National Author’s Day, celebrated today on November 1st, is the perfect excuse to add a few new big and small names to your TBR list!
For our younger readers: high school, as we all know, can be difficult for everyone. Puberty sucks, and adolescence comes with difficulties that we could all use help navigating. Turn to these 10 amazing authors for wisdom, guidance, and thought-provoking stories that are sure to make your high school years a little bit better!
Angie Thomas (born September 20th, 1988) is an American author and former teen rapper. She is most well-known for her breakout YA novel, The Hate U Give. Thomas’ writing is not only evocative, but it is indelible in the way it stays with you!
Her first novel focuses on racism in the United States, and the horrifying impacts of police brutality––especially poignant in today’s day and age. The Hate U Give was adapted into a movie in 2018, with Amandla Stenberg playing the lead role of Starr. Thomas’ second novel, On the Come Up, came out in 2019 and allowed Thomas to flex her rapper background.
Marjane Satrapi (born November 2nd, 1969) is a French-Iranian illustrator and author (as well as film director). She is best known for her graphic novel, Persepolis.
Growing up in Tehran, Iran, enabled Satrapi to have a unique perspective on the events that occurred around her during her childhood and her adolescent years. The novels have been heavily challenged in classrooms by over-concerned parents, and because of that make for view-broadening reads! Pick up the Persepolis novels today for a real, authentic view into what life for a young girl in Iran was like!
Born on June 23rd, 1975, Markus Zusak is an Australian author. He is most notable for The Book Thief, and I Am the Messenger. The former has been adapted into over 40 languages, and is taught in high school and college classrooms alike!
Zusak’s bestseller, The Book Thief, is an important read. Told from the perspective of Death itself, it narrates the story of a little girl living in Nazi Germany. The girl, Liesel, helps steal and distribute books that Nazis are seeking to destroy. It’s a powerful story about the value of intellectual freedom, language, and human perseverance.
Stephen Chbosky (born January 25th, 1970) is an American screenwriter, novelist, television writer, and much more! He’s best known for his bestseller, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The novel was adapted into a hit movie in 2012.
If there’s one reason to give Chbosky’s books a read, it is that he truly understands the minds of teenagers. Especially teenagers that are struggling and going through some really difficult times. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a novel about a boy named Charlie trying to stay afloat while he makes his way through high school. If you’re someone who often feels alone, give Chbosky a read: you definitely won’t feel that way after!
Suzanne Collins (born August 10th, 1962) is best known for her The Hunger Games series, and understandably so! The author also has another series, The Underland Chronicles, but it was her first Hunger Games novel that threw her work into the spotlight.
Every teenager needs to read Collins’ works, specifically The Hunger Games. We live in a world where speaking up for what matters is getting more and more important with every passing day. If you’re a teen looking for small ways to be braver, then you won’t fail to feel inspired by Katniss Everdeen’s journey as the Mockingjay.
While they are technically more of a poet than an author, Danez Smith 100% deserves to be on this list all the same! Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, they are openly queer, non-binary, and outspoken about being HIV-positive!
Smith’s poetry is life-changing; their collections Homie and Don’t Call Us Dead is filled with several gut-punching poems! For anyone who is, to any degree, an outsider, you’ll find that the poetry just… gets it. Smith’s poetry also focuses quite a bit on the struggles of being Black in America, and the unfair expectations to perform masculinity.
Toni Morrison (February 18th, 1931-August 5th, 2019) was a prolific American author, essayist, and professor. Her first published story was titled The Bluest Eye and was released in 1987. In 1993 she was awarded the prestigious Nobel prize in literature! Additionally, she also won a pulitzer for her critically acclaimed novel, Beloved.
Morrison has a large collection of novels to read through, but Beloved is uniquely revolutionary. It tells the story of a family of formerly enslaved people whose home seems to be haunted. Thematically, it works with a lot of intense threads: intergenerational trauma, toxic masculinity, and the psychological effects of slavery. We can’t recommend it more.
Layli Long Soldier
Layli Long Soldier, like Danez Smith, is a poet you need to get to know this year! Her book, Whereas, is a beautiful collection that ruminates on language, colonization, and indigenous identity. Furthermore, Long Soldier is a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation, and her heritage shows proudly in her poetry.
Considering November is the month Thanksgiving is celebrated here in the United States, it’s important to understand the grave effects of colonization. Whereas is a very good place to start that process. You’re never too young to give this striking piece of art a read!
Born on December 20th, 1954, Sandra Cisneros is an American novelist, poet, and short story writer. Her first novel was The House on Mango Street. Following its success, she published a short story collection titled, Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories.
Cisneros’ work is a byproduct of her identity as someone who straddles two cultures but does not firmly belong in just one. The House on Mango Street is set in Mexico and follows Esperanza Cordero, a 12-year-old girl. Rooted heavily in Cisneros’ own upbringing, it is an expository and raw read that gets to the heart of issues of belonging, gender, and abuse.
Khaled Hosseini (born March 4th, 1965) is an Afghan-American author. His debut novel, The Kite Runner was both a critical success as well as a commercial one. His second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, was equally successful.
Both of Hosseini’s novels take place (at least partially) in Afghanistan and tell stories of strong familial dynamics. A Thousand Splendid Suns is a mother-daughter story that focuses on the resilience of women in heartbreaking situations. Written with painstaking care and love, Hosseini’s novels are always emotionally charged and unforgettable.
And so, there we have it, folks! As National Authors’ Day comes and goes, we have but just one reminder for our young readers: always learn more about the authors you read––oftentimes, their stories are deeply entwined in the art they create.
For more awesome authors to read, click here!