14 YA Books to Get Back Into Reading

Here are some great books for Carpe Librum!


Photo from themillions.com

Kristen Catterson, Editor

At Castaic High School, most kids have become pretty familiar with the term “Carpe Librum.” Carpe Librum, meaning “seize the book,” is an exercise where students read 10 to 15 minutes during their English and Advisory classes. Reading has been proven to improve critical thinking, comprehension, and sleep readiness. 

Scrolling though the New York Times Bestseller list can seem daunting, and Barnes and Noble’s long pages of book covers can intimidate new readers. There are many popular books floating around the internet, like on TikTok and YouTube. Here are a few books that are lesser-known, very popular, and familiar classics.



I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai

After advocating for womens’ educational rights and denouncing the Taliban, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head at 15 years old on her school bus. Amazingly, she survived. Now, Malala is fully recovered and speaks for women’s and Pakistani rights on a global scale. She has spoken at the United Nations and won the Nobel Peace Prize at age 17. I Am Malala is the perfect novel for teens at any reading level, and for those who are interested in learning about her amazing story and Pakistani history.

Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads 


How Dare the Sun Rise by Sandra Uwiringiyimana, Abigail Pesta

Sandra Uwiringiyimana was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Held at gunpoint by a group of rebels invading the refugee camp she stayed in, they let her go, and she moved to America through a United States refugee program. As an immigrant in America, Uwiringiyimana had to tackle attending school with a different background than most students. How Dare the Sun Rise is an amazing memoir for any high schooler to read, written by a brilliant activist who has spoken alongside other powerful women and faced scrutiny at a young age. 

Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads



Today, Tonight, Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

On the last day of school, the seniors at Rowan Roth’s high school get to participate in a wide-ranged scavenger hunt called “Howl” across Seattle. Rowan and Neil McNab have been competing academically for years, but when Neil is announced as valedictorian, Rowan decides to win at one last thing—Howl. However, when another group of seniors target Rowan, she and Neil decide to work together for a joint victory. Even though they can’t stand each other, this novel is a great pick-me-up for anyone looking for a funny, lighthearted read. 

Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads


Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Tweet Cute follows high school students Pepper and Jack. Pepper is a classic overachiever—swim team coach, astoundly high GPA, and an all-around stellar academic record. Jack, the “class clown,” has a more popular twin who steals the spotlight. When Jack’s family recipe is stolen by Pepper’s family’s chain restaurant, they start an infamous war on Twitter for the whole internet to see. This book has social media, app development, family drama, and interesting character dynamics. Anyone looking for a dramatic rom-com would love Tweet Cute!

Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads


Science Fiction

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Like most YA science fiction protagonists, Juliet Ferrar’s parents are dead. Except, their deaths weren’t by the hands of villainous antagonists who were out to get them—it was her fault. Juliet’s touch is lethal, and because of this, she was locked in a prison by herself and her parents are gone. Now, with a new cellmate, Juliet is thrust into a world of people wanting to use her power to their advantage. She just has to decide if it’s for good or evil. Shatter Me is currently a 6 book series with multiple novellas by Tahereh Mafi.

Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Goodreads


Cinder by Marissa Meyer

It’s the future, and a girl named Cinder lives in the city of New Beijing. Cinder is a dystopian Cinderella retelling. However, this protagonist is a cyborg with some pretty great mechanical skills. She handles robots and works in a small repair shop while her stepmother worries about one of her stepsisters’ concerning illness. That’s when Cinder meets Kai, a mysterious prince. Will this retelling be exactly like the classic fairytale? Find out by picking it up! Cinder is part of the Lunar Chronicles, a 6 book series by Marissa Meyer.

Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads



We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

We Hunt the Flame is a fantasy novel set in an ancient Arabia-like world. Zahira is known as “the Hunter,” dressing as a man in order to feed the people in her community. Nasir, known as the “Prince of Death,” is forced to kill anyone that speaks out against his father, the sultan. They’re put in difficult positions when Nasir and Zahira are both sent to retrieve an item, but Nasir is also ordered to kill Zahira. This artifact can stop an encroaching and deadly forest known as the Arz, which spreads shadows across the land. Will they find the artifact, or will they kill each other first? We Hunt the Flame is part of a duology, and is being adapted into a TV series.

Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads


Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen is the tale of a world divided by which color blood you have. People with silver blood have powers, but red-blooded people are normal. Silvers, the elites, live in extravagance while the Reds live in the slums and live off of labor work. Mare, a red-blooded teenager, is thrust into the life of the Silvers as a servant after discovering unfortunate news about her friend. There, she realizes she has unique powers of her own…but she has red blood. This classic YA novel from 2015 is perfect for readers being introduced to the fantasy genre. With familiar tropes and layered characters, Red Queen is an instant favorite. Red Queen is also being adapted into a TV series by Peacock. There are 5 main books in the Red Queen series, with 2 additional novellas.

Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads


Historical Fiction

Walk On Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Walk on Earth a Stranger follows Lee Westfall. Lee has a power no one but her parents knows about: she can sense gold. When her parents are murdered, Lee flees west towards the Gold Rush. By dressing as a boy and working her way west, she is able to find her best friend after arriving in California. But will her power to sense the gold around her cause more harm than good, or will she become rich beyond her wildest dreams? Walk on Earth a Stranger is the first book in a trilogy.

Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads


These Violent Delights  by Chloe Gong

These Violent Delights is a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1926 Shanghai. The city of Shanghai is home to two rival gangs: the White Flowers, and the Scarlet Gang. Juliette is the heir to the Scarlet Gang, and Roma belongs to the White Flowers. With rumors swirling about a possible monster lurking in alleyways and shadows, Juliette and Roma are forced to work together. Finding a solution to their gangs’ troubles will get them away from each other as fast as possible, if they stick to the plan.

Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads


Books That Have Already Hit the Big and Small Screens

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower follows Charlie through his freshman year in the 90’s. A “wallflower,” Charlie keeps to himself and enjoys observing others. After being taken under Sam and Patrick’s wing, Charlie begins to open up and experience high school in a new way with the two seniors. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is beautifully written with charismatic characters and heartbreaking moments. You can watch The Perks of Being a Wallflower on Hulu, Amazon Prime, or Showtime.

Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Goodreads, Trailer


Looking For Alaska by John Green 

In Looking For Alaska, Miles is fascinated by famous last words. His brain is an encyclopedia for any celebrity, politician, or notable historical figure’s last words. Inspired by one of his favorite famous last word phrases, he moves to a new boarding school “seeking a Great Perhaps.” It’s at this boarding school where Miles meets Alaska Young and his new group of mischievous friends. Looking For Alaska starts off as a comedic novel about teenagers, but takes on a deeper meaning the further you read. Be prepared to contemplate the meaning of life after finishing this one. You can watch the Looking For Alaska television series on Hulu.

Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Goodreads, Trailer


Shadow and Bone / Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone:   

Shadow and Bone follows Alina Starkov, a teenage orphan part of the First Army, which is made of people without powers. The Second Army is made of people called Grisha, who have powers such as controlling fire, wind, water, and textiles. Both armies are working together to eliminate the Shadow Fold—a barrier of darkness that separates her country in two. However, after a trip through the Shadow Fold, Alina discovers she may have a power never seen before. Shadow and Bone is part of a trilogy with charming villains and a rich world.

Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads, Trailer


Six of Crows:

Six of Crows follows Kaz Brekker, a notorious gang leader and criminal prodigy in the city of Ketterdam. Kaz is offered an insane amount of money to steal something, and must put together the right team to do so flawlessly. So, Kaz hires 5 other people to split the money with: a spy, convict, sharpshooter, runaway, and Grisha. Six of Crows is a dangerous heist tale with complicated character relationships and backstories, but has a quick plot and rich world building.

Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads


The Series: 

The Shadow and Bone Netflix series combines the first book in the Shadow and Bone trilogy and a Six of Crows prequel. You can watch the first season on Netflix!


Photo from themillions.com