My teenage years would not have been the same without these great reads. The book list is a work in progress and I know I’m missing some important books, so please feel free to post your own recommendations in the comments below.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or a whomping willow) his book needs no explanation. A memorable story about a young boy who discovers not only that he has magical powers, but that he’s a hero to witches and wizards everywhere. It’s a story of courage and greatness, but also of loneliness and loss, and learning where you fit into the world. Rowling creates an fantastical world that I just can’t spend enough time in.
Artemis Fowl is a twelve-year-old millionaire and criminal mastermind who is about to pull off the biggest crime in history. And it involves kidnapping and ransoming a fairy. A great blend of the modern and fantasy worlds with a story that, in the end, is about family.
The Hobbit tells the story of Bilbo Baggins’ journey (there and back again) with thirteen dwarves to reclaim their mountain home from a dragon. On the way they face trolls and goblins, meet elves and enormous eagles, and find a magical ring. It’s my favorite book of Tolkien’s and a classic for a reason.
Set in a future ravaged by nuclear war, North America has been divided into twelve districts all ruled by the elitist capital. Each year two children are chosen from each district to fight to the death in the Hunger Games. I love the setting, love the strong female protagonist, love the tension. It’s a great example of a young adult book that appeals to all ages. Disclaimer: there’s a lot of violence.
The story of how children are taken from their parents to be trained as soldiers to fight against the alien Buggers. It follows Ender as he is recruited and trained as humanity’s final hope. An exciting story with action and adventure and also a great commentary on what it means to be a child, war, and the loss of innocence. It’s a great book for boys, even those who don’t spend a lot of time reading, but that’s not to say that girls don’t love it too. The sequels aren’t as strong, but there is a parallel series that follows another character from the book, Bean, which I’ve really enjoyed.
Holes follows the unlikely hero, Stanley Yelnats, a chubby youth wrongly convicted of theft, as he is sent to a juvenile correction center where they dig holes “to build character.” The story has a great setting (not surprising considering Sachar is the author of The Wayside School books), interesting characters, and a very human protagonist who does a lot of growing.
The Princess Bride presents itself as the true and exciting history of Florin. Or at least the “good parts version” that cuts out all the boring pieces. The movie is classic, but if you never read the book, you’ll be missing out on the details and texture that can’t be communicated in two hours of movie. A tongue-in-cheek story of sword fighting, true love, giants, and men with unusual numbers of fingers, The Princess Bride has got something for everyone and should be on your reading list no matter what age you are.