The 20 Best Influential Books for Young Adults to Read

It can be difficult to find influential books for young adults.

Books that not only make you think but also give you life-changing advice and inspire your creativity.

This blog post shares 20 of the most influential books for young adults with an excerpt from each book so that readers know what they are in store for before clicking on the link to purchase or borrow their copy!

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars is a book whose words will stay with you long after the last page.

This wonderfully influential book follows teenagers Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters as they fight their cancer diagnoses while falling in love for the first time—the ultimate Romeo & Juliet story if Shakespeare had opted to write an ending that doesn’t end in tragedy!

The influential book follows teenagers Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters as they fight their cancer diagnoses while falling in love for the first time—the ultimate Romeo & Juliet story if Shakespeare had opted to write an ending that doesn’t end in tragedy!

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver is a book about choice. It follows Jonas, who lives in a seemingly perfect society where everyone has their place and no one questions the rules of living laid out by those before them—until he is chosen as Receiver of Memory!

This influential tale will make young readers (and adults) question what they truly value as it takes you into a world that you will never want to come out of.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a story about friendship, family, love—and most importantly self-discovery.

This influential book follows two boys growing up in 1980s Texas who are brought together by their Mexican heritage but become inseparable friends regardless of it!

This influential book follows two boys growing up in 1980s Texas who are brought together by their Mexican heritage but become inseparable friends regardless of it!

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a book about choices.

It follows nine-year-old Bruno, whose family moves from their home to an out-of-the-way place called Out-With after his father gets a new job at a mysterious company.

But when he meets Shmuel—a boy who wears striped pajamas and lives behind a wire fence—Bruno decides he must know more about the strange place where Shmuel lives!

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

A Walk to Remember is a book about love.

It follows Landon, who begins attending the local Christian youth group where he meets Jamie—a girl with leukemia whom everyone has given up on!

But when she and Landon grow closer than anyone expected possible, will they be able to keep their relationship strong in the face of serious adversity?

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games trilogy is a book about survival.

It follows Katniss, who volunteers for the games in place of her younger sister when she realizes that Prim’s name was entered 22 times by their drunken abusive father!

This influential series takes you into Panem—a society where children are forced to fight each other to the death on live television—in a dystopian world that will make you want to fight for what’s right

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road is a book about hope. It follows an unnamed father and son as they walk across the post-apocalyptic landscape of America looking for food and shelter after some unknown event has destroyed most things we know today—and all that remains are cannibals, murderers, rapists, etc.!

This influential tale will give readers valuable insight into the human spirit in an utterly hopeless situation—and it will likely leave you with tears in your eyes.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones is a book about death. It follows Susie, who was murdered, and watches her family from heaven as they try to figure out what happened while struggling with their own grief!

This influential tale will open your eyes to the world beyond our reality in a way that you’ve likely never considered possible before.

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

The City of Ember is a book about hope.

It follows Lina and Doon as they discover that the mysterious people who live in their underground city are running out of oxygen—and no one will listen to them when they try to tell those in charge!

This influential tale shows young readers how important it can be for regular everyday citizens to band together to fight for what is actually right.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak is a book about healing.

It follows Melinda, who begins high school as an outcast after she was raped at summer camp—and no one believes her when she tries to tell them what really happened!

This influential tale shows young readers the power of speaking up in order to heal old wounds and begin anew.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows is a book about friendship. It follows Kaz, Inej, Nina, Matthias and Jesper as they come together to plan the greatest heist in history—and uncover secrets that will change their lives forever!

This influential fantasy tale brings six very different individuals into our world for us to get to know better—and fall in love with.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl is a book about hope.

It follows the story of one Jewish family living in Amsterdam, Holland during World War II as they hide from Nazis above their company’s warehouse for two years before being caught and sent to concentration camps!

This influential diary shows readers that even in horrific situations, extraordinary things can happen.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye is a book about identity. It follows Holden Caulfield as he tries to figure out who he really is after being kicked out of his fourth school and then getting expelled from another!

This influential tale will help young readers discover themselves by showing them that there’s no right or wrong way to go through life—and that it’s okay to be different.

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables is a book about imagination. It follows the story of an orphaned red-headed girl who has finally found her place in life at Green Gables—as long as she can convince Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert to let her stay!

This influential tale brings readers into another world full of adventure, hope, and love.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women is a book about family. It follows the story of four sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March—as they go from childhood to adulthood while their father fights in Civil War!

This influential tale shows young readers that at the end of the day, it’s our families who keep us going through everything life throws at us.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a book about hope. It follows Francie Nolan as she grows up dirt poor but still dreams of something better for her life—and finds it when she discovers the joys of reading!

This influential tale shows young readers that no matter what hand they’re dealt, things can always improve over time.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird is a book about justice. It follows the story of lawyer Atticus Finch as he defends Tom Robinson, an African American man falsely accused of rape in 1930s Alabama!

This influential tale shows readers that it’s never too late to do whatever you can for what you believe—even when everyone else tells you to stop.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief is a book about bravery. It follows Percy Jackson as he finds out that his father is actually Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea!

This influential adventure tale brings readers into Riordan’s world full of gods, quests, and magic—and shows them that it’s never too late to learn more about themselves and the world around them.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the Flies is a book about leadership. It follows a group of boys stranded on an uninhabited island who try to govern themselves—but fail miserably!

This influential tale shows readers that no matter what, it’s our duty not only to look out for ourselves but also for each other.

If You Come Softly by If You Come Softly

If You Come Softly is a book about love. It follows the story of star-crossed African American teenage lovers Miah and Jordin, who are from opposite sides of the tracks—literally!

This influential tale shows young readers that regardless of how different we may seem on the outside, it’s our inner lives that define who we are.

We hope you’ve found this list of the 20 best influential books for young adults to be helpful. If there are any books that we didn’t include in our list, feel free to share them with us!

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