Being a mood reader can be tough. Trust me, I know. It makes choosing what book to read next and keeping an orderly TBR list nearly impossible. I even have trouble going to the bookstore because even though there are an impressive number of choices, I never know what mood I’ll be in when I get there. Bookstores aren’t organized by mood (though how awesome would that be), and I often troll my Goodreads while I’m in the store, trying to find recs based on how I’m feeling.
Ridiculous? Maybe. But if you’re anything like me, this list will help you conquer your moods and put those remaining holiday gift cards to good use. Enjoy and happy bookstore shopping!
When You Need To Be Uplifted:
The ABCs of AOC by Jamia Wilson and Krystal Quiles
For any of the littles in your life, or just for yourself, The ABCs of AOC is a fantastic addition to any library and for readers who are hoping to be more civic minded.
Say Her Name by Zetta Elliot
This gorgeous collection of powerful poetry is a must read for not only young readers but anyone interested in poetry. Zetta Elliot’s uplifting voice speaks about the struggles of black women and their resilience, creativity and courage in the world today.
When You Ask Me Where I’m Going by Jasmine Kaur
Breathtaking, energizing and utterly gorgeous, When You Ask Me Where I’m Going—a combination of prose and verse with a smattering of illustration—is a must read this year.
Girls Like Us by Randi Pink
Heartbreaking, timely and important, this book about four girls making the toughest choices of their lives.
Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett
A book bursting with positivity in the face of adversity (the main character, Simone is HIV-positive), this book should convince readers that anything is possible.
For The Pop Culture Minded:
If Keanu Were Your Boyfriend: The Man, The Myth, The Whoa! by Marisa Polansky
This book is ingenious. I love it so much and any Keanu Reeves fan will too! Worth the gift card splurge.
When You Kant Figure It Out…Ask A Philosopher by Marie Robert
Anyone who watches The Good Place might have developed a tiny interest in philosophy. And this slim, accessible volume is the perfect place to delve into the philosophical answers to life’s quandaries.
Star Wars: Spark of the Resistance by Justina Ireland
I could think of no better writer than Justina Ireland to write an incredible resistance novel. This one will be a particular hit among young readers eager to read more of Rey, Poe and Rose’s adventures. Spend your gift card buying two copies—one for you and one for the young one in your life.
Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass by Mariko Tamaki and Steve Pugh
With the Birds of Prey movie just around the corner, this fun graphic novel by one of my favorite graphic novelists, Mariko Tamaki, will be the perfect read as you wait for more Harley Quinn!
Don’t Read The Comments by Eric Smith
I’m not the biggest gamer (Does The Sims count?) but I love any book that looks at subcultures and fandom. Combined with fun voice and timely premise, I know you’re going to want this one in your hands immediately.
Darkness On The Edge of Town by Adam Christopher
Hopper is one of my favorite characters from Stranger Things so this tie-in novel set before the show was a must-read for me. An auto-buy for any Stranger Things fan!
When You Need A Book Hangover Cure:
We Speak In Storms by Natalie Lund
A powerful, genre busting and evocative debut novel set in in the midwest, where a group of teens must confront their secrets after a tornado touches down in the same spot where a tornado killed a whole generation of teens years ago, stirring up the secrets of the ghosts of those killed.
Woven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibanez
Magical, lush and romantic, you can tell from just the cover (yes, it’s okay to judge in this case), that this book is going to be incredible. Don’t miss out.
The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
This book doesn’t technically come out until February but I want you to keep it in your mind because it is fantastic. Based on true events in Norway in the 1600s, this chilling and atmospheric book will keep you on the edge of your seat until you’re reading into the morning.
Day Zero by Kelly deVos
Sometimes you need to read a political apocalyptic thriller to shake things up, you know? This is the type of book that you might need to set aside a few hours to devour. Well worth your gift card money!
Reverie by Ryan La Sala
My first introduction to this novel was someone using it as a comp for ‘Inception’ and since that’s not an easy comp title, I knew I had to get it immediately. I also follow Ryan LaSala on Twitter, and he’s hilarious and a delight so I can wholeheartedly recommend this book as a must for any bookish gift-card spending!
When Romance Is In The Air:
Heart, Strings and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins
A love triangle isn’t the most popular romantic trope but sometimes it’s purely addictive. This charming debut is sure to make you feel a lot.
Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen
I was sold immediately. The idea of the drama and intense FOMO at glamorous traveling? I think we can all get behind that.
When the Stars Lead To You by Ronni Davis
I am a sucker for a second-chance YA romance. Give me all the reunited love stories and if they’re set in the summer? It might as well be my kryptonite. This lovely novel will captivate you quickly and make you think about it long after your done. Worth the entire bookstore trip!
A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai
This irresistible novel about a girl descended from matchmakers, who uses her family’s skills to carve out a place in the social hierarchy of high school by creating a matchmaking app.
