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Summer Reading For Teens and Adults

Every year I make myself a list of all the great new YA books that have been published during the school year and try to read them all. Lately, however, I find myself looking toward books that I've missed in the past (because, really, I cannot read them all) and asked a bunch of friends to help me put together a list of favorites. Some of them are new and some are not, but they all came highly recommended from people whose opinions I trust. Even the school librarian where I work chimed in and loaded me up with a boxful of books for the summer.

Perks. They're few and far between when you work at a middle school but this is a BIG one for me.

Photo credit to Thomas Hawk

In case you don't have a teenager at home let me tell you something about YA (Young Adult) fiction: it is better written and more wonderfully imaginative than you may know. My friend, Jane, majored in YA Literature and piped in with this to say about YA:

"Those who don't have the knowledge base, expertise, and whimsy write for adults. The good writers write for YA, and a well-written YA novel will have something for all ages. Ditto a well-written children's novel. However, you really don't want to get me started on limited vocabulary, condescending, insipid little "books" supposedly aimed at children but which are really aimed at adults who don't know any better."

13 years ago I read Lois Lowry's The Giver and promptly shoved it in the hands of all my adult friends and family members. I mailed a copy to my mother when she was living in South Dakota taking care of my grandmother and wrote a note: Call me when you're done reading this so we can talk about it.

The Giver opened my world up to reading YA literature and in that instant it became, and remains to this day, my favorite genre.

There is, of course, the possibility that you may have missed reading a title or two because you fake-read it in high school or junior high. I'm not pointing fingers. It's just... a possibility.

Without further ado, here is the exhaustive list of some excellent YA fiction. If you're into into listening to audio books then I have a treat for you. How about 20 free audio downloads you can get on your smart phone? Starting June 14 through August 22 you can get 2 free audio books each week. You might want to bookmark this page here or you can simply text "syncya" to the number 25827 to sign up for this amazing deal. I can't wait to hear The Grapes of Wrath since I haven't read it in years.

Sorry for all that ado after I said we'd be without it. I just had to share that ado with you. Onto the list! (In no particular order)

The Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins

The House of Night written by the mother-daughter team of P.C. and Kristin Cast

Forever by Judy Blume

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Percy Jackson & The Olympians pentalogy by Rick Riordan

Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo

City of Orphans by Avi

Nothing But the Truth by Avi

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King

Tailchaser's Song by Tad Williams

Watership Down by Richard Adams

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee

Five Children and It by E. Nesbit

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkein

Side story here: I used to teach at a private Christian school during the time when the Harry Potter books were at the height of popularity for readers before the movies came out. In an act of supreme ignorance the school board told me I couldn't have any of Tolkein's books in my classroom because of the "magical, fantastical" nature of the books. I suggested they pick up a biography of Tolkein and maybe learn that as a Christian he led C.S. Lewis (a well-known Christian) to his beliefs before they jumped on their little book-burning frenzy. Three months later I quit that job and went back to work for the public school system. I couldn't consciously work in a place where the leaders were so flagrantly ignorant and poorly read.

The Selection trilogy by Kiera Cass

Darkness Before Dawn by Sharon M. Draper

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth

Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo by Obert Skye

Bang! by Sharon G. Flake

Fire by Kristin Cashore

Enders Game series by Orson Scott Card

Eldest by Christopher Paolini

Alanna: The First Adventure the first in a series by Tamora Pierce

The Secret Circle by L.J. Smith

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

The Pigman by Paul Zindel

 A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

The Kingdom Keepers series by Ridley Pearson

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Matched trilogy by Ally Condie

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

Blindness by Jose Saramago

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Putting Makeup on Dead People by Jen Violi

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Huntress by Malinda Lo

Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Ash by Malinda Lo

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle

A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeline L'Engle

Mrs. Mike:the Story of Katherine Mary Flannigan  by Benedict and Nancy Mars Freedman

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy by Douglas Adams

Ordinary People by Judith Guest

Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

It by Stephen King

"The Body" a novella by Stephen King

White Cat from The Curse Workers trilogy by Holly Black

One by Richard Bach

Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo

The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis

Tomorrow, When The War Began by John Marsden

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Molly Fyde series by Hugh Howey

Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks
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Reader Comments (50)

Thank you for this!! It's so awesome. xo

May 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

It was started by that great conversation we were having, Leslie! Thanks for good, meaty discussion of books.

May 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

Yay! Tomorrow When the War Began is on the list. :)

June 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Pepper

I'm not sure whether I was more excited to see and share the list... or that I have several I can highlight as "I have read".

Thanks for the list!

June 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFiona

What an amazing list! I have read TWENTY-TWO of these - what great choices. I adored Mrs. Mike when I was a kid, and have never before found anyone else who had even heard of her. I'm so excited!

The variety is wonderful. From Madeleine Engle (a great joy to read with each of my sons) to Seymour Glass to Ender (which was given to me by my son, actually. It's so great when they start giving US books rather than the other way around, isn't it?) there's something for everyone.

