The Greatest "Youth" Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 280 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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The "Youth" category of books typically refers to literature that is written for and marketed towards young adults, typically between the ages of 12 and 18. These books often deal with themes and issues that are relevant to this age group, such as coming of age, identity, relationships, and social issues. They may also include elements of fantasy, science fiction, or other genres that appeal to young readers. Overall, the "Youth" category encompasses a wide range of books that are designed to engage and entertain young readers while also exploring important themes and ideas.

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  1. 1. First Folio by William Shakespeare

    This collection is a compilation of 36 plays by a renowned English playwright, published seven years after his death. It includes comedies, histories, and tragedies, some of which had never been published before. Notable works in the compilation include "Macbeth," "Julius Caesar," "Twelfth Night," "The Tempest," and "As You Like It." The collection is considered one of the most influential books ever published in the English language, as it preserved many of the playwright's works that might have otherwise been lost.

  2. 2. Kim by Rudyard Kipling

    "Kim" is a thrilling adventure set in India during the height of the British empire. The story follows the life of a young Irish orphan, Kimball O'Hara, who grows up on the streets of Lahore. Kim's life takes a dramatic turn when he becomes involved in the 'Great Game', the political conflict between Russia and Britain in Central Asia. Guided by an old Tibetan Lama on a spiritual quest, Kim is recruited by the British secret service and sent on a dangerous mission across the Himalayas. The novel explores themes of identity, imperialism, and East vs. West.

  3. 3. Macbeth by William Shakespeare

    This classic play follows the tragic tale of Macbeth, a Scottish general whose ambition is sparked by a prophecy from three witches that he will one day become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred on by his wife, Macbeth murders King Duncan and takes the throne. However, guilt and paranoia plague him, leading to a reign of terror and further bloodshed. His desperate attempts to cling onto power lead to his downfall, illustrating the destructive power of unchecked ambition.

  4. 4. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

    The book is a coming-of-age story about a sixth-grade girl who is growing up without a religious affiliation, due to her parents' interfaith marriage. The protagonist is in search of a single religion while also confronting typical pre-teen issues such as buying her first bra, having her first period, coping with crushes and the changes that come with growing up. The book explores themes of friendship, religion, love, and self-identity.

  5. 5. Black Boy by Richard Wright

    "Black Boy" is an autobiographical account of a young African-American boy growing up in the South during the early 20th century. The book explores his experiences with extreme poverty, racism, and his struggle to find his place in a society that marginalizes and devalues him. The protagonist's desire for self-expression and understanding leads him to a love of literature and writing, providing him with a means to challenge and critique the oppressive social structures around him.

  6. 6. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

    This classic play tells the tragic love story of two young individuals from feuding families in Verona, Italy. Despite their families' ongoing conflict, the pair secretly marry and vow to be together, no matter the cost. Their commitment leads to a series of unfortunate events, including misunderstandings, banishments, and ultimately, their untimely deaths. Their demise, however, reconciles their feuding families, leaving a poignant message about the destructive power of hate and the redemptive power of love.

  7. 7. Night by Elie Wiesel

    This book is a memoir of the author's experiences during the Holocaust, specifically in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. The narrative focuses on the relationship between a father and son under the most extreme circumstances, the loss of faith in God, humanity, and in each other, and the horrifying reality of the systematic genocide of six million Jews during World War II. The book is a poignant and stark examination of the depths of human evil and the enduring power of hope and survival.

  8. 8. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K Rowling

    In the fifth installment of this iconic series, the young wizard Harry Potter returns for his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, only to discover that much of the wizarding world, including the Ministry of Magic, is in denial about the teenager's recent encounter with the evil Lord Voldemort. Harry is also beset by disturbing dreams while the sinister prison guards of Azkaban have been stationed at Hogwarts to protect the school, and Harry's budding abilities as a wizard are put to the test. Meanwhile, a secret society, the Order of the Phoenix, is working to fight Voldemort and his followers, and Harry's role in the coming conflict is becoming ever more significant.

  9. 9. Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee

    "Cider with Rosie" is a memoir that captures the experiences of a young boy growing up in a small Cotswold village in England during the early 20th century. The narrative vividly portrays the simplicity and beauty of rural life, while also exploring the complexities of adolescence and first love. It is a nostalgic and evocative account of a bygone era, filled with memorable characters and richly detailed descriptions of the natural world.

  10. 10. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend

    The book is a humorous and touching glimpse into the life and mind of a British adolescent boy, navigating the challenges of teenage life. Written in diary format, the protagonist grapples with everything from acne, unrequited love, school bullies, family issues, and his aspirations of becoming an intellectual. His misinterpretations of the adult world around him, coupled with his overly serious and introspective nature, provide plenty of comedy and make for an endearing and relatable coming-of-age story.

  11. 11. Peter And Wendy by J. M. Barrie

    "Peter And Wendy" by JM Barrie is a beloved children's classic that tells the enchanting story of a young girl named Wendy Darling who, along with her two brothers, embarks on a magical adventure to the whimsical world of Neverland. There, they encounter the mischievous and eternal boy, Peter Pan, and his fairy companion, Tinker Bell. Together, they face thrilling escapades, battles with the villainous Captain Hook, and discover the importance of imagination, friendship, and the power of never growing up.

  12. 12. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

    This novel follows the poignant journey of two teenagers, both cancer patients, who meet in a support group and fall in love. Their shared experiences and unique outlook on life and death bring them closer together, and they embark on a trip to Amsterdam to meet a reclusive author they both admire. Through their journey, they explore the harsh realities of living with a terminal illness while also experiencing the beautiful and tragic aspects of first love.

