World Book Day

The Most Influential YA Books Of All Time

YA literature has become one of the most popular book genres for many years, and it’s no secret why. YA literature often deals with topics such as sexuality, coming of age, friendship, race and LGBTQ+; many of these topics were taboo to discuss openly a few decades ago. So not only is the targeted demographic utilizing these novels to gain insight on the most confusing years of their life, but adults are also enjoying the extremely relatable content. There is no shame in being an adult and loving YA novels; there are some amazing books out there! So on World Book Day let’s shine a light on some of the best to come out of this genre.

Here are some YA novels that every teenager and adult should read. Happy World Book Day and happy reading!

1. Twilight

image via Amazon

Can you feel the nostalgia in the air? Honestly, it wouldn’t be right to start off a YA novel list without the novel that captured the 2000’s by storm. Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight was nothing short of a phenomenon; becoming a New York Times Bestseller and ushering in a wave of vampire obsession for younger generations. For those who live under a rock/just forget, Twilight is about a seventeen year old named Bella Swan who moves to live with her Dad in Forks, Washington. It’s there she’s drawn to a handsome student named Edward Cullen…who happens to be a 104 year old vampire. Filled with danger and romance, the first novel lays the foundation for their love story. Getting its debut movie in 2008, Twilight was definitely a moment in book culture and pop culture. Whether you were a fan of the movies or were team books only (I adored both); it’s safe to admit 2008 were simpler times. So, Team Edward or Team Jacob?


2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower book cover
Image via Amazon

So, admission time: I didn’t read The Perks of Being a Wallflower until my senior year in college! However, it’s never too late for adults to get into Young Adult literature. The topics discussed in Stephen Chbosky’s novel, will have you, at times, forgetting you’re reading a book technically meant for younger audiences. The maturity and lessons on those pages make college (your living room will do too!) the perfect environment to break down Chbosky’s words. It’s a coming-of-age story about a teen named Charlie as he struggles to make friends and to be ‘normal’ as he begins high school. As Charlie and his friends continue on the path of young adulthood, they’re forced to acknowledge the trauma within their past. With themes like LGBTQ+ identity, drugs, mental health and sexual assault, this 1999 novel has never been so timely. The 2012 film adaptation The Perks of Being a Wallflower is now on Netflix, perfect quarantine material.

3. The Hate U Give

Image via Amazon

What’s that saying when a bride is about to get married? Something old and something new? You can have a list of famous titles we’ve loved since our childhood (shoutout to my fellow 90’s kids!), but you also have to add some new classics. Besides, a new face or two isn’t going to hurt anyone! Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give may have come out in 2017, but this new kid on the block is definitely making a lot of noise (and rightfully so!). Thomas’ novel is revolutionary for the mere fact that instead of creating vast universes, to help people escape from the issues plaguing society; she’s turning a magnifying glass towards it. In The Hate U Give, Starr witness her friend Khalil wrongfully shot and killed by the police. Starr is an African-American girl who’s trying to balance her life at her private school that’s mainly white and her at home life where she can be herself; she must choose her path as she fights for justice for Khalil. Blend in or Stand up? Catching the tone of racial injustices bubbling under this country’s service and movements such as Black Lives Matter; Starr’s story is unfortunately not unique, but quite common.


4. The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars book cover
Image via Amazon

Let’s gather our tissues and dive into John Green’s masterpiece, The Fault in Our Stars. Not only is it one of the best YA novels from the 2010s, but it’s one of the best YA novels ever. It’s so good it got a film adaptation in 2014. I saw the movie with my high school classmates and we wept together (definitely bonded for life after that). After being blown away by the movie, I bought the book and fell even more in love. In The Fault in Our Stars a girl named Hazel, who is combating thyroid cancer, is trying her best to have a ‘normal’ life; as a result she attends a cancer support group to meet others that understand her point of view. It’s there she meets a boy named Augustus, who has his own health battles. There hasn’t been a love story like Augustus and Hazel in Hollywood, and Green’s novel is nothing short of a classic.


