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Recommended Reading for Young Adults (Ages 13 & up)

November 4, 2009

Teen ZoneIf you’ve been keeping up with Bella and Edward’s escapades in the recent Twilight series, or still love to pick up S.E. Hinton’s 60s classic The Outsiders, you’re not alone. A local paper recently featured an interesting commentary on the lure of teen books for adult readers. If many of us are guilty of “cheating” on the literary novel with the young-adult novel, it’s only because the teen literature genre is a veritable goldmine – not just for teens but for adults as well. This is the only genre in our kids’ bookshelves that appeals to our mature sensibilities unlike our other favorites in toddler and tween kid lit. The best young adult books weave in powerful stories and with plot elements that are clear and compelling. Most of the contemporary YA books feature protagonists in their teens. While most of the recent award winning young adult books fall in the realistic fiction genre, many popular classic and contemporary young adult books belong to the science fiction, fantasy and other categories as well.

Here’s our list of 101 recommendations of classic and contemporary young adult literature (in no particular order) for you and your teen kids (and/or students). Another great place to visit is this catalog of award-winning books from the US, UK, Canada, & Australia (look out for the winners in the young adult category). You could also browse through SmartBean’s picks for young adults in our bookstore. The list below is a fairly exhaustive compilation of well-loved and well-regarded books that span decades, even centuries. Many of these titles and authors have won awards. Incidentally, a fair number of books recommended for college-bound kids by College Board and listed in SAT prep guides also feature here. We’d welcome suggestions for additions to this list.

[Note: (1) This post has been authored with the help of guest contributor, Sidhanth Venkatasubramaniam. (2) While most of the books in this genre deal with the challenges of adolescence and are coming-of-age novels, some are more "edgy" and touch upon more mature themes like violence, sexuality, drug use, and physical and emotional abuse. Parents (and teachers) must try and vet the content for suitability for their children (and/or students) based on their age and maturity level.]

Popular Contemporary YA books (all genres)

Picture 61

  • The Dragonfly Pool
  • Graceling
  • Stardust
  • Airman
  • Waiting for Normal
  • The Graveyard Book
  • The Brothers Torres
  • Feed
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • Speak
  • The Center of Everything
  • The Lords of Discipline
  • A Rumor of War
  • The Bean Trees
  • Blood Done Sign My Name
  • The Eye, the Ear, and the Arm
  • Looking for Alaska
  • The Road
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian
  • Unwind
  • Stargirl
  • Into the Wild (Jon Krakauer)
  • Fallen Angels
  • Silent to the Bone
  • Here Lies Arthur
  • How To Build A House
  • Maus (Graphic Novel)
  • Modern Classics

  • The Outsiders
  • Brave New World
  • To Kill A Mockingbird
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • Catch 22
  • The Secret Life of Bees
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  • The Catcher in the Rye
  • Slaughterhouse-Five
  • Of Mice and Men
  • The Yearling
  • Lord of the Flies
  • Betsy Ray series
  • P.G. Wodehouse – Jeeves collection
  • Sherlock Homes novels and stories
  • Agatha Christie murder mysteries
    • To Kill a Mockingbird

    Vintage Classics

      young adult classics
  • Animal Farm
  • Chronicles of Narnia
  • Kidnapped
  • Jane Eyre
  • Wuthering Heights
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • David Copperfield
  • Little Women
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • Don Quixote
  • Robinson Crusoe
  • For Whom The Bell Tolls
  • Tom Brown’s Schooldays
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy

  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • The Time Machine
  • War of the Worlds
  • Asimov’s Foundation Series & Complete Stories
  • Ender’s Game & Ender’s Shadow
  • 1984
  • I, Robot
  • Fahrenheit 451
  • The Pit Dragon trilogy
  • Have Spacesuit, Will Travel
  • Tripods Trilogy
  • Interstellar Pig
  • The Martian Chronicles
  • His Dark Materials trilogy
  • Multicultural

    Three Cups of Tea

    Three Cups of Tea

  • Sold
  • The Kite Runner
  • Three Cups of Tea
  • Getting Away with Murder
  • What Is the What
  • Mexican Whiteboy
  • Ten Cents A Dance
  • The Liberation of Gabriel King
  • Witness
  • The Dark Thirty
  • A Single Shard
  • Keeping Corner
  • Tiger Moon
  • The Space Between Us
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns
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