Books That Shaped a Generation: Influential Reads for Young Adults

Group of students with backpacks walking down a corridor

Young adult literature is so exciting, and it is probably the one area that has experienced the most growth over the past twenty years.

A wave of new authors with fresh perspectives and diverse backgrounds has added to the richness of the YA world. Plus, all the fabulous new genres and genre-blending have made it popular with both young adults and adults. That is exactly why we have brought out an Adult and Young Adult subscription bundle: Our adults are passionately diving into the world of YA literature!

Besides providing us with absolutely fabulous entertainment, YA literature gives teens a way to explore and understand the complexities of adolescence and the transition into adulthood. We love how YA books address so many different themes and issues that are topical and relevant to teens. It offers them new insights and perspectives they might not have encountered before!

Over the years, there are always certain books that stand out. These books don’t just capture our hearts and minds, they have the power to shape a generation. These novels and series have successfully managed to influence the way we think, our culture, and even individual lives. Here are a few of our favorites!

Books That Every Young Adult Should Read

Katniss Everdeen in a black jacket with arrows on her back looks anxiously to the side

The Hunger Games (Series) by Suzanne Collins

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

The Hunger Games introduces us to Katniss Everdeen, a heroine as resourceful and resilient as she is reluctant. Through her eyes, we experience the stark brutality of the Games. We loved the themes of survival, tyranny, and the power of hope and resistance, making this series a defining read for a generation confronting the complexities of modern society.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Series) by Rick Riordan

Imagine discovering you're a demigod, the child of a mortal and a Greek god. This is the reality for Percy Jackson, a seemingly average boy who finds himself thrust into a world where the gods of Olympus walk among us, hidden in plain sight.

Rick Riordan's series is a thrilling blend of modern-day adventure and ancient mythology as you journey across the United States into realms of myth and legend.

Through Percy's quests, the series explores themes of identity, friendship, and the search for belonging. The clever integration of mythological tales with contemporary settings and issues makes the series not only engaging but also a fascinating bridge between the past and present.

A Series of Unfortunate Events - Three children with vintage attire on a desolate pier with a gloomy sky

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Here, you will meet the Baudelaire orphans—Violet, Klaus, and Sunny—whose lives are turned upside down by the tragic death of their parents. In their quest to uncover the truth behind a mysterious fire, they encounter a series of misadventures and the nefarious Count Olaf, who is hell-bent on stealing their inheritance.

Lemony Snicket (a pen name for Daniel Handler) crafts a world filled with dark humor, clever wordplay, and a poignant exploration of resilience in the face of adversity. Through the Baudelaires' trials and tribulations, we learn about the importance of resourcefulness, the power of knowledge, and the unbreakable bond of family. This series not only entertains but also encourages young readers to question the world around them and stand firm against its injustices.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

John Green's poignant novel tells the story of Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, two teenagers who meet in a cancer support group and develop a deep and transformative connection.

The Fault in Our Stars explores themes of love, loss, and the human condition with humor, sensitivity, and a sharp awareness of the preciousness of life. The characters are brilliantly crafted, their voices authentic and compelling as they grapple with existential questions and the realities of their own mortality.

This novel resonates because of its raw honesty, beautifully crafted prose, and the unforgettable journey it takes us on. It is a great reminder that the power of love can overcome even the most insurmountable obstacles.

Cover of 'The Outsiders' book by S.E. Hinton featuring a dark figure.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Written when the author was just 16 years old, The Outsiders delves into the lives of teenagers navigating the tumultuous waters of social class conflicts, loyalty, and identity in 1960s America.

The story follows Ponyboy Curtis and his friends in the Greasers gang as they clash with the Socs, a group of wealthier kids from the other side of town. We thoroughly enjoyed how the novel explored ways in which external conflicts and prejudices can shape and distort our personal identity and relationships. Its themes of friendship, struggle, and the quest for understanding and common ground continue to make The Outsiders a timeless classic.

Influential Books for Young Adults

Each of these books, in its own unique way, has contributed to the shaping of a generation. They offer not just escape into other worlds but also a mirror reflecting the challenges, hopes, and dreams of young adulthood.

These stories take us on a journey of self-discovery as we explore complex themes, question societal norms, and, ultimately, find a piece of ourselves within the pages. These influential books will continue to touch hearts, inspire, challenge, and shape the minds of generations to come.

Make sure you never miss out on the latest YA novel accompanied by our world-famous surprise gifts. Subscribe now and save!! Happy reading from all of us at Once Upon a Book Club!

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