Teen & Young Adult Image - The Curious Incident of the dog in the nighttime - good books for Teens and Young Adults.

Published on February 12th, 2014 | by Bright Kids Books


15 good books for teens and Young Adults

Looking for some good books for teens and Young Adults? How about some great books for teens?

These books represents some of the best of the teen genre – sharp, witty, poignant and empathetic. Best of all, these novels are a cracking great read for adults too. So after your teen has read these books, make sure you’re next in line!

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – e. e. cummings

15 good books for teens and Young Adults
* in no particular order.


1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon

Mark Haddon’s bitterly funny debut novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is a murder mystery of sorts – one told by an autistic version of Adrian Mole. Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

This improbable story of Christopher’s quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for a captivating, unusual, and engaging novel. This is the sort of book that could turn condescending, or exploitative, or overly sentimental, or grossly tasteless very easily, but Haddon navigates those dangers with a sureness of touch that is extremely rare among first-time novelists. The sort of book you go straight back to the beginning once you’ve finished reading. Put simply; delightful.


2. On the Jellicoe Road
by Melina Marchetta

At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor’s the reluctant leader of her school’s underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can’t avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. In this lyrical, absorbing, award-winning novel, nothing is as it seems, and every clue leads to more questions. One of the very good books for teens and Young Adults.


3. It’s Kind of a Funny Story
by Ned Vizzini

When Craig Gilner is accepted into New York City’s elite Executive Pre-Professional High School, he believes his life is starting on the right path. After school begins, Craig finds that his life is spiraling out of control from the pressures, and he begins to contemplate suicide. Rather than actually jump off of the Brooklyn Bridge, Craig checks himself into the local hospital. In the five days he spends in psychiatric care, Craig connects with some of the other patients and learns who his true friends are, how to re-center himself, and that the only expectations he truly needs to meet are his own. With a cast of interesting characters and a very forthright teen perspective, Vizzini has penned a poignant and sometimes humorous tale. Good books for teens and Young Adults don’t come much better than this.


4. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
by Jesse Andrews

Though this novel begs inevitable thematic comparisons to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, it stands on its own in inventiveness, humor and heart. “I have no idea how to write this stupid book,” narrator Greg begins. Without answering the obvious question – just why is he writing” this stupid book”? – Greg lets the reader in on plenty else. Up until senior year, Greg has maintained total social invisibility. He only has one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time – when not playing video games and avoiding Earl’s terrifying brothers – making movies, their own versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics. Greg would be the first one to tell you his movies are f*@$ing terrible, but he and Earl don’t make them for other people. Until Rachel. Rachel has leukemia, and Greg’s mom gets the genius idea that Greg should befriend her. Against his better judgment and despite his extreme awkwardness, he does. When Rachel decides to stop treatment, Greg and Earl must abandon invisibility and make a stand. It’s a hilarious, outrageous, and truthful look at death and high school by a prodigiously talented debut author.


5. The Book Thief
by Marcus Zusak

The extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller – Markus Zusak’s unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us a wonderfully enduring story. And just perfect if you’re looking for good books for teens and Young Adults.


6. Code Name Verity
by Elizabeth Wein

Rich in historical detail and intrigue, Code Name Verity is a vivid reminder of what makes historical fiction so compelling. In exchange for a temporary stay of execution and lesser forms of torture, a young female spy captured in Nazi-occupied France writes a confession of her activities in the Resistance. Her story is that of two women who should never have crossed paths, yet were destined to become the best of friends and embark upon the covert mission that would determine which of them would live or die. Courage born of friendship, fierce hope, and surprising ironies abound in this spell-binding novel that will appeal to teens and adult readers alike.

Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other. A popular choice for our list of good books for teens and Young Adults.


7. Eleanor & Park
by Rainbow Rowell

While Eleanor & Park is technically classified as YA lit and has a cutesy cover, don’t let the stigma of “good books for teens” fool or deter you. It is written about teens, sure, but the themes are so universal that anyone who survived high school will relate to the lives of the two protagonists. Eleanor is the new girl in town and her wild red hair and patchwork outfits are not helping her blend in. She ends up sitting next to Park on the bus, whose tendencies towards comic books don’t jibe with the rest of his family’s love of sports. They sit in awkward silence every day until Park notices that Eleanor is reading his comics over his shoulder; he begins to slide them closer to her side of the seat and thus begins their love story. Their relationship grows gradually – making each other mixed tapes (it is 1986 after all) and discussing X-Men characters – until they both find themselves looking forward to the bus ride more than any other part of the day. Things aren’t easy: Eleanor is bullied at school and then goes home to a threatening family situation; Park’s parents do not approve of Eleanor’s awkward ways. Ultimately, though, this is a book about two people who just really, really like each other and who believe that they can overcome any obstacle standing in the way of their happiness. It’s a gem of a book.


