10. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
“Reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.”
— JOHN GREEN
A beautifully crafted story of two young people who are intelligent enough to know that, although your first love rarely lasts, it is worth it to try.
If you have read this already, try: Anything by Rainbow Rowell is, in a word: fantastic. She just has a masterful way of grabbing the reader’s attention and never letting go.
9. The Ruins of Gorlan (The Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 1) by John A. Flanagan
The action, the adventure, the surprises. Will is a fifteen year old boy with no parents.
He lives in the Ward with his friends: Alyss, Jennifer, George and Horace. Sadly, when you live in the Ward you are orphans and you basically take care of yourself. But Will’s past is a mystery. He was found in a basket with a note saying only that his mother died giving birth and his father was a Hero.
In this land, when you think of the word “Hero” you think of a knight and the only way to become a knight is battle school. Sadly, Will does not make it to battle school so he believes his life will be one of a farmer.
Until, a Ranger comes and hold the key to his destiny in a piece of paper. Will finds the paper and sees that he is to become the one thing people happen to fear.
— Ashley, Goodreads
Ruins of Gorlan does not immediately have what Eleanor & Park has: a recommendation from John Green. However, when the story begins flowing, you’ll start to wonder why you have not heard of this before and why on earth it has not been made into a movie just yet.
This book was Flanagan’s first try at making a series longer than two or three books. Keep that in mind (even though the first book is a gem) since this is the first book in a series, it does have some exposition and unneeded “boring” parts (as one reviewer repeatedly posted on Flanagan’s Goodreads page).
However, this book is a GEM – a gem, I tell you!
8. Bones & All by Camille DeAngelis
Since she was a baby, Maren has had what you might call “an issue” with affection. Anytime someone cares for her too much, she can’t seem to stop herself from eating them.
–The Back Cover
It is a paranormal… suspenseful… I do not even know… for sure….
But, great story, great characters, great humor.
It was a page turner!
There have been three books in my life as a bibliophile that qualify as a “could-not-put-it-down book.” Paper Towns was the first one, A Study in Charlotte was the second, and the third was this book.
7. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engel
It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.
“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract”.
— The Back Cover
Another gem that seems to have been forgotten in the depths of time is A Wrinkle in Time. It is a part of a series, but can be read as a stand-alone. It is a jaunt through time, space, dimensions… there are aliens, famous scientists… angels… pretty much everything you could want in a science-fiction/fantasy.
I actually remember reading this book before I even got into The Chronicles of Narnia or My Teacher is an Alien… so, you can probably guess by that last title that this book is a bit old. (Also, if you have not read My Teacher is an Alien, you definitely should – it is just a silly book that is fun for when you just want a laugh.)
6. The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Berlin, 1942 : When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move to a new house far, far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people in the distance.
But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different from his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.
WARNING: tear jerker. Just kidding, it is a free-flow of freaking tears from beginning to end. But, a beautiful story – amaranthine in both plot of characters. A true, true gem from cover to cover.
If you have read this, I would 100% recommend The Book Thief. If you have read that, All the Light We Cannot See and The Miniaturist are similar in style and just as great of stories.
5. The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli
The bells clang above plague-ridden London as Robin lies helpless, cold, and hungry.
The great house is empty, his father is fighting the Scots in the north, his mother is traveling with the Queen, and the servants have fled. He calls for help but only the stones hear his cries.
Suddenly someone else is in the house, coming towards Robin. It is Brother Luke, a wandering friar, who takes Robin to St. Mark’s Monastery, where he will be cared for until his father sends for him.
At last, a message comes–Robin is to meet his father at Castle Lindsay. The journey is dangerous, and the castle is located near the hostile Welsh border. Perched high in the hills, the castle appears invincible. But it is not. Under the cover of a thick fog the Welsh attack the castle. And Robin is the only one who can save it…
–The Back Cover
I will be honest, here… I have not read this book in its entirety. When I was a kid, we had this in audiobook form and we had started to listen to it when we moved from Iowa to Nebraska, but the second tape was destroyed in the move and I never found it again.
If you do find this book, I would definitely recommend it for fans of Narnia and Redwall.
4. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Characters from books literally leap off the page in this engrossing fantasy. Meggie has had her father to herself since her mother went away when she was young.
