Long summer holidays are good opportunities to delve into new activities. For teens, this can be a good time to catch up on reading, especially as a way of exploration to mold their identities.
By Jasmine Kaur
The teen years can be a whirlwind of discovering identities and trying to find a place in the world. Given this, many teens might find comfort in art and literature to learn about the people who have come before them and live in different worlds, even fictional.
So, here are book recommendations for high school students for some summer reading. We have attempted to make the list diverse by including books from multiple genres like comedy, classics, new releases, graphic novels, poetry etc. This way there’s a little something for every teen. Moreover, the books chosen are some of the best books for high school students. We have also included a quote before the description of every book so that you may get a small peek into its world.
“Although I'm only fourteen, I know quite well what I want, I know who is right and who is wrong. I have my opinions, my own ideas and principles, and although it may sound pretty mad from an adolescent, I feel more of a person than a child, I feel quite independent of anyone.”
Anne Frank was a Jewish girl who lived in hiding during the Second World War. Her posthumously published diary has been loved by many, sold more than 30 million copies and translated to over 60 languages. Her voice is unique, humorous, engaging, and at the same time aware of the imminent threat of German capture. Her diary captures much of what it can mean to be a teenager, especially in such difficult times.
Get it from Amazon for ₹228 + (Paperback)
“The choice for [hu]mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of [hu]mankind, happiness is better.”
Published in 1949, this book is Orwell’s thought experiment on how the world might look by 1984. Though it didn’t come true, it’s had a powerful impact over the imaginations of many, having sold more than 30 million copies. So much so, that Orwellian is a common word in conversations about governmental control, propaganda and surveillance. This book can help teenagers understand more about the politics of everyday life and encourage them to think more critically about the structures around them.
Get it from Flipkart for ₹185 + (Paperback)
“I finally understood what my grandmother meant. If I wasn't comfortable with myself, I would never be comfortable.”
Combining both public and personal history, Satrapi sketches out her life in Iran and France before and after the Iranian Revolution. Though she is from an elite Iranian family, she manages to point out some of her own hypocrisies and the muted voices around her. Written in the form of a graphic novel, this book has become increasingly popular, having won many awards and made into a successful film.
This success is perhaps because such subject matter is usually not communicated in such an accessible and empowering format. This book can open doors to worlds hidden in dense history books and meandering words of politicians. This way teens can know that international politics is not above them, as it’s sometimes portrayed to be.
Get it from Amazon for ₹445 + (Paperback)
“The story so far: In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”
Adams brilliantly combines science-fiction with comedy, while also managing to include some astute observations about the world. The book starts off with the destruction of earth and follows the adventures of people who manage to escape it.
This is also one of the most beloved series, having sold over 16 million copies. It’s a must-read for lovers of comedy, especially teenagers, as they are still young in their discoveries about what Adams calls life, the universe and everything.
Get it from Amazon for ₹499 + (Paperback)
Instead of obtaining a mirror,
obtain a person.
Look into him.
Use different people.
Old, young, fat, small, etc.
This book is filled with some of the most experimental and interactive poetry. It asks you, dear reader, to try some of these pieces. But, even if you decide to not actually perform them out, just the ideas they present can be powerful. Teenagers deserve to know that self-expression doesn’t have to the same for everyone and that even a book of instructions can be poetry.
Get it from Amazon for ₹1,123 + (Paperback)
“Scars. A sign that you had been hurt. A sign that you had healed.”
This book is not about the historical Aristotle or Dante but still has philosophical and literary merit along with having won numerous awards. The story is primarily about the unexpected, yet deeply moving relationship between two boys.
The book not only explores the different ways people can help each other grow and live but also what it means to be a boy, especially in ways that are not usually talked about in media. This book also has a brilliantly narrated audiobook by the Pulitzer and Grammy-winning Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Get it from Amazon for ₹272 + (Paperback)
"Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms, or books written in a foreign language."
This book collects the letters Rilke wrote in the early 1900s to a teenager in the army looking for criticism on his poems. Though Rilke refused to give criticism, he had something to teach the young poet. This book can be beautiful and empowering read even for teenagers who do not want to be poets or even artists.
Rilke in his letters offers many of his valuable insights on topics such as what it means to grow old, to become an artist, the value of experience, the value of patiently living with questions and other important aspects of being alive and human.
Get it from Amazon for ₹289 + (Paperback)
“Between all of them, they have the glue, cellotape, scissors and the various Irfan pieces. It’s just a matter of efficiently sticking it all back together.”
Sankar steps into the brave new world of writing about mental health for the teenagers who are coming to age today in India. She even interspaces her writing with WhatsApp chats, which have become such a common medium for communication, especially amongst young people. Just released in January of 2019, this is a book many teenagers have been waiting for, even if they don’t know it yet. This is a book that understands the mental landscapes of teens, though falls somewhat short of showing us what recovery and moving forward might look like.
Get it from Amazon for₹221 + (Paperback)
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
It’s hard to have a list of book recommendations for teenagers without mentioning the Harry Potter books, which have sold more than 500 million copies. They are loved by so many for a reason and have the power to teach about the immense power of love even after all this time.
Get it from Amazon for ₹2,750 + (Paperback)
A list of book recommendations rarely feels complete as there’s always another book to fall in love with. So, to satiate both ourselves and our readers here’s a list of honourable mentions:
So, I hope that you find a book here for yourself. A book that speaks to you and shows you something that you hadn’t quite seen before. A book that adds magic in your life – because when you have received so much joy from books, you wish that joy for everyone.
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About the author:
Written by Jasmine Kaur on 17 April 2019.
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