5 YA books to read if you love John Green

I don’t do the whole post-book hangover thing well.

I finished this book last year and stared off into space for a good 30 minutes before I could process that it was over. I kept thinking about it day after day, looking up from my computer screen to remember a funny line and laughing like a lunatic to myself. I started asking friends and family if they’d ever heard of Guernsey, and wouldn’t it be nice to take a family vacation there?

I also seriously considered taking up letter-writing so that my future grandkids would have something physical to hold of my daily life. (“Dear Future Grandkids, Today I got up and went to work. I had a coffee while I answered emails.” Can’t you just hear the snoozing!?)

But I was just so gut-wrenched that I couldn’t live in the world of that book anymore.

Heartbreak over lost book worlds is real, and I know I’m not the only one who roams the house, kicking the pillows, glaring at the plants, and feeling annoyed that I’m not, in fact, living a magical character’s life in a magical place.

I know a lot of people felt this way after they read John Green’s The Fault in Your Stars–has there ever been such a heartbreaking and collective book hangover? And the bad news is, we still have to wait two more months for Turtles All the Way Down, John Green’s first book after The Fault in Your Stars phenomenon.

Two. Whole. Months.

Is eternity stretching before you yet?

Luckily, I came up with a handy coping mechanism for you: Step 1: lock self in house. Step 2: burrow into bed. Step 3: take a nap for the next 1,440 hours.


Just in case you’re more of a read-to-pass-the-time type (and something tells me you are), I have a back-up plan. It goes like this:

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way to fill the next two months with books that would bring us back to the glory days of first reading The Fault in Our Stars? Books that would remind us of the thrill and heartbreak we felt when we first met Augustus and Hazel? Books that would reignite our John Green fandom and fill The Fault in Our Stars sized hole in our hearts?

If only there were FIVE such books. Because after all, two months is a long time, and our next John Green inspired YA reads are going to whiz right by.


You know I’ve got your back, right? Well, more specifically, our wonderful Stonesong intern, Lydia DuBois, has our backs! Here’s Lydia with the YA book recommendations you need to tide you over until Turtles All the Way Down releases:

5 YA books to read if you love John Green

books to read if you love John Green

(By the way, we only recommend books we’ve read or that we’re genuinely excited about reading ourselves. Life’s too short to read mediocre books. But if you do feel like picking up one of these, it’d be great if you bought them through one of the Amazon Associate links below. It supports the many hours of work this team of two put into this little corner of the web!)

by Lydia DuBois

Turtles All the Way Down, scheduled to be released on October 10, is generating almost palpable buzz—the kind most writers would do anything for. And the hype is more than a little contagious—I’ve already said yes to pre-ordering the book, and based on its top 10 ranking on Amazon, I’m not the only one.

But two months is a long time to wait for Turtles All the Way Down. So if you’re bounce-up-and-down excited for another read like The Fault in Our Stars, but you’re not sure how to venture outside John Green territory, let me pave the path. I had my Hazel and Augustus kick three years ago and have since added 100+ titles to my Goodreads. Here are 5 books I’ve carefully selected as perfect next books for fans of John Green.

5 YA books you’ll love if you’re a John Green fan

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl review

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

by Jesse Andrews

Thematically speaking, this is the most like The Fault in Our Stars. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews is an upper YA contemporary novel, featuring teens with cancer, an honest and comical voice, and unexpected shenanigans. But while the heart-wrenching love story of Hazel and Augustus generates all the girly feels, Greg and Rachel’s relationship steers away from romance to platonic friendship feels. As Greg puts it succinctly: “This isn’t a touching romantic story.”

Jesse Andrews’ male-driven narration will also taste differently than John Green’s female-driven narration, and Greg is more of an oddball than Hazel, especially with his preference for bizarre filmmaking with Earl instead of the intellectual book banter of The Fault in Our Stars. In many respects, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is even more raw and realistic about teen tragedy and angst than The Fault in Our Stars.

Disclaimer: The language is also more explicit, so if that’s not your thing—although it pains me to say it—you could skip the book and watch the movie (here’s the movie trailer for Me and Early and the Dying Girl).

Before I fall by Lauren Oliver book review

Before I Fall

by Lauren Oliver

Imagine that a single day in your life—the day of your death—is stuck on repeat. For popular high school senior Samantha, that becomes her tragic reality in Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. You won’t find teens with cancer in this story but you will find teens in car crashes pondering cosmic questions that echo those in The Fault in Our Stars.

