Reading List for Juniors

I was asked twice today for reading recommendations for juniors. Yessssssss! (I love this question.)

First off, I recommend SO highly picking stuff that you are actually interested in reading. Good reading isn’t necessarily boring; and if you like what you’re reading, you’re much more likely to get it done!

Here are some titles I can recommend highly:

(plus commentary from me because I can’t help myself.)


“Emma” by Jane Austen
I have known more than a few people who fell in love with reading BECAUSE of Jane Austen. This story is so relatable. The reading level is perfect (they actually had a passage from “Emma” on the SAT recently). And it’s fun!

“Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens
Most of my recommendations are not the easy books to read. This one might be the toughest, but man is it good. And keep this in mind: I swear to you it’ll get easier as you read it. And when you’re done, you’ll be the equivalent of a jacked-up bodybuilder, only for reading.

“No Country for Old Men” by Cormac McCarthy
A lot of people recommend “The Road.” I’d start with this one, which reads like a freaking tornado. So fun, so good, and might lead to a Cormac McCarthy addiction, which is not a bad thing.

“Selected Tales” by Edgar Allen Poe
Everyone loves Poe. His stories are dark, imaginative, scary… why wouldn’t we love them?

“The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver
Here’s another challenging book that’s utterly fun and brilliant at the same time. Such a good tale of brilliant women trying to survive against impossible odds.

“Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer
Another barnburner. You’ll pick this up and not put it down. I knew the story but didn’t read it till this past summer. I realized then that Krakauer doesn’t just pick good stories, he writes them impeccably.

“Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides
The kind of book you can brag about having read when you get to college. Be one of the cool kids! Read Eugenides! It’s fun, strange, moving, smart.

“White Teeth” by Zadie Smith
A super modern novel. She writes up to our times, not down to them. I’m glad I get to live in Zadie Smith’s world.

“A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving
I have to include this one even though (confession!) I have not read this book. Someone I love was going on about it and was so moved by it that’s it’s now on my list and I’m pretty sure it should be on yours too.

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