Thanks for the great memories along with the wonderful list... and sorry for the sentimental journey, but, after all, you started it! And by the way, there's no teacher like a great teacher and we know that's you!

June 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia Samuels

When I was in primary and early secondary school I read a lot of books by a British author called Jacqueline Wilson. Her stories (most with cartoon illustrations) have focussed on such heavy topics as bulimia/anorexia, bullying, bipolar disorder, divorce & foster care. These topics are rarely tackled in the "adult literature" I read, and certainly with not as much directness. If you ever have a chance to read some of my favourites, "The Illustrated Mum" "The Suitcase Kid" or "The Story of Tracey Beaker", I'd highly recommend them.

June 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterClaire J

Granted, I scanned through the list (I should be getting ready for school...we are don't until the end of June!) but I don't think I saw Divergent or Insurgent on this list. Divergent is similar to the Hunger Games trilogy. Insurgent is book two and just came out at the beginning of May. I have not read a book that fast since the last Harry Potter book! Comments on both books can be found here: (April- Divergent and May-Insurgent). I absolutely LOVED the books. Now to go back over your list to see what I need to add to my summer reads. :)

June 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Wow, wow, wow! I've read a bunch of those, but there are so many I need to read. What a great list. Thank you!

June 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterErika

I am happy to say I have read (or had red to me in some cases from when I was younger) a decent number of these. Lots came out after I was a kid, some I have read as an adult. However, I can see downloading the kindle app for my phone and checking out a bunch from the library. I don't read enough any more and YA is the perfect sized bites and imaginative enough for me stay engaged. I don't feel the need to apologize for liking it at all.

June 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmelia Sprout

Looking forward to taking Ian to the library over the summer and seeing what we can find there on this list, as well as maybe burning up some of the B&N gift cards we have. Also looking into diving into them myself. I am shamefully- that's SHAMEFULLY- not up to speed on most of these books.

June 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohann

Can I add Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt? (well, the whole series really). I love YA fiction too, but I don't read nearly enough of it. Thanks for the list, I'll be referring back to it often.

June 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermy honest answer

Oh, you have to add E. Lockhart's The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. Feminism at its most entertaining and so digestable--she makes Foucault and other philosophers easy to understand.

So many good books and so many that I want to add but I'll try to keep my list short.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (Older YAs only, sex and drugs are discussed)
The Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
And if you can find it, because it is out of print, Thursday's Children by Rumer Godden

I'm exited to see somebody already suggested A Prayer for Owen Meany. It is really one of the best books ever.

June 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarrynM

Thanks for the list! Glad to see 'Hitchhiker's Guide' on there. I read that in high school and to this day, whenever I see someone blatantly ignoring a thing that requires their action, I think to myself 'must be an SEP' with a chuckle - with a vivid image of the bulldozer and house coming to mind.

June 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlikeablegirl

I've read 21 of these and some of my all-time favorites are on this list. I decided to make my novel YA for all those reasons -- books you read in high school stay in your head forever.

June 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRita Arens

I have read Fahrenheit 451 and Lord of the Flies, and I was excited to see them on your list! They are excellent books that I haven't found someone to really talk to about them.

June 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina

Thanks for putting this list together. I was worried that I wouldn't find an adequate list for my teenager this summer. You're a lifesaver.

Hugs and Mocha,

June 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStesha

Now that I had the time...I see you DO have the Divergent trilogy on there.
And I realized I have another book to add to the YA books I'm purchasing for our library - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy...we don't have it! Happy to see I have purchased quite a number of these this year when my principal gave me money to buy books! Also realize I'm going to be borrowing some from the school for the summer.
One book I don't think I saw was "The Future of Us" by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

June 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Some great titles here. I'd like to add Dear Bill, Remember Me?, A selection of short stories by Norma Fox Mazer. Such a fantastic read for a young person coming of age. I was just thinking the other day that I need to pin it to my books board on Pinterest.

June 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermyblackfriendsays

Every time I see a list and realize I've read quite a few of the titles I'm more than pleased with myself. I know how you feel.

June 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

Much as I tried to have variety on the list, I know that many more are left off of it. But thanks for encouraging me that my efforts didn't go unnoticed!

We've gotten to the point where the kids only give me books occasionally because I'm usually reading them first. They know I love this genre.

June 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

Never heard of Wilson, Claire, but I will certainly put her on my radar. You're right, too, that those topics aren't covered in adult lit. Or, if they are, they're written as non-fiction. Some readers aren't ready for that reality and that's why fiction works: we can know this isn't a real person who has suffered. Thanks for the rec.

June 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

You're welcome, Erika. Glad to hear you've read a lot of them.

June 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma


"YA is the perfect sized bites"

Yeah, that's what I used to think when I started reading it, too! Then, I ended up just really liking it. No apologies.

