Reading is one of the best things that a person can do. They’re entertaining, but they also teach you things that you may not be able to learn from a video game or a movie. If you’re a teenager though, you may struggle to find books that are engaging. In this article, I’m going to be talking about some of the books that are the best for teenagers. I tried to have a good mix of classic novels and more contemporary novels in this list, if only so that there’s a little bit here for everyone. Keep in mind that this list is completely subjective, but I did try to include books that have received critical acclaim within their respective genres and recommended by some of the best organizations in the world. Without further ado, let’s learn a little bit more about some of these excellent reads.
#10 – Tuck Everlasting
Tuck Everlasting was written during the 1970’s, but it still holds up as one of the most beautiful teen romances ever written. Even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of a romance genre, Tuck Everlasting is still a novel with an incredible fantasy world. It also discusses very interesting complex themes, like immortality and death. Tuck Everlasting is about a girl who comes across a family that has unlocked the secret to immorality, and it documents how she falls in love with one of them. Despite this book’s age, I don’t think that the average reader should have any trouble understanding this novel’s prose. I know that a lot of teenagers are discouraged from reading classic novels because of how strangely they can be written, but Natalie Babbit wrote Tuck Everlasting in a really nice, approachable way. This is a solid book.
#9 – The Hunger Games
I don’t think that it’s really possible to be a teenager in this world without having at least heard of The Hunger Games. This book is a part of a trilogy of novels that also consists of Catching Fire and Mockingjay. The book series was eventually adapted into a highly successful film series, which starred the likes of Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson. Although the series was occasionally marketed as “the new Twilight”, I can assure reluctant readers that they really couldn’t be any different. This is a story about a brave young woman raised in poverty, and what she does to fight against a tyrannical government when she is chosen to participate in their gruesome games. The Hunger Games is actually a very compelling story about oppression, poverty, and power. Teenagers with a strong interest in social issues are sure to enjoy this book.
#8 – Lord of the Flies
Speaking of books about social issues, Lord of the Flies is a novel that many students are expected to read in school at one point or another. This novel was written by William Golding was back in 1954, but a lot of the ideas present in this book, and a lot of the questions raised by it, are still relevant today. Lord of the Flies is a book about a group of young boys who are stranded on an island. The book follows the boys as they attempt to govern themselves. As one can imagine, an island managed entirely by young boys isn’t the most peaceful island. Lord of the Flies has an interesting premise, and scholars today think that it’s a very interesting discussion on human nature. Are people inherently good, or are they inherently bad? Where does civilization fit in with that spectrum of “humanity”? These are all questions that Lord of the Flies asks its readers.
#7 – The Lightning Thief
When this book was first released back in 2005, people were really impressed by its creative premise. The Lightning Thief is a book that connects the traditional young adult fantasy genre with Ancient Greek mythology. The novel follows Percy Jackson, a demigod who was fathered by Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea. When he discovers the truth of his lineage, he begins to attend Camp Half-Blood, a camp whose population consists entirely of other demigods. The Lightning Thief is the first novel of the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, which was then succeeded by The Heroes of Olympus series, which is then succeeded by The Trials of Apollo series. Needless to say, this a major book series with a huge following, and I honestly think that this fun novel has more than earned its praise.
#6 – The Bad Beginning
Speaking of a major book series, I know that I can personally say that I avidly read A Series of Unfortunate Events books when I was younger. This series begins with the novel The Bad Beginning, and it spans thirteen novels through to The End. The series follows the Baudelaire children, who have been orphaned. Each of the three children are gifted in their own right, and A Series of Unfortunate Events has them embarking on a grand adventure where they escape malicious captors and learn the truth about their parents. It’s a really stunning and captivating tale, and the quirky narration by Lemony Snicket sets this series apart from the others. The irreverent, tounge-in-cheek dark humor that this novel employs makes it a blast to read, which is a true feat considering how depressing the subject matter is.
#5 – Holes
Holes is another one of those books that I think most teenagers are at least vaguely familiar with. Louis Sachar published Holes in 1998, and it almost immediately achieved massive popularity. The book is centered around Stanley Yelnats IV, a kid whose family believes that they have been cursed with bad luck. As punishment for a crime that he did not commit, Stanley is sent to a juvenile disciplinary facility in the middle of nowhere. Each day, he and his fellow “inmates” are forced to dig holes. Holes depicts Stanley and his newfound friends unraveling the mystery behind the facility, and why they are being forced to dig holes in the first place. This is an excellent novel, and it was adapted to an equally excellent film in 2004. Overall, I highly recommend this one.
#4 – Artemis Fowl
The Artemis Fowl series is another series that I personally grew up on. As a fan of both science fiction and fantasy, these books were everything that I ever could have hoped for. Artemis Fowl is the first book in an eight book series, and it follows Irish boy genius Artemis Fowl II as he attempts to kidnap a fairy and hold it for ransom. The criminal mastermind’s intention is to restore his family’s wealth this ransom. If it seems like a really unusual premise, that’s because it is. The Artemis Fowl series contains a really fantastical and interesting universe, but it’s all grounded by a cast of likable and three-dimensional characters. Eoin Colfer is a great comedic writer, and each and every one of his original characters are better off because of that. James Bond fans and Lord of the Rings fans alike will probably find something cool in this popular series.
#3 – Warriors: Into the Wild
Warriors: Into the Wild is the first novel in the extensive Warriors series, which to my knowledge is one of the largest book series out there. Into the Wild introduces the reader to the Warriors universe, where feral cats live together in organized clans in organized hierarchy, engaging in disputes with other clans and within their own clans. It sounds like the most ridiculous thing in the world, but the novels are oddly compelling. It’s like a tense, crime drama, but with a cast consisting entirely of cats. The entire series is comprised of multiple series, with each series following a different generation of cat. The original series, which begins with Into the Wild follows rusty, a former housecat looking to rise the ranks of Thunderclan. I know how it sounds, but I really suggest that fantasy lovers give this prolific series a shot.
#2 – The Catcher in the Rye
Of course, any list about novels for young people would be incomplete without The Catcher in the Rye. The novel follows Holden Caulfield, who leaves his school in Pennsylvania one day to spend some time in New York City. It sounds simple, but the narration used in this novel is deeply affecting and thought-provoking. Although some of the slang used in this older novel may fly right over a modern reader’s head, I still think that the themes of alienation and teen angst featured in The Catcher in the Rye resonate with teenagers today. Don’t shy away from this book just because it was published during the 1950’s. Overall, this is one of the most iconic teen novels of all time, and it would be a crime to exclude it from this list. The Catcher in the Rye is iconic, and I think that every young person should have read it at least once.
#1 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Speaking of a book that I think every teenager should read at least once, it’s almost hard for me to imagine a teenager who has not read a Harry Potter novel, the book that spawned one of the greatest movie franchises all time. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the first of seven books in the series, and it follows the boy Harry Potter as he comes to grips with his identity as a wizard. The world crafted in this novel is incredible, and it has captivated readers for decades now. Although fantasy fans will obviously appreciate these books, I think that some of the broad themes of growing up and identity that are discussed in these novels would resonate with just about anyone. Even more interesting is the fact that the novels in the Harry Potter series become more mature as the characters in the books become more mature. This is a series that grows with you, and I think that that’s a really cool experience for any teenager to have.