10 YA Books that are Just as Good to Read (or Re-Read) as an Adult
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10 YA Books that are Just as Good to Read (or Re-Read) as an Adult

These titles should be on every adult reading list!

10 YA Books that are Just as Good to Read (or Re-Read) as an Adult

The Young Adult literary genre primarily centers around teenagers. After all, teenagers are young adults. But the title of that genre doesn't exclude adult adults from it. Successful YA novels often have the same ingredients: a search for identity, the fight to be heard, growing pains, falling in love for the first time, familial challenges, loss, grief, etc. But adults can still relate to the universal coming of age story. Most adults, including myself, are still growing and searching for who we are. We can still recognize the hardships and challenges that are associated with adolescence. But what makes a YA book that much more appealing? The first times. Not the first time necessarily, but the experience of going through everything with no expectations or understandings. This makes YA books emotional, authentic, poignant, exquisite. So, us adults out here, don't shy away from the YA genre because you think you're beyond its relatability or comprehension. Dive right in! Here are my favorite 10 YA books that you should read, or read again, and again, and again, at any age:

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

No surprise here! I might as well get this one out of the way. The seven Harry Potter books became a worldwide phenomenon with over 500 million books sold internationally. In case you were struck with the Obliviate spell, and completely lost all consciousness of all the who's, what's, and where's of Harry Potter, the series of fantasy novels chronicles the life of a young Wizard, Harry Potter and his quest to fulfill a prophecy for which his family was murdered. You're never too old to enter a world that feels simultaneously simple and incomprehensible- a world that has flying broomsticks, love potions, and quidditch.

The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments holds a special place in my heart, as does Jace Wayland/Herondale/Lightwood/Morganstern (IYKYK)! Cassandra Clare's fantasy series has created a new realm of fantasy centered around the concept that, "all the stories are true." Clare's fantasy world centers around Shadowhunters, half-humans, half-angels who were created to protect the human world from demons. Her world also has vampires, werewolves, warlocks, fairies, Seelie's, and really any fantastical creature, or being you can think of. There's something for everyone! Clare's original series, The Mortal Instruments, centers around New York high schooler, Clary Fray, and her journey to find her identity in the Shadow world, a world she's thrust into without any anticipation or preparation as her mom gets taken away from her. I'm biased because I've read these books more times than I can count, but there's no way you won't fall in love with her characters. They are complicated, real, genuine, multifaceted beings that come alive off the page, and every time I revisit her work, I feel like I'm seeing old friends, and first loves. Just start reading Clare's first novel, City of Bones, right this instant.

His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman

The Golden Compass is the first book in Pullman's trilogy, His Dark Materials. Another fantastical series on the list, His Dark Materials is set in a multi-world reality, where we are moving from one world to another as the story progresses. The series follows a young girl, Lyra who discovers a dangerous secret with her daemon (a physical animal manifestation of your soul, complicated, I know!), involving Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter. Lyra discovers a series of kidnappings linked to a mysterious substance called Dust which brings her on a journey, to fulfill her prophecy, where her story intersects with a boy named Will. Lyra's journey is a spirited fantasy, including armored bears, daemons, hot air balloons, and witches. However, this seemingly YA novel, grapples with questions of free will, destiny, and glances a particularly critical eye towards organized religion. Pullman's novels are a retelling of John Milton's Paradise Lost. There is so much to learn, debate, and unpack from His Dark Materials- I would say even more so for adults.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

"With great power…comes great need to take a nap. Wake me up later." LOL. Rick Riordan's pentalogy follows Percy Jackson, a seemingly ordinary tween who learns he's the son of the great god, Poseidon. At a training camp for the children of deities, Camp Half-Blood, Percy learns to use his divine powers and prepare for an abundance of quests: saving his mother, preventing a feud among the Olympians, learning to cope with his divine prophecy, among (MANY) others. Riordan entangles ancient Greek mythology into a contemporary coming of age story, creating a mythology and bildungsroman hybrid. If you're at all interested in the Greek classical mythological tales of Jason, Persephone in the Underworld, the birth of "the Big Three", or any others, Rick Riordan geniously ties them into Percy Jackson's life, quests, and friendships.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

