Reading Teen Lit

by Janae Marks
published in Reading

Of all the books I read in a given year, I’d estimate 90% of it is young adult literature (YA). This hasn’t always been the case. In fact, I only started reading it a few years ago, when I was well past my teen years. The truth is, YA wasn’t very popular when I was a teen. It existed, but the selection wasn’t nearly as diverse as it is today. Instead of filling an entire corner of a bookstore, the section would consist of a few small shelves.

In a teen literature class that Gabriela and I took while getting our MFA, we learned that this category didn’t actually boom until 2003 when, after the success of Laurie Halse Anderson’s novel Speak in 1999, publishers realized just how much teens flocked to these types of stories. It’s continued to gain popularity ever since.

It’s easy to see why. These stories portray emotions and experiences that all readers—whether you’re the intended age group or not—can relate to. These days, you can find YA books in all genres, from literary and contemporary, to paranormal and fantasy. If you’re new to teen lit, here’s a list (broken up by genre) that I’m sure will make you fall in love with the category too.

Happy reading!

YA Classics

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky


Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins*
Divergent by Veronica Roth*
The Giver by Lois Lowry*
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi*

Science Fiction/Fantasy/Paranormal

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor*
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare*
Graceling by Kristin Cashore*
Across the Universe by Beth Revis*
Feed by M.T. Anderson
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater*
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White*

Historical Fiction

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson*
Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys
What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

Since I attended Book Expo America last week, I thought I’d also share the most buzzed-about YA books coming out this fall. Keep a lookout for these!

Skylark by Meagan Spooner* (out in August 2012)
What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang* (out in September 2012)
Crewel by Gennifer Albin* (out in October 2012)
Skinny by Donna Cooner (out in October 2012)
Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller & Zach Stentz (out in November 2012)

*These titles are the first in a series.

The above titles have been pinned on the DIY MFA Teen Lit Master Class Pin Board, so check it out for links and more info on these books!

Janae Marks is a young adult writer with an MFA in Writing for Children from The New School.


Enjoyed this article?