51. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)
In a future world where the birth rate has drastically declined, fertile women are rounded up, trained as “housemaids,” and expected to bear the children of prominent men. Offred can remember the days before the Republic of Gilead, when she was a happily married wife and mother; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But now everything is different... High School.
52. The Harper Hall Trilogy (series)
by Anne McCaffrey (1976–1979)
This trilogy is part of McCaffrey’s larger Dragonriders of Pern series but easily stands on its own. All three books feature Menolly, who challenges traditions and her father’s expectations in her quest to become a Harper, with the aid of nine fire dragons. Although Menolly appears throughout the series, the final book focuses on the adventures of Piemur, a boy soprano. Middle School/High School.
53. Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling (1998–2007)
After discovering on his 11th birthday that he is a wizard, Harry attends Hogwarts School for Wizarding and Witchcraft. There he discovers that he is famous for a childhood encounter with Voldemort, a dark wizard who is determined to gain power. As Harry and his friends age, the novels become progressively darker and more complex. Middle School/High School.
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
6. Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince
7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
54. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (1987)
Thirteen-year-old Brian survives a plane crash only to be stranded in the Canadian wilderness—alone. There he must survive for months with only a hatchet to aid him while also coming to grips with his parents’ divorce. Middle School/High School.
55. The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley (1984)
Although she is the daughter of the king, Aerin has never been accepted as full royalty. Both in and out of Damar’s royal court, people whisper the story of her mother, the witchwoman from the demon-haunted North who was said to have ensorcelled the king into marrying her and died after giving birth to Aerin. But with the guidance of the wizard Luthe and the help of the blue sword, Aerin will do what she must to win her birthright. Middle School/High School.
56. His Dark Materials Trilogy (series) by Phillip Pullman (1996–2000)
Lyra Belacqua’s life changes forever after she saves her uncle from an assassination attempt and learns of a mysterious substance called Dust. Children, including Lyra’s friend Roger, start to go missing and Lyra sets off on a rescue mission to the North. This is just the beginning of Lyra’s adventures through multiple universes as she and her friends try to solve the mystery of the Dust. Middle School/High School.
Arthur Dent, the last survivor on Earth, embarks on an offbeat, galaxy-hopping tour of the universe under the guidance of a galaxy tour-guide writer. Middle School/High School.
58. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein (1937)
Bilbo Baggins, a respectable, well-to-do hobbit lives happily in quiet comfort until the day the wizard Gandalf and his band of homeless dwarves choose him to join their quest. Prequel to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Middle School/High School.
59. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (1984)
This poetic coming-of-age story centers on Esperanza, a young girl who longs to escape the low expectations and endless landscape of concrete and run-down tenements that come with growing up in her poor Hispanic neighborhood. Middle School (mature)/High School.
60. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (1986)
Sophie Hatter is living a humdrum life as a hat shop apprentice when a witch turns her into an old woman and she finds herself in the castle the fearsome wizard Howl, who is rumored to eat souls. Middle School/High School.
61. The Hunger Games Trilogy (series) by Suzanne Collins (2008–2010)
Set in a post-apocalyptic world overseen by a selfish, pleasure-loving Capitol that rules with harshness and terror, this in an absorbing dystopian thriller series. In book one, Katniss and Peeta must compete in the Hunger Games, a televised competition where the teens must kill to survive. Balancing a fast pace with well-developed characters, the story blends gritty action scenes with a backdrop of social commentary. Middle School (mature)/High School.
Titles include:62. I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier (1977)
1. The Hunger Games
2. Catching Fire
As Adam bicycles from Massachusetts to Vermont, he retraces memories of his past and his family's history in the witness protection program. Alternating chapters insert psychological examinations that attempt to uncover Adam's buried memories. A curious mix of fantasy and reality, this is an unforgettable psychological mystery. Middle School (mature)/High School.
63. I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak (2005)
After capturing a bank robber, nineteen-year-old cab driver Ed Kennedy begins receiving mysterious messages that direct him to addresses where people need help. High School (mature).
