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What books will keep my teenage nephew hooked on reading?

Q: My 19-year-old nephew has rediscovered his love of reading, thanks to David Nicholls. (“I just lolled in One Day!” he texted. Then he was gripped.) Do you have any recommendations to keep young adults like him reading?
Sally Lewis, 55, piano, teacher, Cambridge

A: Stephanie Merritt, an author, journalist and critic, writes:

Your nephew is at the perfect age to rediscover a love of books, because he’s finally free of any associations of reading with homework, and also of the unfortunate notion, promoted by exam syllabuses, that certain books have greater value than others and must therefore be slogged through, regardless of whether or not you’re enjoying them.

If your nephew was drawn to One Day because it made him laugh, he should definitely try David Nicholls’s most recent novel, Sweet Sorrow, a bittersweet comedy about 17-year-old Charlie’s doomed love affair during a school production of Romeo and Juliet. Sally Rooney’s Normal People is another scalpel-sharp dissection of young love that fully deserves all its accolades, while Joe Dunthorne’s Submarine is a pitch-perfect distillation of male teenage angst, but gloriously funny (think Holden Caulfield meets Adrian Mole). So many coming-of-age stories are written at a distance of decades, but Dunthorne wrote this at only 26, and there’s a freshness to the voice that stands out. And if your nephew enjoys Submarine, he might want to try the ur-novel of teenage angst that inspired it, JD Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. I had wondered if this might feel a little dated to contemporary readers, but my 18-year-old son tore through it in a couple of days, so it clearly still resonates.

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