10 Classics YA Readers Shouldn’t Miss
Long before Harry Potter enrolled at Hogwarts, Katniss Everdeen fought to the death at The Hunger Games, and Bella Swan fell for a gorgeous vampire in The Twilight Series,
YA novels had been enthralling teens for generations. Some have the power to leave such an indelible mark on us that they live inside our imaginations well into adulthood and are always recalled fondly. Many of my favorites are classics—or have become so over the years. In fact, many still grace the bestseller lists after several decades! As wonderful as they were to read as a teenager, I’ve found that I still enjoy them to this day. So, if you love books as much as I do, don’t miss these 10 fantastic and enduring reads!
1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
In a world where books have been outlawed and are on the brink of extinction (and mindless television rules instead) “firemen” are employed to burn hidden books found in people’s homes. But after becoming acquainted with an eccentric neighbor, one of these brutish “firemen” has an unexpected epiphany—and begins to realize the amazing value of literature.
2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Plath’s acclaimed autobiographical novel is the beautifully written story about a talented young junior editor at a NY magazine, who finds herself slowly tumbling into insanity. The Bell Jar is a haunting tale that draws readers into the dark and harrowing corners of the human psyche.
3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The sentimental and amusing adventures of the four March sisters, Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy, as they exp
erience the joys and disappointments, tragedies and triumphs, of growing up poor in New England during the Civil War. Based on Louisa May Alcott’s own life, the story largely focuses on Jo, the tomboy of the clan, who dreams of being a writer. An endearing story about love, charity, loss, and hope.
4. Lord of the Flies by William Goldring
When a plane wreck strands a group of young boys on an isolated tropical island, Ralph, Piggy, Simon and their fellow castaways struggle to survive to disastrous effect. A powerful and disturbing study in human nature that’s impossible to forget.
5. Forever by Judy Blume
A touching tale of first love, this is the story of Katherine and Michael, teenagers who have fallen in love. Feeling their relationship is serious, the two explore their passions and sexuality blooms. But it’s senior year of high school, and there are big changes coming that will make Katherine wonder if her love for Micheal really is forever.
6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel explores racial tensions in small town, Alabama. Seen through the eyes of six-year-old Scout, we watch her lawyer father, the heroic Atticus Finch, defend a black man accused of rape, and expose the injustices done to African-Americans in the South.
7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Originally published in 1932, this is Huxley's darkly satirical and prescient vision of a “Utopian” future society (complete with test-tube babies and rampant drug abuse) where humans are genetically designed and pharmaceutically drugged into passivity to a ruling order. An enthralling and thought-provoking tale that remains relevant today.
8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
My favorite Jane Austen novel tells the story of charming and feisty Elizabeth Bennett, one of five sisters, whose family circumstance dictates that they marry well. But when she meets the wealthy and haughty Mr. Darcy, she can’t help but feel disdain for the man, until she finds that first impressions can’t always be counted upon. Funny and engaging, this book takes on nineteenth century British mating rituals to perfection.
9. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
This is the compelling story of fun-loving and rebellious McMurphy, a patient on a mental ward, who dares to challenge the authority of the tyrannical Nurse Ratched—thereby turning the psych ward on its ear and rousing the civil disobedience of the patients. (The movie version won five Academy Awards!)
10. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
In turn-of-the-century Brooklyn, lovable Francie Nolan is growing up in poverty. Like the sturdy tree that grows out of cement by her window, she is struggling to not only survive, but thrive. A bookworm with a zestful curiosity, Francie experiences the simple pleasures in life while facing its harsh realities. One of the most beloved coming-of-age novels in literature, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn depicts a slice of Americana that stays with readers long after the last page is turned.
About the Author
Bonnie Trachtenberg is the author of two bestselling romantic comedies, Neurotically Yours, and her debut novel Wedlocked, which won the Gold Readers Favorite Award, the Beach Book Festival Award and the Indie Excellence Award. She writes a monthly relationship and advice column for LoveaHappyEnding.com. Bonnie was senior writer and copy chief at Book-of-the-Month Club and has written seven children’s book adaptations. She lives in New York with her husband, four cats and a dog.
You canlearn more about Bonnie Trachtenberg and read her blog at http://www.BonnieTrachtenberg.com.
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