Mo taught her to read when she was five, and the two share a mutual love of books. He can “read” characters out of books. When she was three, he read aloud from a book called Inkheart and released characters into the real world.
At the same time, Meggie’s mother disappeared into the story. This “story within a story” will delight not just fantasy fans, but all readers who like an exciting plot with larger-than-life characters.
I really get tired of YA novels with heartbroken teenage girls. Inkheart‘s teenage girl is a strong, independent, lovely human beingand her parental unit is just as lovely as the story.
3. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green
Will Grayson meets Will Grayson. One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two strangers are about to cross paths. From that moment on, their world will collide and lives intertwine.
It’s not that far from Evanston to Naperville, but Chicago suburbanites Will Grayson and Will Grayson might as well live on different planets.
When fate delivers them both to the same surprising crossroads, the Will Graysons find their lives overlapping and hurtling in new and unexpected directions.
With a push from friends new and old – including the massive, and massively fabulous, Tiny Cooper, offensive lineman and musical theater auteur extraordinaire – Will and Will begin building toward respective romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most awesome high school musical.
–The Back Cover
What list about good books is complete without something by John Green?
As far as under appreciated books goes, Will Grayson, Will Grayson is certainly one of the lesser-known Green books.
As a homeschooler, I appreciate books like these that give me a bit of insight into what high school was like. I know it is not exactly what high school was like, but it is nice to think about rather than the Hollywood or Heathers edition of High School.
2. Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
This series is better than the Hunger Games and I have no clue why it doesn’t get more attention.
Probably because it would be pretty much impossible to make into a movie with one of the main characters being a toddler.
It’s up there with Harry Potter for me. Very intense.
By the last book or two it’s not a children’s book anymore to me- you’re getting into adult territory with war and serious themes, but you won’t be able to stop reading.
Also great on audiobook- the narrator does a great job and adds a lot to it. Question- does anyone else think that the phrase “everyone a rager” in Lorde’s song Glory and Gore might refer to this series?
— C. Wilhoit, Goodreads Reviewer
Like the reviewer said: I do not understand how this book gets so much less attention than The Hunger Games. It 100% is more colorful, more diverse, better characters (and character development), and a far better ending!
And, frankly, I would rather read a story about a young boy on an adventure in the Underland than a moody teenage girl in a love triangle.
1. Redwall by Brian Jaques
Redwall Abbey, tranquil home to a community of peace-loving mice is threatened by Cluny the Scourge – the evil-one-eyed rat warlord – and his battle-hardened horde of predators.
Cluny is certain that Redwall will fall easily to his fearsome army but he hasn’t bargained for the courage and strength of the combined forces of the Redwall mice and their loyal woodland friends.
–The Back Cover
This book gets a lot of harsh criticism. And for good reason. It is flat in places and defiantly has some icky sections leaving too much to the imagination.
But, I was 9 when I read this – the perfect age to read this book because my imagination when hog-wild in this fantasy land. Too hog-wild some would say.
This was pretty much the book that got me hooked on reading because I used to hate it. I know, I know, Hate reading? how is that possible? The truth is, When you’re eight or nine reading doesn’t normally sound as good as watching a cartoon. But one glorious day I somehow stumbled across a cartoon of Redwall, and I LOVED it!
I liked it so much that when the cartoon was over I had to know more about this amazing world, but I didn’t have a way of watching the other movies so I was forced to do something I hated, reading.
I got a copy of Redwall and I read it, and I read the next one, and the next one, and the next and the next one and so on. As I read my skill at reading improved, it was easier, I began to like it more. So I started reading more books such as The Series Of Unfortunate Events, Inkheart, Harry Potter, etc.
And before I knew it I was wanting to read more, I was wanting to experience more, I was like a starving T-Rex let loose on a herd of unsuspecting herbivores! Ok, maybe not a T-Rex but you get the idea. I was submersed in this amazing world and instead of just seeing boring stacks of compressed paper I saw gateways into a realm of endless possibilities, and it was all thanks to this book.
This simple tale of talking mice and evil rats, of snakes and stoats and adventure! And for that, I am grateful.
— Zeke Gill, Goodreads Reviewer