Yet Before I Fall has a mystical layer that stirs end-of-life atonement into the existential mix—think Beastly by Alex Flinn but with spurts of romance rather than a romantic nucleus. The setting is also tethered to high school and doesn’t ramble as broadly as Amsterdam or church basements like The Fault in Our Stars does.

Before I Fall is a little lengthy, but the pages will flip by in a thrilling blip. And like John Green and Jesse Andrews, Lauren Oliver also scored a movie adaptation for her novel (watch the movie trailer for Before I Fall here).

Just One Wish Janette Rallison Book review

Just One Wish

by Janette Rallison

No matter how old I get, this book will remain one of my favorites. Janette Rallison isn’t one of the most known authors, but Just One Wish is a gem. It skews slightly younger than The Fault in Our Stars, but Rallison has a knack for creating relatable, witty, and bold YA female characters, and Annika is no exception. She bravely sets out on a quest to Hollywood to grant the wish of her younger brother who has cancer: He wishes for a visit from his teen television idol, Robin Hood, and Annika won’t head home without the actor in tow.

Yes, the concept of this novel is not the most realistic. Yes, it feels almost silly at points. And yes, the romance angle is too-good-to-be-true, totally girly-teen, but I love Rallison’s combination of fairytale and tragedy. This novel is lighter than The Fault in Our Stars, but if John Green yanked the tears out of you (like he did to me), Just One Wish by Janette Rallison will do the same.

Just Listen Sarah Dessen book review The truth about forever sarah dessen book review

Just ListenThe Truth About Forever

by Sarah Dessen

I grappled with which Sarah Dessen novel would win a spot on this list, but when it came down to Just Listen and The Truth About Forever, I just couldn’t choose. So here’s both: The Truth About Forever deals with death, so it’s most similar to The Fault in Our Stars, but I also think you’ll love Annabel and Owen’s story in Just Listen.

Annabel and Owen’s story in Just Listen will resonate with fans of Hazel and Augustus’s story in The Fault in Our Stars. Neither relationship is perfect, and all four characters are pensive young adults searching for how to love a flawed life, love each other, and love themselves.

Although cancer and teenage death are not among the threads woven into Just Listen, Sarah Dessen covers a lot of ground in the land of heavy topics, from eating disorders to social ostracism to anger management. Annabel’s desire to keep everyone at a safe distance from her problems is very similar to Hazel’s instincts in The Fault in Our Stars, and Augustus and Owen share a liking of philosophical deliberations and tough-love truths. But while books dominate Hazel and Augustus discussions in The Fault in Our Stars, music governs Annabel and Owen conversations in Just Listen.

If you are itching for a novel with a stronger dose of the romance seen in The Fault in Our Stars, Just Listen (or any Sarah Dessen book, really) would make a perfect next read.

Bonus John Green trivia: What does Turtles All the Way Down mean?

Wondering what is the meaning of Turtles All the Way Down? Well, Turtles All the Way Down seems to be named by John Green after an expression in cosmology that’s similar to the chicken-or-the-egg problem.

One possible explanation of the “Turtles all the way down” meaning is thought to come from Harvard psychologist and philosopher William James. The story goes like this:

After a lecture on cosmology and the structure of the solar system, William James was accosted by a little old lady.

“Your theory that the sun is the centre of the solar system, and the earth is a ball which rotates around it has a very convincing ring to it, Mr. James, but it’s wrong. I’ve got a better theory,” said the little old lady.

“And what is that, madam?” Inquired James politely.

“That we live on a crust of earth which is on the back of a giant turtle,”

Not wishing to demolish this absurd little theory by bringing to bear the masses of scientific evidence he had at his command, James decided to gently dissuade his opponent by making her see some of the inadequacies of her position.

“If your theory is correct, madam,” he asked, “what does this turtle stand on?”

“You’re a very clever man, Mr. James, and that’s a very good question,” replied the little old lady, “but I have an answer to it. And it is this: The first turtle stands on the back of a second, far larger, turtle, who stands directly under him.”

“But what does this second turtle stand on?” persisted James patiently.

To this the little old lady crowed triumphantly. “It’s no use, Mr. James – it’s turtles all the way down.”

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Do you love books? Apply to be a Stonesong intern!

what kind of reader are you

If you (or someone you know) loves books, writing, and learning about the publishing industry, apply to be a Stonesong intern! The internship runs for the Fall 2017 semester, with the potential to extend into Spring 2018 or Summer 2018. We have a great batch of interns every year, and many have gone on to positions at literary agencies, publishers, and other bookish jobs.