  13. 13. One Writer's Beginnings by Eudora Welty

    This memoir explores the author's early life in Mississippi and her journey towards becoming a writer. The narrative is divided into three sections: Listening, Learning to See, and Finding a Voice, which respectively discuss the author's childhood memories, her education and love for reading, and her growth as a writer. The book delves into the author's personal experiences, her family history, and the influence of the Southern United States on her work.

  14. 14. Forever... by Judy Blume

    This novel follows the story of Katherine, a high school senior, as she navigates her first serious romantic relationship with a boy named Michael. The two fall in love and, after dealing with the complexities of intimacy and the pressures of their peers, they decide to take their relationship to the next level by becoming sexually active. The book explores the emotional and physical aspects of their relationship, the consequences of their decisions, and the reality that first love doesn't always last forever.

  15. 15. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

    Set during the turmoil of World War II, the novel follows the intersecting lives of a blind French girl and a German boy. The girl, living in occupied France, seeks solace in the world of books and the imagination, while the boy, a member of Hitler Youth, is a radio operator for the German forces. Their paths cross in the walled city of Saint-Malo, with the narrative exploring themes of survival, morality, and the human spirit.

  16. 16. The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle

    "The Lost World" is an adventure novel that follows a group of explorers as they embark on a perilous journey to a remote plateau in South America, where prehistoric creatures still roam. Led by an eccentric professor, the team encounters dangerous dinosaurs, hostile tribes, and treacherous terrain, testing their courage and resilience. As they strive to survive and document their discoveries, the explorers face thrilling encounters and unexpected challenges that push them to their limits. This thrilling tale of exploration and survival is filled with suspense, action, and a sense of wonder as the characters navigate the mysteries of this lost world.

  17. 17. Borstal Boy by Brendan Behan

    "Borstal Boy" is a semi-autobiographical novel that depicts the author's experiences in a British juvenile detention center, or borstal, during World War II. The young protagonist is arrested in Liverpool for his involvement with the Irish Republican Army and is sent to borstal where he spends his formative years. The narrative explores themes of patriotism, identity, and the complexities of adolescence, presenting a raw and compelling portrayal of life in detention and the relationships formed there.

  18. 18. Living Up The Street by Gary Soto

    "Living Up The Street" is a collection of autobiographical essays that explore the experiences of a Mexican-American boy growing up in the barrios of Fresno, California. The book delves into the realities of working-class life, highlighting themes of poverty, violence, and the struggle for identity. The protagonist's journey through adolescence is marked by a series of humorous, tragic, and poignant moments, offering a vivid depiction of life in a Hispanic community in America.

  19. 19. Tongue Set Free by Elias Canetti

    "Tongue Set Free" is a captivating memoir that explores the author's personal journey of self-discovery and identity formation. Through vivid and introspective storytelling, the book delves into the complexities of Canetti's multicultural upbringing, his struggles with language and communication, and his quest for freedom and belonging. With poetic prose and profound insights, the author reflects on the power of words, the influence of cultural heritage, and the transformative nature of embracing one's true self.

  20. 20. Growing Up Absurd by Paul Goodman

    "Growing Up Absurd" is a sociopolitical critique that explores the struggles of growing up in a society where the traditional routes to manhood – work, family, and citizenship – are increasingly invalidated. The author argues that this societal structure leads to widespread disaffection, mental illness, and juvenile delinquency among young people. He offers a profound analysis of contemporary culture and its effects on youth, also providing suggestions for societal change to address these issues.

  21. 21. The English Teacher by R. K. Narayan

    The book revolves around an English teacher living in India who is struggling with the death of his wife. After her passing, he begins to communicate with her through a medium, which brings him peace and helps him cope with his loss. The novel explores themes of love, loss, and the spiritual connection between the living and the dead. It also delves into the protagonist's journey of self-discovery and his eventual acceptance of his wife's death.

  22. 22. The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter

    The book is a heartwarming story of a young orphan boy of mixed ancestry who is raised by his Cherokee grandparents in the Appalachian Mountains during the Great Depression. His grandparents teach him the Cherokee way of life, including their spiritual beliefs, love for nature, respect for all living things, and the importance of tolerance and understanding. Despite the hardship and prejudice they face, they impart wisdom, love, and a unique perspective on life to the young boy.

  23. 23. The Last Shot by Darcy Frey

    This book provides a vivid account of the lives of four high school basketball players from Coney Island, New York, who dream of making it to the NBA. The narrative delves into the challenges and pressures they face, both on and off the court, as they navigate their senior year, aiming to secure college scholarships and rise out of their impoverished neighborhood. The author offers a poignant exploration of the intersection of sports, education, and socioeconomic status, revealing the slim odds and high stakes involved in the pursuit of athletic success as a means of escaping a cycle of poverty.

  24. 24. An American Childhood by Annie Dillard

    The memoir provides a vivid portrayal of the author's early years growing up in 1950s Pittsburgh, capturing the joys, challenges, and awakenings of childhood with lyrical prose and keen observations. Through a series of anecdotes and reflections, it explores the development of a young person's mind as she navigates family dynamics, social norms, and her burgeoning passion for nature and literature. The narrative is as much an ode to the innocence and curiosity of youth as it is a contemplation of the process of self-discovery and the formative experiences that shape our understanding of the world and our place within it.

  25. 25. Smile by Raina Telgemeier

    "Smile" is a heartfelt graphic novel memoir that follows the life of Raina, a sixth-grade girl who experiences a life-changing accident when she injures her two front teeth. Through a series of dental surgeries and awkward encounters, Raina navigates the ups and downs of middle school, friendship, and self-discovery. With her signature humor and relatable storytelling, Raina's journey of finding her own voice and embracing her imperfections is both inspiring and empowering.

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!


If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.