OGC's Top 100 Books for Young Adults

I've come across a number of "top 100/Best Teen Books of All Time" lists recently. Naturally, I was a bit jazzed to see what NPR, Buzzfeed, Amazon, Time Magazine, and others included on their lists.

I was amazed at the number of titles for younger readers that made the cut, while some classics didn't.

I decided to see how hard it would be to come up with my own list. It took me about 4 days, and I had to solicit the help of friends and family, but I came up with a list that I think my teenage self could respect.

I tried to include a variety of modern and hypermodern titles, honoring a range of perspectives & voices. I shied away from books appealing to younger kids (Inkheart, Serafina, anything by Roald Dahl...), although the first few titles are aimed at the younger teens / tweens. I also noticed that I stuck to fiction (which wasn't intentional, at least not initially). You'll notice that both the Harry Potter series and the Twilight series aren't on the list. I figured everyone is already familiar with those titles, so I gave their slots to other authors (that, and I'm sorry Twilight is just really poorly written).

One Girl Collecting's Top 100 Books for Young (and not-so-young) Adults.

Check out OGC's Bookshelf at Powell's for more info on each title.
  1. A Wrinkle in Time Series / A Ring of Endless Light, Madeleine L'engle (tween to teen)
  2. The Dark is Rising Sequence, Susan Cooper (tween to teen)
  3. The Giver, Lois Lowry (tween to teen)
  4. Harriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh (tween to teen)
  5. Holes, Louis Sachar (tween to teen)
  6. Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls (tween to teen)
  7. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler, E.L. Konisburg (tween to teen)
  8. The Alchemyst (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series), Michael Scott (tween to teen)
  9. East, Edith Pattou (12+)
  10. Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack, M.E. Kerr (12+)
  11. The Uglies Series, Scott Westerfeld (12+)
  12. Heart of a Samurai, Margi Preus (13+)
  13. Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell
  14. I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
  15. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, Jacqueline Kelly
  16. Star Girl, Jerry Spinelli
  17. Hatchet, Gary Paulsen
  18. Island of Blue Dolphins, Scott O'Dell
  19. The Once and Future King, T.H. White
  20. The Princess Bride, William Goldman
  21. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
  22. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  23. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
  24. Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury (and actually, when I think about it, anything by Ray Bradbury could easily make the list)
  25. The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton
  26. The Lord of the Flies, William Golding
  27. Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
  28. Call of the Wild, Jack London
  29. Watership Down, Richard Adams
  30. Anne of Green Gables Series, L.M. Montgomery
  31. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros
  32. 1984, George Orwell
  33. Animal Farm, George Orwell
  34. A Brave New World, Aldus Huxley
  35. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
  36. The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
  37. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
  38. Centennial, James A. Michener
  39. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
  40. Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck
  41. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh (for older teens)
  42. The Color Purple, Alice Walker (for older teens)
  43. Catch 22, Joseph Heller
  44. Feed, M.T. Anderson
  45. The Man in the High Castle, Phillip K. Dick
  46. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Phillip K. Dick (and really anything by Phillip K. Dick)
  47. Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
  48. Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
  49. Mortal Engines Series, Philip Reeve
  50. His Dark Materials Series, Philip Pullman
  51. The Hunger Games Trilogy, Suzanne Collins
  52. The Divergent Series, Veronica Roth
  53. Incarceron, Catherine Fisher
  54. Graceling / Fire, Kristin Cashore
  55. Delirium Series, Lauren Oliver
  56. The Book Thief, Marcus Zusak
  57. Enders Game, Orson Scott Card
  58. Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
  59. The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle
  60. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkein
  61. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
  62. The Inheritance Cycle, Christopher Paolini (The first book, Eragon, is the best— the rest are just okay, but they'll want to read them for closure.)
  63. Earthsea Series, Ursula le Guin
  64. Eon / Eona, Alison Goodman
  65. Seraphina / Shadow Scale, Rachel Hartman
  66. Shades of Grey, Jasper Fforde
  67. Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman
  68. Stardust, Neil Gaiman
  69. After Alice, Gregory McGuire
  70. Looking for Alaska, John Green
  71. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
  72. The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
  73. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky Abertalli
  74. We are the Ants, Shaun David Hutchinson
  75. The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Patrick Ness
  76. The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness
  77. Cold Sassy Tree, Olive Ann Burns
  78. Challenger Deep, Neil Shusterman
  79. The Diviners, Libba Bray
  80. Everyday, David Levithan
  81. Will Grayson, Will Grayson, John Green & David Levithan
  82. The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
  83. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, Julia Alvarez
  84. Wintergirls, Laurie Halse Anderson
  85. Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson (also her Seeds of America Trilogy)
  86. Izzy Willy Nilly, Cynthia Voigt
  87. Grendel, John Gardner (especially good if you also have to read Beowulf for school)
  88. Copper Sun, Sharon Draper
  89. Unwind, Neal Shusterman
  90. Everything Everything, Nicola Yoon
  91. Hush, Jacqueline Woodson
  92. All the Bright Places, Jennifer Niven
  93. It's a Funny Story, Ned Vizzini
  94. The Raven Boys, Maggie Stiefvater (also her Shiver series)
  95. The House of Scorpion, Nancy Farmer
  96. The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss
  97. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon
  98. Glory O'Brien's History of the Future, A.S. King
  99. Dumplin', Julie Murphy
  100. The Weight of Feathers, Anna-Marie McLemore

