The best coming of age books

Who picked these books? Meet our 1,569 experts.

1,569 authors created a book list connected to coming of age, and here are their favorite coming of age books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission

What type of coming of age book?



By Alvin Orloff,

Book cover of Gutterboys

Ryszard I. Merey Author Of A + E 4Ever

From the list on queer, poisonous relationships with angst.

Who am I?

Growing up in a mostly pre-Internet time, I was hungry for androgynous and queer characters and didn’t know why. Books offered an escape hatch into the heads of the people I wanted to be. As I got older, writing was how I processed this disconnect, but for a long time, my lack of clarity negatively affected many of my relationships. It was through words (mine and others’) that I learned who I am. Amongst other things, a fragile and flawed and wildly imperfect person. It’s been great to see all the wholesome, positive LGBT rep that’s come out in literature over the last years, but my heart and stories will always belong to the bad-angel queers struggling to get a foot into Heaven. 

Ryszard's book list on queer, poisonous relationships with angst

Discover why each book is one of Ryszard's favorite books.

Why did Ryszard love this book?

Oh man, this book! It’s everything I want: Sweet, simple, cute, nostalgic, at times, just awful. Gutterboys taught me that a book with a soul and a soundtrack and a firm jab in the gut is the type of book I want to make. Set in the 80s, Jeremy is a naïve suburban Jewish teen who falls crazy-stupid in love with a gorgeous older hustler. Colin won’t date Jeremy, but he does take him on a New York adventure that will only unhinge innocent Jeremy more and more. If you like that intoxicatingly toxic unrequited gay love, give it a go!

By Alvin Orloff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gutterboys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A twisted gay tale of unrequited love in Lower Manhattan in the early 1980s filled with scenes of humorous debauchery. Jeremy, a shy 19-year-old, falls madly in love with Colin, a disturbed yet well-read older hustler. Though Colin rejects Jeremy as a lover, he takes him on as a protégé, introducing him to the hilariously depraved world of new wave nightclubs and gay bars in the days before AIDS and the war on drugs. Innocent Jeremy, protected by the guardian spirits of his beloved dead grandmothers - one a fiery Jewish socialist, the other a proper British matron - becomes…

The Complete Persepolis

By Marjane Satrapi,

Book cover of The Complete Persepolis

Sara Saedi Author Of I Miss You, I Hate This

From the list on life inside and outside of Iran.

Who am I?

I'm an Iranian-American who left the country with my family after the Islamic Revolution. I'm watching the events unfold in Iran since the murder of Mahsa Amini with equal parts sadness and awe. Sadness for the loss of life and awe for the bravery of the young protestors in the country. My books will always have a nod to my culture of origin—whether about growing up in an immigrant household in my memoir, Americanized, or writing an Iranian-American character like Parisa in I Miss You, I Hate This. It's been fascinating to see people in America pay attention to what's happening in Iran and I wanted to share some books that'll help inform their perspective. 

Sara's book list on life inside and outside of Iran

Discover why each book is one of Sara's favorite books.

Why did Sara love this book?

My family fled Iran a couple years after the Islamic Revolution, but growing up, my parents didn’t talk about that period in their life all that much. It was sort of like my friend whose dad never talked about Vietnam. So, even though I was born in Iran post-revolution, I didn’t learn much about the history of the Shah’s downfall until I read Marjane Satrapi’s incredible graphic novels – Persepolis, Books One and Two. Satrapi manages to create a funny and heartbreaking memoir about her adolescence during the revolution and her life as a young ex-pat living in Paris. 

Follow it up with her graphic novella, Embroiderieswhich delves into the sex lives of Iranian women. Another topic that was generally off-limits in our household.

By Marjane Satrapi,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Complete Persepolis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here, in one volume: Marjane Satrapi's best-selling, internationally acclaimed graphic memoir of growing up as a girl in revolutionary Iran. • "That Satrapi chose to tell her remarkable story as a gorgeous comic book makes it totally unique and indispensable" —TIME

Persepolis is the story of Satrapi's unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming—both…

Book cover of War at the Snow White Motel and Other Stories

Tziporah Cohen Author Of No Vacancy

From the list on middle grade set in motels and hotels.

