Glam! An Eyewitness Account
Mick Rock (with a foreword by David Bowie)
2006, Omnibus

Glam! scared me when I first looked at it at the age of 11. I felt corrupted by these images of performers sticking microphones in their mouths, sitting on top of each other, and wearing shiny jumpsuits. Then, of course, I found myself coming back to it again and again and again. It was weird and new and scary but it was also WEIRD and NEW and SCARY and that was, well, kind of exciting! Patron Rookie Saint Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Debbie Harry, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol, Lindsay Kemp, Queen. Onstage, backstage, with creepy fans, hanging out casually and blithely ignoring the fact that the whole world would implode if that many cool people were around one another all at once for too long. I would say, now that I wear shiny jumpsuits myself, that this is the book you get if you love glam rock, because you realize looking at it that basically every photo you’ve ever seen and liked of David Bowie (or Iggy Pop or Lou Reed, etc.) was by Mick Rock, and here they all are together! It is a necessity. —Tavi

Pink Smog: Becoming Weetzie Bat
Francesca Lia Block
2012, Harper Teen

Perhaps you don’t know who Weetzie Bat is. Perhaps, like me, you read the entire Dangerous Angels series about Weetzie and her friends that came out in the late ’80s and early ’90s about a billion times because Weetzie, with her bleach-blonde flat-top and clothes that she makes out of vintage fabrics, sheets, and feathers, was like your best friend or soul mate or spirit animal. Either way, you can read (more like devour in one sitting) and enjoy Pink Smog. It introduces us to a 13-year-old girl who is friendless in junior high and has just lost the person she loves most: her dad, Charlie Bat, who after many drunken fights with Weetzie’s mom has fled L.A. for New York. Weetzie’s mom is still calling Weetzie by her given name, Louise, and the woman that may have destroyed Weetzie’s family lives in Unit 13 along with her son, who might be Weetzie’s guardian angel, and her daughter, who might be casting voodoo spells. Pink Smog has that magical blend of fantasy and very real issues that Francesca Lia Block does so well. It will allow you to see—and even taste and smell—Los Angeles the way that Weetzie does, all glittery and “lush-plush-peony-rose” despite the deadly smog. If you are meeting Weetzie for the first time, you will fall in love with her and want to read the rest of her story. If you are revisiting your old friend, you will come to understand her even better and probably want to reread the rest of her story now that you know some of the secrets from her younger years. —Stephanie

The Magicians
Lev Grossman
2009, Viking Adult

Did you love Harry Potter, but wish it were sexier and had more swearing? Then you will love The Magicians, which also takes place at a school full of spells and curses and flirting. You will stay up all night, and then rush right out to buy the sequel, The Magician King, which came out last year. —Emma S.

Stranger With My Face
Lois Duncan
1981, Random House

As a young teen, I used to read well into the night, and it was usually a Lois Duncan book. I was late for school every day. My parents confiscated my light bulbs. Duncan is best known for her novels of suspense for teenagers—those would be called psychological thrillers! She has amazing range and has written, like, 50 books. Her writing is so taut you forget that it’s language; you are an unknowing dangling participle and you are Down a Dark Hall (1974). Stranger With My Face is my favorite because it’s about astral-projecting twins in 1981 and the protag’s parents are artists and a turquoise bird pendant figures heavily. But all her books are so good. There’s an awful ESP element to Don’t Look Behind You (1989), which played itself out in real life a month after it was published, when Duncan’s own daughter was kidnapped and murdered. Duncan chronicles her real-life hell in Who Killed My Daughter? (1992). P.S. Don’t even consider the movie version of I Know What You Did Last Summer. She hates it, too. —Sonja

The Ruins
Scott Smith
2006, Vintage

I’m scared of flying, but the only thing that scares me more is this book. I read it on a cross-country flight from New York to Portland, Oregon, and I didn’t even notice the turbulence. On the surface, this is a tale of tourism-terror, a weird genre that plays on a collective wariness of unknown places and culture. But nothing seems more possible than Americans doing foolish things in unforgiving circumstances, which is exactly what happens when two couples stumble upon ancient Mayan ruins and proceed to do absolutely everything wrong. If you’ve seen the awful movie, the whole thing is already wrecked for you. If not, as an avid fan of all things horror, I can safely say that The Ruins features the strangest, most terrifying villain in recent memory. You’ll never fall asleep after hearing its/his/their murmurings. —Phoebe

Lorrie Moore
1985, Faber

You know how you sometimes love something so much that you want to take it apart and see how it was made? That’s how I feel about Self-Help. I want to undo the seams and glue and hold each sheet of paper up to the light. If this book doesn’t make you want to write a thousand short stories, all of them funny and odd and heartbreaking, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. —Emma S.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Carrie Ryan
2009, Delacorte

I love zombie stories of all kinds, but this one especially, because Carrie Ryan builds such a gorgeous and creepy world, and there is so much more to it than zombies. This is the kind of book you are immediately swept into, then it kicks into high gear and you’ll be up all night reading with your heart in your throat. A warning: if you read it at someone’s vacation house in the middle of nowhere, you may not sleep AT ALL because you’ll become convinced that every strange noise is the zombies coming for you. But you can just stay in Ryan’s intense world by reading the equally amazing companion novels (same setting, different points of view): The Dead-Tossed Waves and The Dark and Hollow Places. —Stephanie

The Boys of My Youth
Jo Ann Beard
1998, Little, Brown & Company

This book is a pristine collection real-life stories carefully curated from half a lifetime of Living Through It. Beard focuses on defining moments that span babyhood to adulthood and the middle of things. Her teen stories about the boys are my favorite (of course), when you get to drive with her under a carbon-black night. Her writing is straightforward poetic prose that I can only describe as diamondlike. If I were in charge everyone would be sitting down to write their memoirs and making sense of their own existence. This collection inspires just that. —Sonja

The Passage
Justin Cronin
2010, Ballantine

So much more engrossing than I ever expected it to be. I admit, I first heard about The Passage when reading about Twilight—OK, fine, while actually reading Twilight—but even though this is a series about vampires, the similarities end there. The night-walkers, referred to as virals, are the by-product of a government experiment gone wrong that has wiped out most of the people in the so-called last city, and a small group of survivors, mostly teenagers, need to guard the city walls. (Alicia is a master of the crossbow and the best character by far.) It’s not always original, but that’s OK because it reminds me of other favorites, like if Salem’s Lot, World War Z, The Road, and Dogville were somehow combined into one awesome trilogy. Cloverfield director Matt Reeves is making the movie, which sounds promising, and the second installment is due in five months. Seriously, I’ve been counting down the days since I finished it almost two years ago. —Phoebe