8. The Fault in our Stars
by John Green

In The Fault in Our Stars, John Green has created a soulful novel that tackles big subjects – life, death, love – with the perfect blend of levity and heart-swelling emotion. Hazel is sixteen, with terminal cancer, when she meets Augustus at her kids-with-cancer support group. The two are kindred spirits, sharing an irreverent sense of humor and immense charm, and watching them fall in love even as they face universal questions of the human condition – How will I be remembered? Does my life, and will my death, have meaning? – has a raw honesty that is deeply moving. Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love. Good books for teens and Young Adults don’t come more readable than this.


9. Small as an Elephant
by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Small As An Elephant could be a quick, sweet read, but it is so emotionally gut-wrenching that teen and Young Adult readers will find themselves slowing down to ponder Jack’s trauma and choices. Eleven year old Jack has been abandoned at a state park by his mentally ill mother. Any other kid would report his mother gone, but Jack knows by now that he needs to figure things out for himself – starting with how to get from the backwoods of Maine to his home in Boston before the authorities catch on. With nothing but a small toy elephant to keep him company, Jack begins the long journey south… a journey that will test his wits and his loyalties – and his trust that he may be part of a larger herd after all.


10. Thirteen Reasons Why
by Jay Asher

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush – who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. Clay spends the night criss-crossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about himself – a truth he never wanted to face.

Thirteen Reasons Why is the gripping, addictive international bestseller that has changed lives the world over. It’s an unrelenting modern classic and worthy of any list featuring good books for teens and Young Adults.


11. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is a comedy about two teens thrust together for one amusing, sleepless night of adventure in a world of mix tapes, late-night living, and, live, loud music. Nick frequents New York’s indie rock scene nursing a broken heart and Norah is questioning all of her assumptions about the world. Though they have nothing in common except for their taste in music, their chance encounter leads to an all-night quest to find a legendary band’s secret show and ends up becoming the first date that could change both their lives. Funny, highly readable, engaging and at home on any list of good books for teens and Young Adults.


12. Before I Fall
by Lauren Oliver

In this Groundhog Day meets Mean Girls teen hybrid, Sam Kingston is pretty, popular, and has a seemingly perfect boyfriend. But after a late-night party everything goes terribly wrong, and the life that she lived is gone forever. Or is it?

At the start of Before I Fall, Sam is self-consumed and oblivious about the impact of her actions on others. But as she repeatedly experiences slightly altered versions of the hours leading up to her death – and her relationships with friends, family, and formerly overlooked classmates bloom, end, or shift – it’s impossible not to feel for the girl whose life ends too soon. Oliver’s adept teen dialogue and lively prose make for a fast, page-turning story in which the reader is every bit as emotionally invested as Sam. Worthy of any list of good books for teens and Young Adults.


13. Skippy Dies
by Paul Murray

Seabrook College is an all-boys Catholic prep school in contemporary Dublin, where the founding Fathers flounder under a new administration obsessed with the school’s “brand” and teachers vacillate between fear and apathy when faced with rooms full of texting, hyper-tense, hormone-fueled boys. It’s the boys – and one boy in particular – that give this raucous, tender novel its emotional kick. Daniel “Skippy” Juster is a breed apart from his friends, more sensitive than any of them, but never visibly reactive to the pressures that weigh heavily on him. The events that lead to his untimely (though tragicomic) death unfold scene-by-scene, in a chorus of perfectly executed moments that are powerful enough to make you laugh and weep simultaneously. This is a breathtaking and audacious novel from a new young writer. A book that sits happily within this list of good books for teens and Young Adults.


14. She is Not Invisible
by Marcus Sedgwick

Laureth Peak’s father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers – a skill at which she’s remarkably talented. Her secret: She is blind. But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness. She Is Not Invisible is an intricate puzzle of a novel that sheds a light on the delicate ties that bind people to each other. One of those good books for teens and Young Adults that will have you thinking about it for weeks.


15. To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee

The bad news is that Harper Lee only wrote one novel. The good news is that To Kill a Mockingbird is a genuine literary classic – both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Set in the deep South during the Depression, Jean-Louise Finch – better known as Scout – narrates the story with the keen eye of an adult looking back on a childhood rich with incidents that shaped who she has become. Scout might be described as a tomboy, but that would be doing her a disservice. Her adventures with her older brother Jem, and their diminutive friend Dill evoke the timeless place of childhood. Then one Fall, everything changes… Scout and Jem’s father, Atticus Finch, a lawyer in their town of Maycomb, Alabama, is appointed to the defense of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman. By turns funny, wise, and heartbreaking, To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the good books for teens and Young Adults that continues to speak to new generations.



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