Who am I?

When I was a kid, staying in a motel, even a run-down one, was a real treat. Flicking on all the switches to see what they controlled, exploring the bathroom for fun soaps and little shampoo bottles, sharing a room with my sister, swimming in the motel pool, and getting to eat sugar cereals at breakfast—all this was a wonderland to me as a kid. It was part of what made writing No Vacancy so much fun. There’s so much you can do with a motel or hotel setting, and I love to see what other authors come up with. I hope you do too!

Tziporah's book list on middle grade set in motels and hotels

Discover why each book is one of Tziporah's favorite books.

Why did Tziporah love this book?

I’m cheating a little here, because War at the Snow White Motel is a collection of short stories, and only the first one is set in a motel. But all these stories will draw you into the complicated emotional lives of kids who struggle to make sense of a world populated by adults who don’t always make sense, and each one will surprise you with that lovely twist that makes a short story so satisfying. At the end of the book is an afterword with notes from the author about each story—a delicious dessert after a scrumptious meal.

By Tim Wynne-Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked War at the Snow White Motel and Other Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In "War at the Snow White Motel," Rex and his family are vacationing in Vermont. A thoughtless act launches him into war with an older teenager at their motel, but a much bigger conflict - the Vietnam War - looms large on the horizon.

Ant wants to join the #FridaysForFuture movement - and impressing the new girl at school is only one good reason why. Joseph and Danny are determined to right an old wrong, no matter the consequences. Michel takes a road trip to spot a rare bird, and along the way learns what his father is really afraid…

Punk 57

By Penelope Douglas,

Book cover of Punk 57

Amy Oliveira Author Of Love Me, Maddie Mendoza

From the list on friends-to-lovers romance.

Who am I?

I’m a complete bookworm and romance addict. I love to see the old tropes being written with a fresh feel, and I’m a true believer that romance is so hard to write because everyone knows the end, but it’s up to the writer to bring you on a worthy journey. After reading countless friends-to-lovers novels, I can say with certainty I have the list with the best books written by the contemporary romance rock stars. Let’s get to it!

Amy's book list on friends-to-lovers romance

Discover why each book is one of Amy's favorite books.

Why did Amy love this book?

This is a pen pals turned to best friends turned to enemies turned to lovers story. And no one could write this mess better than Penelope Douglas. Punk 57 follows the friendship of two kids who only talk through letters until Misha transfers to Ryen’s school and discovers she’s nothing like in the letters. You can blame the hormones, but this book has the same amount of angst as it has of pure goodness.

By Penelope Douglas,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Punk 57 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From New York Times Bestselling Author, Penelope Douglas, comes the latest standalone love-hate romance.

We were perfect together. Until we met." MishaI can’t help but smile at the lyrics in her letter. She misses me. In fifth grade, my teacher set us up with pen pals from a different school. Thinking I was a girl, with a name like Misha, the other teacher paired me up with her student, Ryen. My teacher, believing Ryen was a boy like me, agreed. It didn’t take long for us to figure out the mistake. And in no time at all, we were arguing…

Book cover of Skating Over Thin Ice

Lorna Schultz Nicholson Author Of When You Least Expect It

From the list on determination and perseverance.

Who am I?

As a child I loved to read and write but I also loved sports. I played every sport I could, and races and games fueled me. My mother called me the “joiner.” Teams create bonds and friendships and I’m still in touch with former teammates. This gives me inspiration to write human interactions. Determination and perseverance are part of being an athlete and I write about strong characters who want to succeed but often meet obstacles along the way. I honestly believe that my sports background has helped me survive publishing, because both are full of highs and lows. Please, enjoy my recommended list because they’re books with heart.

Lorna's book list on determination and perseverance

Discover why each book is one of Lorna's favorite books.

Why did Lorna love this book?

This is such a beautifully written book that combines art and sport, two of my passions. Imogene is a piano prodigy and there wasn’t one moment in the book where I didn’t root for her. The teen love story between her and the suspended hockey player is so believable and not like typical teen romance novels. I liked that Mills didn’t sugarcoat the work that goes into being successful at something. The book was real and honest which made the ending completely realistic. 

