5 classic books every teen should read

Look around for recommendations for books that are perfect for teens and chances are you will come across the same three answers over and over again: the Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and the Twilight series. Chances are you (if you are a teen) or your teen(s) (if you are a parent), just like most teenaged readers on the planet, has already read these books at least once. Here are 5 classic books that are widely read by teenagers:

Lord of the Flies (William Golding)

Very rarely does a book make it to numerous lists as one of the best books ever published, yet is challenged when offered as selected reading in classrooms. The Lord of the Flies takes a grim look at the concept of acting for individual good versus the welfare of the general public. The novel revolves around a group of British boys, shipwrecked and marooned on a deserted island, trying to balance their own little world of governance, power and civilization.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)

Don’t let the fact that this novel is published by MTV fool you; The Perks of Being a Wallflower is nothing short of a modern classic. The book consists of a series of letters written to a stranger by Charlie, a high-school freshman whose shy nature and unpopularity make him the wallflower in question. The coming-of-age novel has garnered a massive following amongst teenagers and adults alike.

The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)

Although it was written as an adult for novels, The Catcher in the Rye has become far more popular with teenagers. A major reason why teenagers love the book is that they can easily identify themselves with the rebellious Holden Caulfield, the book’s anti-hero protagonist. If your teenager is a looking for a book that will challenge them while providing an enthralling read, then look no further.

Artemis Fowl (Eoin Colfer)

Somewhere in the midst of Harry Potter mania, a truly good series of books for teenagers almost went unnoticed. The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer is packed with dwarves and leprechauns, but not like the ones that we are used to; dwarves in this series can be master-thieves while leprechauns are law enforcement officers. Throw in a child-genius and criminal mastermind in the form of Artemis Fowl II and what you have is a recipe for a riveting good read.

Graceling (Kristin Cashore)

Most people who read Graceling identify it as a story of self-discovery. However, that is only what lies on the surface. Deeper down, the message that the book conveys is that you have to act with great responsibility if you want to make use of your power effectively. Katsa, the main protagonist is born as one of many Gracelings, gifted people with extreme skills. As Kata’s skills mostly help her to kill people, she is not too happy working for the king. However, after meeting a mysterious prince, Katsa embarks on a journey to unravel one of the biggest secrets in the kingdom and learns a few important life lessons along the way.

No matter what it is that peaks the interests of your teenager, these 5 books are guaranteed to keep your teen enthralled and captivated.

This article is contributed by George White. He is an avid blogger and a flourishing writer. He has published many short stories in various magazines. He says good books for teens are those who make them think and bring about a positive change in them.

Update: As we had so much interest in this article we published a follow-up with more books for teens. Have a look and let us know what you think.

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  • Jennifer

    I cannot describe how pleased I was to see Artemis Fowl on this list. I honestly don’t care how old I get, it will always be a favorite for me. There’s this simply magical charm about them, something you don’t quite expect out of a book clearly marketed towards a younger, pre-teen/tween crowd. I still remember being stuck at my cousin’s house with nothing else but the first four books in her room. I was reluctant, but soon I was enthralled and waiting for the fifth. Definitely a good pick. 🙂

    • brendanmc

      Glad you enjoyed the list. I loved it when I was growing up too, I can’t wait to introduce my kids to them.

  • Tina Greenwood

    Excellent list. I haven’t read Graceling so I’ll pick that one up next week. A good coming of age novel can be very inspiring and comforting for a teen when the author creates a character that is both relatable and lovable. A fine example of this would be Shake Tauffler from Max Zimmer’s Journey (If Where You’re Going Isn’t Home). Shake is a 12 year old Mormon boy in late 50’s America who develops a passion for jazz music and the trumpet. Although we can not all relate to life as a Mormon, his journey of discovery into girls, friends, music, labor, language, bullies, school, church and family is something that most of us have a strong connection with. Zimmer has captured the essence of every young man trying to find his place in a world of conflicts. The experienced and honest insight into Mormonism is also fascinating and informative. This book would be right up there in my list. http://maxzimmer.com/journey/

  • Dster

    “No matter what it is that peaks the interests of your teenager, these 5 books are guaranteed to keep your teen enthralled and captivated.”

    You did NOT just say that.

    I’ve read The Catcher in the Rye and Artemis Fowl, and while I liked both, neither of them left a lasting impression on me. The author of Graceling also wrote a companion novel called Fire, which bored me quickly, as does the very concept of Perks of Being A Wallflower. I couldn’t give a damn about the Lord of the Flies. Your sweeping generalizations about teenagers are not welcomed.

    But hey, this article was written by a guy that recommends the TWILIGHT SAGA, a saga whose characters are blatantly abusive towards each other and it’s put into a “positive light.” So I guess it makes sense.

    • brendanmc

      I like that you disagree so violently with these options. What do you think should be on the list?

  • Susan Gabriel

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  • Kendall

    Why in the world were none of Jane Austen’s books on this list especially Pride and Prejudice????

    • brendanmc

      Good question, I think we need a follow up, or a more extensive list. What else do you think we need to get on the list?

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