etc. During Reading: These activities can include anything from doodle notetaking, close reading ...

  8. The Most Commonly Assigned Books In U.S. Colleges

    The most common title on economics syllabi across the United States is Microeconomics, appearing on 1,600. Last, but not least, Frankenstein is the most commonly assigned books across English literature syllabi, at nearly 5,000. Geography or college type doesn't matter when it comes to Shelley's classic: it was assigned equally across the ...

  9. My Top 6 Books on Pedagogy

    The book's last chapter functions as a powerful blueprint for shaping writing assignments that build student motivation and make for memorable and meaningful learning experiences. The last realm of learning research, digital pedagogy, can seem forbidding, with its steep learning curves and unfamiliar language.

  10. The 10 Best Book Reviews of 2020 ‹ Literary Hub

    The word "best" is always a misnomer, but these are my personal favorite book reviews of 2020. Nate Marshall on Barack Obama's A Promised Land (Chicago Tribune) A book review rarely leads to a segment on The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, but that's what happened to Nate Marshall last month. I love how he combines a traditional review ...

  11. Best Assigned Books in High School (48 books)

    Best Assigned Books in High School Books assigned in high school that were wholeheartedly enjoyed despite the suffocating load of essays you were instructed to write on them. flag All Votes Add Books To This List 48 books · 22 voters · list created January 6th, 2013 by Ziqi (votes) . Tags: assigned-books, high-school, school Like

  12. How To Write The Best College Assignments

    Dividing the work in different paragraphs is very important for this purpose. - Usage of 'you' and 'I' - According to the academic writing standards, the assignments should be written in an impersonal language, which means that the usage of 'you' and 'I' should be avoided. The only acceptable way of building your arguments ...

  13. English Assignments Books

    English Assignments Books Showing 1-42 of 42 Fahrenheit 451 (Kindle Edition) by. Ray Bradbury (shelved 2 times as english-assignments) ... The Best American Short Stories 2011 (Paperback) by. Geraldine Brooks (Goodreads Author) (Editor) (shelved 1 time as english-assignments)

  14. 42 Creative Book Report Ideas for Every Grade and Subject

    You'll notice a lot of our creative book report ideas revolve around food. In this oldie but goodie, each layer of this book report sandwich covers a different element of the book—characters, setting, conflict, etc. A fun adaptation of this project is the book report cheeseburger. 11. Book Alphabet.

  15. 60 Best Second Grade Books, Recommended by Teachers

    Check out 60 of our favorite recent second grade picture books, chapter books, graphic novels, series, and more. 1. The Wilderness by Steve McCarthy. Amazon. Oktober Vasylenko is part of an adventurous family, but he prefers to stay closer to home … and definitely indoors.

  16. The Ultimate Guide to Best Books for Teens by Age

    Add a pile more of the best books for 14-year-olds and best books for 15-year-olds with these guides. Note that many of these lists would make excellent resources for sophomores, juniors, and seniors as well: The best graphic novels for teens. Excellent poetry books for teens. Books for reluctant readers* age 14 and 15.

  17. 15 Best Student Planners & Agendas for 2023

    1 Best Overall Planner 2023-2024 $22 at Amazon This student planner combines old-school sophistication with modern convenience. The cover design is classically minimal, with an elastic-band closure and pen holder at the spine to keep everything neatly together.

  18. Five Best: Books on Families

    Dasani Coates, center, and her siblings and mother, Chanel, far right, at a public pool in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2013. Photo: RUTH FREMSON/The New York Times/Redux

  19. The Greatest Books of All Time

    The Greatest Books of All Time This list is generated by aggregating 200 lists from various critics, authors and experts. ... Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 200 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed literary works. ... The more he tries to avoid his military assignments, the ...

  20. The Books Every Fourth Grade Classroom Needs

    September 29, 2022. Grade. 4. Whether you're looking to challenge voracious readers or intrigue more reluctant students, a diversified library filled with compelling, engaging texts is an essential part of any classroom. The titles in this collection have been carefully chosen by Scholastic Editors to specifically meet the needs of fourth grade ...

  21. Joy-Ann Reid's 352-Page Love Letter to Medgar and Myrlie

    Joy-Ann Reid didn't set out to publish her best-selling third book, "Medgar and Myrlie: Medgar Evers and the Love Story That Awakened America" — which chronicles the lives of the prominent ...

  22. The best books on photography in 2024

    Beginners Improving your photography Photography skills Business skills Photo inspiration Best photography books for students The best books on photography are a great way to kick back, enjoy an entertaining read, get inspired, and improve your camera skills.

  23. Opinion

    Unflinching empathy, which is the muscle the lesson is designed to exercise, is a prerequisite for literature strong enough to wrestle with the real world. On the page it allows us to spot signs ...

  24. 12 Best Books For New Managers To Read in 2024

    11. Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott. Radical Candor is one of the best books for new female managers. Women leaders often wrongly believe that to be a boss, they must choose between being respected and being liked, or being a pushover or being labeled as aggressive.

  25. Epic Login

    Log In Parents Students & Educators Don't have an account? Students, enter your class code to log in and start your Epic reading journey.

  26. Paperback

    $999 FREE Shipping Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon See Clubs Not in a club? Learn more VIDEO Read sample Follow the Author Rhys Bowen The Paris Assignment: A Novel Paperback - August 8, 2023

  27. Five of the best books about grief

    Time Lived, Without Its Flow by Denise Riley. Sixteen months after her son's sudden death, Riley writes of being "superficially 'fine'" but "with an unseen crater blown into my head ...

  28. Anyone have any advice for how to get through McGraw Hill ...

    It works in 2023. I'm using this for an Advanced Economics course & I worked for two hours on the first smartbook assignment & I only got to concept 12/62. 10 minutes on the SB extension, and I was done—the best $24.00 I've ever spent. The smartbook assignment is the worst way to teach a concept to a student.

  29. New Horror Books With Demons, Haunted Forests and Arctic Nightmares

    C.J. Cooke's new book, A HAUNTING IN THE ARCTIC (Berkley, 340 pp., paperback, $18), weaves together two narratives.In 1901, Nicky Duthie wakes up aboard the Ormen, a whaling ship owned by her ...