January can be dreary and depressing, but goals of your own choosing can provide a nice light to guide you through the year. Reading outside of school is already a noble resolution, but books can also inspire and inform your journey towards who you want to become. Novels have the capability to change your heart and mind, but did you know we have a teen nonfiction section at all of our branches? Here is a list of titles and related resolutions that might be of interest. Even if something doesn’t strike you, try looking at more nonfiction in 2017. It can be doubly satisfying to read and learn something new.

Resolution: Keep in touch with friends and family. 

I Will Always Write Back is the true story of an all-American girl and a boy from Zimbabwe and the letter that changed both of their lives forever. In this compelling dual memoir, Caitlin and Martin recount how they became best friends –and better people–through their long-distance exchange. Their story will inspire you to look beyond your own life and wonder about the world at large and your place in it.

 Resolution: Learn about different cultures. 

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings

In this poetic memoir, Margarita Engle, the first Latina woman to receive a Newbery Honor, tells of growing up as a child of two cultures during the Cold War. This memoir in verse is especially relevant as US-Cuba relations evolve, and Fidel Castro’s recent death renews conversation and education. Another new teen title about a figure who passed in 2016 is the graphic novel Muhammad Ali.

Resolution: Gather a deeper understanding of injustice…

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and The Fight for Civil Rights

On July 17, 1944, a massive explosion rocked the segregated Navy base at Port Chicago, California, killing more than 300 sailors who were at the docks, critically injuring off-duty men in their bunks, and shattering windows up to a mile away. On August 9th, 244 men refused to go back to work until unsafe and unfair conditions at the docks were addressed. When the dust settled, fifty were charged with mutiny, facing decades in jail and even execution.

…and learn tactics to resist it in Making It Right: Building Peace, Settling Conflict

Imagine a world without prisons, lawyers, or courtrooms – where justice is done. Alternative approaches to dealing with crime are underway around the world to explore how victims, offenders, and communities can heal rifts and repair damage. It’s often called restorative justice. It’s a way to think about the deeper reasons behind crimes, and suggests that by building more caring communities, it’s possible to change our societies – and ourselves. This book relates true stories of young people working in innovative ways to further peaceful resolution of conflict and to heal past wounds.

Resolution: Think more creatively, and be more productive. 

The Doodle Revolution: Unlock The Power to Think Differently

What did Einstein, JFK, Edison, Marie Curie, and Henry Ford have in common? They were all inveterate doodlers. These powerhouse minds knew instinctively that doodling is deep thinking in disguise – a simple, accessible, and dynamite tool for innovating and solving even the stickiest problems.

 Resolution: Practice and improve your writing skills. 

Thrice Told Tales: Three Mice Full of Writing Advice

From the absurd to the wish-I’d-thought-of-that clever, writing professor Catherine Lewis blends Mother Goose with Edward Gorey and Queneau, and the result is learning a whole lot more about three not so helpless mice, and how to fine tune your own writing, bildungsroman (coming-of-age story) and all.

Resolution: Become a better ally for people of color, women, and the LGBT community respectively…

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race

National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward takes James Baldwin’s 1963 examination of race in America,” The Fire Next Time,” as a jumping off point for this groundbreaking collection of essays and poems about race from the most important voices of her generation and our time.

Feminism: Reinventing the F Word

While most people believe in equal rights, the word feminism–America’s new F-word–makes people uncomfortable. Explore the history of US feminism and learn from modern leaders what it means to be a feminist–and why some criticize it.

For a narrative nonfiction title that is relevant and unfortunately always timely, read Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town


 The Full Spectrum: a new generation of writing about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and other identities

Teens are more aware of sexuality and identity than ever, and they’re looking for answers and insights, as well as a community of others. In order to help create that community, YA authors David Levithan and Billy Merrell have collected original poems, essays, and stories by young adults in their teens and early 20s. The Full Spectrum includes a variety of writers—gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight, transitioning, and questioning—on a variety of subjects: coming out, family, friendship, religion/faith, first kisses, break-ups, and many others.

Happy reading and growing in the new year!

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