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*All summaries are from the publishers. Staff picks are chosen by CCPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We’d love to hear your ideas too, so write to us and tell us what you’d recommend.

“Bored with all of the books you have at home, you walk into a new bookstore. You look around to orient yourself to the store layout and grab a handbasket. You wonder what kind of books you’ll leave with today? You know you are not someone who cares about tradition in your literature. You are an explorer, an adventurous sort, who loves to delve into works of art that push you out of your comfort zone. You want interesting experiences that challenge your viewpoints. 

Ascend the stairs. You browse a display of books titled, “Stuck on You: Books with Second-Person Narratives”. You pick up a title and flip it open to read the description. You put it back down. Make sure to put it back in it’s spot. You don’t want to make more work for the bookseller.  Pick up another book that has a beautiful cover. Look at the back. You place it in your handbasket.  You browse for another 30 minutes, selecting books that you will take up to the cashier.  You think about when you get back home, imagining unloading all of the books beside your favorite chair.  Making a cup of tea from the “Tea of the Month” club you subscribed to back in the springtime and cozying up under a throw with one of these new books. You know that once you open the pages, you will be absorbed in reading so deeply that the world will fall away from you.  You won’t be bored anymore.

You begin your journey to the cashier and smile to yourself.  You know that this will be an amazing day.”

Did you see what I did there? I’m sure by now you’ve figured it out. You always were a clever one.

In literature, Second-Person Point-of-View (POV) uses the perspective of a single character. This character is the protagonist who will tell the story, one who has well-defined habits, traits, and a unique personality. You (the reader) are in their head and privy to all of their thoughts, feelings, and motivations. As an author, this is a tricky POV to use.  Right now, even though I’m using “you” to address you (the audience), I am not writing in second-person. I am the protagonist, the person behind the “curtain” if you will. As soon as I inserted myself in the conversation, the POV shifted to first-person. A second-person perspective will only utilize “you, your, and yours” in reference to the narrator and he/she/they/it will be used exclusively to describe the actions of others/objects the narrator is interacting with, but you will not have access to the inner thoughts of these characters.

So, if it’s so tricky, why do authors use it?

Great question! An authentic second-person narrative is a powerful tool to wield for an author. If they can pull it off, this POV will create instant and complete empathy between the reader and the protagonist. You will become the protagonist, and their every thought and action will become your own. The author is striving for the reader to have an emotional response to the story by immersing the reader deeply into the character.

Some genres lend themselves to be easier to write in the second-person.  Most of us remember the popular “Choose Your Own Adventure” series, which were incredibly interactive for the reader (There you were, fingers splayed throughout the pages, holding the place of all the choices you made just in case you died, and had to go back and decide differently). Short stories are great because it can be taxing for the author to write in the second-person for an extended period of time. It’s perfect when used in a chapter of a book to break up the monotony of a different narrative style. This switching up of the narrative is seen most often in suspense and thrillers, where second-person can enhance the story by limiting the amount of information available to the reader. The intimacy of poetry is an ideal pairing, too. If you want to learn more about using second-person narration in your own writing, there is a wonderful article by MasterClass on how to use it with a few examples or this well-written piece by Reedsy on the pros and cons of second-person narration from an editor’s POV.

To make everything easier, here is a curated list of books that feature the second-person perspective.  These books span most genres and will appeal to a variety of readers, so I’m very sure that you will find something that interests you.

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“Choose Your Own Autobiography” by Neil Patrick Harris

Seeking an exciting read that puts the “u” back in “aUtobiography”?  Look no further than Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography! 

In this entertaining and innovative memoir, Neil Patrick Harris shares intimate and hilarious stories about everything from his early days in LA, life on the How I Met Your Mother set, secrets from backstage at award shows, and family life with David, Harper, and Gideon.  In a fresh spin on the typical celebrity narrative, he lets you, the reader, choose which path you want him to follow.  All this plus magic tricks, cocktail recipes, embarrassing pictures from his time as a child actor, and even a closing song!

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“The Raven Tower” by Ann Leckie

For centuries, the kingdom of Iraden has been protected by the god known as the Raven.

