Our Favorite Books of All Time

In celebration of the 200th post on RightBook, Nicole and Jen are thrilled to present something you  might have wondered about – and that we are often asked about – our personal favorite teen books ever. Here are two lists (because we can’t stop at five picks each!) that are not ranked, but sort of grouped into our “all-time, can’t live without favorites” and our “but we really, really love these ones too!” lists. Enjoy, and feel free to share your own favorites in the comments.

*Please note: Some books may have mature themes and content*

 Nicole and Jen’s Top Ten

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Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd (2008) – Fergus must decide whether to leave Northern Ireland for medical school in Scotland, or stay to support his family while his brother is imprisoned and on hunger strike. The history of the IRA is not familiar to many in the US, but this tale brings ‘The Troubles’ to vivid, terrible life. Ms. Dowd only published a few books before her death in 2007. Each is, in their own way, pitch-perfect. This one, mysterious and romantic, is the very best. – Nicole

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2006) – It took a lot of prodding from other librarians before I picked this up but it remains an indispensable part of my reading history. Narrated by Death, it’s the story of an orphan who learns how to be a good person while the world is falling apart around her in WWII-era Germany. This story radiates with life and joy. Don’t wait as long as I did to read it! – Nicole

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (2012) This is my ‘trapped on a deserted island and can only bring one book’ book. It’s historical fiction at its very best, taking a war we all learned about, weaving in historical tidbits we never knew, and gifting us with characters that define courage, loyalty, and true friendship. – Jen

Graceling by Kristin Cashore (2008) – This was released around the same time as The Hunger Games. While many would say that series feature an iconic female heroine, I would like to introduce you to Katsa. In this start to an essential fantasy series, Ms. Cashore has created an intricate world where people with extraordinary abilities must decide whether to use their talents for good or for evil. Always hurling its characters forward into the unknown, many recent young adult series owe a debt here. – Nicole

Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (1998) – You may debate whether the first few in this series are Children’s or Young Adult, but there can be no debating the fact that this series changed the landscape for fantasy books and how the world views Young Adult literature. – Jen

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2008) – Yes, there was dystopian YA before Hunger Games. And, Lois Lowry’s The Giver and Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series deserve huge praise for paving the way, but The Hunger Games is really the book that launched this widely popular genre. – Jen

Paper Towns by John Green (2008) – Oh, this book…After a night of pranks and petty crime, Margo disappears and Q is convinced that she wants him to find her. As sharply witty as all of Mr. Green’s books, this is about what it means to be ‘real,’ to live and love authentically. I read this cover to cover in one night and actually gasped out loud when I turned the last page and saw the words rushing to the end. – Nicole

The Princess Bride by William Goldman (1973) – “Hello, My name is Inigo Montoya; you killed my father; prepare to die.” Often quoted and much loved this 1973 tale was presented as an abridgment to The Princess Bride by S. Morgenstern, a book that doesn’t actually exist. With that as a starting point, how can you not love a story that’s a comedy, an adventure, a fantasy, a romance, and a fairy tale all in one? – Jen

Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas (1996) – Every loser has a story. When we meet Steve, living in California, he is a stoner burnout in jeopardy of failing out of school. This is the story of who he was before, when he lived in Texas – smart, earnest, and deeply in love. I return to this book every few years and I am always profoundly moved by it. The cover makes sense once you finish it, I promise!  – Nicole

Unwind by Neal Shusterman (2007) – Abortion, adoption, euthanasia, organ donation taken to the extreme…oh Neil Shusterman thank you for not underestimating the intelligence of the young adult population. Thank you for understanding that these are issues teens are ready to examine, understand, and debate. And, thank you for conceiving of this thought-provoking and utterly unique sci-fi thriller – Jen

 

More Favorites (we can’t help it!)

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Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (2012) – A girl sends her love into the sky because she feels she has no use for it on the ground where she lives. This book is about finding your truth and fighting for it. I can’t think of another author I am as excited to watch in the coming years as Ms. King. – Nicole

Graceling by Kristin Cashore (2008) – Hands-down the best YA female protagonist in fantasy fiction. To even try to describe her awesomeness would be a mistake because one could never do her character justice. You simply must experience the book first hand, she’s just that great. – Jen (Nicole agrees…see above)

Inexcusable by Chris Lynch – I’m a fool for unreliable narrators, and rarely do you find one as fearsome as Keir. Of course, he’d tell you he’s a good guy. This should be required reading, paired with another, much more famous book I’ve selected for this list. – Nicole

Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (2006) – This is one of those rare books that never fails you when you recommend it to someone. The draw of it is that it takes a major worldwide catastrophic event and explores it from the point of view of one teen girl and her family. She’s not trying to save the world, but rather just survive and maintain a shred of hope. It’s a sci-fi book with a dose of reality that makes the reader wonder what he/she would do in this situation.  – Jen

The Perks of Being Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (1999) It’s been on the top 10 challenged books of the 21st century five times, but it’s also required reading in many high schools. There’s nothing like a controversial, yet extremely well-written book. It’s a book for anyone who has every felt like they just don’t fit in, which is probably just about everyone. – Jen

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (2010) – It seems like there are dystopian adventure stories being written for young people left and right these days. This environmentally-themed adventure is the best. That’s all. – Nicole

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (1999) – Before I knew I was going to be a Teen Librarian I worked as a bookseller and stumbled upon this book. The story of a young girl who chooses to mute herself rather than reveal her trauma, this book is simply essential, now more than ever. – Nicole

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (2005) – This was one of the first assigned readings I had in my YA lit class when I was getting my library science degree. I’d never read anything quite like Uglies. The combination of original storytelling, action, and interesting characters drew me into the YA section and I have never left. Westerfeld is a prime example of the fact that some of the most inventive storytelling is now being found in the YA section. – Jen

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley (2011) – The book I hand to adults who question the literary merit of young adult fiction. I wish I could read it again for the first time, the story was so powerful and its characters so indelibly real. I might have whooped aloud in my office when it won the Printz. – Nicole

OKAY! We just thought of some more favorites, looking at past things we’ve blogged, books we can’t bear to not see on this list, but we have to stop somewhere (for now!) Everything we’ve posted over the past several years is something we really liked so take a look. And always feel free to come see us at the Main or Woods Branch and we’ll be happy to share even more of our all-time books with you.

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