By Jean Mills,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Skating Over Thin Ice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Imogen St. Pierre is a musical prodigy, a classical pianist touring Canada and abroad in a trio with her father and grandfather. Though clearly accomplished she is also painfully awkward socially, getting lost in the music even after it's over.

Imogen's in the final year in a private boarding school where she meets a boy of the same age, Nathan McCormick, who turns out to be the Next great hockey player. Nathan however has recently been penalized for a vicious fight in an international tournament. Imogen and Nathan don't exactly become an item, but there's an elusive special quality to…

Kristy's Great Idea

By Ann M. Martin,

Book cover of Kristy's Great Idea

Kit Rosewater Author Of The Derby Daredevils

From the list on middle grade with radical and epic friend groups.

Who am I?

As a kid, I had a lot of experience having a close group of friends… and a lot of experience looking into other groups from the outside. I waded from circle to circle, trying on friendships like some people try on hats. The books I’m recommending represent the best of fictional friend groups—the groups that topped any clique I saw in real life. Reading these books made me feel like an in-kid in the best possible way. Many of the characters remain the absolute coolest people I know, and serve as inspiration for the friend group dynamics I get to explore in my own stories. 

Kit's book list on middle grade with radical and epic friend groups

Discover why each book is one of Kit's favorite books.

Why did Kit love this book?

While I absolutely love the recent graphic novel series, I have to give some major props to the OG Baby-sitter’s Club. These books are the perfect length to devour on a lazy Sunday afternoon. With so many adventures to choose from as each member of the group gets to play narrator, it’s impossible to not feel like a fellow babysitter handing out club flyers or herding little kids into softball teams. You may even find yourself making your very own kid kit at home and filling up a box with puzzles and games to play with the neighbor’s cat. No? Just me, then?

By Ann M. Martin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kristy's Great Idea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Kristy Thomas has a great idea to form a BABYSITTERS CLUB
- a chance to earn money and spend time with her friends - she has
no idea how much the club will change everything.

Crank calls, uncontrollable toddlers, wild pets, untruthful clients
. . . running a business is hard work! Kristy and her co-founders,
Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey, are sure they can handle
anything. But only if they stick together . . .


High Fidelity

By Nick Hornby,

Book cover of High Fidelity

John Andrew Fredrick Author Of The King Of Good Intentions Part Three

From the list on reads if your rock ‘n’ roll party days are over.

Who am I?

I’m a perfect of exemplar of an author whose party days are decidedly not over, but I’m doubtless at the age/stage where I’m bloody contemplating at least paring down my intakes plural. Not that I’m still at it like a Sophomore or anything but I’m hanging in there. I get a great, tingly buzz (you had to have seen this coming!) recommending great books to keen readers. I live in a library—essentially—and friends who visit for a beer or a spliff most often leave with a book I’ve given them. Now you lot are gonna ask me to lend you some scratch! Now you’ve gone and done it, John! Haha.

John's book list on reads if your rock ‘n’ roll party days are over

Discover why each book is one of John's favorite books.

Why did John love this book?

This isn’t a particularly party-hearty (hardly?) novel, seeing as the music nerds satirized (and glorified) are mostly just f’ed up on wax, not honey oil or absinthe or something.  It will indeed make you laugh and give others a contact high of hilarity if they’re in the same room with you.

By Nick Hornby,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked High Fidelity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I've always loved Nick Hornby, and the way he writes characters and the way he thinks. It's funny and heartbreaking all at the same time."—Zoë Kravitz

From the bestselling author of Funny Girl, About a Boy, A Long Way Down and Dickens and Prince, a wise and hilarious novel about love, heartbreak, and rock and roll.

Rob is a pop music junkie who runs his own semi-failing record store. His girlfriend, Laura, has just left him for the guy upstairs, and Rob is both miserable and relieved. After all, could he have spent his life with someone who has a…

Book cover of Bittersweet Memories of Last Spring

Mary S. Palmer Author Of Boyington Oak: A Grave Injustice

From the list on understanding people and their motivations.

Who am I?

