10 Must Read Young Adult Books
It’s been a little longer than usual, but I’m going to blame that on the start of school! I think mostly everyone is back by now. How’s school going? Hopefully, you don’t have too much homework. It’s about this time of year I always start longing for my favorite Young Adult books. Sometimes looking at the book list for my English classes can be daunting- who wants to read The Scarlet Letter when you can read Harry Potter instead? I know that classic literature can be tough, but trust me, it’s worth. You’ll improve your reading, writing, and critical thinking skills, which are all pretty necessary to doing well in school. Whatever you do, don’t lose your love for reading. I used to read all the time for fun and now I barely read unless it’s for school. I hate it but I don’t have much time anymore to get lost in a good series. Once the college process is over, I’m going back and finishing Game of Thrones. I have to know, does it really live up to the hype?
Anyways, without any further ado, here is my list of Must-Read YA books. Enjoy!
10 Must-Read Young Adult Books
The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver
Okay, I’m starting with my favorite but I promise that they’ll soon be your favorites too. The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness are a fantasy series that follow Torak, a teenage boy who can speak to wolves and must rid his home of an ancient evil. The books take place 6,000 years ago in Northern Europe before the spread of farming during the Stone Age. Paver’s world is ridiculously well-researched and detailed that it’s hard to believe that Torak’s forest and the clans aren’t real. Torak, Wolf, and Renn will all find their place in your heart and believe me, it’s difficult to finish the last book. Another bonus? In some editions, Paver adds some of her adventures that she experienced while researching these books. She explains how she ate whale blubber or stumbled upon a bear and her cubs.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I know that it was really popular a few years ago because of the movie but I still know a lot of people haven’t read it. And trust me. You need to. The Book Thief is a historical fiction novel that takes place in Germany during WWII. The book centers around Liesel, who is sent to live with foster parents after the death of her brother. As Hitler’s hold over Germany strengthens, her foster parents hide a young Jewish man. The book is heartbreaking and poignant and reminds us that we need to keep our humanity during times of war- just like Liesel and Max did when teaching each other how to read and write.
The Mother Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick
I grew up with Jess, Emma, Cassidy, Becca, and Megan and I considered them my friends throughout middle school (I was, and still am, a nerd, I know). These books are realistic fiction about a group of friends whose mothers force them into a book club. With clever titles like Pies and Prejudice, these books will be a hit with any teens who also love literature. Besides their literary adventures, these books are refreshing to read because all the girls are normal. YA can become oversaturated with tropes like the chosen one, so a couple of real life girls (who are all strong and independent in their own ways!) is a refreshing read.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Say what you will about S.E. Hinton now but you can’t argue that you didn’t love The Outsiders the first time you read it. Back in middle school, the girls in the grade below me loved it so much they started a fan club. It was a little weird, but who am I to judge? S.E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders when she just sixteen (Wow, right?) and she understands what it’s like to be a teenager. Sometimes adults can get it wrong but Hinton nails the whole teenage angst thing and she makes it so Ponyboy isn’t annoying- he’s relatable. And besides, who hasn’t heard the line “Stay gold, Ponyboy?”
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I read To Kill a Mockingbird when I was in seventh grade and as a white, 13-year-old girl in the Catholic school bubble, it was the first book I ever read about race relations in America. Just like Scout’s teachers, adults sometimes dance around important subjects, which makes this book even more important. This book is still as relevant today as it was 50 years ago. With the riots and police brutality we see on the news, it looks like we haven’t made much progress since 1930s Alabama. Like Atticus Finch said, we’d solve a lot of problems if we realized that “you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.”
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I remember begging my mom to buy me the box set for my 7th birthday. I didn’t think it was going to happen because it cost thirty-two whole dollars, which is like two million dollars in second grader money. I grew up with Laura and have read this series more times than I can count (I used to keep a tally of how many times I read These Happy Golden Days and stopped counting at forty-two). Even though the setting is so far removed from our lives, Laura’s hijinks remain relatable. I still laugh out loud when she tricks Nellie into going in the stream so that she’ll be covered in leeches. These books are also a wonderful story of sisterhood. Even if they didn’t always get along, Mary, Laura, Carrie, and Grace always had each other’s backs.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I could write a whole blog post on why I love Jane Austen ( and I just might) and call me basic, but my favorite Jane Austen novel is Pride and Prejudice. I don’t know how anybody could dislike Lizzie and even if Darcy seems like a jerk, you’ll soon fall for him too. If you’re not interested in falling for a literary boyfriend that all other boys will pale to in comparison, at least read it for Lizzie’s snark. She’s super sarcastic and funny and will have you laughing in no time.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit was what got me obsessed with fantasy. I carried this book everyone during middle school and it was my favorite book for a while. As I’m sure you know, Tolkien’s a master at worldbuilding and a linguistics expert so he created his own languages for it. Yeah, I know, impressive (and by the way, if you are not a linguistics expert, please don’t try to create your own language). Bilbo’s also got some spunk, even if he’s no Lizzie Bennet. This is also basically a gateway drug to The Lord of the Rings so be ready to give your life away for 12-hour LOTR marathons.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
If you haven’t read these, you’re seriously missing out. I spent most of my middle school years freaking out over everything Rick Riordan wrote (I’m not going to lie. Sometimes I still freak out). Percy Jackson and the Olympians follows the story of Percy, a teenager who just so happens to be the son of Poseidon. Pretty cool, right? Yeah, not really. He’s chased by monsters almost constantly and has near-death experiences every other Tuesday (and sometimes sooner). Once you read these, you can then move on to the Heros of Olympians, which is just as good and has some awesome new characters.
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
I’d be insane if I didn’t include Harry Potter on this list. I’m still surprised when I hear that somebody hasn’t read them. Come on, people! Even my 86-year-old great aunt has read them! Like Tolkien, Rowling is an amazing worldbuilder (I’d like to see her novel planning documents) and Harry, Hermione, Ron, and the rest of the Weasleys will steal your heart (everybody has their favorite Weasley. Mine? Well, Fred. Maybe George. Bill? Charlie? GINNY? I CAN’T CHOOSE!). Even if these books look long, they’re fairly easy to read and will be sure to capture your attention and your heart. To be entirely honest, I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t think about Harry Potter. Tell me your Hogwarts house below!