June 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

We should do a swap of some of them. Drop by sometime (since you know where I live and bring me chicken wings on occasion!) and let's do that!

June 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

Heavens! I haven't even thought of that book in years! Thanks for the reminder and for adding to this!

June 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

Foucault? Easy to understand?

I'M ALL OVER THIS ONE NOW. You sure know how to sell a book!

June 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

There used to be a short story by McCaffrey from her Pern series in the literature book I used to teach 8th grade. They loved it and that prompted me to get more of her books, but VERY few kids would read them. The ones who did, though, loved them.

Stardust! How could I forget Stardust?!

June 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

Adams was my high school reading, too, but that's because my mom was reading them and laughing aloud all the damn time so I had to find out what was so funny.

June 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

Which is why they must read GOOD, MEATY stuff, Rita! I totally agree. Congrats on reading 21 of these already. I know you're a great reader. (And writer)

June 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

Lord of the Flies seems to go in waves of popularity. I'm not sure why, but there were lean years in my teaching when no one wanted to discuss it. I see a revolution afoot.

June 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

You're welcome! Feel free to print it off and hand it out at will.

June 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

YES. I read your comment before I had time to reply so I see that you've managed to find it. And thanks for the Asher/Mackler addition. This list is growing.

June 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

Thank you for that. Isn't it always that coming-of-age stories end up being our favorite? I love watching a character grow and morph right before my eyes.

June 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

Love this list! Thanks for putting it together. Have you read The Shadow Children series? My son's fifth grade teacher gave it to us and it was wonderful, at least we thought so

June 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShari

I've not read the whole series but have only read "Among the Hidden" by Haddix. Tell your son I thought it was wonderful, too.

June 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

I'd never leave your suggestions off my list, Jeremy!

June 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMocha Momma

"Hitchhiker" is actually a trilogy in five parts: THHGTTG; The Restaurant at the End of the Universe; Life, the Universe, and Everything; So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish; and Mostly Harmless. Short, quick, and entertaining.

June 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

[...] Summer Reading for Teens and Adults @ Mocha Momma [...]

I've only read 14 of the titles, but I've read A Tree Grown In Brooklyn 10 times. I know it's old fashioned but I adore Little Women, too. I'm reading the second in the Ally Condie series right now. Great list!

Oh, Island of the blue Dolphins. I loved that book so much. It's been years since I've read it. Maybe I need to pick that one up again.

June 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCindy

[...] Momma: Summer Reading for Teens & Adults (some really good books on this [...]

Thanks for this list. I have an 11-year-old daughter who is an advanced reader. I am also a book-lover so this makes me very happy! I got hooked on YA literature because I started reading books in order to see if they were appropriate for her or not. It's tough to find books that are at her reading level but not too mature in subject matter for her. We have both enjoyed many of these books, but this list will keep us busy!

June 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRhonda

I didn't know that American Gods was YA - I finished it a month or so ago and enjoyed it a lot.

I loved the His Dark Materials trilogy. Surprised it isn't here.

Between me and my oldest daughter, we have read a lot of these. Guess I need to raid her book shelf so I can say I've read a lot of them!

June 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSara

Perfect timing! I've been making lists of good books for me and my son to read. Some fabulous books on this list -- can't wait to check out the ones I haven't read! Thank you!

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterleanne

Oh, I've just shared this on fb, since a whole bunch of my friends are all readers, so I'm sure we'll all enjoy working our way through the list. There are heaps on here that I truly love and some others that everyone else has read and I have never (The Hunger Games and Catcher in the Rye, truly!). I worked in a giant bookstore during university and during the Harry Potter craze, parents often came in saying that for the first time in years, their kids wanted to read more, what else could I suggest, so I loved that and was glad that HP got their reading juices flowing.

June 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnnet M

If you want something else in the "children do magic" vein, may I recommend" rel="nofollow">Akata Witch

American born albino African girl living in Nigeria. Not exactly your usual starting place for an English language YA novel.

For the more paranormal side of things, Michelle Sagara has a new series starting. Haven't read it yet but I've read every other word she's written both under this name and as Michelle West, and loved all of it. Generally epic themes, writ small so they have great emotional impact.
Here's a link to the new one..." rel="nofollow">Silence

June 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterV's Herbie

Tomorrow When the War Began and that whole series, John Marsden. Also by Marsden, Letters from the Inside, Winter, Checkers.
Slot Machine
Tamora Pierce books
Silent to the Bone, the View from Saturday, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler
Jacob Have I Loved

I have to stop myself here or I will write you a novel.

June 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commentervanessa

Late to this party, but I now have my summer reading list! I always said that I had lots of kids so that I could read with them. YA has been my joy for years - my excuse started with the fabulous, academically precocious, developmentally young aspie who is now 14 - I "read ahead" of him to find appropriate materials, and so many of my favorites are on this list. Can't wait to discover the rest. Thank you!

June 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

[...] read, read, read all the books I haven’t read on this list [...]

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