Book recommendations

A page of books I think are neat!

I’ve separated these lists by perceived age categories and genre to the best of my abilities. Your mileage may vary. My own key words/tags for the works are between parentheses to give a hint of plot/setting elements.

Young Adult:

Fantasy:

  • Books of Bayern, by Shannon Hale (poetic, powers, sense of self, fairytale)
  • Book of a Thousand Days, by Shannon Hale (eastern setting, captivity, poetic, fairytale, diary-style, middle grade)
  • Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale (poetic, boarding school, isolation, middle grade)
  • Song of the Lioness, by Tamora Pierce (girl undercover, knights, mages, war, gender inequity, traditional fantasy, middle grade)
  • The Immortals, by Tamora Pierce (talking animals, mages, war, age difference, dragons, middle grade)
  • Protector of the Small, by Tamora Pierce (girl becoming knight, boarding school (ish), hazing, jousting, war)
  • Daughter of the Lioness, by Tamora Pierce (spies, slavery, rebellion, island setting)
  • Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman (dragons, renaissance setting, loneliness, music) followed by Tess of the Road (internalised misogyny, character growth, interspecies friendship)
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor (chimeras, angels, war, Prague, doors between dimensions, Romeo & Juliet)
  • Eon, by Alison Goodman (eastern setting, Chinese zodiac, energy dragons, prominent transgender character, girl in disguise)
  • Crown Duel, by Sherwood Smith (rebellion, traditional fantasy, renaissance, fashion, fan language, court life)
  • The Trouble With Kings, by Sherwood Smith (frequent kidnappings, passive but likable main character, amnesia, intrigue)
  • A Posse of Princesses, by Sherwood Smith (middle grade, boarding school, friendship)
  • Sasharia en Garde, by Sherwood Smith (fencing, swashbuckling, modern character in fantasy world)
  • Wildwood, by Juliet Marillier (Transylvania, faeries, fairytale, Byzantium, quests)
  • Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo (Russian tint, mages, boarding school, unreliable narrator)
  • Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo (fantasy Amsterdam in Dutch golden age, heist, found family, chronic pain, boy genius, trauma)
  • Graceling, by Kristin Cashore (powers, traditional fantasy, assassination, escape, sense of self)
  • Plain Kate, by Erin Bow (sacrifice, isolation, talking animal, platonic love, heartbreaking)
  • Serpentine, by Cindy Pon (snake demon, eastern setting, platonic love, warrior monks)
  • Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson (desert setting, chosen one, imposter syndrome, overweight main character)
  • Uprooted, by Naomi Novik (evil in the forest, belonging, magic, antisocial wizard, Polish-tinted setting)
  • Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik (faeries, Rumpelstiltskin, lyrical, Jewish MC, found family, societal antisemitism)

Science Fiction:

  • Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor (cultural differences, discrimination, space exploration, mathematics, girl genius MC)
  • Skyward, by Brandon Sanderson (pilot academy, intrepid girl MC, legacies, privilege, child soldiers, inhospitable planet, caverns, action)

Dystopian/future-world:

  • The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (violence, rebellion, surveillance, life-or-death games)
  • Divergent, by Veronica Roth (sectioned society, sense of self, conspiracy)
  • Legend, by Marie Lu (social inequity, conspiracy, Romeo & Juliet, split POVs)
  • Emergence, by David R. Palmer (spunky girl hero, apocalypse, survival, diary-style, preteen protagonist, evolution, animal sidekick)
  • Penryn & The End of Days, by Susan Ee (angels, apocalypse, survival, family)
  • The Lunar Chronicles, by Marissa Meyer (eastern setting, cyborgs, mind control, fairytales)
  • The Gracekeepers, by Kirsty Logan (floating circus, mermaids, barely habitable world, animal companion, rituals of mourning)

Supernatural:

  • Vampire Academy,  by Richelle Mead (boarding school, strong & sarcastic heroine, organized vampires)
  • Bloodlines, by Richelle Mead (boarding school, practical heroine, vampires, secret organization)
  • Dream Catcher, by Lisa McMann (parental neglect, experiencing others’ dreams, high school)
  • The Lynburn Legacy, by Sarah Rees Brennan (small English town, high school, spunky girl reporter, secrets)
  • Modern Faerie Tales, by Holly Black (modern faeries, strained parental relationships, running away from home, riddles)
  • Elemental, by Brigid Kemmerer (powers, self defense, sexual assault, high school)
  • Unearthly, by Cynthia Hand (angels, family, quest, high school)
  • A Certain Slant of Light, by Laura Whitcomb (ghosts, redemption, possession, high school, old-sounding narrator)
  • The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater (kelpies, bloodthirsty horses, racing, island setting, lyrical, split POVs)
  • The Raven Cycle, by Maggie Stiefvater (tight-knit friend group, quest, psychics, Welsh mythology)
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black (vampires, social media, quarantine, infection, gory, near-future)
  • Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell (meta, Chosen One at wizard boarding school, shifty mentor figures)

Contemporary:

