A College Student's Guide to YA Novels

If you’re anything like me, you tell anyone and everyone that you love reading. It’s not a lie because you do love reading, except...you haven’t actually read anything in about 6 months. Not gonna lie, sometimes it’s just easier to binge-watch your favorite show over and over. But there is hope for people like us! Read below for some fun, easy reads to get you back into the literary realm.

  1. 1. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

    Genre: Realistic Fiction

    Page Turning Speed: Super Fast

    Okay, Fangirl is my #1 go-to read whenever I’ve lost my steam. I’m not sure if it’s just because it's so relatable or appeases my fantasy of finding a boyfriend without leaving my room, but Fangirl is my favorite YA to read in one sitting.

    This novel features fanfic writer Cath and the daunting journey of starting college without her twin sister by her side. Cath feels lost and alone (as we all did our freshman year), and is unsure of how to navigate a new environment. Her favorite activity is writing her very successful fanfiction series based on Simon Snow by Gemma T. Leslie, but not everyone understands her passion for writing about someone else’s story. Join Cath as she learns how to step out of her comfort zone and embrace college life, as well as stay true to her passions.

    Did I just finish this book last week? Yes. Will I be reading it again this month? Of course. 

  2. 2. The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester

    Genre: Sci-fi/Fantasy

    Page Turning Speed: Soaringly Fast

    Buckle up for the best fantasy-sci-fi YA book you will ever read. I mean it. I’m absolutely in love with the concept of this novel: think Little House on the Prairie meets X-men (comparison by Stephenie Meyer). The main character, Piper McCloud, is a sweet southern girl who’s just about as normal as every other kid—except that she can fly. As you’d expect, the U.S. government isn’t too keen on having people with supernatural abilities roaming free, so Piper is sent off to a beautiful state-of-the-art school for “gifted” students. At first, Piper is overjoyed to meet new friends and learn how to hone her flying skills, but everything may not be what it seems. 

    To end my recommendation, I will say this: I am very particular about fantasy genres, and I usually am not impressed with the vast majority of YA fantasy/sci-fi novels, but this one is a MUST read. You won’t regret it.

  3. 3. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

    Genre: Fiction + Psychological Thriller

    Page Turning Speed: Exponentially Fast 

    If you’ve ever been blessed with wandering upon BookTok (the book side of TikTok), I can almost guarantee you’ve seen several tearful reviews of this novel. I can confidently say that those reactions are warranted. If you love a book with a cheerful plot and the most jarring twist imaginable, look no further.

    Looking for a distinct summary? The author’s short and concise synopsis is the best I can give you: “A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth.” Brace yourself for the biggest plot twist of your life. Or don’t, I can’t tell you what to do. 

  4. 4. If I Stay by Gayle Forman

    Genre: Realistic Fiction

    Page Turning Speed: Ripping-Out-Pages Fast (Ft. Tears)

    Hey! Hey, you! Want to cry for fun? Thought so. If I Stay by Gayle Forman is guaranteed to have you sobbing in your bed with a box of tissues about three chapters in. Maybe even sooner. This heart-wrenching novel features Mia Hall, a talented cellist, who has to decide between pursuing her dream of going to Julliard or staying with the love of her life, Adam. But in a matter of seconds, Mia’s life is ripped apart after a devastating car accident. On the verge of death, Mia must make another decision, but this time it isn’t just between school and a boy. It’s about living or dying. Which future will she choose for herself? There’s only one way to find out.

  5. 5. A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

    Genre: Realistic Fiction

    Page Turning Speed: Quick

    A Mango-Shaped Space is a staple YA book when I think back to my middle school days. The main character, Mia, has synesthesia: a condition in which a person can see sounds, smell colors, or taste shapes. Everyone seems to doubt Mia’s condition or, worse, fear her. Over the course of the story, she must learn to love herself and her condition. This story is one that I keep going back to, mainly because it’s a very unique plotline that involves a theme that applies to us all. 

Hopefully, these page-turners will get you back into reading. If not, you can always try again after you finish the next season of Grey’s Anatomy. Or Stranger Things. Or Great British Bake Off. Or...actually, you get the point. Happy reading!