I was intrigued to write this creative nonfiction book because it is a true story. It’s Mobile’s oldest and most famous legend. After extensive research, I discovered Boyington had two unqualified jurors, and all was based on circumstantial evidence. Still, he was hanged at age nineteen. A group of Mobilians formed the Boyington Oak Society, and we’ve applied for a posthumous pardon. My play is produced annually at Oakleigh Historic Museum. It has also been optioned for a movie, and the script is written.

Mary's book list on understanding people and their motivations

Discover why each book is one of Mary's favorite books.

Why did Mary love this book?

This story of a young man moving to a new country is interesting because it shows the difficulties he has to go through. They are not only financial but also mental. He has to make adjustments to his thinking to fit into the new culture and he needs to learn a new language. He also has to work long hours to survive. But he does survive and becomes very successful by adapting and being versatile.

By Ardain Isma,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bittersweet Memories of Last Spring as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1980, 17-year-old Yrvin Lacroix is in a sailboat from Haiti bound for Miami, Florida in search of a better life. He leaves behind his beloved mother, his siblings, and Régine-his childhood sweetheart to whom he has made a promise to return.

In Miami, despite his precarious situation as a refugee, Yrvin joins Haitian exiles in the fight against the Duvalier dictatorship in Haiti as well as the struggle for refugee rights. He believes a win against the odds will help him shape the course of his life.

As time passes, Yrvin's love and passion for Régine begins to fade.…

Lawless Spaces

By Corey Ann Haydu,

Book cover of Lawless Spaces

Meg Eden Kuyatt Author Of Good Different

From the list on children’s stories in verse.

Who am I?

I have always straddled between the worlds of fiction and poetry. I received my MFA in poetry in 2016, but during my time in the program, I was often told my poems were too narrative. Sometimes in my fiction workshops in undergrad, I was told my stories were too poetic. So when I finally jumped into the world of verse, I really fell in love with the intersection of poetry and story. Finally, there was a medium that felt “just right!” There are so many fantastic novels in verse out there—with so many more to come—but I hope you’ll enjoy these five favorites of mine!

Meg's book list on children’s stories in verse

Discover why each book is one of Meg's favorite books.

Why did Meg love this book?

Lawless Spaces uses the novel in verse form to capture multiple voices over several generations, voices of women who all carry the same trauma of being sexualized as women in a patriarchal world.

The verse allows readers to see the patterns between characters in a really compelling way, and think about what has and hasn’t changed in our world regarding how women are viewed.

By Corey Ann Haydu,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lawless Spaces as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Perfect for fans of Deb Caletti, this “powerful, absorbing, and beautiful” (Booklist) coming-of-age novel in verse follows a teen girl who connects with the women of her maternal line through their journals and comes to better understand her fraught relationship with her mother.

Mimi’s relationship with her mother has always been difficult. But lately, her mother has been acting more withdrawn than usual, leaving Mimi to navigate the tricky world of turning sixteen alone. What she doesn’t expect is her mother’s advice to start journaling—just like all the woman in her family before her. It’s a tradition, she says. Expected.…

Book cover of Father Melancholy's Daughter

Sandra Hutchison Author Of The Awful Mess

From the list on deliciously wry novels with Christian themes.

Who am I?

As someone who grew up agnostic and somehow ended up an Episcopal Church lady, I’m intrigued by writers who deal with Christian belief respectfully without leaving their sense of humor behind. I don’t believe that faith is required to be moral—my nonreligious parents are more principled than many Christians I know—but I like to see characters work out that tension between what we’re taught in Scripture, what we believe or want to believe, and how we actually live it out in daily life (sins and all). I especially enjoy watching this happen in that peculiar petri dish of personalities that is any local church.

Sandra's book list on deliciously wry novels with Christian themes

Discover why each book is one of Sandra's favorite books.

Why did Sandra love this book?

This novel traces the coming of age of the only child, a daughter, of a very traditional Episcopal priest. He struggles with depression, a failed marriage, and his work. She struggles to keep up her father’s spirits and tend to his household, as well as with the abandonment of them by her mother and with the question of who she shall be when she isn’t just tending to her dad. Ultimately, she arrives at a calling of her own. It’s a warm-hearted, leisurely novel that also can be quite comical about church people and human interaction of all kinds, but also treats faith seriously. (There’s also a good sequel that takes us into her ministry, Evensong.)     

