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YALSA RECOMMENDATIONS: Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Arts and Humanities

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Art that changed the world


This beautiful and extensive collection examines the history of art. Organized chronologically, the combination of visuals and informative text is both approachable and easy to grasp.

Rookie yearbook one

TEEN 305.2352 ROOKIE

A refreshingly real and passionate handbook to music, movies, pop cultural icons, and getting through the hardest, most confusing years of your life.

Little fish : a memoir from a different kind of year

Beyer, Ramsey, author, illustrator.


In this autobiographical tale told through a variety of formats, Beyer moves from a small town in Michigan to an art school in Baltimore. Original journal entries, lists, and comics are all used to recount the joys, discoveries, and challenges of her first year in college.

Let me play : the story of Title IX : the law that changed the future of girls in America

Blumenthal, Karen.


Although we take it for granted that girls play high school and college sports, this wasn’t always the case. Who was responsible for the passage of Title IX, and at what cost? This fascinating chapter in the history of feminist equality is a story that should not be forgotten.

World religions

Bowker, John, 1935-


This comprehensive and lavishly illustrated work introduces the reader to faiths of the world through religious artifacts, paintings, architecture, and annotations of sacred texts. It includes timelines comparing significant events and people.

Shakespeare : the world as stage

Bryson, Bill.


Bryson hits the mark with his characteristic wit as he explores the world of Shakespeare and the mystery surrounding the man and his plays.

Gods like us : on movie stardom and modern fame

Burr, Ty.

306.48 BURR

Why do we obsess about Hollywood and its stars? Burr’s history of cinema and acting illuminates why we love—and sometimes love to hate—the idea of celebrity.

The Oxford project

Feldstein, Peter.

977.7655 FELDSTE

In 1984, Feldstein took photos of everyone in the small Iowa town of Oxford. In 2004, he returned and did it again. Here are their photographs and stories.


Fey, Tina, 1970-


How did one of the funniest women in the world get to where she is? In Fey’s own words, “you have to go down the chute.”

Rapture practice : a true story

Hartzler, Aaron.


How do you accept yourself and your beliefs when they differ from your family’s? Hartzler’s memoir of growing up gay in a house where his parents believed the Rapture could happen any moment is funny, honest, and respectful of the idea that being yourself doesn’t mean disrespecting or undermining others.

Philosophy : a discovery in comics

Heer, Margreet de, 1972-

100 HEER

What is thinking? Who are we? Find out some theories in this fun graphic novel introduction to basic principles of philosophy and history of philosophers.

Steal like an artist : 10 things nobody told you about being creative

Kleon, Austin.

153.35 KLEON

Creativity is for everyone, and everyone can be creative—and this guide to the process should keep you inspired.

Relish : my life in the kitchen

Knisley, Lucy, aut, art.


Knisley’s life has revolved around food in all its manifestations. This graphic memoir is perfect for those who live to eat or those who simply eat to live.

Ready for a brand new beat : how

Kurlansky, Mark.

323.1196 KURLANS

Kurlansky follows the creation and recording of the Motown record “Dancing in the Street” against the tumultuous period of racial integration and American politics.

The fortune cookie chronicles : adventures in the world of Chinese food

Lee, Jennifer 8, 1976-

641.5951 LEE

Mixing travel with social and food history, readers gain a better understanding of the Chinese-American experience and a better appreciation of their next meal at a Chinese restaurant.

The holy or the broken : Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the unlikely ascent of

Light, Alan.

782.4216 LIGHT

What happens when artists perform their own version of a song? Follow the evolution of the song “Hallelujah” from its original version by Leonard Cohen to being featured in the movie Shrek to being performed on American Idol as a perennial audition song.

All our pretty songs

McCarry, Sarah.


A modern retelling of the Orpheus myth where music and art mix with an undeniably loyal pair of best friends.

Muck City : winning and losing in football's forgotten town

Mealer, Bryan.

796.3326 MEALER

In Belle Glade, Florida, a town rife with poverty and violence, high school football is more than a pastime. It’s an escape.

The night circus : a novel

Morgenstern, Erin.


Just imagine a circus made of the stuff of dreams. Then add two cruel magicians and their proteges, and mix in a hearty dollop of romance. Will love win out, or will the circus drift away?

Boy 21

Quick, Matthew, 1973-


When Finley’s basketball coach asks him to look out for new kid Russ, he has no idea what’s in store. Finley might be used to the racial conflict in his town and the pressures of basketball, but he is totally unprepared for Russ’s strange request to be called “Boy21.”

Theater geek : the real life drama of a summer at Stagedoor Manor, the famous performing arts camp

Rapkin, Mickey.

792.028 RAPKIN

Rapkin follows the summer of three high school attendees of Stagedoor Manor—a renowned performing arts camp—as they prepare for various parts in Sondheim musicals.

The unlikely disciple : a sinner's semester at America's holiest university

Roose, Kevin.

378.7556 ROOSE

Kevin Roose was a student at ultra-liberal Brown University when he decided to take a semester off to infiltrate a dorm at very conservative Liberty University to find out what really makes born-again Christians tick. He approached his task with an open mind, and what he learned was quite surprising.


The butterfly mosque

Wilson, G. Willow, 1982-


Taking an Islamic Studies course changes Wilson’s life forever when she converts and moves to Cairo to teach English, submerging herself in her new culture. When she meets and falls in love with Omar, she’s forced to question and strengthen her position as a woman embracing both Western and Eastern identities.

The Lucy variations

Zarr, Sara.


Piano prodigy Lucy quit playing when she could no longer handle her family’s pressure. Can she ever learn to find her love and passion for the music again on her own terms?

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