The Top Ten Books For Teens Today

The teenage years are a time of transition, and a teenager of thirteen is different in many ways to a nineteen year old. Some of these books are more suited to younger teens and some to older – and some perennial favorites will span all ages. For each book reviewed I have suggested the most appropriate age level. All of the books listed here are enjoyed by boys and girls alike.

Several of the most popular books for teens are not single novels, but series. This is a great way for teens to get into reading - if you enjoy one book in a series, go on to read more!

The books selected here are a mixture of classic and modern, fantasy and realism and all are popular with the thinking teen of today.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

There’s no doubt about it: in terms of sales, the number one book (or trilogy) for teenagers in 2012 is Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The movie of the first book in the series was released on 23rd of March and is the biggest grossing non-sequel in its opening weekend. It is only beaten in takings in the USA by The Dark Knight and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Both these are sequels, and the Harry Potter movie is the 7th in its series.

And unlike some other novels for teenagers, this series has some depth to it. For more details about what these novels are about, read my review of the series: The Hunger Games Trilogy - a Parent’s Perspective

The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

J. K. Rowling may now longer be writing Harry Potter novels but children from 8 to 80 have not stopped reading them, and they remain as popular with teenagers as ever.

Whether you have read the novels or not, everybody knows that Harry Potter is a wizard who attends Hogwarts School for Witches and Wizards and fights Voldemort, the personification of evil.

Harry didn’t know he was a wizard until he was eleven years old, when an owl brought him the news he had a place at Hogwarts. He is headstrong but surprisingly well adjusted, considering he lost both his parents as a baby and was brought up by an aunt and uncle who thought a suitable place for him was a cupboard under the stairs. A lesser child would be severely traumatised, but Harry Potter of course is less social commentary and more entertainment.

One my daughters began reading The Harry Potter books when she was 8, and is still re-reading them now at 14. Her older cousins also still enjoy them. These books are suitable for all age of teens.

The Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson could be called America’s answer to Harry Potter. Instead of being a wizard who doesn’t know it, Percy is an unsuspecting demi-god. His father is Posiedon and his mother a mortal. Zeus is none to pleased with Percy because he believes he has stolen his lightning bolt. His mother tries to protect him by sending him off to a boarding school. But strange things happen there, like a teacher who transforms into what Percy thinks is a vicious bird, which attacks him. He slays the bird, and then everyone behaves as if the teacher never existed. Home for the summer vacation, he goes on a trip with his mother and encounters an enormous monster who makes his mother disintegrate before Percy can save her. He kills the monster and then goes to Camp Half-Blood, the only place where he can be safe. Needless to say, he’s not safe there for long, and the books are rollicking adventures that appeal to both boys and girls, and teach them a bit about Greek Mythology along the way.

These books are aimed the younger end of teenage market.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Bod, whose full name is Nobody Owens, is a normal boy. It's his circumstances that are not normal. One night, when Bod is just a toddler, he wakes up with a noise in his house. Being curious he climbs out of his crib to look, and when he sees the open front door, it looks so inviting that he goes through.

Bod wanders up the road until he reaches a graveyard. What he doesn't know is that a man named Jack has killed all his family and wants to kill him too.

There's a new ghost in the graveyard and she can't stay long because this is not her proper place. She asks the ghosts there to look after her son. Mrs Owen never had a child, and she persuades her husband to let her look after Jack. So Bod lives an unusual life for a little boy, waking at night with the ghosts, and sleeping most of the day. As Bod goes exploring round the graveyard he soon finds things are not always how the seem.

Meantime Jack is still searching for Bod and still wants to kill him.

This book is suitable for all ages of teenager, and adults will enjoy it too. (I did!)

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

This book is a classic, and has been loved by teenagers for decades. (Its full title is: The Hobbit or There And Back Again, but it is usually just called: The Hobbit.)

It follows the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, after Gandalf, the wizard, asks him to go with a group of dwarves on a quest to recover stolen treasure from Smaug the Magnificent, a dragon.