My best friend told me to read this book for the first time after she picked it up at a recycled book store. How anyone let their copy go, I don't know! This is a moving story of familial love, grief, and restoration, centered around fourteen-year-old June Elbus. In 1987, June loses her Uncle Finn to the Aids epidemic. Uncle Finn, renowned artist, is June Elbus's best friend, godfather, and first love. In Finn's death, June befriends his secret lover, Toby, who helps her heal and challenge what she already knows about Finn, her family, and herself. This emotionally charged YA novel is unlike any of the best-sellers I've read; And just like Mozart's Requiem- it demands to be felt (inside joke for my TTWIH fans!)

I’ll Give you the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I'll Give You the Sun is told from the alternating perspectives of twins Jude and her brother Noah. The novel jumps from their 13-year-old selves to their 16-year-old selves, making the reader question why their initial closeness has deteriorated as they've grown. Jude and Noah experience tragedy, falling in love, artistic passions, familial strains, and growing pains from their own individual perspective, while silently yearning for their other half. Nelson's novel is one of fantastic writing: her metaphors and similes are refreshing, the minds of her characters are vibrant and colorful, and she threads differing artistic language through her pages. Nelson writes a coming of age story devoid of clichés, and those are hard to come by.

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Nostalgic for high school years? Grateful you got out of there in one piece? Spinelli's Stargirl ushers us back to the days of lockers, football games, and prom. After being home schooled for 15 years, Stargirl arrives at Mica High school. Her spirited and eccentric personality are shunned by the Mica student body, except for Leo Borlock who's in awe of everything that makes her different. Stargirl is a celebration of nonconformity in an environment that often coaxes us to be anything but. Spinelli creates an emotional story about the cruel nature of the high school hierarchy, popularity, and first love.

Out of my Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Melody Brooks is an eleven-year old with cerebral palsy. She has a photographic memory; her mind is constantly obtaining new information, making her one of the smartest kids in her class. But her high level of intelligence goes unnoticed by her parents, her doctors, and her peers. She's stuck inside of her own head, knowing how intelligent she is, but incapable of expressing it. She can't talk, or walk, or write- she's restricted to her wheelchair, but that doesn't mean her brain isn't running. Out of My Mind follows Melody's journey inside of her own head, observing the world around her without being able contribute to it, until one day she's given a way to communicate. But her peers aren't necessarily ready to accept her. Draper's novel is one of frustration, heartache, hope, and acceptance.

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

In 2014 Emma Watson tweeted a picture of Love Letters to the Dead, writing, "Dear Ava, I loved you book!" So naturally I got my own copy at my local bookstore as fast as I could. High school freshman Laurel is given an English assignment to write a letter to a dead celebrity, so she writes one to Kurt Cobain. What began as an assignment transforms into a personal journal for Laurel, a journal where each entry is addressed to another dead celebrity. She records her day to day encounters, while also analyzing the tragedy that sparked her to change high schools: the death of her sister May. Dellaira's book, written through Laurel's letters, explores grief, falling in love (shocker!), and adapting to a new school, all without the guidance of her older sister.

(BONUS: You also learn a bit about each of the dead celebrities whom Laurel addresses her letters to, as she forges connections between their elite lives and her seemingly ordinary one.)

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

You'll never look at your childhood toys the same! This seemingly overt children's story about a toy rabbit made of China, is anything but childish. Edward Tulane is the toy of Abilene Tulane. He is vain, self-centered, and has absolutely no interest in forging human connection. Edward's miraculous journey begins when he is thrown overboard and sinks to the bottom of the ocean for 297 days. Over the course of 30 years, the book follows Edward as he is repeatedly beaten down, broken in a few places, and passed from owner to owner. Through his journey with different peoples of different ages and backgrounds, and different capacities of love, Edward learns what it means to love and care, and how life isn't really life at all without love. DiCamillo works wonders with this unique tale, and it's been one of my favorite books ever since my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Friscia used it as our read-aloud in third grade. BTW… the ending will give you chills!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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