Ten Books All Young Adults Should Read

A list of great books aimed at young adults.

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Reading is more than important; it is essential. If you are a YA author or a Young Adult then this reading list is for you. Each book has something different to offer, and all have things you can learn from. Whether you are looking for a greater understanding of sexuality, an exploration of friendship, or an immersion in magic, there is a book here for you. I have chosen books where serious issues are framed in understandable ways, often along with fantasy elements.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon is 16, gay, and not exactly ready for the world to know. However, this is one of the most charming teen romances you’ll ever read. When one of Simon’s emails falls into the wrong hands he gives into blackmail. A funny, touching coming-of-age and coming out story unfolds. Prepare yourself to laugh, cry, and then laugh some more.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

With a brother in prison, Ari lives in a state of anger. Dante is a know-it-all geek with a gentle soul. They boys have nothing in common, but form an unlikely friendship after meeting at the pool one hot summer day. Benjamin Alire Sáenz is a master at capturing the authentic voice of teenage boys, and in this novel about family, first love, and accepting oneself you will be in awe of Ari and Dante.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Harry Potter fans will love this novel by Rainbow Rowell, which has all of the wit Rowell is known for, as well as a wizarding world just as cool as J.K. Rowling’s. Simon Snow is the one who appears to be one of the worst wizards at Watford School of Magicks. According to his evil nemesis Baz, who might actually have feelings for Simon underneath his ‘evil’ exterior.

Sugar Rush by Julie Burchill

Kim’s mum has run off with a toy boy, and now her dad says she has to leave her posh school and go to the local comprehensive. However, she is taken under the win of Maria Sweet, the Top Girl, otherwise known as Sugar. Kim and Sugar embark on a passionate affair. This is love for Kim, but does Sugar feel the same? This novel was shortlisted for the 2005 Booktrust Teenage Prize.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Charlie is a shy, introspective teenager, who prefers to look on from the sidelines. He has his own perspective on the high school world he sees around him, but Charlie can’t remain a ‘wallflower’ forever. Charlie documents his experiences through a distinctive narrative voice, and in the form of letters as he experiences first dates, family dramas, new friends, experimenting with sex and drugs, and ultimately embarking on a journey of self-discovery. This wistful novel perfectly captures the uncertainty and excitement of adolescence.

What is Gender? How Does It Define Us? And Other Big Questions for Kids by Juno Dawson

This is an informative, no-nonsense guide to looking at the concept of gender and the issues surrounding it. Looking at what exactly is gender, how is a person’s gender decided, and what the different genders are, Dawson explains what can sometimes be very complicated and emotional in a straightforward way. Discussion around the different issues is invited through ‘lightbulb’ moments throughout the book. This is a must-have for any young person interested in knowing more about what gender is really about.

Girl, 15, Charming but Insane by Sue Limb

Jess is a teenager with low confidence and low self-esteem. She spends her time gushing over the fabulously handsome Ben Jones, who is nothing but wrong for her. All the while she alienates Fred, who is the witty oddball who always makes her laugh. This novel is filled with classic stuff—the plot is distinctly familiar, but it is undeniably laugh-out-loud funny. It’s a riotous take on Jane Austen’s Emma, and is very contemporary.

Kiss by Jacqueline Wilson

Kiss considers the problems surrounding the difficulties encountered when childhood friendship develops into adolescent love. Sylvie and Carl are childhood friends, and still share a fantasy existence in Carl’s garden shed. Sylvie’s unconscious expectation has been that they will marry. However, moving to separate schools, and Carl’s growing friendship with Paul causes a rift. Sylvie is forced to revaluate the places of friendship and love in her life.

Boys Don’t Cry by Malorie Blackman

It’s A-level results day, and Dante is waiting for the postman, but a knock at the door brings an old girlfriend and some news that will change his plans forever. Then there is Adam, Dante’s brother, who is happy to be openly gay, but ultimately suffers from the intolerance of those around him. This novel is hard-hitting and deals with some real issues that face many teenagers.

Pretty Things by Sarra Manning

Brie is a high-maintenance teenage girl who spends most of her time thinking about make-up and designer labels, at least, when she isn’t dreaming that her gay best friend, Charlie, might fall in love with her. Charlie decides that the two of them are going to spend their summer at a drama workshop. This is where they cross paths with Walker, and Daisy. The four of them work together on a production of The Taming of the Shrew, and the drama and confusion soon spills into their own lives.


Each of these books frames the world as Young Adults see it from a different perspective, and there is much to be gained from all of them. I hope that at least one of these books sounds like it would resonate. Please do give some of them a read.

Kirsty-Louise is a published author and poet with a BA hons in English Literature. Working as a Secondary English Teacher, dog walks on the coast, and reading books pass her time in Ramsgate & Margate.

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