By Gail Godwin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Father Melancholy's Daughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A moving story of a father/daughter relationship set in present day small town America.

The Mountains Sing

By Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai,

Book cover of The Mountains Sing

Betty Bolte Author Of Becoming Lady Washington

From the list on historical fiction about emotionally strong women.

Who am I?

I “discovered” historical fiction when a teen and have devoured it ever since. When my parents took me to the Cowpens National Battlefield in South Carolina in 9th grade, I realized just how much I enjoyed learning about history in real life. I found that reading historical fiction breathed life into what can be a very dull read, so I wanted to bring history to life with my own words. Visiting historical properties has become a big passion of mine! Every trip I take includes a visit to some historical site or another. I’ve been writing historical fiction/romance/fantasy since the late 1990s.

Betty's book list on historical fiction about emotionally strong women

Discover why each book is one of Betty's favorite books.

Why did Betty love this book?

This story is set in Việt Nam and paints a clear picture of the people who lived there in the 1930-1980 timeframe of the story. The family faced hardships and tragedies, including being separated for several months when they were forced to flee for their lives. One thing I really appreciated was seeing the impact and impressions of the Việt Nam war on the people of that country. My brother fought over there—he was a Ranger in the Army—during that conflict and came home very different. In fact, he’s estranged himself from the family for the past 30+ years. Reading about the conflict from the other side gives me a clearer idea of what he might have seen or done that he never would tell me about.

By Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Mountains Sing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Years later in Ha Noi, her young granddaughter, Huong, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart.

Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Viet Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.

The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyen Phan Que Mai's first novel in English.

The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

By Rainer Maria Rilke, Burton Pike (translator),

Book cover of The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Mark Rowlands Author Of Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death, and Happiness

From the list on humans and other animals.

Who am I?

The most important formative experiences of my life were contained in the years I spent living and traveling with Brenin, a wolfdog. I can safely say that just about every worthwhile idea I have had – I am a professor of philosophy and ideas are supposed to be my thing – stemmed from those years. I have written many books since Brenin died, all of them, in one way or another, concerned with the question of what it is to be human. I am convinced that we can only understand this if we begin with the idea that we are animals and work from there.

Mark's book list on humans and other animals

Discover why each book is one of Mark's favorite books.

Why did Mark love this book?

Commonly thought to be about death, and our fear thereof, what I find most striking about this book is its piercing and utterly haunting analysis of the role of memories in making us who we are. The most important memories are the ones that are lost, and then return in a new form, deeply woven into our bodies, emotions, and feelings – as blood, as glance and gesture, as Rilke puts it. Rilke was a poet; this was his only excursion into the art form of the novel. So, the book falls apart after a while. But if anyone has written anything better than the first fifty pages or so, I am unacquainted with it.

By Rainer Maria Rilke, Burton Pike (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1910, Rilke's "Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge" is one the first great modernist novels, the account of poet-aspirant Brigge in his exploration of poetic individuality and his reflections on the experience of time as death approaches. This new translation by Burton Pike is a reaction to overly stylized previous translations, and aims to capture not only the beauty but also the strangeness, the spirit, of Rilke's German.

I Dare You

By Shantel Tessier,

Book cover of I Dare You

Lindsey Iler Author Of Glass Heart Savage

From the list on romance with heroes you’ll love to hate.

Who am I?

I’m an author who always finds something redeemable in the most chaotic characters. I not only love to write broken characters, but I search them out while reading. There’s something beautiful in their redemption and their growth. It’s simple to fall in love with the easy heroes, the ones that can do no wrong. The ones that make you stop reading because you don’t think you can take it anymore and cause your heart to race in the middle of the night as you devour their story, those are the heroes that I love. They usually end up being the ones you love to hate.

Lindsey's book list on romance with heroes you’ll love to hate

Discover why each book is one of Lindsey's favorite books.

Why did Lindsey love this book?

Delicious. Sexy. I Dare You is… honestly, I don’t know how to describe it. I think that’s why I love it so much. From the first page, you are immediately transported to this world full of chaos and depravity. Cole Reynolds is the ultimate book boyfriend with edge and a healthy dose of mystery to keep you enthralled until the middle of the night reading.