He watches over his territory from atop a tower in the powerful port of Vastai. His will is enacted through the Raven’s Lease, a human ruler chosen by the god himself. His magic is sustained by the blood sacrifice that every Lease must offer. And under the Raven’s watch, the city flourishes.

But the Raven’s tower holds a secret. Its foundations conceal a dark history that has been waiting to reveal itself…and to set in motion a chain of events that could destroy Iraden forever.

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“All the Truth That’s in Me” by Julie Berry

Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years ago, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored by those who were once her friends and family.

Unable to speak, Judith lives like a ghost in her own home, silently pouring out her thoughts to the boy who’s owned her heart as long as she can remember–even if he doesn’t know it–her childhood friend, Lucas.

But when Roswell Station is attacked, long-buried secrets come to light, and Judith is forced to choose: continue to live in silence, or recover her voice, even if it means changing her world, and the lives around her, forever.

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“Booked” by Kwame Alexander

Can’t nobody stop you

Can’t nobody cop you…

In this follow-up to Newbery-winner The Crossover, soccer, family, love, and friendship take center stage. Twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. Helping him along are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read.  

This electric and heartfelt novel-in-verse by poet Kwame Alexander bends and breaks as it captures all the thrills and setbacks, action and emotion of a World Cup match! Now in paperback.

Want to read the first installment in the “Crossover” series? Check out “Crossover”!

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“Romeo And/Or Juliet” by Ryan North

Romeo loves Juliet. Or Rosaline. And Juliet loves Romeo. Or Viola. Or Orlando. It’s Shakespeare as you’ve never played him before.

In this choose-your-own-path version of Romeo and Juliet, you choose where the story goes every time you read! What if Romeo never met Juliet? What if Juliet got really buff instead of moping around the castle all day? What if they teamed up to take over Verona with robot suits? Whatever your adventure, you’re guaranteed to find lots of romance, lots of epic fight scenes, and plenty of questionable decision-making by very emotional teens.

All of the endings—there are over a hundred—feature beautiful illustrations by some of the greatest artists working today, including New York Times bestsellers Kate Beaton, Noelle Stevenson, Randall Munroe, and Jon Klassen.

Packed with exciting choices, fun puzzles, secret surprises, terrible puns, and more than a billion possible storylines, Romeo and/or Juliet offers a new experience every time you read it. You can choose to play as Romeo or Juliet (obviously) but you can also play as both of them, or as Juliet’s nurse, or, if you’re good, you can even unlock a fourth playable character! That’s right. We figured out how to have unlockable characters in books. Choose well, and you may even get to write the world’s most awkward choose-your-own sex scene.

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“The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic” by Leigh Bardugo

Enter the Grishaverse…

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, the tales in The Language of Thorns will transport you to lands both familiar and strange―to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, each of them lavishly illustrated and culminating in stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

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“Kafka on the Shore” by Haruki Murakami

Here we meet a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who is on the run, and Nakata, an aging simpleton who is drawn to Kafka for reasons that he cannot fathom. As their paths converge, acclaimed author Haruki Murakami enfolds readers in a world where cats talk, fish fall from the sky, and spirits slip out of their bodies to make love or commit murder, in what is a truly remarkable journey.

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“The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

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“The Brief Wondrous Life” of Oscar Wao?” by Junot Diaz

Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fukúthe curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.

Díaz immerses us in the tumultuous life of Oscar and the history of the family at large, rendering with genuine warmth and dazzling energy, humor, and insight the Dominican-American experience, and, ultimately, the endless human capacity to persevere in the face of heartbreak and loss. A true literary triumph, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao confirms Junot Díaz as one of the best and most exciting voices of our time.

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“The Fifth Season” by N.K. Jemison

This is the way the world ends…for the last time.

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

**This is Book 1 of the Broken Earth Trilogy.**

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“Into the Water” by Paula Hawkins

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

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“They Both Die in the End” by Adam Silvera

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.

Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

In the tradition of Before I Fall and If I Stay, They Both Die at the End is a tour de force from acclaimed author Adam Silvera, whose debut, More Happy Than Not, the New York Times called “profound.”

Featuring a map of the novel’s characters and their connections, an exclusive essay by the author, and a behind-the-scenes look at the early outlines for this critically acclaimed bestseller.

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