By Heidi Simmons

School is back in session and homework is now the norm for students. Often, required reading feels like it usurps any leisure reading. However, “outside” reading is still encouraged and celebrated by educators.

Studies have shown that students who read for pleasure do significantly better in school and life than those who don’t. Finding a good book to read helps to refocus and relax from a stressful day at school. Here are a few suggestions of popular 2016 Young Adult books that may appeal to both younger and older readers.

The Serpent King, by Jeff Zentner (Crown Books, 384 pages)
Set in the south, Dill is the son of a Pentecostal preacher and snake handler who is imprisoned for a sickening crime. Dill’s best friend Lydia, is a blogger who plans to leave her small town after graduation. Their buddy Travis is a gentle soul with an abusive father, who escapes into an internet fantasy world. Over the course of their senior year, the three must deal with what comes next as they understand themselves and the expectations of others.

The Girl from Everywhere, by Heidi Heilig (Greewillow Books, 464 pages)
On board the time-traveling ship Temptation, 16 year old Nix sails through fantasy and reality with her father and his motley crew. When her father uncovers a long sought after map, it threatens Nix’s very existence. Adventure and history collide jeopardizing Nix’s romance and future.

The Love That Split the World, by Emily Henry (Razorbill, 400 pages)
Natalie is preparing to leave for college when she experiences “visitations.” Her adopted parents fear the return of the “visits” is due to the stress and anxiety about leaving her small town. But when Natalie meets Beau, she learns something new about herself and discovers she can move between different realities.

The Great American Whatever, by Tim Federle (Simon & Schuster, 288 pages)
Quinn is still grieving the loss of his older sister. The two were filmmakers and he misses her terribly. His buddy Geoff helps Quinn get back into the world of the living and takes him to a party where is falls for a college guy. Quinn now sees his life as a Hollywood film which he intends to write with a happy ending.

American Girls, by Alison Umminger (Flatiron Books, 304 pages)
When Anna runs away to Los Angeles to live with her actress sister, she discovers Hollywood can be more ugly than glamorous. She spends her day on the set of a ridicules kids’ show where her sister’s boyfriend gives her a project that reveals a group similar to the “Manson Girls.” Anna recognizes her sister and she are on the precipice of no return. Can she return to her previous life without any further damage?

The Lifeboat Clique, by Kathy Parks (Katherine Tegen Books, 336 pages)
Denver is new to LA, an outsider and hated by the popular girls. When she decides to go to a Malibu beach party uninvited to see the class hunk, a tsunami hits and she finds herself in a lifeboat with all the girls who hate her. Now trapped on a small boat, Denver is faced with an uncertain future.

Don’t Get Caught, by Kirk Dinan (Sourcebooks Fire, 336 pages)
Low achieving and socially awkward, Max is unexpectedly invited to join the notorious Chaos Club. Surprised and suspicious, he attends to discover he and a few other fools have indeed been set up. Max decides enough is enough and plans to get even with the pranksters.

A Study in Charlotte, by Brittany Cavallaro (Katherine Tegan Books, 336 pages)
The first in a series, Charlotte Holmes and her friend James Watson go to an elite prep school and, like their surnames suggest, become great detectives. Just like Arthur Conan Doyle’s tomes, Watson narrates and Charlotte is an analytical and antisocial investigator. When Watson becomes the suspect in a date rape case, Charlotte uses her deductive skills to find the real killer.

Enter Title Here, by Rauhal Kanakia (Disney-Hyperion, 352 pages)
Reshma is a senior at Silicon Valley High. She is an over-achiever and über competitive, but is still concerned she may not get into Stanford. Reshman decides to get noticed and a scholarship, she’ll write a book. After she signs with an agent, Reshma realizes her life must be more dramatic for her book to be successful, but that success may cost her the future.

These are just a few fun titles from this year. There are an amazing selection of YA books which are not restricted to teens alone. However, many are “coming of age” stories. Sometimes it’s difficult to find time to read a book for pleasure with a busy school or work schedule, but making time to read is always worth it.