Lucky Caller by Emma Mills
If you’re reading contemporary romance in YA right now, you need to be reading Emma Mills. Her swoon-worthy romances are suffused with warmth and with. While you’re buying this one, pick up her others, First and Then, This Adventure Ends, Foolish Hearts and Famous In A Small Town.
When You Miss Downton Abbey and The Crown and need that historical fix:
Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen
When I saw this was pitched as The Gentlemen’s Guide To Vice and Virtue with a dash of romance and mystery, I requested it so fast I barely had to read the rest of the summary. You need this witty novel like you need a good cup of tea and baked goods.
The Glittering Hour by Ilona Grey
What better way to sate your need for historical fiction than a dazzling novel spanning the decades between the roaring ‘20s and the advent of World War II?
The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White
Not quite historical fiction but this Camelot-inspired fantasy will definitely satisfy your urge for kings and queens and political intrigue, with a dash of magic.
Lady Hotspur by Tessa Gratton
Another historical fantasy, one inspired by Shakespeare’s Henry IV, this book is one of the most highly anticipated of the year for a reason. Sapphic Shakespeare is enough to make me buy immediately.
Charlotte Bronte Before Jane Eyre by Glynnis Fawkes
As soon as you flip through this gorgeous collection, you’re going to want it. It’s too gorgeous to pass up and for fans of the Brontes, historical fiction and anyone who can’t resist gorgeous graphic novels.
All The Ways We Said Goodbye by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White
A historical fiction by Beatriz Williams spanning decades in the Hotel Ritz? Sounds glorious and intriguing.
When You’re Feeling Young At Heart:
All Impossible Things by Lindsay Lackey
This premise tugged at my heart and will tug at your heart too. A debut, it’s a beautiful sparkling novel about finding family and belonging where you can.
The Year We Fell From Space by Amy Sarig King
Anyone who has read an A.S. King novel knows to expect something wondrous. Her debut middle-grade is no exception.
A Time Traveler’s Theory of Relatively by Nicole Valentine
Major A Wrinkle In Times vibes ahead. This book, about a young boy who finds out the women in his family are time-travelers is super fun. A quick read worthy of your bookstore haul.
Hazel’s Theory of Evolution by Lisa Jenn Bigelow
I love stories about precocious young girls, girls who I could have been friends with when I was their age. This story is full of heart and deserves to be enjoyed.
Go With The Flow by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann
An important graphic novel that combines women’s health, friendship and the perils of being a young adult should be on everyone’s bookstore list.
The Library of Ever by Zeno Alexander
This feels like the greatest mashup of some of the middle-grade classics. A definite need-to-buy for your collection.
When You Want To Feel All The Feels:
How To Be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters
A wonderfully written evocative novel about identity, I love Remy Cameron, and I think you will too. You won’t regret picking this one up.
Three Things I Know Are True by Betty Cully
A timely, tragic novel in verse about the aftermath of a gun-related accident that almost takes the main character’s brother’s life.
The Book of Lost Saints by Daniel Jose Older
I love novels that span across generations because it feels as if the novel is bigger than the story, that it exists outside of the pages. As uplifting and evocative as it is heartbreaking and timely, The Book of Lost Saints is very deserving of accolades and recommendation. A book to buy and then pass on to other readers you know.
The Leading Edge of Now by Marci Lyn Curtis
I don’t know why I’m so drawn to foster/adoption stories, maybe for the potential of a found family and second chances at finding where you belong. Bring tissues while you read and prepare for your heart to break and mend while reading.
Belly Up by Eva Darrow
If you need to read something that will make your heart squeeze but also feel lighter, this YA about a pregnant teenager is for you.
No idea what to read next?
A Game of Birds and Wolves by Simon Parkin
After reading The Alice Network, I sought out books about the unsung women during wartime. I was extremely excited to hear about Simon Parkin’s account of the young women whose strategy helped win the Battle of the Atlantic during WWII. Change up your reading with this fascinating history and share in the well-deserved recognition of these women’s accomplishments.
The Regrets by Amy Bonnaffons
Did you watch The Spirit of Christmas, the Hallmark movie where a young woman falls in love with the ghost haunting the house she’s supposed to help sell during Christmas? I ate that movie up, just like I ate up Just Like Heaven, the ‘00s rom-com starring Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo when it first came out. If you’ve seen and enjoyed either of those movies and can imagine a more witty, quirky book version, then you need to scoop up The Regrets by Amy Bonnafons. It’s hilarious and wonderful, trust me.
How To by Randall Munroe
Sometimes you don’t feel like reading fiction and that’s totally okay. I recommend a fun reference book when you’re unsure of what else to spend your gift card on because you can always revisit it more than your initial read. How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for common real-world problems is perfect because it’s fun and useful, also makes a perfect gift!
I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi
There’s so much to love about this crossover-genre novel, part speculative and part contemporary, it asks readers to imagine that earth was an experiment and the experiment is ending. Three teens must come to terms with the end of the world as they race to fix their lives as much as they can before it’s too late.
The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis
An ensemble fantasy adventure featuring a crew of found family as they fight to survive? Buckle up for an incredible read.