I know what you’re thinking, what on earth is a 23-year-old doing recommending Young Adult books? Shouldn’t I be into reading classic literature or something with a little more substance? Well, probably. But I don’t and I probably won’t anytime soon.
I’m a huge fan of Young Adult novels (as are so many other adults!) for several different reasons. They’re incredibly well written and whilst they’re written with teenagers in mind as the target audience, most books feature universal themes of love, friendship, and change. They’re also relatively easy to read. I read for enjoyment and I can’t fully enjoy a story if I’m googling definitions of words of rereading sentences to make sure I understand what things mean.
Recently I was asked what some of my favourite books were and I realised most of them were YA. So, I thought I’d share with you all my favourite YA books!
Orphan Harry learns he is a wizard on 11th birthday when Hagrid escorts him to magic-teaching Hogwarts School. As a baby, his mother’s love protected him and vanquished villain Voldemort, leaving child famous as “The Boy who Lived”. With friends Hermione and Ron, he has to win over the returned “One Who Must Not Be Named”.
I’m a huge Harry Potter nerd, so obviously, it was going to make the list. Maybe it’s because I grew up reading the books and there’s a bit of a sentimental attachment but I genuinely think that everyone needs to read the Harry Potter Series.
Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.
I first read this book right before the movie was released and I’m so glad I did. Addressing issues like suicide, child molestation, domestic abuse, drug use, rape and aborting, Perks can be a little full on but it’s definitely one of those eye opening books. If you’ve ever been touched by depression or suicide, this is a book that you’ll instantly relate to. Highly recommend!
Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words–and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young.
I’m going to preface this by saying I did not like The Fault In Our Stars, nor am I a massive fan of John Green’s writing but I do love Looking For Alaska. It definitely starts off as a stereotypical YA book but oh my god, the characters are what make this book special. It’s also a pretty nice look into growing up and becoming a true representation of yourself.
Told through the eyes of Scout Finch, you learn about her father Atticus Finch, an attorney who hopelessly strives to prove the innocence of a black man unjustly accused of rape; and about Boo Radley, a mysterious neighbor who saves Scout and her brother Jem from being killed.
To Kill a Mockingbird is one of those books that everyone knows of but not everyone has read. I love that it discusses serious issues of race and discrimination that are still a hot topic in modern society, despite being set in the 1930’s. In my own opinion, To Kill a Mockingbird is more of a classic than a YA book but it features a young adult as the main character, so I included it anyway.
“Charlotte’s Web” is a book about the relationship between a pig named Wilbur and a spider named Charlotte. Charlotte spins her web with words on it to prevent Wilbur’s owner from slaughtering him.
Technically a children’s book and not a Young Adult book, but honestly, I couldn’t help myself. This is the first novel I ever read on my own and for that reason, it’s being added to the list. I’ve read this book, probably 20+ times and it still continues to tug at my heart strings. Seriously, if you haven’t read the book you need to (or check out the movie!)
It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a coming-of-age novel for young adults. It follows the story of fifteen-year-old Craig Gilner, whose depression and decision to end his life lands him in the adult psychiatric unit of a Brooklyn hospital. There he meets a diverse group of fellow patients and is able to confront the source of his anxiety.
Much like Perks of Being a Wallflower, I think this is a must read for those who’ve experienced mental health issues. I love, love, love that this book represents mental health problems realistically. The reactions of Craig’s family, Craig’s own thought, his friends and the pressure of school and his parents are all so perfectly realistic and while there is a romantic plot point, the mental health issue is still the main point of the story.
An exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.
Again, another book featuring mental illness. I’ve mentioned my love/hate for this book before. I love the story, the ending and the fact that it realistically presents depression, suicide, and Bipolar Disorder. I hate that the characters become the symptoms of their mental health issues. Still, I’ve been recommending this book a lot lately because it was a good read and the story has stuck with me. I’d say go into this one knowing that not everyone with BPD is like Theodore Finch.
Set during WWII, a story seen through the innocent eyes of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a German concentration camp, whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence has startling and unexpected consequences.
Shoot me in the heart, this book will leave you absolutely shocked. I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction but this book is my one exception. It’s heart-wrenching, real and so damn perfect. Seriously, another book you either need to read or see the movie to understand just how perfect the story is.
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush, who committed suicide 2 weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them.
I’m starting to see a theme of books featuring mental illness here. Yes, another book that features mental illness a plot point but I think it’s such an important topic in modern day society that is affecting so many young people. Fair warning, I’ve found this book to be a bit hit and miss when I recommend it to people – you either love it or hate it. You’ll either sympathize with Hannah or think of her as a bratty, whiny teenager and I think that all comes down to your own experiences with mental illness.
The Book Thief is about growing up in Nazi Germany. But it’s also about hope, love, family, rebelliousness, guilt, the human spirit and the beauty that tragedy can bring.
This has got to be, hands-down, the most beautiful book I have ever read. I don’t think I even have the words to be able to describe this book other than ‘just go read it’. Seriously.
Those are my ten favourite Young Adult books! Are you a fan of YA? Do you agree/disagree with my list? Let me know what other books are on your must-read list in the comments below!
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