Books without magic, spies, quests etc for a 13 yo boy?

(44 Posts)
snowynight Sun 22-Sep-13 10:52:28

DS is a keen reader and has read and enjoyed the Percy Jackson, Gone, Hunger Games series and others like them, but today asked if he could have some books that were just about family life - no magic, no quests, no spies. He has "had enough of them"!

Incredibly, this seems a tall order, as most YA books seem to rely on these elements.

Can anyone suggest some authors or series? His request was prompted by reading Half Brother, by Kenneth Oppel, which he loved, and which has opened his eyes to a different style of book.

Many thanks!

EasyMark Sun 22-Sep-13 10:56:24

I know why the cage bird sings
catcher in the rye

snowynight Sun 22-Sep-13 11:25:14

Catcher in the Rye might do it Easy -thanks. Any other suggestions?

booksteensandmagazines Sun 22-Sep-13 15:06:54

The Outsiders by SE Hinton

Spud by John van de Ruit (I've had such good comments from teens about this series)

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K Larsen by Susin Nielsen

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Heroic by Phil Earle

Nought and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

I've listed my favourites here, but there are more complete reading lists for 13 year olds that I've created below (with a quick review so he avoid the ones he doesn't like).

www.booksteensandmagazines.com/blog/reading-list-year-9-13--14-year-olds
www.booksteensandmagazines.com/blog/reading-list-year-8-12-to-13-year-olds

applebread Sun 22-Sep-13 15:08:59

Susan hill books like strange meeting?

MoreThanWords Sun 22-Sep-13 15:18:57

When I was Joe by Keren David

KoalaFace Sun 22-Sep-13 15:37:52

Buddy by Nigel Hinton
The follow up is called Buddy's Song which is hard to get hold of but me and my brother loved it as teenagers.

The Wrong Boy by Willy Russell is completely wonderful.

ohforfoxsake Sun 22-Sep-13 15:41:32

The curious incident of the dog in the night time (I think it's called - read it ages ago, both DSs have now read it)

Sherlock Holmes.

BikeRunSki Sun 22-Sep-13 15:43:06

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
To Kill a Mokingbird
Lionboy
Animal Farm
Anything by SE Hinton
Z for Zachariah was v popular when I was a teenager, and may be topical again now ( is about nuclear holocaust)
Anything by Aidan Chambers,

BikeRunSki Sun 22-Sep-13 15:44:26

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
To Kill a Mokingbird
Lionboy
Animal Farm
Anything by SE Hinton
Z for Zachariah was v popular when I was a teenager, and may be topical again now ( is about nuclear holocaust)
Anything by Aidan Chambers,

Waswondering Sun 22-Sep-13 15:45:29

Has he done the Arthur Ransom series?

snowynight Sun 22-Sep-13 21:33:02

Thanks all. Quizzed DS again this evening and he said he wants stories about family life and growing up, rather than adventures. Looks like the Willy Russell one might be in the right area.

He hasn't done Swallows and Amazons - would you recommend? I didn't read them myself as child.

PatriciaHolm Mon 23-Sep-13 09:52:10

My family and other animals, Gerald Durrell.

derektheladyhamster Mon 23-Sep-13 09:54:23

Adrian mole - My ds loved it as did I when I re read it

IndianMummy Mon 23-Sep-13 10:43:53

Don't Call Me Ishmael by Michael Gerard Bauer

UptoapointLordCopper Mon 23-Sep-13 10:45:34

The graveyard book by Neil Garmain. So weird and yet so ordinary. Most definitely about growing up, though in a weird but ordinary way.

DS1 (9) loves the swallows and amazon book. I think he read 3 of them, all of them great big fat books.