Bilbo and the dwarves are captured by goblins and taken underground. Gandalf comes to the rescue, but Bilbo can't keep up with the others as they escape and gets lost in the underground tunnels. Trying to find his way out, he finds a ring.

The ring can make him invisible, but it has other powers too. Bilbo meets Gollum, who used to also be a hobbit before the ring corrupted him and turned him evil. If Bilbo can solve some riddles, Gollum will show the way out of the tunnels, but if he can't solve them he must pay with his life.

The Hobbit is a tale of heroism and growth, and won prizes soon after it was published. It is a fore-runner to Tolkein's Lord of the Rings and is to be released as a movie on December 14th 2012.


Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

It is close to Sophie Amundsen’s 15th birthday, when she arrives home to find a letter in the mailbox. There is no stamp on the letter, and what is inside is like no letter she has ever seen before. It is just a question, asking, “Who are you?”

The letters keep coming, and build up into easy to understand lessons on philosophy and religion, covering most of the main movements throughout history. Sophie gets more and more curious about the sender of these letters, and eventually meets the writer, who continues with her education. But there is a twist in this tale!

This book in is a great introduction for teenagers into philosophy. It may be a little challenging for younger teens, unless they are already read widely. However, the language and subject matter is suitable for all ages.

There Is No Dog by Meg Rossoff

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if God was a teenage boy? I haven’t but Meg Rossoff clearly has, because that’s exactly what Bob is. He has fallen in love with Lucy. Bob neglects his duties and floods and other disasters ensue. Eventually, Mr B, Bob’s deputy, feels compelled to intervene.

According to my daughter, this book is well written and makes you think about the nature of the universe.

This book is probably best suited to older teens or younger teens who read widely.

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

When his neighbor’s dog is killed and left on the lawn with a fork stuck in the dead body, Chistopher John Francis Boone is determined to find out the culprit.

But Christopher has Asperger Syndrome and has never been beyond the end of his street on his own before. His search for the truth challenges him in ways he has never been challenged before. This book is a fascinating insight into how life with Aspergers affects Christopher. It is also a page-turning detective novel. You will also learn some fascinating facts about prime numbers, among other things!

Slated by Teri Terry

If you live in the USA you might not have come across this book yet, because it is not due for release in print form until January 2013. But it is available to pre-order or on Kindle - and it is going to be big! It already is big in the UK.

Like The Hunger Games, Slated is a dsytopian novel, but while it is also set in an unpleasant and dangerous future with a sixteen-year-old girl as the main character, this novel is far from a Hunger Games wanna-be.

Kyla, the main character, has been slated. That means that according to the government she is a criminal and has had all her memories removed to give her a new chance in life: in other words to start with a clean slate. This clean slate includes being taken away from her old family and placed in a new one. As the novel opens, Kyla is just about to leave the hospital where she has been for 9 months and meet her new family.

Wee Free Men (The Tiffany Aching Series) by Terry Pratchett

Tiffany Aching is a witch in training. Proper witches live on hard rocks, but Tiffany lives on the Chalk, where no good witch is ever found.

When Tiffany 's brother is stolen, she goes on a quest to rescue him, accompanied by the Wee Free Men, who are blue miniature Pictsies.

Like most of Terry Pratchett’s books, this one is hilarious.

More by this Author


BRIAN SLATER profile image

BRIAN SLATER 4 years ago from Nottingham Uk

The incurable incident with the dog is absolutely brilliant. My daughter bought this a couple of years ago and passed it on to me, we both loved it. This is an extremely good list of books for young children to get their hooks into, voted up awesome.

Ardie profile image

Ardie 4 years ago from Neverland

Awesome list Melovy. My daughter hasn't read any of these yet and I am always hard-pressed to find titles she would enjoy reading. I will try some of these over the summer to keep her reading up!!

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Brian,

It’s a few years now since I read The Dog in the Nighttime, and my elder daughter then read it too.We also really enjoyed it - a very good book for gaining an insight into aspergers, as all as being a great story. I’m glad you think this list is good as it took quite a bit of discussion with my kids and their older cousins before we got to it! There were a few “runners up” that I will also add soon. Thanks for your comment an vote up.

