Culture

The Best Books for Teens 

Stan Holton
Updated April 27, 2020 14.3k votes 1.2k voters 20.3k views 94 items

List Rules Books whose themes and reading level are great for teens between the ages of 13-18

The best books for teens include some of the greatest novels ever written, along with several contemporary books that are extremely popular. Any list on the best books for teenagers should include timeless classics like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye. Just becuase high school students may be assigned these works in English class doesn't mean the books will be boring! These incredible works of literature hold safe spots in the literary canon because they have struck a nerve with generations of teen readers. Once a teenager falls in love with books, luckily, he will find there are many, many others to read. Be sure to vote for the teen books you like the most, vote down any that you didn't like -- and please, add any that might be missing.

In recent years, young adult author John Green has become incredibly popular, largely with the success of his YA novel The Fault in Our Stars. Green has written several other notable books for teens, so he's on this list quite a bit. Other top choices include Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games trilogy of books, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. and certainly J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. All of these writers are no doubt among the best young adult authors ever.

Some books listed here for teens might also appeal to preteens and adults. The genre is becoming so popular, it's possible to select a YA book that almost everyone will enjoy. Many of the books listed here have gone on to become major motion pictures. You can check out this list of the best film adaptations of young adult novels to see if your favorite made the cut.

Finding the right book for teens depends, in part, on that teenager's specific reading and maturity level. Some books contain material that might be a little dicey for a 13-year-old, but would be perfectly fine for a 16-year-old. This list includes books for all teenagers, ages 13 to 18. Don't forget to vote and remember: You can also re-rank this list in any order you want!

list ordered by
1
Harry Potter and the Phi... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Books for Teens
J. K. Rowling

First Published: 1997-06-26

Subjects: Wizards, Education, Adventure, Friendship, Schools, + more

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Fiction, Fantasy

Original Language: English Language

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is the first novel in the Harry Potter series and J. K. Rowling's debut novel. The plot follows Harry Potter, a young wizard who discovers his magical ...more

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#4 of 171 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Read #53 of 314 The Top Must-Read Books of All Timelisted on The Best Selling Books of All Time

2
The Hunger Games is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Books for Teens
Suzanne Collins

First Published: 2008-09-14

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Utopian and dystopian fiction, Alternate history, Young adult literature, Adventure fiction, + more

Original Language: English Language

The Hunger Games is a 2008 science fiction novel by the American writer Suzanne Collins. It is written in the voice of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in the dystopian, post-apocalyptic ...more

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#93 of 331 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time #75 of 169 Books You'll Never Finish Reading #103 of 184 The Greatest American Novels

3
To Kill a Mockingbird is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Books for Teens
Harper Lee

First Published: 1960-07-11

Subjects: Monarch, Literary, Literature, Classics, Drama, + more

Genres (Book): Fiction

Original Language: English Language

To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel by Harper Lee published in 1960. It was immediately successful, winning the Pulitzer Prize, and has become a classic of modern American literature. The plot and ...more

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#5 of 331 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time #1 of 171 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Readlisted on The Best Selling Books of All Time

4
The Lord of the Rings is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Books for Teens
J. R. R. Tolkien

First Published: 1954-07-29

Subjects: Literary, Epic film, Literature, Classics, Drama, + more

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Chivalric romance, Fiction, Adventure fiction, Fantasy, + more

Original Language: English Language

The Lord of the Rings is an epic high-fantasy novel written by English author J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's 1937 fantasy novel The Hobbit, but eventually developed ...more

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#21 of 331 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time #45 of 169 Books You'll Never Finish Readinglisted on The Best Selling Books of All Time

5
The Lightning Thief is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Books for Teens
Rick Riordan

First Published: 2005-06-28

Subjects: Classics, Adventure, Friendship

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Fiction, Young adult literature, Fantasy

Original Language: English Language

The Lightning Thief is a 2005 fantasy-adventure novel based on Greek mythology, the first young adult novel written by Rick Riordan, known for his Percy Jackson novel series. It is the first ...more
6
The Chronicles of Narnia... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Books for Teens
7
The Hobbit is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Books for Teens
J. R. R. Tolkien