SecretSpi Mon 23-Sep-13 10:50:43

I wondered about Black Swan Green by David Mitchell. It's not a children's or YA book, but if he is a good reader and mature for his age, he might enjoy it.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 23-Sep-13 10:53:49

I would not suggest Catcher in the Rye for a 13 y/o!! shock

It sounds like he wants something modern, otherwise I'd suggest classics (Dickens - but not Christmas carol because of, you know, the ghosts). There are some good historically set books such as The Silver Sword and The book theif but again - not modern. Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha is alright. Actually, most of Roddy Doyle's books (well - not the woman who walked into walls - but The committmets is good. And The van. And The snapper). To kill a mockingbird is superb.

oversomeniagara Mon 23-Sep-13 10:54:32

Yes to Adrian Mole! Also, Submarine by Joel Dunthorne might fit the bill.

GooseyLoosey Mon 23-Sep-13 10:56:41

Ds likes Neil Gamain too - but the magical realism in some may not be what your ds is looking for.

He is also reading Bernard Cornwell books. Great stories in an historical context.

SmokedMackerel Mon 23-Sep-13 10:57:19

I was going to suggest Gerald Durrell too.

James Herriot books are good, I loved them at that age.

Angela's Ashes, by Frank McCourt?

Theas18 Mon 23-Sep-13 10:57:55

Be a devil. Suggest the classics!

what about David Copperfield

YY to Arthur ransome

He might feel they are " girly" but the Little house on the prairie series are brilliant about pioneer life. Maybe start with" farm boy".

To kill a mocking bird yes

Catcher in the rye no!

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 23-Sep-13 11:00:39

I adore Bernard Cornwell (new book this week! Will Uhtred finally get bebbenburg back? I'm betting not. And how many extraneous ciphers will he shag? I'm betting 2). But I wouldn't be giving his books to my 13 y/o son (although having said that, I let him watch Sharpe on the telly. But then, he knows about Sharpe being a shagger and the 'spot the shag' game, and he theatrically yells 'my eyes! My eyes!' at the obligatory shag interludes. while hiding his head in a cushion). My 15 y/o daughter is reading them now. But then, she's read GoT so as far as she's concerned the whole shagging in literature boat has sailed so far over the horizon it's actually right behind her now.

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 23-Sep-13 11:02:19

James Herriot books are ideal yes, althouhgh they aren't about either family life or growing up. But then, to be honest, most books aren't unless they are about dysfunctional family life or some terrible incident. And I'm not sure 13 year olds are ready for that....I would suggest behind the scenes at the museum for a girl, but not for a boy.

BarryShitpeas Mon 23-Sep-13 11:04:02

Try the Knife of Never Letting Go.

Somethingyesterday Mon 23-Sep-13 11:23:31

Helen DeWitt - The Last Samurai (astonishing, sophisticated, completely meets criteria if he likes a challenge....)

Stella Gibbons - Cold Comfort Farm

Richard Hughes - A High Wind In Jamaica (definitely about growing up; stupendous and subversive...)

Michelle Magorian - Cuckoo In The Nest (if he's read Goodnight Mister Tom it's worth trying the rest of her books. They can seem a little dated but still very absorbing.)

Meg Rosoff - How I Live Now (brilliant); What I Was (unutterably superb.)

gleegeek Mon 23-Sep-13 11:50:50

Would Nevil Shute appeal to him? I loved them at that age... Slightly dated though.

UptoapointLordCopper Mon 23-Sep-13 12:01:14

How about Michael Morpugo? I don't get on with many of his books, but thought Kensuke's Kingdom was genius.

And the Little Women books? There are boys in the later series. I loved all of them when I was young.

I forgot about all the ghosts and whatnots in The Graveyard Book. blush But it read so real. Note to self: don't believe everything you read. blush blush blush

chefpants Mon 23-Sep-13 12:05:01

There is an Australian author called James Marsden he wrote the tomorrow series, it has 4 books I think. It is a great set of books about a group of friends who go camping in the outback and come back to war there town being overthrown by the Japanese and what they do to survive ect ext. Its really is great if you could get them in the UK

Somethingyesterday Mon 23-Sep-13 12:08:29

Would second Nevil Shute! The Pied Piper is awesome.

A couple of randoms:

John Buchan - The Island of Sheep (on the edge of meeting the criteria, but it's such a good read and Buchan is much better at writing children than he is at women. Only it would be a shame to read it out of order - it's the last of the Richard Hannay iirc.)