5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

image via amazon

Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is not only an amazing YA novel, but it’s an amazing novel period. Sherman Alexie deserves to be a household name just like Stephenie Meyer or J. K. Rowling. Utilizing illustrations and humor to address not only the protagonist’s woes, but issues plaguing society as well, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a descendant of amazing titles such as Maus by Art Spiegelman and Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney. Even though the protagonist’s name is Junior, a lot of Junior’s struggles come from real life experiences experienced by Sherman. The story is about a boy who lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation. He is an aspiring cartoonist, but has a wide array of medical problems. Junior is severely bullied, but he’s determined to get a good education so he goes to an all-white school in a neighboring town. He is faced with the dilemma of being considered a traitor by his people and facing many obstacles. This book deserves all the accolades.


Honorable Mention:

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter
Image via eBay

Now you muggles and wizards, didn’t think I’d write a list on YA literature without saluting the wizard that left his mark on this genre, did you? I can’t even imagine what the YA genre would look like without the boy who lived. Although when J. K. Rowling debuted Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 1997, it was technically classified as a book for children; as the series progressed, and as Harry grew up, more mature themes were introduced. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were no longer wide-eyed children running from trolls; now they’re teenagers trying to find their voices as well as agency. I believe the fifth book not only captures Harry and the gang’s new phase perfectly, but it marks the turn from children’s fiction to YA literature for the series. On that note I say 10 points for Gryffindor! 

It’s no secret how impactful YA literature has been on pop culture. Hollywood just can’t enough of adapting the hottest novels to blockbuster movies and addicting shows on Netflix. On World Book Day, let us remember our favorite YA classics, or even add some more to our collection. These stories are timeless, and whether you’re young or young at heart, there’s something for everyone in this genre. Happy reading!

feature image via scholastic

Enjoying Bookstr? Get more by joining our email list!

Bookstr is community supported. If you enjoy Bookstr’s articles, quizzes, graphics and videos, please join our Patreon to support our writers and creators or donate to our Paypal and help Bookstr to keep supporting the book loving community.
Become a Patron!


Bookish Tweets To Celebrate UK World Book Day

So, if you want yet another reason to dedicate your whole day (if you can) to reading, then consider this argument for all of the books in your “To Be Read” pile collecting dust on your shelves…

Read more

Exclusive Interview with Max Joseph on ‘BOOKSTORES: How to Read More in the Golden Age of Content’

Best known for co-hosting MTV’s Catfish along with Nev Schulman, Max Joseph is also an acclaimed film director and avid book lover. Over the past year, Max embarked on a journey not only to find the world’s most beautiful bookstore, but also to figure our how to read the most books possible in the time that he has.

We were lucky enough to catch up with Max ahead of the release of his documentary short BOOKSTORES: How to Read More Books in the Golden Age of Content on this, World Book Day 2019.



You’re best known for your role co-hosting MTV’s Catfish with Nev Schulman, but last year you left Catfish and turned your attention to books! Your Book Stores project launches this month on World Book Day.  Can you talk a little about it and what led you to embark on such a quest?


There was really no causal relationship between leaving Catfish and starting the Bookstore project, I had pretty much shot it all and edited it all before I left, truth be told. There were like one or two more places I wanted to go, and then I wanted to wait till world book day to release it. I had always loved bookstores and I know I’m not the only one. You know the way a new book feels and smells and the fresh cover art and the colors, coupled with wanting to read so much and knowing I wont be able to get through enough books before I die and the added obstacles of the golden age of content we’re living in where there are a million distractions from getting through a book. So I kind of wanted to unpack that anxiety and see what it was all about and try to get to a place of peace and I think I kinda did.


In terms of the origins of the piece, I was actually commissioned to make this. I brought up the idea to my friends at VERO, which is a social media platform, based out of London. And they’re just kind of like the quirky culture nerdy guys who immediately identified with this anxiety, and who wanted to see this made and so they gave me support to go out and do it.


Well it’s great to hear there’s hope for us. You’ve said that ‘bookstores are basically like art galleries, with stories attached.’ Were there any bookstores in particular that inspired this quest, that made you think “I want to see more of this”?


Not really, there wasn’t one in particular. It’s just really any bookstore I duck into there’s always a feeling of euphoria coupled with extreme existential anxiety. I worked in a bookstore for a summer and that was an amazing experience, I bought so many books with the staff discount that I still haven’t gotten through, they’re still on my shelf, and that was part of the experience too, that led me to making this project.


Part of this quest was to consult experts in an effort to learn to read more quickly and absorb more information in the time you have. What’s a tip you can give readers who might want to read more quickly?