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Ardie,

I’m glad this might be useful for you. When my older daughter was 11 - 12 she found it quite hard to choose books as she’d grown out of many in the 9 -12 category, but didn’t like the dark romance (vampires) that seemed the main teenage fodder but these are all firm favourites. My younger daughter will become a teenager later this year, and her favourite of these is probably Percy Jackson, and she’s keen on the Hobbit too.

Thanks for your comment.

J.S.Matthew profile image

J.S.Matthew 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

What a great reading list! Nice job Melovy! Voted up and sharing!


Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

Great list melovy. Fwding to my friends daughter...thanks!

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi J.S. Matthew,

Thanks for your comment and for sharing.

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Ruchira,

Thanks for you comment and hope your friend’s daughter finds it useful - thanks for sharing it!

Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

Thanks for this list! I have friends with teens, and they're always looking for ways to screen fiction titles or for ideas on what books they can give their kids. Actually, I'm planning to read the Hunger Games series myself, after hearing so many adults rave about it!

It sounds like your list is based on the quality of the books rather than just popularity, and I like that!

Voted up, useful and interesting!

molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago

Tolkein Prachett & Gaiman 3 of my all time favorite writers.

These are not just books.

They created worlds and in Tolkeins case a language and a whole history. Fantastic!

I just read Snuff Terry Prachetts latest discworld novel.

This is a great selection of books for kids of all ages.

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Marcy,

I definitely did base this on quality rather than popularity, and was helped by my kids with the compiling. I could not bring myself to include a certain bunch of vampires that may be popular but that add little of value - my older daughter read one of them and could not see the attraction. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of the Hunger Games.

Thanks very much for your comment and the vote up.

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

molometer, my husband loves Pratchett and passed that love on to our kids. They read several to them together.

My younger daughter has a photo of herself with Neil Gaiman because they went to see him on her birthday last year. He seemed like a really nice guy as well as a great writer.

You are right whole worlds have been created by many of these writers. I found it interesting how many of them are series.

Thanks for your comment.

Matt Stan profile image

Matt Stan 4 years ago from Colorado

These all great, although, Hunger Games tops the list - best books ever! Good hub

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Matt Stan,

Thanks very much for your comment!

ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 4 years ago from Chennai, India

This enrapturing list of yours looked like Listmania from Amazon! I like Harry Potter books and still have them since my teens. I heard that Hunger Games recently courted success in the same way that Harry Potter series and Twilight series did! J.R. Tolkien - who say that they have not heard of this famous author! Most of these book series such as Percy... are translated into films. Your description of other books are crisp and engaging!

Thanks for SHARING. Interesting. Voted up and Socially Shared.

molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago

Hi Melovy,

I don't know if I should admit this in public.

' I read Terry Pratchetts ' The Colour Of Magic' 10 times back to back?

I have never done that with any book before or since, It was just a great read.

I would get to the end and just flick to page one and start again?

I was not on any meds either? :) lol

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi ishwaryaa22,

I think there are many like you who still have Harry Potter books - and many who read them for the first time as adults. I did notice that the first few on my list have been made into films and also that many of these are series, rather than individual books. I am quite intrigued by that because it makes me wonder if teenagers prefer to have series or if it’s more driven by television, which tends to create series and so kids are used to that!

Thanks very much for your comment and for sharing!

pandula77 profile image

pandula77 4 years ago from Norway

Thanks for sharing. It's a very informative hub!

kittyjj profile image

kittyjj 4 years ago from San Jose, California

Thanks for sharing a great list of books for teens. The Hunger Games Trilogy, The Harry Potter Series, The Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series, The Graveyard Book, and The Hobbit are on my son's bookshelf. These books are very popular in my son's school. Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder sounds interesting. I will ask my son if he would like to check it out.

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

molometer, I’m sure my kids have done the same, or my husband. He’s the real Pratchett fanatic in our household, first he read the books himself and then listened to talking books and then read them with the kids. I guess you and he must have a similar sense of humour! (I’ve listened to talking books, and read some.) My younger daughter has also read one of Roddy Doyle’s kid’s books over and over.

