Top Books For Teenagers and Young Adults


(Note: I have a bit of work to do on this edition but wanted to get it up ASAP. Watch for revisions in the next day or two)

Many gift givers forget that teenagers of today like previous generations like to read. This desire to read is in spite of the fact that today’s teens have more responsibilities, more distractions, and less time to read as an article on Scholastic.com suggests.

As an article by Erinn Hutkin in the The Roanoke Times (2007) reported teenagers want books that reflect real life and problems they have or may confront. “The practice, said Ferrum College English professor Lana Whited, is called bibliotherapy — working through problems using literature. One reason she said the “Harry Potter” series is so popular is because the main character is very much a real boy. Flying and magic aside, Harry deals with bullies and girls and feuding friends.”

What does today’s young generation of Americans enjoy reading about?  Buying engaging books that your teenager will enjoy over the holidays is a daunting task. One of the first hurdles is determining if the book is appropriate for the person. In a country founded on the belief of free speech and choice there are responsibilities you need to take on. Typically, when government, civic or educational authorities take on the censorship role the results are quite startling as a brief listing by the University of Pennsylvania shows. Even Mark Twain and his books Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn have been banned in parts of the USA.

This list contains books that are primarily for enjoyment as well as those that have social and historical significance. We have added a link to each of the book titles for Barnes and Noble so you can get more information on the book and perhaps purchase it for your reader.

1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

From the moment Arthur Dent woke up, it’s been the strangest day. First, a construction team attempts to demolish his home. Then he discovers that aliens exist, that his best friend Ford Prefect is from a distant planet and that the earth is about to be destroyed by an alien construction crew; and that’s all before morning tea. Take this amazing, bizarre, mind-expanding adventure through time and space with Arthur and Ford but beware; you’ll never be able to think of cricket in the same way again.

2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

An epic fantasy adventure that chronicles the battle for middle earth against the evil Lord Sauron. It’s got elves, trolls, wizards, orcs and creatures of a more sinister nature that try to wrest the ring of power from the hobbit, Frodo in an attempt to gain ultimate power and rule all of middle earth. The trilogy (plus 1, the Hobbit) is the third bestselling novel ever written with 150 million copies sold.

3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

An American classic dealing with important themes of acceptance, racism, oppression and injustice as told by Scout, a young girl living in depression-era Alabama. The book is told from the perspective of this young southern girl and invites us to learn life’s lessons along with her. A poignant expose’ of how society judges people by the way they look and how these judgements mould perception.

4. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

This book is best suited for the more mature teen and really challenges the concept of social norms. This crazy rollercoaster ride tells of a group of friends who shun the traditional societal stalwarts of family, work and home to take to the road. These perpetual travellers have a series of hair-raising adventures that act as a manifesto for the beatnik genre.

5. Slaughter House Five Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Vonnegut’s unconventional style has greatly influenced pop culture in our century. This is the most critically acclaimed of Vonnegut’s books; a satirical novel that tells the story of World War II through the eyes of the soldier Billy Pilgrim. Irreverent and controversial, the book has made it to the top 100 list of both Time magazines and the Modern Library.

6. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

When Bella Swan falls for Edward Cullen, she gets far more than she bargained for because Edward is a 104 year old vampire. The series consists of four books: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn which are available individually or in a box set. The series has won numerous awards most notably the 2008 British Book Award and the 2009 Kid’s Choice Award.

Bottom line is that a book is a great gift for the teenagers on your list. Your librarian or local bookseller can help you make a great selection that will appeal to all the readers on your list. I still remember being young and getting a book from one of my parents friends for Christmas. I wasn’t exactly happy as if I had gotten a toy or something cool at the time but it was better then cloths! The book was Jack London’s ‘Call of the Wild and White Fang collection’ and I can still remember the exciting shinny hard cover of wolves fighting and the new book smell. The book drew me in and gave me an escape and new thrill over that boring holiday period off of school. What a lasting gift! Thank you Mr and Mrs. Reiger. (Note: Much of Jack London’s work was banned in European dictatorships in the 1920’s and 1930’s)

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1 Comment

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One response to “Top Books For Teenagers and Young Adults

  1. I left my copy of \”The Hobbit\” in my flat in Sligo … Few sleepless nights ahead of me, worrying how Bilbo and the dwarves get on.

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