10 Best-Ever YA Novels

What are your Top 10 Best-Ever YA Novels?

So it’s Ask the Reader Wednesday here on the blog, and that’s my question for you. The question is prompted by this list on NPR books — it’s 235 books as chosen from what must have been the longest nomination list ever, and book readers are supposed to vote on their Top 10 Best-Ever YA novels from the list.  (To see the list and vote, click either of those links.)

I read the list, and thought limiting myself to 10 Best-Ever YA books would be really hard, but I discovered I had to opposite problem: getting to 10 Best-Ever YA books.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love so many books on that list! Definitely way more than 10. But “best-ever” is quite the qualifier, and while I love a lot of books, I don’t rank all of the books I love quite so highly. So finally, I had to come up with a way to choose 10 books and this is what I asked myself: If I had to give a 10-book bundle to a high school student, which books from this list would I include?

That one question was the best way for me to vote on my 10 because I needed a context for my “best-ever” selection. So here is my 10 Best-Ever YA Novels, as chosen by me, with the idea that I’d give this set to a teenager.  These are not ranked in any order; these are just my 10 votes.

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by David Levithan & Rachel Cohn

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Ash by Malinda Lo

The Curse Workers (series) by Holly Black

Some of these 10 were easy to pick, no hesitation, no thought necessary. Some of these were a little harder to settle on, not because I love them less, but just because it’s hard for me to pick 10 best-ever novels. There were also many novels on the list that I was sure would have made my 10 had I ever read them; but I haven’t gotten around to reading so many fantastic books, and I couldn’t vote for something I’ve not had the opportunity to read yet.

Have you voted on the list? If so, I’d love to hear what 10 novels you chose. Or, make up your own list — there were several novels I was surprised to not see in the 235 book list.

It’s a hard task, but it was very fun to stop and consider what really deserves the qualifier “best-ever.” I’m pretty sure if I made a similar list from every novel I’ve ever read, my “best-ever” list still wouldn’t be 10 books long. I’m not a hard reader to please by any means, but the books I count on as my favorites are few and very special to me.



    • I found the full NPR list of 235 novels very interesting. There were several that I’m surprised to see on such a list, and more I’m surprised to *not* see, as I mentioned. I’m surprised Huck Finn didn’t make the list, along with Little Women; though I don’t particularly like either novel, I did think they’d have broader appeal w. teens. At least, a lot of teens I know read those two and like them. I also wish I’d seen any Eva Ibbotson novel, but they are older and less known now.

  1. I’ve already told you my list, but here it is again:

    The Fault in our Stars by John Green

    It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

    The Demon’s Lexicon Series by Sarah Rees Brennan

    Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

    Looking for Alaska by John Green

    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    Unwind by Neil Shusterman

    Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

    Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

    Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

    I keep going through the comments on the article to see what books people think are missing. I agree with a lot of ’em and I’m wondering why NPR chose to cut the list off at 235, which seems like a strange number.

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