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

pandula77, thanks for your comment.

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi kittyjj,

Our kids clearly have similar tastes! I wasn’t sure how well known The Graveyard Book would be in the States, so interesting that you’ve got it. I’m reading it just now as both my kids read it a while ago but I hadn’t so wanted to see what it’s about. It’s interesting!

Thanks for your comment.

taw2012 profile image

taw2012 4 years ago from India

hey great list. even though am not a teenager now, i love reading books. of this list i have read only the Harry Potter Series. I have to try others....GOOD WORK

cgreen7090 profile image

cgreen7090 4 years ago from Tennessee

My 12-year-old son and I just watched "The Hunger Games" and also read the book and compared. He thought the book was much better and has started on the second in the series. I was at first disturbed at the plot, but the novel does present some thought-provoking themes. Interested in seeing how the second and subsequent turn out.

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi taw2012, thanks very much for your comment and glad you found this useful. I hope you enjoy the books when you read them!

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi cgreen7090,

I would probably agree with your son that the "Hunger Games" books are better than the film, but the film did stick more to the books than I expected. Like you I was also at first disturbed by the plot and then came to see that the way it is written does lead to children (and adults) thinking about the issues of violence and other themes. I probably liked the second book best.

Thanks for your interesting comment.

laurathegentleman profile image

laurathegentleman 4 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

Harry Potter and the Hunger Games. Oh my goodness. I loved these books - they are definitely part of a rare phenomenon of books that transcend age categories. My 11-year-old brother loved the Hunger Games, as well as my 53-year-old father!

bmorebritt profile image

bmorebritt 4 years ago

I was not too fond of the Hunger Games nor Harry Potter. Although The Hobbit...FANTASTIC!

Make Lemonade 119 profile image

Make Lemonade 119 4 years ago

Does anyone wonder why science fiction/fantasy books are making such a scene today?

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi laurathegentleman,

I agree that these books do transcend age categories. I haven’t read Harry Potter, but did think the Hunger Games had a lot of thought provoking themes. Actually most of the books on this list are read by all ages: I recently enjoyed The Graveyard Book.

Thanks for your comment.

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author


Thanks for your comment and glad you found something you liked on my list!

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Make Lemonade, I did notice that as I compiled the list. Interesting…

Thanks for your comment.

Carela 4 years ago

Great list! I've read a few, but really insist you add Life As We Knew It and Between Shades of Gray, they are the best books I have read in, my lifetime. I think Between Shades of Gray by Ruti Stepety even beats the hunger games and harry potter (and I'm a great fan of these!)!!

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Carela,

Thanks for your suggestions. I haven’t even heard of those books, so I’ll have to look them up. My teenage daughter is always looking for new things to read. Thanks for your comment.

connieread profile image

connieread 4 years ago from England

Love the list! For me it was Harry Potter, of course, the Darren Shan saga and everything Stephen King. Vote up :)

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Connie, glad you like the list. I don't know Darren Shan, so will look that up.

Thanks for your comment and the vote up.

diplorging profile image

diplorging 4 years ago from Serbia

You did a great job here. I haven't read all the books you listed, but I did read a lot of them as a teenager and really liked them, so I will also recommend them.

Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK Author

Thanks diplorgning, glad you enjoyed the hub!

Britt Barnicott profile image

Britt Barnicott 3 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

This is a great list. I've read a few and I'm currently reading The Graveyard Book (love it so far). I'm very intrigued by Slated, I will definitely have to look into it!

Melovy profile image

Melovy 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Britt, and I'm glad you like the list. I really enjoyed the Graveyard Book too. It's a good time to read Slated now because my only criticism of it would be it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and the sequel is due out next month.

Thanks for your comment.

redfive profile image

redfive 3 years ago from California, USA

Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking Trilogy is all sorts of awesome. I suggest you check it out :) Thanks for writing this hub! Voted up.

Melovy profile image

Melovy 3 years ago from UK Author

Thanks red five.

Lucy Hale 3 years ago

wheres divergent series and the fault in our stars

Pip 2 years ago

You have to read Jaxon Stewart & The Black Dragon.

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