  • Bittersweet, by Sarah Ockler (food cravings, small-town diner, slice of life, skating, high school)
  • Golden, by Jessi Kirby (soul-searching, small-town legend, secrets, high school)
  • On the Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta (boarding school, unreliable narrator, abandonment issues, mystery, lyrical)
  • Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell (college, social anxiety, fanfiction, writing)
  • The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green (cancer, sarcastic main character, heartbreaking)
  • Looking for Alaska, by John Green (soul-searching, grief, boarding school)
  • An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green (funny, lighthearted, soul-searching, boy genius)
  • Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins (Paris, boarding school, teenage confusion, addicting read)—followed by Lola and Isla

Adult:

Fantasy:

  • The Sevenwaters Trilogy, by Juliet Marillier (druidism, Ireland, lyrical, legends, Tuathe Dé Danann)
  • Heart’s Blood, by Juliet Marillier (beauty and the beast, female scribe, castle in the woods)
  • Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson (epic fantasy, rebellion, cool magic system, undercover operations)
  • Chalion, by Lois McMaster Bujold (epic fantasy, patron saints, older protagonists)
  • Children of the Desert, by Leona Wisoker (desert setting, older beings, quests)
  • Hero, by Moira J. Moore (funny, partnered magic, natural disasters, long series)
  • The Tamir Trilogy, by Lynn Flewelling (creepy, dark fantasy, magical disguise)
  • Dobrenica, by Sherwood Smith (modern-day, fictional country, eastern European)
  • A Fistful of Sky, by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (modern-day, powers, family, overweight main character, sense of self, lyrical)
  • Lancelot: Her Story, by Carol Anne Douglas (Arthurian legend, woman in disguise, lesbian romance, platonic love, war, religious shifts, women’s stories)
  • Medair, by Andrea K. Höst (magical happenstance, imperialism, time travel, alone in the world, unwanted attraction)
  • Darest duology, by Andrea K. Höst (magic, lgbtq+-friendly world, nontraditional families, politics, gardener mage)
  • Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho (regency England, alternate world, PoC main characters, the fairy realm, funny, surprisingly sweet)

Science fiction:

  • Shards of Honor, by Lois McMaster Bujold (older protagonist, stranded on a planet, cultural differences)—part of Vorkosigan Saga
  • Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold (disability, brittle bones, boy genius, warrior-like society, growing up, being 30+ and continuing to grow up)
  • Friday, by Robert A. Heinlein (genetically modified humans, stow-aways, discrimination, polyamory)
  • Vatta’s War, by Elizabeth Moon (female ship captain, space warfare, trading)
  • Sirantha Jax, by Ann Aguire (fugitives, space travel, survivor’s guilt, fantastic interspecies friendship)
  • The Host, by Stephenie Meyer (human parasites, two souls one body, alien invasion)
  • Wayfarers, by Becky Chambers (hopeful, alien races, diverse cast, space exploration, imaginative, character driven)
  • The Martian, by Andy Weir (near-future, realistic technology, agriculture, diary-style, humour, the human condition)
  • The Broken Earth, by N. K. Jemisin (plot twists, evolution, discrimination, angry mages, Earth magic, grief, powerful)
  • The Stars are Legion, by Kameron Hurley (feminism, gore, body horror, amnesia, found family, lgbtq+)
  • Dalí, by E.M. Hamill (genderfluid MC, survivor’s guilt, grief, alien society, undercover operation, discrimination, lgbtq+)

Romance:

  • Austenland, by Shannon Hale (Jane Austen, life within a play, funny, lighthearted)
  • Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell (internet surveillance, love from a distance, sense of self, 90s, office romance)
  • Lively St. Lemeston series, by Rose Lerner (class differences, diverse cast, regency, elections, sense of place, explicit)
  • Brothers Sinister series, by Courtney Milan (victorian times, class differences/struggle, overcoming trauma, interesting “history of science”-related twist/worldbuilding, explicit)
  • Cyclone series, by Courtney Milan (class differences, diverse cast, university setting, corporate world, explicit)
  • The Hating Game, by Sally Thorne (enemies to lovers, office romance, dense but lovable main character, explicit)
  • London Celebrities, by Lucy Parker (fake dating, actors, pleasantly subtle execution, explicit)
  • Echoes, by L. A. Ashton (vampires, childhood friends to lovers, love that lasts, mystery, werewolves, lgbtq+, explicit)
  • Red, White & Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston (politics, international romance, enemies to lovers, millennial humour, belated realisations of bisexuality, lgbtq+, explicit)
  • The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics, by Olivia Waite (regency, discrimination in the scientific community, art vs science, hurt/comfort, lgbtq+, explicit)

Other:

  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce (English countryside, 70+ protagonist, looking back on life, hope, self-discovery without being cheesy)
  • Sarah Tolerance series, by Madeleine E. Robins (fencing, sleuthing, somewhat alternate history, regency, practical protagonist)
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman (social isolation, upbeat main character, trauma, mental health, healing, Glasgow setting)

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