To find out more about each of these titles 

or to purchase books, 

visit the One Girl Collecting Bookshelf at Powell's.

Intentionally left off the list:

  1. The Chocolate War, Robert Cormier —it's rather bleak/depressing & a lot of the same themes can be found in The Outsiders, which I think is a more captivating read. Still, if you'd rather your teen read The Chocolate War, I would suggest having a book discussion afterwards.
  2. A Separate Peace, John Knowles—also rather bleak. I'd recommend Looking for Alaska instead, it deals with similar subject matter but offers a bit of hope.
  3. Persepolis—I'd recommend this for older/more mature teens and only then, when you are able to have a discussion about the subject matter.
  4. Maus—recommended for older/more mature teens with a discussion.
  5. A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess—I think the same themes can be found in titles like A Brave New World, 1984, etc. (and those are a bit less violent).
  6. Harry Potter Series, J.K. Rowling—Kids either love it or they don't, but everyone, at this point has heard of it, so why not expose them to an author they've not heard of? Try T.H. White's Once and Future King.
  7. Twilight Series, Stephenie Meyer—it's just not well written. If you need something on the fantasy front, try Lord of the Rings. If it's romance you're looking for, try Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. If you need werewolves, try Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver series. If you need vampires, try Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Angel.
  8. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Ann Brashares—a good series but it might be harder for some readers to connect with the characters.
  9. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs—a good book. The themes are somewhat repetitive and found in other fantasy series, so it's a good one to keep it on your back-up list when your kids have run out of Harry Potter books. This one has a bit darker/surreal feel to it though, so just keep that in mind.
  10. The Maze Runner Series, James Dasher—actually, a good dystopian/adventure series, but The Hunger Games & Divergent have the same/similar themes and are better written.
  11. The 5th Wave, Rick Riordan—Another popular dystopian novel series, but feels a bit piece-mealed from other sources, best for younger teens.
  12. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Sáenz—this one won lots of awards and starred reviews, the only issue is that it is a slower read, good for more "patient" readers and anyone who might be questioning their sexuality. Also good would be Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan or Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Abertalli.
  13. The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne—I feel that even though this is a classic, there are more contemporary books with similar themes (The Witch of Blackbird Pond comes to mind).
  14. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen—Yes, it's a classic, but it took Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to get younger folks to get interested in it. So, at some point in your life, read it, but it doesn't have to be when you're a teenager.
  15. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte—see Pride and Prejudice comments.
  16. Moby Dick, Herman Melville—I found the back story much more interesting than the actual book, which I've picked up and put down more than any other book I own.
  17. The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien—because, honestly, it's slow and boring compared to The Lord of the Rings. Read LotR first and when you think you need more Tolkien, go back to The Hobbit.
  18. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston—very powerful, probably best saved for college-bound or more mature teens who can then talk about the subject matter with you.
  19. Bridge to Teribithia, Katherine Paterson—better for younger teens / tweens, but sad so it's probably best accompanied by a conversation of the book.
  20. Go Ask Alice, Anonymous—I don't know how to put it any other way, this book is just awful. It's inane propaganda—a fictionalized diary passed off as "real" in order to manipulate teens and preach the immorality of illicit drugs.
  21. Little Women / Little Men, Louisa May Alcott—I see these books appealing to a slightly younger audience, although some may disagree.
  22. Anything by Charles Dickens—most of which are just dour or bleak, although A Tale of Two Cities and David Copperfield might engage the imaginations of teenagers. (Most, though, will save these readings for college.)

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