A core hack to reading more quickly is to really immerse yourself in what you’re reading, so really try to go into a deep meditative trance and see the images of what you’re reading. Anyone who gets really immersed in a book says it’s like watching a movie, but it never occurred to me to consciously try to do that the second I sit down to read. And so that helped. Also the Total War approach to reading a book, which is buying the hard copy, getting the e-copy on Kindle or iBook and then getting the book on tape and while that’s kind of expensive, the price of it makes you really invested in that book and you’re less likely to stop reading and pick up something else if you’ve spent a bunch of money on it. And then you really have no excuse to not get through the book as fast as you can ‘cause if you’re in your car or commuting on the subway on you’re on a plane and there’s not enough room to bring the big book that you’re reading, even reading off your phone instead of checking instagram and twitter, those are all great tips and tricks. And my friend Tim who’s featured in the peace, brought up the great hack of listening to books on tape at two times the speed, speeding up the pace at which the reader is reading.


Were there any books you came across as a result of this project, or that you tried these techniques on, that have stood out to you?


I made a list of books that I read over the course of it… I really did up my numbers significantly. I read a lot of non-fiction books so making a visual movie of a non-fiction book doesn’t work as well. But I recently read The Scapegoat by Daphne Daphne du Maurier, which was a great movie, to read. It was really cool and very engrossing, she’s so amazing and eloquent with her language so you get kind of hypnotized. Then I read Sapiens and Homo Deus and Lethal White by JK Rowling under her pen name Robert Galbraith too.


That sounds like a super satisfying upping of numbers! Speaking of books as movies, you wrote and directed We Are Your Friends, which starred Zac Efron and Emily Ratajkowski, along with Meaghan Oppenheimer, and it was adapted from a story by producer Richard Silverman. Could you talk a little bit about that adaptation process and if there were any books you’ve come across either in this project or throughout your life that you’d like to see adapted.


Well, that process was kind of more of a straight-forward development process, part of the Hollywood development process in which there was a seed of a story from a writer, and Richard’s many things on top of being a writer, and there was a seed that Working Title was very attracted to and I spoke to them about it and imagined other things around it and developed it with Meghan into what it became so that’s not quite like finding a book, falling in love with it and wanting to adapt it to the screen.


A lot of the books I love would be almost impossible to adapt into movies. I really love The Largess of the Sea Maiden that Denis Johnson wrote, it was published posthumously, and it’s really breathtaking. It would be an interesting movie to make. I mean, they did adapt Jesus’s Son into a great movie, I really enjoyed it and a lot of other people did too, so maybe it’s possible.


So the project is released on World Book Day. Do you have any special plans yourself for World Book Day?


That’s a great question. I’m going to go to the Last Bookstore in Downtown L.A. and browse. I feature it in the document. It’s the one that has the circle made out of books that you can put your arm through, and then there’s also  a tidal wave of books in there. It’s a great store, I think it’s in an old bank. There’s an amazing room of books in the vault. It’s a great independent bookstore, and a gem bookstore of L.A.



Check out the premiere of BOOKSTORES: How to Read More Books in the Golden Age of Content below!


New Book Contest Highlights Disability Inclusion in Children’s Lit

Author Julia Donaldson and actress Rachel Shenton are teaming up for a new book competition that hopes to bring more disability inclusion to the children’s book industry for World Book Day.

The National Deaf Children’s Society will open submissions for any story featuring a deaf character. The story needs to be written by a child ages 7-11 and between 200-800 words. The winner will get a chance to work with author Sarah Driver to turn this story into a published work. Donaldson will be the head judge.

Shenton, who won an Oscar for her documentary The Silent Child about a deaf girl struggling to communicate, stressed how much this contest meant to her.


“For World Book Day, which is such an exciting time for kids across the country to think about the stories they love, we need to remind everyone involved in the industry of how important disability inclusion is. From children’s authors to book publishers, featuring disabled characters and the experiences they go through couldn’t be more important.”


Donaldson has written two books about children with disabilities: Freddy and the Fairy about a fairy who learns how to read lips, and What the Jackdaw Saw about a bird who learns sign language. She expressed how excited she was to read these new stories.


Book covers for Freddie and the Fairy and What the Jackdaw Saw
Images Via Amazon


“I loved working on that story, and now I’m delighted to be involved in this writing competition. I can’t wait to see the stories that deaf children across the country come up with.”


The submission deadline is April 30th. You can find more information here.



Featured Image Via Eventbrite