First Published: 1937-09-21

Subjects: Wizards, Literary, Epic film, Literature, Classics, + more

Genres (Book): Children's literature, Fiction, Epic, Fantasy

Original Language: English Language

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again is a fantasy novel and children's book by English author J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for ...more

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#26 of 331 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time #5 of 1,233 The Best Novels Ever Writtenlisted on The Best Selling Books of All Time

8
The Giver is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Books for Teens
Lois Lowry

First Published: 1993

Subjects: Ethics, Literature, Young adult, Classics, Children's literature, + more

Genres (Book): Social science, Speculative fiction, Soft science fiction, Utopian and dystopian fiction, Children's literature, + more

Original Language: English Language

The Giver is a 1993 American social science fiction children's novel by Lois Lowry. It is set in a society which is at first presented as a utopian society but then has the reader question ...more
9
The Diary of a Young Gir... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Books for Teens
Anne Frank

First Published: 1947

Subjects: Netherlands in World War II, Otto Frank, World War II, Hannah Pik-Goslar, Sol Kimel, + more

Genres (Book): Children's literature, Biography, Autobiography, High fantasy

Original Language: Dutch Language

The Diary of a Young Girl is a book of the writings from the Dutch language diary kept by Anne Frank while she was in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the ...more

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#35 of 331 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time #1 of 126 The Best Autobiographies Ever Writtenlisted on The Best Selling Books of All Time

10
The Book Thief is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Books for Teens
Markus Zusak

First Published: 2006-03

Subjects: Storytelling, Death, History, Germany

Genres (Book): Historical fiction, Fiction, Young adult literature, Novel

Original Language: English Language, German Language

The Book Thief is a novel by Australian author Markus Zusak. First published in 2005, the book has won numerous awards and was listed on The New York Times Best Seller list for over 230 weeks.

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#90 of 331 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time #94 of 1,233 The Best Novels Ever Written #10 of 41 The Best Young Adult Adventure Books

11
The Fault in Our Stars ... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Books for Teens
John Green

First Published: 2012-01-10

Genres (Book): Young adult literature

Original Language: English Language

The Fault in Our Stars is the sixth novel by author John Green, published in January 2012. The story is narrated by a sixteen-year-old cancer patient named Hazel Grace Lancaster, who is forced ...more
12
The Outsiders is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Books for Teens
S. E. Hinton

Subjects: Literature, Young adult, Adolescence, Classics, Family

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Fiction, Young adult literature

Original Language: English Language

The Outsiders is a coming-of-age novel by S. E. Hinton, first published in 1967 by Viking Press. Hinton was 15 when she started writing the novel, but did most of the work when she was 16 and a ...more

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#72 of 331 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time #25 of 184 The Greatest American Novelslisted on The Best Selling Books of All Time

13
Divergent is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Books for Teens
Veronica Roth

First Published: 2011-04-25

Genres (Book): Utopian and dystopian fiction, Dystopia, Young adult literature, Science Fiction

Divergent is the debut novel of American novelist Veronica Roth, published by HarperCollins Children's Books in 2011. The novel is the first of the Divergent trilogy, a series of young-adult ...more

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Similar Books to Divergent The Best Characters in the Divergent Series, Ranked #6 of 41 The Best Young Adult Adventure Books

14
The Catcher in the Rye ... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Books for Teens
J. D. Salinger

First Published: 1951-07-16

Subjects: Popular literature, Teenage rebellion, Literature, Human sexuality, Psychological identity, + more

Genres (Book): First-person narrative, Sports, Bildungsroman, Fiction, Novel

Original Language: English Language

The Catcher in the Rye is a 1951 novel by J. D. Salinger. A controversial novel originally published for adults, it has since become popular with adolescent readers for its themes of teenage ...more

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#34 of 331 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time #11 of 171 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Readlisted on The Best Selling Books of All Time

15
The Perks of Being a Wal... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Books for Teens
Stephen Chbosky

First Published: 1999-02-01

Genres (Book): Fiction, Epistolary novel, Young adult literature

Original Language: English Language

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming-of-age epistolary novel by American writer Stephen Chbosky which was first published on February 1, 1999 by Pocket Books. Its narrator is an ...more
16
The Princess Bride is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Books for Teens
William Goldman

