I am both an avid writer and a voracious reader. I’ve read at least 100 books over my lifetime, but few stick out as lasting gems. Those gems are listed here for your entertainment and consideration. Many of these are YA, so keep these in mind for younger friends and family as well. Enjoy!
1. The “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series-5 books
This modern take on Ancient Greek mythology is written for young adults but all ages can enjoy it. The series follows young demigod Percy Jackson as he navigates his newfound identity as a son of Poseidon and the joys and challenges that come with it. Since the publication of the first series, Rick Riordan has written multiple sequels and vastly expanded the world of demigods. While these sequels are good books, the first five remain the magnum opus of the collection.
2. The “Hunger Games” series-3 books
This wildly popular YA series deserves its acclaim. Most people are familiar with this but a brief summary for others: The series uses young Katniss Everdeen to explore issues of class differences, corrupt government, sacrifice, and identity.
3. “Sleeping Freshman Never Lie”
This independent novel explores Scott Hudson’s freshman year of high school, along with major life changes at home. High school students will relate to his growth and turmoil, from stumbling into covering his least favorite subject on the newspaper to wondering how to help his wayward older brother. The novel is equal parts hilarious and heartwarming.
4. “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” (I read the first book, but there’s a whole series)
This book, while saccharine-sweet, is a lovely story of friendship and the turmoil of the transition between child and adult.
5.”Twilight” series (4 books)
Hear me out before y’all unsubscribe: it’s a perfect example to writers of what NOT to do. Also, sometimes we just like to read trash, the same way some people like to eat candy. I once read it when I was about 12 for the “romance” and “adventure”. Now I read it to laugh at Bella, and critique the lack of word choice and characterization.
6. “Romeo and Juliet” (1 play)
This play is a cornerstone of Western culture. The tale of star-crossed lovers, while unrealistic and trite. is an entertaining read. Yes I read Shakespeare and Twilight both for fun, that’s just me. Even if romance is repulsive, it’s worth a read simply for cultural knowledge.
7. “Paper Towns” (1 book)
I had to put a John Green book on this list because he’s my spirit animal, but I wasn’t going to be cheesy and put The Fault in Our Stars. Paper Towns is a mystery/coming-of-age story about a high school senior who tries to find his missing crush and ends up finding himself. It’s really endearing, has a lot of cultural references, and is generally gender-neutral in terms of appeal.
8. The Penderwicks (2 books I’ve read, there are some more sequels) This endearing series tells the story of four Penderwick sisters, their eccentric professor father and lovable dog Hound. Set in Massachusetts, the first book details a summer trip to a mansion and the second is a year in the life of the quirky family. Young girls can relate to the sisters, and parents will enjoy the heartwarming hijinks. This is a little on the younger side of YA, from about 10 to 13, but still a pleasant read
9. Little Women -(1 very large book) I cannot believe I almost left this off the list! This is one of my favorite books of all time. It centers on the March family of four sisters and their parents as they navigate challenges and keep faith in Civil War-era Massachusetts. The three main reasons I love this book are 1) a strong emphasis on Christian faith without feeling preachy 2) strong women who take charge and protect those they love 3) the focus on family and friendships. This is the perfect book for mothers and daughters to read together.
These are some of the books that have greatly impacted my life and remain treasured stories to this day. Let me know if you’ve read any of these, or what some of your favorites are!