Jean George - My Side of The Mountain (comes highly recommended by a boy, haven't read.

Also has he actually read:

The Wind In The Willows; Watership Down; The Call of The Wild? Boys seem to avoid animal books because they think they'll be babyish. But these are all surprisingly dark and surprising.)

Takver Mon 23-Sep-13 13:53:16

Some of these I would think would be rather young for a 13 y/o? (Swallows & Amazons I love, but still . . .)

What about biographies of people he admires (sportspeople / politics / historical figures / whatever is his thing) ? I can imagine they might appeal to a teenager

Merrylegs Mon 23-Sep-13 14:05:18

Ds (who doesn't enjoy many books!) loved 'Inside my Head' by Jim Carrington. About 3 kids at secondary school.

Naggity Thu 26-Sep-13 08:35:25

Where the Red Fern grows by Wilson Rawls is an excellent book. The cover makes it look like it is aimed at a younger audience, but this is misleading.

HmmAnOxfordComma Thu 26-Sep-13 23:26:09

Try the following authors:

Dave Cousins, Keith Gray, Mal Peet, Kevin Brooks, Alan Gibbons, John Van de Ruit, Catherine Bruton, Mark Lowery, Andy Robb, Rebecca Stead.

There are lots and lots of YA books which are not fantasy/sci fi. They can tend towards high drama/misery, though, too.

The above authors are a mix of gritty and more lighthearted, but all grounded in reality.

gfrnn Sat 28-Sep-13 09:04:19

Louis Sachar - Holes, Small steps, there's a boy in the girls bathroom
Michael Morpurgo - alone on a wide, wide sea; an elephant in the garden
Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer
Eva Ibbotson - The dragonfly pool, The star of kazan, Journey to the River Sea
Lois Lowry - the giver, number the stars
Scott O'Dell - island of the blue dolphins
Joan Aiken - go saddle the sea

LittleRobots Sat 28-Sep-13 09:07:43

Black swan green? I really enjoyed that recently. An adults book but written about a boy of a similar age growing up in a generation ago, with a lot more freedom than now. Addresses a lot of topics relevant to teenage boys.

iheartdusty Mon 30-Sep-13 18:32:40

also:
"the night sky in my head" Sarah Hammond

"Wonder" R J Palacio

Did someone already suggest "The curious incident of the dog in the night time"?

Curiously, there are hundreds of books aimed at teen girls which are all about families and/or friends, but inevitably relationships, set in recognisable contemporary surroundings. The Meg Rosoff one mentioned above could be easily enjoyed by a boy, but many of the others seem to treat boys as an alien species.

What about memoirs and reminiscence? Steering clear of poverty-porn, what about one of the many books describing an early 20th century childhood? For example this one from William Woodruff which is very readable and not preachy.

Neena28 Tue 01-Oct-13 12:23:29

Agree with Adrian mole. Ds (nearly 13) can't get over the fact that he has enjoyed a book so much that I read at a similar age!!

Also louis sachar and michael morpego as above. (Sorry my name spelling is awful and I'm on my phone so can't copy the correct spelling from above!!)

SecretSpi Tue 01-Oct-13 15:06:14

Another idea is The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall. It's about a group of teenagers during the 2nd WW, set in North-East England. It has a good authentic feel to it and, although it's set over 70 years ago, feels timeless.

goingtobefree Tue 01-Oct-13 17:25:00

Dd really enjoyed The fault in our stars by John Green.

goingtobefree Tue 01-Oct-13 17:26:38

She has also started Stephen King,The gunslinger series.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Sat 05-Oct-13 21:25:11

A Monster Calls

Allalonenow Sat 05-Oct-13 21:51:41

Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Holes by Louis Sacher
They are not exactly about everyday life, but do feature families in difficult situations.

Allalonenow Sat 05-Oct-13 21:54:46

As Adrian Mole has been mentioned already, how about "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series, maybe too young for him though?

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