By Shantel Tessier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Dare You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What do you do when the devil has you in his sights? You show him that you can play his game. Austin Lowes is new to town. She's running from a mom who hates her to her dad who cares nothing about her. Only a few months and she will be free, or at least, that's what she hopes ... until she meets him.

Cole Reynolds is the devil disguised as a man. He wants her fear, he wants her blood, and he wants her soul. Just a little game, he says, I dare you. Will Austin survive him, or…

In Country

By Bobbie Ann Mason,

Book cover of In Country

Alice K. Boatwright Author Of Collateral Damage

From the list on the Vietnam War and what it all meant.

Who am I?

Alice K. Boatwright has lived in the US, England, France, and India – and her career as a writer about public health, education, and the arts has taken her around the world. She began writing short stories when she was young and holds an MFA in Writing Fiction from Columbia University. Her award-winning book about the Vietnam War era, Collateral Damage, was inspired by her own experiences during the war years in the US and the time she spent working on a project in Vietnam in 1993 and 1997. She is also the author of a short story chapbook, Sea, Sky, Islands; numerous stories published in journals, such as Calyx, Mississippi Review Online, America West, Penumbra, Stone Canoe, and Amarillo Bay; and the popular Ellie Kent mysteries, based on her experiences as an ex-pat living in an English village.

Alice's book list on the Vietnam War and what it all meant

Discover why each book is one of Alice's favorite books.

Why did Alice love this book?

This classic 1985 novel is a favorite because it broadens the focus to the impact of the war on the families. Set in 1984, the protagonist Samantha Hughes never knew her father, who was killed in Vietnam before she was born. Her uncle, who survived the war, is living with PTSD from his experiences there, and teenage Sam is trying to make sense of it all. The expression “in country” refers to time served at the site of a military operation (in this case, metaphorically, in Vietnam). The Los Angeles Times called this novel "A moral tale that entwines public history with private anguish."

By Bobbie Ann Mason,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bobbie Ann Mason’s debut novel—"a brilliant and moving book... a moral tale that entwines public history with private anguish."  —Los Angeles Times Book Review

“How Ms. Mason conjures a vivid image of the futility of war and its searing legacy of confusion out of the searching questions or a naïve later generation is nothing short of masterful.” —Kansas City Star

Samantha “Sam” Hughes is in her senior year of high school in rural Kentucky. Her father, whom she never knew, was killed in Vietnam before she was born. Sam lives with her uncle Emmett, a veteran who appears to be…

Book cover of Turtles All the Way Down

Sandra L. Rostirolla Author Of Making Friends With Monsters

From the list on what life is like living with mental illness.

Who am I?

My father died by suicide when I was thirteen. Because my family never spoke about the issues leading up to and resulting from this devastating event, we suffered a great deal. I have a deep love for books that expose just how dark, and troubled the teen existence can be. Authors who are brave enough to tackle such topics feed my bravery. The more stories we have on the topics of suicide, mental health, and trauma the broader the conversation and the more those who feel as though no one could possibly understand what they are going through feel seen.

Sandra's book list on what life is like living with mental illness

Discover why each book is one of Sandra's favorite books.

Why did Sandra love this book?

John Green’s description of Aza’s obsessive-compulsive disorder was so vivid, so real, I felt as though I was living Aza’s torment.

Many people might find this type of immersive experience off-putting and think, “Why would I want to feel such an extreme, when all I really want is an escape?”

I love nothing more than a story that takes me deep inside a character, and makes me “feel-the-feels” so to speak.

Plus, John Green’s eloquence with prose and dialog is unmatched. His writing stands in a league of its own.

By John Green,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Turtles All the Way Down as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The critically acclaimed, instant #1 bestseller by John Green, author of The Anthropocene Reviewed and The Fault in Our Stars

"A tender story about learning to cope when the world feels out of control." -People

"A sometimes heartbreaking, always illuminating, glimpse into how it feels to live with mental illness." - NPR

John Green, the award-winning, international bestselling author of The Anthropocene Reviewed, returns with a story of shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

Aza Holmes never intended to pursue the disappearance of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there's a…

Red, White & Royal Blue

By Casey McQuiston,

Book cover of Red, White & Royal Blue

Mary E. Twomey Author Of Angry Girl

From the list on “LGBTQ people are allowed to exist” reads.

