Books You HAVE To Read (Updated 5/17/18)

This is a random list of books I’d recommend, broken down into genre. I will change the date when I update.

YA and MG:

1) Everything by Sarah Dessen

2) Everything by John Green, especially The Fault in Our Stars

3) Everything by Morgan Matson

4) Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

5) Everything by Gae Polisner

6) The Mockingbirds and The Rivals by Daisy Whitney (also When You Were Here and Starry Night)

7) Wonder by R.J. Palacio

8) Everything by Courtney Summers

9) Hate List by Jennifer Brown

10) How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford. Her others are also excellent.

11) Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick

12) Anything by Ellen Hopkins. My favorite is Burned, but her others are also good.

13)  Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.  LOVE THIS BOOK. Also Fangirl.

14)  If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch.

15)  Everything by Emery Lord

16)  We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

17)  Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

18)  The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

19)  We are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

20) Everything by Kasie West

21) Everything by Jason Reynolds

22) HELLO? by Liza Wiemer

23) Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

24) PS I Miss You by Jen Petro-Roy

25) The Leading Edge of Now by Marci Lyn Curtis

26) Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

27) Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

28) Emergency Contact by Mary HK Choi

29) Fall of Grace by Amy Fellner Dominy

30) Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

31) Everything by Becky Albertalli

32) Everything by Julie  Murphy

Paranormal YA:

1) Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

2) The Infernal Devices novels by Cassandra Clare

3) The Caster Chronicles (Beautiful Creatures, Beautiful Darkness and Beautiful Chaos) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

4) The Shade Trilogy (Shade, Shift and Shine) by Jeri Smith-Ready

5) The Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent

6) The Griffin trilogy by Darby Karchut

7) The Demon-Trapper’s Daughter series by Jana Oliver

8) The Diviners series by Libba Bray

9) Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

10) Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Dystopian YA (I’m going to assume you’ve read the Hunger Games trilogy):

1) Legend by Marie Lu

2) Across the Universe by Beth Revis (sequel is also wonderful)

3) Divergent by Veronica Roth. Insurgent is also excellent.

4) Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan. Spark is also excellent.

5) Scythe by Neal Shusterman (Thunderhead is also excellent)

Religious YA:

1) Faking Faith by Josie Bloss

2) OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy

3) Pure by Terra Elan McVoy

4) What Would Emma Do? by Eileen Cook (and then read her others)

5) Saints & Misfits by SK Ali


1) Anything by Chris Bohjalian (but especially Sandcastle Girls, Midwives, Trans-Sister Radio and The Night Strangers).

2) Anything by Jodi Picoult (but especially Plain Truth, The Pact, My Sister’s Keeper and 19 Minutes).

3) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. This is my favorite book EVER.

4) Room by Emma Donoghue

5) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

6) Unpredictable by Eileen Cook

7) The Meryl Streep Movie Club by Mia March

8) Everything by Allison Winn Scotch

9) An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

10) The Shortest Way Home by Miriam Parker (preorder)

11) Happiness for Beginners (or How to Walk Away; both are great) by Katherine Center


1) All of Harlan Coben’s standalone mysteries

2) Everything by Michael Connelly, but start with The Poet

3) Everything by Laura Lippman

4) Everything by Sara Paretsky

5) Everything by Lisa Gardner

6) Everything by Marcus Sakey

7) Everything by Sara Blaedel

8)  The Burning Air by Erin Kelly

9)  Stolen by Daniel Palmer

10)  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

11)  The Silent Wife by ASA Harrison

12)  Archetype by M.D. Waters (sort of a mystery)

13) The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn

14) Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

15) The Other Woman by Sandie Jones

Scary stuff:

1) Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (NOS4A2 is also excellent)

2) It by Stephen King

3) Pet Sematary by Stephen King

4) The Shining by Stephen King

5) The Ruins by Scott Smith

6)  Night Film by Marisha Pessl

7) The Hunger by Alma Katsu


1) Bossypants by Tina Fey

2) The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs (really, ANYTHING by A.J. Jacobs)

3) Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and Other Concerns by Mindy Kaling

4) The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure

5) Changing Shoes by Tina Sloan

6) Shock Value by Jason Zinoman

7) Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

8)  Shelf Discovery by Lizzie Skurnick

9) Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling

10) Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

11) I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

12) Everything is Horrible and Wonderful by Stephanie Wittels Wachs

13) Educated by Tara Westover

Religious Nonfiction:

1) Love Wins by Rob Bell

2) Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

3) Girl Meets God by Lauren F. Winner. Still is also excellent.

4) Red Letter Revolution by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo


11 thoughts on “Books You HAVE To Read (Updated 5/17/18)

  1. I’m surprised Ready, Player One didn’t make the list.
    Also I’ve been working my way through the Duane Swierczynski’s bibliography. Thanks for that start.

  2. This is so awesome, Kelly! I don’t know why I didn’t check this page before. I am going to add all these to my ‘TBR’ list and read them one after the other. I hope I have time. I love the category ‘Religious YA’. I loved Robin Brande’s ‘Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature’. I am assuming that the other books under this category will be similar. I can’t wait to explore them. I have the movie version of ‘Blue Like Jazz’. I didn’t know that it was based on a religious nonfiction book. I want to watch that movie soon. Thanks for all these wonderful recommendations, Kelly! I will keep coming back to this page often.

  3. There are so many books… which will be added to my already long list of “to read” books on goodreads (if they weren’t already there)! you can never have too many books, right? But on the John Green thing, I love TFIOS. I do. Hazel and Agustus are basically the best. However, the plot to Paper Towns is my favorite. It’s the one I’m most likely to recommend to read first – then people can go cry their eyes out at TFIOS. but basically: books are good. the more books the better. lovely list!

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