This position, in particular, would be working closely with me and would give the candidate experience in digital marketing and online writing by also working behind-the-scenes here at cooks & books. The hourly commitment is flexible–we’ve had interns work 6 hours or 16 hours in semester, and 20 to 35 hours in the summer. Working remotely is encouraged in semester, with the possibility of working in our NYC offices in the summer.

English or journalism majors preferred; candidates must receive college credit for the internship from their university in order to qualify. Please send your resume and cover letter to maria @ cooksplusbooks . com before August 16th.

What I’m reading this week

Here (with 2 Years of Exhausting Photographic Detail) Is How To Write A Book (Ryan Holiday on Medium): Ryan Holiday is a bestselling author and advisor to other bestselling authors, and here he lays out, in minute detail, exactly how he wrote his newest book, Perennial Seller. Yes, it’s less glamorous than you’d think, and yes, actually doing the work is the only way forward.

The Reader’s Ideal Coffee Den (Celine Low on Book Riot): Here are the 7 things readers need in a good coffee shop–did they cover your must-haves?

4 Resources for Women Interested in Travel Writing (Allison Yates on The Write Life): Do you dream of traveling and writing about it? Here’s a great place to start for making it happen!

Some of the newest cookbooks look like comics. But does that work for readers? (Charlotte Druckman for The Washington Post): “Some of these books adopt the visual structure of graphic novels, while others include sketched guides to working with ingredients, and still others employ colorful pictographs. They all fuse words and images and deviate from the standard format. But especially for readers unaccustomed to the unconventional layout, how usable are they?”

Using Amazon Ads to Sell a YA Novel: A Detailed Analysis (Deanna Cabinian on JaneFriedman.com): I love when authors open up and share the details and numbers behind their book marketing efforts. There just isn’t a better way to figure out if something like buying ads would work for you, and it saves you a whole ton of trial-and-error.

What we’re eating this week

We’re out at the farm in Ann Arbor this week, and let me tell you, we have been eating SO incredibly well. So well, in fact, that Jarrett was seriously considering going on some sort of fasting diet when we get home to recalibrate himself. You know it’s bad (and so worth it) when the hungriest person you know threatens to quit food. Here’s how it happened:

Saturday: A smorgasbord of small plates at Mikette in Ann Arbor, and since every one of them was so good, we couldn’t leave a scrap of food behind. Try the housemade fennel sasuage if you’re ever there!

Sunday: I cooked a Turmeric and Yogurt Roasted Chicken from my author Nik Sharma‘s manuscript, and it was heavenly. It’s this great recipe where you marinate the chicken in a turmeric yogurt sauce before roasting, which tenderizes the meat, adds extra crisp to the skin, and turns the whole thing a rich, golden color. Watch for his cookbook next fall from Chronicle Books!

nik sharma cookbook a brown table

Monday: Out to Spencer with some of Jarrett’s high school friends, where we ate an unspeakable amount of stracciatella (the cheese, not the gelato or the soup) and tempura-battered chickpeas with sumac. Take me back.

Tuesday: The most wonderful backyard barbecue! What’s better than having friends over in the middle of the week and eating outside together? We had such a summery spread, too: fresh corn, burgers, brats, roasted broccoli, roasted beets from a neighbor’s garden, homemade pickles, deviled eggs, Zingerman’s cheeses, fruit salad, key lime pies, wine, wine, wine. Actually, take me back to Tuesday night instead!

best book blog

Wednesday: Bigalora, which for some reason is one of those restaurants that puts me at ease. (It could be the pizza, but let’s pretend I’m deeper than that.)

Thursday: We’re on the road from Ann Arbor to Alexandria, and I shall not speak of the sad road dinner that will be had.

Friday: Pasta! Tossed together pasta with garden vegetables that is. A very generous farm neighbor gave us the biggest, most glorious basket of vegetables you’ve ever seen, and I can’t even put into words how happy that makes me. I spend about 20% of my existence complaining about how expensive/bad most tomatoes are, so now that I have about a week’s worth of tomatoes-so-good-you-can’t-buy-them, I’ll need to find something else to do with that 20% of my time. Top contenders are: eating pasta, eating tomatoes, talking about eating pasta and eating tomatoes, and finding a new husband because Jarrett is sick of my single topic conversations.


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