Vacation reading sought, car trip with a young child edition
July 21, 2015 12:10 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for absorbing newer fiction in two genres: 1) young adult fantasy and 2) 'literary' with female protagonists (for example Room, the Secret Life of Bees, anything by Alice Munroe). Snowflake details inside.

I'm going on a long car trip with my four-year-old in tow and while I usually pass the time reading on a car trip, this one will be peppered with frequent interruptions while I tend to a potentially bored and cranky child. I'm looking for books that are easy to get into and fairly effortless to read because I'll probably only be able to read in short bursts. Room, as mentioned before the fold, fits the bill perfectly. For YA fiction, I actually haven't read a ton and the only example I can think of that I enjoyed was the Bartimaeus Trilogy. I'm looking for newer (last 10 years or so) fiction. Thanks!
posted by kitcat to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
You might enjoy Liane Moriarty's books. Fairly lightweight, fun to read, and female protagonists.
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:14 PM on July 21, 2015


I'm reading The Girl On The Train at the moment. It's easy to get into, short-ish chapters that compartmentalise the story neatly between the main characters and it's a good read.
posted by essexjan at 12:15 PM on July 21, 2015


The Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix, which fulfills both your genre requirements.
posted by Specklet at 12:39 PM on July 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


I just read The Hero and The Crown By Robin McKinley and really enjoyed it. Fantasy, strong female character, not formulaic.
posted by Vaike at 12:39 PM on July 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Barbara Kingsolver's novels (at least the ones I've read) tend to be pretty easy to pick up and read while still being "literary", and they usually have female protagonists. Check out Prodigal Summer and The Poisonwood Bible.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:03 PM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


It may be obvious, but Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy is very good, meets your criteria and has a female protagonist. Start with the first book, The Golden Compass.
posted by workerant at 1:11 PM on July 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Uprooted by Naomi Novik! YA Fantasy with a female protagonist. SO. GOOD. I just finished it and am considering just reading it again.
posted by grapesaresour at 1:15 PM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Time Traveler's Wife is perfect, though it's a little over 10 years old. The structure is very short chapters, which would be great in short bursts.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:17 PM on July 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is literary, with two female protagonists. It's also SF, and written rather episodically.
posted by suelac at 1:51 PM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Bridge to Terabithia was one of my favourites as a kid. Might be slightly heavy; if you haven't read it maybe give it a quick once-over to ensure it fits.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:57 PM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you like Emma Donoghue, I really liked her last novel, Frog Music. (Actually, everything by her is really really good.)
posted by Kitteh at 2:03 PM on July 21, 2015


For YA fantasy, I recommend The Paper Magician Series as very readable, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children series, and Cat Valente's Fairyland series is adorable.

I don't read "'literary' with female protagonists," but I could help if you liked sci-fi.
posted by goblinbox at 2:09 PM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh! I came back to recommend Serafina by Rachel Hartmann. Fantasy with a winning female protagonist.
posted by suelac at 2:19 PM on July 21, 2015


The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (there are currently three books, and the fourth book is supposed to come out next year).

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (edit: suelac pipped me to the post, but I also really enjoyed this book).
posted by mogget at 2:21 PM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
posted by HeroZero at 2:39 PM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Hero and the Crown (recommended above) is older than your limit, but if you are considering it, you might also consider the Earthsea books by Ursula K. LeGuin. Old, but otherwise fitting your requirements.
posted by janell at 3:29 PM on July 21, 2015


I don't read much "literary" fiction, but I have some YA fantasy recs:
- The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson (The Girl of Fire and Thorns, The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom)
- Graceling and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
- The Seventh Bride and Bryony and Roses by T. Kingfisher (alias Ursula Vernon)
- Slightly more difficult reads: Mistwood and Nightspell by Leah Cypess. Great books, but they don't lend themselves as easily to interruptions.

Here are some YA recs that are more broadly genre, but I think would be good car reads:
- The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress; fourth book Winter is coming out later this year.) Soft sci-fi fairytale reimaginings, engaging and easy to read.
- The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter (six books, starting with I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You). Spy-fi, Alias meets boarding school. Effortless reads, outside of the fifth book, which has some heavier themes.
- Shade, Shift and Shine by Jeri Smith-Ready. Paranormal fantasy, absorbing and easy reads.
- Nearly Gone and Nearly Found by Elle Cosimano. Murder mysteries with a kind of minor paranormal element, but being mysteries, they score highly on the "absorbing" scale.

And two oddball recs: The Mediator series and 1-800-Where-R-You series by Meg Cabot, under her pen name Jenny Carroll. They're older than what you're looking for and paranormal fantasy, not high fantasy, but both series are completely popcorn and will require absolutely zero effort from you.
posted by dislegomena at 4:58 PM on July 21, 2015


Sorcery and Cecilia or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot would be absolutely perfect! Easy to get into and so so fun!
posted by Sassyfras at 6:27 PM on July 21, 2015


Anything by Barbara Trapido - female protoganists, beautifully written and I've yet to eke one out for any more than two days.
posted by Wantok at 7:58 PM on July 21, 2015


Tamora Pierce has some good YA fantasy with female protagonists. Allana the first adventure was one of my favourites - but it was written a while ago now.

The terrier / provost dogs series were written more recently
posted by insomniax at 8:08 PM on July 21, 2015


Can't believe Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching books haven't been mentioned! YA fantasy with a female protagonist, and it's Pratchett, so easy-to-read is a given.
posted by quinndexter at 11:30 PM on July 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


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