Sweet Reads: 16 New Books for the Young, Young at Heart and Back to School

Metro Nashville schools will be back in session in just five days, but whether you’re headed back to the classroom or still have a few weeks of summer left to savor, it’s always a good time to stock up on reading! It’s that time of year when it’s definitely not fall yet, but the spooky books start to appear like ghosts in the graveyard, and we’ve got some great ones to recommend. Reading along? Reading on your own? Love YA? We’ve got you covered!

Recommended by Rae Ann

Lala's Words: A Story of Planting Kindness Cover ImageLala’s Words: A Story of Planting Kindness

Lala waters forgotten plants in her neighborhood and speaks to them gently. These simple acts create unexpected results. This is a story about the power of kind words.

Recommended by Chelsea

Hardly Haunted Cover ImageHardly Haunted

Jessie Sima has once again found the direct line to my heart — this time through a personified “haunted” house! This sweet story about a house who is worried about being haunted will resonate with readers who are finding ways to be comfortable in their own skin.

Recommended by Chelsea

Vampenguin Cover ImageVampenguin

The Draculas go to the zoo, and the youngest Dracula swaps places with a baby penguin at the Penguin House. Bold, humorous illustrations and minimal text show the adventures of both the baby penguin enjoying his stroller and baby Dracula loving his time in the Penguin House. But who will go home with the Draculas at the end of the day?

Recommended by Madeline

The Circles All Around Us Cover ImageThe Circles All Around Us

A wonderful book about all the small changes we make, no matter how small, can ultimately change the world. This beauty of a book is an instant classic for those who love Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Recommended by RJ

ParaNorthern: And the Chaos Bunny A-hop-calypse Cover ImageParaNorthern: And the Chaos Bunny A-hop-calypse

This irresistibly charming story follows a group of supernatural kids as they try to reverse a magical mishap while learning to embrace what makes them unique. Lovable characters, funny moments, adorable artwork, and a creative magical setting makes this a stand-out!

Recommended by Madeline

Rosetown Summer (The Rosetown Books) Cover ImageRosetown Summer (The Rosetown Books)

Written in elegant prose, this summertime story delicately approaches the topic of change. When a bookstore opens in Flora’s small town, she wonders what impact that small change might have. She’s not afraid to ask big questions, and this book faces each question directly with elegant grace.

Recommended by RJ

The Accursed Vampire Cover ImageThe Accursed Vampire

This unique, spooky story will be perfect for kids (and adults) with a darker sense of humor. When a group of immortal vampire children set out on a mission of vengeance, they stumble upon a new found family instead. Don’t let the blood and bugs scare you away; this story has a lot of (undead, un-beating) heart.

Recommended by Madeline

The Last Super Chef Cover ImageThe Last Super Chef

A fun book filled with food puns and competitive culinary skills, The Last Super Chef is a fun and fresh novel for all foodies at heart. This novel definitely left me laughing and filled in my soul.

Recommended by Brad

The River Has Teeth Cover ImageThe River Has Teeth

Eerie and chilling to the bone, The River Has Teeth is a razor-sharp novel that had me devouring its secrets late into the night. Erica Waters is incredible with sinister stories, and with its unique magic, this Southern gothic tale kept me on the edge of my seat. Two girls set on their own vengeance quests will keep readers turning these pages — and looking over their shoulder for any monsters lurking in the dark.

Watch our virtual event with Erica Waters!

Recommended by Chelsea

Sabriel 25th Anniversary Classic Edition Cover ImageSabriel 25th Anniversary Classic Edition

This is the book that changed the trajectory of my reading as a young reader because this was the first fantasy with a kick-butt female main character. Sabriel must venture into the Old Kingdom to find her father and confront an evil older than she imagines. Pick up this edition with original cover art; I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Recommended by Brad

The Taking of Jake Livingston Cover ImageThe Taking of Jake Livingston

Fans of Get Out and Sawkill Girls, prepare to meet Jake Livingston. Ryan Douglass’ debut is gritty and extremely tough to read at times, but with social issues at the forefront and a hero worth rooting for, The Taking of Jake Livingston is a deep novel that holds back no punches. Douglass takes his readers on an emotional roller coaster through these horror events — both paranormal and real-life.

Recommended by Brad

These Hollow Vows Cover ImageThese Hollow Vows

Are you obsessed with The Cruel Prince and A Court of Thorns and Roses like me? These Hollow Vows is another enthralling and irresistible fae story to fulfill all of our obsessions. I’m a sucker for the enemies-to-lovers trope, and when our heroine finds herself in a harrowing new world and torn between two dark princes, I knew I was going to be hooked right away. Needing more fantasy to swoon over? Look no further!

Recommended by Chelsea

A Lesson in Vengeance Cover ImageA Lesson in Vengeance

A Lesson in Vengeance is a dark, ethereal thriller about the witchy history of a boarding school and one student’s return to that school after the death of her girlfriend. Full of unexpected twists and the perfect vibes, Lee’s third novel is a haunting read on the perceived consequences of magic.

Recommended by Becca

She Drives Me Crazy Cover ImageShe Drives Me Crazy

If you have a thing for romantic tropes, look no further than this delightful queer novel which features fake-dating, enemies-to-lovers, and a little jock vs. cheerleader dynamic to boot. When 17-year-old basketball star Scottie gets into a fender bender with her nemesis, the gorgeous and cold cheerleading captain, Irene, the two are drawn together by circumstance and an ill-fated romantic revenge plot.

Spark Book Club: August Selection

Down to Earth Cover ImageDown to Earth

The August Spark Book Club selection is Down to Earth by Betty Culley.

Henry is a homeschooled student who loves rocks and minerals. A meteorite falls on his family’s farm in Maine and the town’s water immediately dries up. Henry is the perfect person to investigate with the help of his best friend, his little sister, and a new scientist friend.

Science facts pepper this exciting adventure.

Early Sparks for the novel:

“A captivating middle-grade novel.” —Booklist (starred review)

“A meandering, idealistic tale for budding scientists.” —Kirkus

“Heartwarming and absorbing.” —School Library Journal

Spark Book Club is the first editions club for middle grade readers. Every month members will receive a first edition middle grade novel — plus a letter written by the author especially for club members. Makes a great gift for the independent reader! Sign ups are available for 3, 6, or 12 months.

ParnassusNext August Selection

In the Wild Light Cover ImageIn the Wild Light

The August 2021 ParnassusNext selection is In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner.

Cash plans to spend the upcoming school year doing what he typically does: helping care for his sick Pawpaw, protecting his best friend Delaney, and fishing on the river. When he and Delaney make a scientific discovery, they suddenly find themselves in the middle of Connecticut attending a prestigious prep school. Life comes at Cash quickly, and Cash struggles to get his bearings until his English teacher has him turn to poetry to make sense of his new world.
In the Wild Light is a beautiful, moving tribute to family, friends, and the natural world.
Early praise for the novel:
“A brilliant treasure of a book that holds up a mirror to the best parts of our humanity.” —Kirkus (starred review)
“Evocative and moving, highlighting Zentner’s impressive skill with both poetry and prose.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

ParnassusNext is the book subscription box for YA lovers. Every member of ParnassusNext receives a first edition hardcover of each month’s selected book, signed by the author. There is no membership fee to join — and no line to stand in for the autograph. Not only will you have one of the best YA books of the month when it comes out, you’ll have it straight from the author’s hands, with an original, authentic signature! Set up a subscription for yourself or buy a gift membership for your favorite YA reader for 3, 6, or 12 months.