First Published: 1973

Subjects: Literature, Classics, Adventure

Genres (Book): Romance novel, Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Fiction, Romance, + more

Original Language: English Language

The Princess Bride is a 1973 fantasy romance novel written by William Goldman. The book combines elements of comedy, adventure, fantasy, romantic love, romance, and fairy tale. It is presented ...more
17
The Maze Runner is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Books for Teens
James Dashner

First Published: 2009-10-06

Genres (Book): Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, Dystopia, Young adult literature, Science Fiction

Original Language: English Language

The Maze Runner is the first book in a young-adult post-apocalyptic dystopian science fiction trilogy of the same name by James Dashner. The novel was published on October 6, 2009, by Delacorte ...more
18
Fahrenheit 451 is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Books for Teens
Ray Bradbury

First Published: 1953

Subjects: Bibliophilia, American science fiction, Literature, Book burning, Classics, + more

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Utopian and dystopian fiction, Children's literature, Dystopia, Fiction, + more

Original Language: English Language

Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury published in 1953. It is regarded as one of his best works. The novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and ...more

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#14 of 331 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time #18 of 171 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Read #6 of 184 The Greatest American Novels

19
Lord of the Flies is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Books for Teens
William Golding

First Published: 1954

Subjects: Monarch, Ethics, Literature, Young adult, Classics, + more

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Allegory, Fiction, Young adult literature, Novel

Original Language: English Language

Lord of the Flies is a 1954 dystopian novel by Nobel Prize-winning English author William Golding about a group of British boys stuck on an uninhabited island who try to govern themselves with ...more

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#24 of 331 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time #31 of 169 Books You'll Never Finish Reading #5 of 171 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Read

20
Miss Peregrine's Home fo... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Books for Teens
Ransom Riggs

Genres (Book): Children's literature, Young adult literature

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is the debut novel by American author Ransom Riggs. The book tells the tale of a boy who, following a horrific family tragedy, follows clues that take ...more
21
A Wrinkle in Time is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Books for Teens
Madeleine L'Engle

First Published: 1962

Subjects: Classics

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Young adult literature, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Original Language: English Language

A Wrinkle in Time is a science fantasy novel by American writer Madeleine L'Engle, first published in 1962. The story revolves around a young girl whose father, a government scientist, has gone ...more

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#14 of 179 The Greatest Science Fiction Novels of All Time #15 of 41 The Best Young Adult Adventure Books #118 of 300 The Greatest Children's Books That Were Made Into Movies

22
Ender's Game is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Books for Teens
Orson Scott Card

First Published: 1985

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Fiction, Science Fiction

Original Language: English Language

Ender's Game is a 1985 military science fiction novel by American author Orson Scott Card. Set in Earth's future, the novel presents an imperiled mankind after two conflicts with the ...more

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#199 of 331 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time #117 of 1,233 The Best Novels Ever Written #5 of 179 The Greatest Science Fiction Novels of All Time

23
City of Bones is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Books for Teens
Cassandra Clare

First Published: 2007-03-27

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Young adult literature, Fantasy

Original Language: English Language

City of Bones is the first urban fantasy book in the New York Times bestselling The Mortal Instruments series set in modern New York City written by Cassandra Clare. The novel has been released ...more
24
Looking for Alaska is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Books for Teens
John Green

Subjects: Sex, Education, Young adult, Adolescence, Friendship, + more

Genres (Book): Children's literature, Fiction, Young adult literature

Original Language: English Language

Looking for Alaska is John Green's first young adult novel, published in March 2005 by Dutton Juvenile. It won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association. During the ...more
25
The Hitchhiker's Guide t... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Books for Teens
Douglas Adams

First Published: 1979-10-12

Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Comic novel, Comic science fiction, Humour, Science Fiction

Original Language: English Language

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the first of five books in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy comedy science fiction "trilogy" by Douglas Adams. The novel is an adaptation of ...more

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#86 of 331 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time #21 of 171 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Readlisted on The Best Selling Books of All Time