Who am I?

I have an inclusive family with LGBTCuties whom I love dearly. I write and read paranormal romance, but quickly realized that my family might not be able to connect with my favorite genre because they don’t often see themselves represented as anything more than tragic plot points. I gaped at the horror that was hard to face, and realized I had work to do. Paranormal romance has enough room for all of us, so I set out to ensure that my children have books to read in my favorite genre, so we can all be one silly, magical family together, casting spells and looking around every corner for shifters and vampires.

Mary's book list on “LGBTQ people are allowed to exist” reads

Discover why each book is one of Mary's favorite books.

Why did Mary love this book?

This book has plenty of push and pull, and I couldn’t put it down.

I wanted the main guys to get together so badly, and loved watching them grow as young men, making important decisions for their respective countries while making peace with the social lens constantly being aimed their way. 

By Casey McQuiston,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Red, White & Royal Blue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

* Instant NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestseller *

What happens when America's First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius--his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There's only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when…


By Ingrid Law,

Book cover of Savvy

A.W. Downer Author Of Best Friends Playbook

From the list on The best books about friendship and family with homeschooled characters.

Who am I?

I was homeschooled from the beginning until I graduated from high school, and I’m now homeschooling my family. I also teach writing and English to kids from around the world, many of whom are homeschooled. As a kid, I loved fantasy and adventure stories, but I didn’t really like realistic stories because I wasn’t familiar with things like homeroom or class periods. I have loved finding books with characters who are homeschooled, especially if homeschooling is portrayed accurately. I also love stories about relationships, so stories with strong family ties and deep friendships are meaningful to me. I hope that both homeschoolers and other schoolers can enjoy these book picks!

A.W.'s book list on The best books about friendship and family with homeschooled characters

Discover why each book is one of A.W.'s favorite books.

Why did A.W. love this book?

Mibs (the main character) isn’t homeschooled yet, but she is about to be homeschooled with her older siblings. The characters felt like ones I would meet in my homeschool or church life. They felt comfortable.

But more than that, this book is just fun. I love the story and the characters so much, as well as the struggle to find what makes a person unique. The family bonds in Savvy are strong, and Mibs develops deep friendships with characters of all ages. It’s a special story, and one of my favorites. I am not doing it justice by half.

By Ingrid Law,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Savvy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

But just before the big day, Poppa is in a terrible accident. And now all Mibs wants is a savvy that will save him. In fact, Mibs is so sure she'll get a powerful savvy that she sneaks a ride to the hospital on a rickety bus with her sibling and the preacher's kids in tow. After this extraordinary adventure - full of talking tattoos and a kidnapping - not a soul on board will ever be the same.

Book cover of How to Be a Girl in the World

Cathleen Barnhart Author Of That's What Friends Do

From the list on #MeToo for middle grade readers.

Who am I?

In That’s What Friends Do, the #MeToo experience that Sammie’s mom shares with Sammie is my story. I was thirteen. I never told anyone. Even as I started writing my novel, it didn’t occur to me to share with my husband, or my teenage children, my experience. But one evening, as the #MeToo movement was exploding in the media, I was sitting around a dinner table with several other couples. All of the women had had a #MeToo experience. Most of us were young teens when it happened. Shame and guilt had kept us silent for far too long. My novel – and the others on my list – are working to break through that silence.

Cathleen's book list on #MeToo for middle grade readers

Discover why each book is one of Cathleen's favorite books.

Why did Cathleen love this book?

Lydia knows her mom’s boyfriend, Jeremy, makes her mom happy. But sometimes Jeremy makes Lydia really uncomfortable, especially when his hugs go on too long. She already dresses in baggy clothing so the boys in her school will stop saying things about her body. What more can Lyddie do? When her mom buys a run-down house, and Lyddie finds a book of magic spells inside, she thinks she has a solution: the right combination of magic spells will keep her safe. But when Lyddie’s spells don’t work against the boys, or Jeremy, she has to use her voice and her courage instead. I loved the way this wonderful coming-of-age novel confronts and challenges the culture of toxic masculinity that too often is used as a cover for bullying.

