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10 Books to Read Before You Turn Eighteen

10 Books to Read Before You Turn Eighteen

Hannah Feeney

I have been a long time booklover and over the past few years have read some incredible novels, biographies and stories. So after racking my brain and searching my bookshelf, I have put together a list of some of my favourite books that I think everyone should read before turning eighteen. With a mix of heavy subjects to lighthearted flicks, there should be something here for everybody.

So, whether you’re an avid bookworm or merely looking for a way to pass an afternoon. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I did…

Books to Read Before Eighteen

I will be entirely honest when I say that I randomly chose this book because I liked the colour of the cover! So I did not expect to lose hours of sleep for the following three days as I read it every chance I got. The novel follows the experience of sixteen year old Emory, whose brother has just returned from rehab after being involved in a tragic accident due to his drug addiction. The novel poignantly captures the devastation and pressures that Emory faces while trying to protect her brother as well as deal with her own personal problems and guilt following the accident. The novel left me with a fresh perspective on drug addiction and the devastating impact it has on not just its victims- but the people around them. Definitely deserves to be added on all to be read lists.

Another book that lost me hours of sleep (and led to some trouble with my Irish teacher!). This memoir follows the nomadic and abnormal upbringing of Jeanette Walls, as she documents her life, from her impoverished childhood with her alcoholic father and irresponsible mother to a high profile Hollywood journalist. The book captures the resilience of Walls as well as showcasing the complexities of the human species, as I found myself hating characters on one page and watching them redeem themselves on the next. 

Possibly one of the most famous books in history (and deservedly so), Anne Frank’s diary offers a glimpse of the everyday experience of the Jewish people during World War 2 as it documents the tragic life of Anne Frank from her thirteenth birthday in 1942 until days before her capture in 1944.

Throughout the novel, we receive a first person narration of a young girl living through calamitous times as she chronicles the inhumane rules imposed on the Jewish population of Amsterdam and the fear and struggles of being in hiding. The diary also includes the mundanities that relate Frank to the average teenager; fights with her mother, competition with her sister and romantic frustrations, that makes the book hit harder as you realise how young and innocent the victims of the holocaust were.

The diary of Anne Frank is a must read before eighteen as it captures the devastation and brutality of the holocaust through the eyes of a narrator of a similar age.

A bit of a lighter read! The Harry Potter books are undoubtedly one of the most celebrated book series in the world with millions of fans continuing to obsess with the uniqueness of the Potterverse. Step into the magical world of horcruxes, quidditch and Hogwarts with this spellbinding series. Definitely worth a read  if you haven’t already!

The Outsiders was a book that I read in third year English and had extremely low expectations for before reading it as I hadn’t really liked too many of our course books prior to reading this one. But I was blown away by the story and am currently re-reading the novel now. The Outsiders follows the life of Ponyboy Curtis, a fourteen year old boy in the 1950s who is a member of the Greaser gang. The main conflict of the book surrounds the gang rivalry between the working class greasers and the middle class ‘socs’ and how this rivalry leads to violence and disruption on both sides of the divide. The book gave me a fresh perspective of gang life and violence and a deeper empathy for the tribulations and complexities of a violent upbringing. At just 192 pages, Hinton, who was only seventeen at the time, manages to weave a world of three dimensional characters that leave the reader heartbroken and more open minded at the end of the book.

The Hate U Give was another novel that I read as part of my English class and absolutely adored. The Hate U Give is written from the perspective of Starr, a sixteen year old student who has just witnessed the murder of her innocent best friend Khalil, from the hands of the police. Throughout the book, Starr navigates the trauma of the accident and attempts to understand the violence and lack of privileges in her locality due to drug addiction and gang violence all while learning to find her voice and keep Khalil’s memory alive. The book explores the impact of racial discrimination and police brutality on black people in all aspects of their life and is an incredibly informative and essential book to read before eighteen. The prequel, Concrete Rose is also definitely worth a read!

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time follows the life of Christopher Boone, a fifteen year old boy who lives with Asperger’s Syndrome in London. Christopher’s mother has died and he lives with his father in Swindon, when one night he stumbles upon his neighbour’s dog dead in the lawn. Over the course of the novel, Christopher discovers some hidden secrets as he grapples with rediscovering everything that was once certain to him. The novel also does an incredible job at portraying autism and its nuances, using prime numbers for chapters and exploring Christophers need for pattern and order in his life.

See Also

The infamous trilogy narrated by Katniss Everdeen, a teenager in the dystopian Panem. Panem is divided into the city, the Capitol and its surrounding twelve districts, all of which provide essential goods for the city. Each year, two teenagers from each district are chosen to fight to death in the Hunger Games. Over the trilogy, Katniss’s resilience, bravery and determination takes the reader on a harrowing journey of survival and love as she fights to protect her country and the people nearest to her. With all four movies now available to stream on Netflix, the Hunger Games are definitely worth a read (or re-read). 

Certainly a lighter and more famous book but nevertheless a very enjoyable read. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was another book that I read in two days (sense a pattern!) and I was completely enamoured by the scandal, success and intricacies of old Hollywood and the infamous titular character Evelyn Hugo. The novel is written in biographical form as it follows the life of Evelyn Hugo from a teenager living in poverty in Hell’s Kitchen, New York to Hollywood’s biggest star. The book explores the determination and sacrifices that must be taken to attain fame and the heartbreaking impact that such fame can have. With plenty of twists and surprises, this novel is guaranteed to keep the reader hooked.

A beautiful novel written by an Irish author, this book follows the life of Saoirse,a Leaving Cert student who has moved to a small town in Clare after her mother’s death. Following the suicide of her ex- boyfriends, Finn, her classmates and friends turn on her and blame her for the death. The novel gracefully captures the loss and confusion that comes with suicide and the impact that such an event has on wider society. While, at times it can be a difficult story to get through, it is definitely worth a read as it gives such an exquisite look into the mind of someone struggling mentally and leaves the reader feeling equally empathetic as enlightened on the challenges that others face

What other books would you recommend to read before eighteen?

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