Ever since I “came out” as an aspiring Young Adult fiction author, I’ve been getting some fun questions from readers and followers who are interested in, but unfamiliar with the genre. They want to know where to even start beyond the biggest titles (i.e. Harry Potter, Hunger Games, etc). While I’ve written about several of my favorites before, I am happy to oblige with a more comprehensive guide!
While I read a variety of genres, my forever-teenage heart loves YA fiction so much. Whatever happens in your adolescence stays with you your entire life. It is the time of shaping identity, waking up to the world, defining, molding and becoming yourself. It’s endlessly rich and beautiful to explore.
Yet YA often suffers from a credibility problem. Not because it isn’t. Oh, no. But because people can be precious and pretentious about books, and they unfairly take that ignorant attitude out on YA.
YA suffers from a lack of understanding at best, and an outright dismissal and hostility at worst. As if writing for and about teenagers is less important or interesting than writing about adults. Have you seen what teenagers can do recently? Never underestimate teenagers and the vital importance of our youth.
For the interested uninitiated, I’ve compiled these short lists to get you started. As with all literature, YA has sub-genres for whatever your pleasure and personal interest. This is obviously not going to be comprehensive with everything out there. These are the books I’ve read that are to my taste and can recommend because I thoroughly enjoyed them.
If you’re looking for sweet stories that make you feel dreamy and gooey and reminisce about first love, these novels and writers are a great place to start.
- Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli*
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green*
- To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han*+
- Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
- Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
If you like literary or contemporary adult fiction, these titles may be more to your liking. These stories are often where you will find coming-of-age narratives, exploration of sexual and personal identity, and exquisite writing.
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
- Far from the Tree by Robin Fenway
- Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
- The Great American Whatever by Tim Federele
I’m clearly not a huge Fantasy YA reader, so I may need some help adding to this list in the comments if Fantasy is more your speed. But these are great stories of adventure, sweeping worlds, and a lot of heart.
- Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo+
- The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen+
- An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir+
My Current YA To-Read
This is my incomplete list of YA books I’m dying to get to. They’ve all come out this year and I have heard they are all excellent, but I haven’t had a chance to read them yet. They may be a great place to start if you’re interested in what is new and hot in YA:
- The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
- Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha) by Tomi Adeyemi
- Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
- A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena
- Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
- Picture Us In The Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert
*Turned in to a movie; +First book in a series
Do you read and love YA? What books would you add to these lists? New to YA? Any of these books sound interesting to you?
Let me know in the comments here, or the comments on Instagram!
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