Sometimes finding good books to read is hard. No matter how many youtube videos you watch, how many bookstagram accounts you skim through, or even how many librarians or booksellers you ask, sometimes the recommendations just seem to be all the same. Same old New-York times bestseller, same old staple of the genre. When you ask for a good fantasy book, who wants to hear Harry Potter for the thousandth time? Which is why Little English Bookworm have started to curate this suggested reading list: books that cover every genre, books that you may never have heard of before.
Part 1 of this suggested reading list is covering two genres, often much neglected especially by children and young adults. Unlike in the 19th century, when Lord Byron was the coolest kid on the block, reading poetry and even short stories is regarded with a hint of disdain by most children, especially those who have been force fed Shakespeare and Wordsworth their entire school lives. Yet despite this apparent lack of interest from many younger readers, that doesn't mean that there aren't wonderful poetry and short story books out there for every kind of reader. So on that note, here is some poetry and short stories that hopefully you won't have heard of before!
1. The Great War
This book was published in 2014 to mark a century since the start of the first world war. Eleven stories inspired by eleven different objects from the first world war such as the nose of a Zeppelin bomb are written by prominent authors such as Michael Morpurgo and John Boyne. Touching and raw, these stories are perfect for a younger reader who is interested in finding out more about the first world war. Non-fiction isn't for everyone and portraying these complex and emotional historical events through fiction is sometimes the best way to learn about difficult times in history.
2. I Will Not Be Erased
This book was written by contributors to the online magazine gal-dem. Gal-dem is a magazine created exclusively by women or non-binary people of colour. This is their first book and, though it's not exactly a collection of short stories, I couldn't resist including it as I think it's such an important book for teens to read. The writers based all their pieces on an article of writing, usually a diary entry, from when they were a teen.
When reading this I was often hit with pangs of: I know exactly how that feels. Even if you are not a racial minority this book covers topics which are relevant to all young adults. Navigating growing up, figuring out who you are and what your beliefs are outside of your religion or your parents, learning to love your body, your first sexual experiences, your first encounters with drugs - these are all topics which most of us struggle with. Yet they are rarely discussed and it's often hard to put words to such difficult and often uncomfortable topics. So many books are given the label of "handbook to growing up" but I believe these stories are the real deal. Trust me, you'll love it.
3. Survivors + Heroes
These two books are retellings of real life stories for a younger audience. The book Heroes focuses on animals who have showed bravery under extremely tough conditions, whereas Survivors focuses on human survivors who have endured some almost unimaginable circumstances. Perfect for a younger reader who loves adventure.
1. The Dark Between the Stars
"Too many die
with a brush in their hands
a heart full of colours
and a lifetime of empty canvases."
Poetry often seems like the old stuffy work that you find in textbooks but Atticus, the author of The Dark Between the Stars and two other poetry books has completely changed not only the way poetry is perceived but also the way you read it. He posts his poems, which are usually a few lines, on instagram to his over 1 million followers (ok maybe this writer is a little more well known). His poems are raw, poignant and in every way cover the phrase "short but sweet". Perfect for the online generation to rediscover poetry and make it something they love.
2. The Poet X
"We're different this poet and I. In looks, in body,
In background. But I don't feel so different
when I listen to her. I feel heard."
Another book that will change the way you look at poetry is The Poet X. Different from the other books on this list, it is not a collection of different poems but instead a novel written in verse: dozens of poems all coming together to make one story, The novel follows a girl who is struggling to find herself amidst her difficult family life and discovering poetry and the spoken word as a way to express herself. If you love novels and poetry then this is the best book to mix them both!
3. A Poem for Every Day of the Year
Despite older poetry not being everyone's cup of tea, it's good to try a bit of everything and that is exactly what this book does. This collection of 365 poems combines both older more classical poetry with more modern pieces and introduces you to writers you may never originally have tried, but will learn to live. This is a beautiful book and an amazing gift filled with so much wonderful poetry.
4. Somebody Give This Heart A Pen
"Try to find space to hear what your heart says,
make it your best friend
Slow down and clock back into yourself
Give your heart a pen."
I think one problem a lot of people have with poetry is that they often don't seem to find themselves or things they care about in the majority of poetry they read. Most teens will fail to see why they should care about an in depth description of flowers written by a dead white man. If that's how you feel about poetry, then this is the book for you. Sophie Thakur is a young woman who writes about things that we have all felt, love, lust and often a stinging sense of injustice with the flawed society we live in. A beautiful and stunning read, this is the poetry that I wish I'd been introduced to sooner. This book comes out in October 2019.