It’s hard enough to find a book for yourself to read. It’s even harder to find a good book to give your teenager friend/relative/etc, especially if you don’t read the genre. Here are some of my favorite books that would be great as gifts (either for them, or for you). Bonus: most of them are not popular enough where everyone has read them, but good enough that I think everyone should.
1. INSOMNUS by Molly Fennig
Summary: “Bryony “Bryn” Winters can harm people by dreaming. With no control over whom she hurts, a condition called Somnus, Bryn can’t even be sure she won’t kill her own family. Protecting them means running away and trusting a mysterious company that possesses as much authority as amorality. And when Bryn meets Cedar Blackthorne, a Somnus with captivating eyes, she can feel he’s hiding something. So why can’t Bryn help trusting him? And what if she’s making a deadly mistake?”
Why I like it: It’s “A well written, suspenseful, young adult novel. Witty, with insightful descriptions and well developed characters.” See more reasons at Praise for InSomnus.
2. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Summary: “Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she’ll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters’ laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything- including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?” -Goodreads
Why I like it: I know what you’re thinking- ugh another werewolf novel. This is not the typical werewolf book, though. It’s one of my favorites, hard to put down, and if you love it there are more books in the series.
Summary: “For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to… live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.” -Amazon
Why I liked it: I absolutely loved the first three books in this Bachelor-meets-royalty series. The protagonist, America Singer, is easy to relate to, and is wonderfully rebellious.
Also see my review of the last book in the series (no spoilers) here.
4. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Summary: “They were never meant to be together. As a general’s daughter, seventeen-year-old Kestrel enjoys an extravagant and privileged life. Arin has nothing but the clothes on his back. Then Kestrel makes an impulsive decision that binds Arin to her. Though they try to fight it, they can’t help but fall in love. In order to be together, they must betray their people . . . but to be loyal to their country, they must betray each other.
Set in a new world, The Winner’s Curse is a story of rebellion, duels, ballroom dances, wicked rumors, dirty secrets, and games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.” -Amazon
Why I like it: This was one of the best written books and the descriptions were great. Also, I had never read a book about the daughter of a general (even in another world) nor about one where winning something results in loss.(Hence the title, The Winner’s Curse.)
Summary: “For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. At least, not until Patch came along. With his easy smile and probing eyes, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment. But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure who to trust—she can’t decide whether she should fall into Patch’s arms or run and hide from him. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth more unsettling than any feeling Patch evokes. For Nora stands amid an ancient battle between the immortal and those who have fallen—and choosing the wrong side will cost her life.” -Amazon
Why I liked it: I loved that this book was easy to read and was definitely a page-turner. Hush, Hush also has compelling characters and an interesting premise.
6. The Ryn by Serena Chase
Summary: “The Ryn begins an epic re-imagining of the classic Grimm fairy tale, Snow White & Rose Red. Centuries ago, an oracle foretold of the young woman who would defeat E’veria’s most ancient enemy, the Cobelds…Finally, a child is born who matches the oracle’s description, but a Cobeld curse accompanies her birth. Led to believe they succeeded in killing the prophesied child, the Cobelds emerge from hiding with plans to overtake the Kingdom. But the child survived.”
Why I liked it: The dialogue was realistic and in a perfect ratio with description. I liked the plot and found it hard to put the book down. Serena Chase is a talented author.
1. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Summary: “Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.
Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital… There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.” -Goodreads
Why I liked it: It was completely honest and was one of the first (and only) books I’ve read that show what it’s like to have mental illnesses and what it takes to overcome them. As a bonus, it doesn’t leave the reader feeling depressed. Double bonus, Ned Vizzini published his first novel as a teenager.
Speaking of teen authors, check out my post, 10 Tips for Teen Writers, here.
2. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Summary: “Anna can’t wait for her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a good job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she’s not too thrilled when her father unexpectedly ships her off to boarding school in Paris – until she meets Etienne St. Clair, the perfect boy. The only problem? He’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her crush back home. Will a year of romantic near-misses end in the French kiss Anna awaits?” -Amazon
Why I liked it: This was a sweet story and I loved that it was set in a foreign boarding school. It’s hard to not like Anna and even harder to not like the novel.
3. Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.” -Amazon
Why I liked it: This was another book I read for school that I absolutely loved. There’s a lot of symbolism and imagery. It’s a great story about courage and empowerment and so much more. (Also, yes, there is a movie. And, yes, you should read the book first.)
4. Airhead by Meg Cabot
Summary: “Emerson Watts didn’t even want to go to the new SoHo Stark Megastore grand opening. But someone needed to look out for her sister, Frida, whose crush, British heartthrob Gabriel Luna, would be singing and signing autographs therealong with the newly appointed Face of Stark, teen supermodel sensation Nikki Howard.
How was Em to know that disaster would strike, changing her,and life as she’d known it, forever?” -Amazon
Why I liked it: This was another easy read that was captivating. (It’s one of the few that I have liked enough to reread.) It was really well written and gave an interesting, but unique look, into modeling and brain transplants. (Yes, that’s a thing in this book. Transplanting brains into other bodies, or bodies around other brains, however you want to look at it.)
5. Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
Summary: “Ruby is used to taking care of herself. But now that she’s living with her sister, she’s got her own room, she’s going to a good school, and her future looks bright.
Plus there’s the adorable boy next door. Can Ruby learn to open her heart and let him in?” -Amazon
Why I liked it: Lock and Key is a great chick-flick or summer read (or winter read or anytime read, actually). It’s also my favorite of all of Sarah Dessen’s books.
6. Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
Summary: “What girl doesn’t want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn’t just surrounded by hot guys, though–she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.
But everything she’s ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he’s also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan’s feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart’s on the line?”
Why I liked it: While most realistic fiction can seem cliche or monotonous, I loved the premise and the characters of this book that helped make it anything but.
If you found this list helpful, share it on social media. Happy Holidays!