My fellow 2018 grads keep asking me for book suggestions.

First, *confetti*. I am delighted, comma, honored that you think I can recommend a book you’d like. Second, I am delighted, comma, heart-warmed that you are interested in reading again. You know, now that you don’t have to stare at college textbooks all day.

I also have a lot of friends who have, “Um, maybe never read a young adult book? Not sure. Does Harry Potter count?”

And I would love to help. The problem is, people have a magic knack for asking me for book recommendations right when I’m in the middle of, like, calling my doctor, or making pancakes, or something else equally distracting. So I’ve compiled a list of book recommendations here. I read most of these in the past year or so. Not all of them are new, but they were (mostly) new to me. They all impacted me lots. I hope they do the same for you.

(And, yeah. They’re mostly YA. You’re gonna love it.)

Some of these books are potentially triggering. A lot of them made me cry very loudly in very public spaces. But I found all of these books incredibly important, incredibly honest, and incredibly powerful. (And I found some pretty dang fun—it’s not all heavy stuff.) Publishers know that teenagers can handle a lot and want to engage with mature topics, so there is dark content here. A number of novels on my list deal with sexual assault. If you are not in a space to encounter these narratives, I am sending lots of love ❤️

So. Books. You want to read some books.

If you’ve been living under a rock…


To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

“You gonna break my heart, Covey?”

If you think teenagers are strong as hell, and you also want to cry and then laugh and then cry, etc…


The Hate U Give


If you want to listen to Lin-Manuel Miranda narrate an audiobook…


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe


If you want a feminist fantasy to make you cry, but then inspire you to tear down the patriarchy. But with dragons!


Tess of the Road


If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if someone close to you sexually assaulted someone…


Girl Made of Stars


If you want a really unusual structure, potentially with some wild and creepy Scandinavian landscapes…




If you want something in verse; or, if you don’t yet know you want something in verse, but you want to learn an incredibly powerful piece of history…


Blood Water Paint

Artemisia is an ICON and I will not shut up about her.


If you hate that “strong female heroine” so often means “girl who can wield a sword and has no emotions,” and you think there are much more interesting ways to be strong…


Exit, Pursued by a Bear


If you are just so damn furious at rape culture…


The Female of the Species


If you won’t stop talking about the Pacific Northwest…



“Why did everyone no longer a teenager automatically dismiss any feeling you had then? Who cared if he’d grow out of it? That didn’t make it any less true in those painful and euphoric days when it was happening.”


If you’d really rather read poetry than YA…


I Know Your Kind

Not YA. But poetry. Gorgeous poetry about the opioid epidemic in Appalachia.


If you think YA is “too fluffy” or “not complex enough” for your tastes…


And I Darken

Lol it’s Vlad the Impaler

(as a girl)

(and she is not fluffy)


If you were SUPER into the paranormal romance craze from when we were in middle school, but you fancy yourself more mature now…


The Cruel Prince


If you don’t want to choose between action, mystery, horror, science fiction, and fantasy…


Jane, Unlimited

Choose your own adventure!


If you studied abroad in Italy, or you really wish you had…


Love and Gelato

Ciao, ragazzi!


If you want to remember what it felt like to fall in love with a book at age ten…




If you haven’t ugly cried in a while…


We Are Okay


If you have literally NEVER touched a YA book…


Well, WHY NOT?


The Hunger Games


The Scorpio Races


The Book Thief



I hope you go forth and read. I hope you enjoy yourself. I hope you manage to reclaim the delightful joy reading gave you before rigid academic institutions quashed it out of you.

Books make us better people. And books are so much fun.