64. If I Stay + Where She Went (companion novels) by Gayle Forman (2009, 2011)
IF I STAY: One minute Mia is on a happy, spontaneous family drive; the next, she is standing over her own mangled body as paramedics work to revive her. Mia follows her body to the hospital and over the following hours, she contemplates her life, worries about her little brother, and yearns for her boyfriend. The people and relationships are vividly described, and Mia’s dilemma—to stay or to let go—and the actions of her loved ones are poignant but not overwrought. This is a powerful, lyrical novel that will stay with you. High School.
WHERE SHE WENT: Love, heartache, betrayal, and music intertwine in this emotional sequel to If I Stay told from Adam’s perspective. Pouring his bitterness into his lyrics has made Adam a worldwide music sensation, but fame hasn’t healed what was damaged and broken. Now, stranded in New York in between flights, Adam decides it is time to confront his past with the girl he can’t get over. Raw and lyrical, Adam’s story is gripping in the tradition of Before Sunrise. The majority of the story takes place in a single day, and readers experience each moment right along with Adam, unsure how it will end until the very last page. High School.
65. I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan (2011)
Intertwining a gripping survival story with a sweet tale of first love, this is a heartfelt story that will stick with you. Seventeen-year-old Sam and his 12-year-old brother Riddle—kidnapped a decade ago by their mentally unstable father—have never known a normal life. Then Sam meets Emily, who finally “sees” him and, eventually, introduces the boys to her family. For the first time, the two boys feel connected to the real world, but what will happen when their father discovers their secret? This is a vividly cinematic novel, with a bit of something for everyone. Middle School/High School.
66. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1966)
In this pioneer work of the true crime genre, Truman Capote paints a chilling portrait of the grisly 1959 murder of a family in rural Kansas, reconstructing the savage murder and ensuing investigation. High School (mature).
67. In Country by Bobbie Ann Mason (1985)
A recent high school graduate in a small Kentucky town tries to make sense of her family and the war that killed her father before she was born. In Country is emotionally gripping and subtly humorous as it addresses the challenges of growing up and the lingering consequences of a war long over. High School.
68. Into the Wild by John Krakauer (1996)
In 1992, a young man named Christopher McCandless hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness. His body was discovered four months later. In this true story, Krakauer reconstructs the story of McCandless’s adventure and eventual death, in the process exploring the American fascination with the wilderness. High School.
69. Into Thin Air by John Krakauer (1997)
The author describes his spring 1996 trek to Mt. Everest, a disastrous expedition that claimed the lives of eight climbers, and explains how he survived the rogue storm that left him stranded. High School.
70. It by Stephen King (1986)
Horror master Stephen King spins a story about a group if seven misfit kids who stumbled upon an unimaginable terror in their hometown, something they tried to forget. But now that they are adults, the "Losers Club" find themselves drawn back to Derry, Maine, where they must again face their childhood nightmare and a very real, unnamed evil. High School (mature).
71. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847)
This unconventional love story is made unforgettable by the intimate narration and sharp, clever dialog. (Some of Jane and Rochester’s conversations are simply riveting.) But it’s much more than a love story between a governess and her employer: it is the tale of a passionate and intelligent orphan’s path to adulthood and her determination to maintain her dignity and find her place in the world. High School.
In this ultimate book about mother/daughter relationships, four Chinese immigrant mothers and their Chinese American daughters struggle to understand each other. The Joy Luck Club is a poignant and relatable novel about generational and cultural divisions, told in vignettes by seven different characters. High School.
73. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen (2006)
Sixteen-year-old Annabel Greene’s life is far from perfect. Her “picture perfect” family is keeping secrets, and a recent split with her best friend has left her a social outcast. But Annabel finds an unexpected ally in Owen Armstrong, a music-obsessed, broody loner whose honesty and passion for music help her to finally be honest about what happened at the party that changed everything. Middle School (mature)/High School.
As always, feel free to comment! We'd love to know what books would be on your ultimate teen booklist...