By Caela Carter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Be a Girl in the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the critically acclaimed author of the ALA Notable and Charlotte Huck Honor Book Forever, or a Long, Long Time comes a poignant coming-of-age novel about the complicated parts of growing up, finding your voice, and claiming your space. Perfect for fans of Rebecca Stead, Laurel Snyder, or Ali Benjamin!

Lydia hasn’t felt comfortable in her own skin since the boys at her school started commenting on the way she looks in her uniform. Her cousin and friends think she should be flattered, but the boys—and sometimes her mom’s boyfriend, Jeremy—make Lydia uncomfortable and confused. Even more confusing is when…

Book cover of The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot

Karen Cassiday Author Of The No Worries Guide to Raising Your Anxious Child: A Handbook to Help You and Your Anxious Child Thrive

From the list on becoming a better human even when you're not sure you want to.

Who am I?

I've always been fascinated with how people overcome terrible circumstances ever since my childhood when my parents took me through the Tower of London and told me people survived the horrible torture devices on display. I got into reading biographies of war heroes, concentration camp survivors, and athletes who survived torture, betrayal, illness, and cruelty only to become people I admire. I became a clinical psychologist because I love inspiring others to discover their own greatness during life’s worst moments. I’ve had to learn how to find love, hope, and meaning when trauma, disability, death, and broken promises have ground me down to a bloody pulp.

Karen's book list on becoming a better human even when you're not sure you want to

Discover why each book is one of Karen's favorite books.

Why did Karen love this book?

This book tells the story of a teenage girl with terminal cancer who befriends a hospital chaplain and an elderly woman during her last year of life. 

She asks the big questions of life and finds friendship and meaning during existential and physical struggle. You cannot help but fall in love with the characters and share their efforts to find self, meaning, and hope during great struggle.

By Marianne Cronin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Emotional, involving, witty and sad. Everyone is going to love Lenni and Margot'

'Lenni and Margot are two of the most wonderful, warm, witty and wise heroines I've ever met. Beautiful and glorious' CLARE POOLEY, author of The Authenticity Project

Fiercely alive, disarmingly funny and brimming with tenderness, THE ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF LENNI AND MARGOT unwraps the extraordinary gift of life, and revels in our infinite capacity for friendship and love when we need them most.

Life is short.

No-one knows that better than seventeen-year-old Lenni. But as…

Book cover of The Last True Poets of the Sea

Siri Caldwell Author Of The Mermaid Hypothesis

From the list on LGBTQ+ stories about feeling lost, then found.

Who am I?

Every time I write a romance novel, I find myself returning to the same themes: seeing people for who they are beneath the surface, respecting others despite differences, and choosing to love those who might seem a little odd. Whether they’re angels, mermaids, or plain old humans, my characters lead lives where, despite marginalization and alienation, love and a sense of belonging are possible. My Christmas novella, Mistletoe Mishap, was a Lambda Literary Award finalist.

Siri's book list on LGBTQ+ stories about feeling lost, then found

Discover why each book is one of Siri's favorite books.

Why did Siri love this book?

I typically don’t read YA, but I’d just finished writing a book about searching for an ancient shipwreck, so I thought, why not see what someone else did with this idea? And I’m so glad I did. Otherwise I would have missed out on this compelling inner journey of a teenager who tries on adult responsibility and explores who she wants to be: someone who flees, breaks down, acts out, steps up, reaches for meaningful connection, or (and) loves.

By Julia Drake,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last True Poets of the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Larkin family isn't just lucky -- they persevere. At least that's what Violet and her younger brother, Sam, were always told. When the Lyric sank off the coast of Maine, their great-great-great-grandmother didn't drown like the rest of the passengers. No, Fidelia swam to shore, fell in love, and founded Lyric, Maine, the town Violet and Sam returned to every summer. But wrecks seem to run in the family: Tall, funny, musical Violet can't stop partying with the wrong people. And, one beautiful summer day, brilliant, sensitive Sam attempts to take his own life.

Shipped back to Lyric while…