There are some things you must know about to be considered “cool” in school. Like Iron Man and Captain America are Marvel and Superman and Batman are D.C. Like Rachel and Finn were the cutest couple on Glee. And you must know any book is better than the movie. (Although The Fault In Our Stars was pretty close to perfection.)
The stereotype that anyone who loves books is a nerd is pretty much obsolete here in 2014. The Young Adult Fiction genre has grown and expanded its audience to adults and kids alike. And now books are the object of interest in Hollywood and pop culture.
More than 60 books were turned into movies in 2013, while only 27 books were made five years ago, according to Goodreads. Books are now in the main-stream. So we’re here to help you keep up with this emerging trend.
Here are 8 books (in no particular order) you must read to be considered cool. Or at least watch the movies to be considered properly well-versed in pop culture. (Warning: minor spoilers ahead but no major plot twists revealed.)
The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins
Key plot points: Katniss Everdeen is sent to kill people in a “game” to keep citizens from rebelling. Peeta Mellark (who has a crush on her) is also sent. They kill people. They almost die (multiple times). They start a rebellion.
Why you should read this: Let’s be honest, why SHOULDN’T you read this? Or at least watch the movies since they are almost spot-on accurate. Katniss is by far the strongest heroine we’ve ever met. She’s spunky and smart and loyal to her family. And then there’s Peeta and Gale (Katniss’s best friend and other love interest) who have equal amounts of bravery and intelligence and screaming fan girls. (#TeamPeeta or #TeamGale?)
Besides, this book can make you feel better about your life in a second. Broken heart? Well at least you don’t have to chose between your best friend and the sweet boy who gave you bread when you were starving. Tons of homework? Pfft, at least you’re not in the lottery to be in the Hunger Games.
The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth
Key plot points: Chicago is broken up into five groups, each based on a human virtue. Tris was taught to be selfless, but on her Choosing Day decides to be fearless instead. She meets Four, who’s crazy hot and is a lot like her. There’s a rebellion. They stop it. Chaos ensues.
Why you should read this: Also like Katniss, Tris is a remarkably strong protagonist, and unlike Katniss, Tris is very relatable. She literally started from the bottom and now she’s here—to the top of her class. Of course there’s also Four, who, in himself, is enough reason to start reading the series. He’s the classic tough guy that’s actually broken and vulnerable on the inside, and he’s just SO DARN broken, we feel compelled to pick up the pieces.
While the movie does the book some justice, there are major plot points that are bypassed that add to the overall world of dystopian Chicago. It would be a travesty if you couldn’t connect the dots in future movies.
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Key plot points: Hazel Grace Lancaster’s lungs suck at being lungs. Augustus Water’s leg refuses to be a leg. Therefore they are the perfect couple. Deep insights and devastating events occur.
Why you should read this: The movie is practically perfection, so if you’ve seen it, then you basically read the book. But really, you should just read it for the quotes. The entire book is a beautiful mess of deep insights, funny quips and romantic proclamations. If that isn’t enough, AUGUSTUS WATERS. Sweet, sweet Gus. Just for our sake, read the book. You’ll understand.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Key plot points: Eleanor comes from a messed-up family. Park comes from a great, but still imperfect family. They fall in love.
Why you should read this: I laughed. I cried. This book is so darn relatable to anyone who knows what it’s like to fall in love the first time. From the rocky introduction to the sweet gestures to passionate romance, this book takes you through it all. But it’s not only the romance that’s kills you, but how the book makes you so invested in the characters. You laugh when they laugh. You cry when they cry. It’s all just a big bundle of feels.
In John Green’s words: “Eleanor & Park reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.”
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Key plot points: A group of boys with no memories are stuck in the center of a maze. They try to escape. Lots of intense things occur.
Why you should read this: Action. Adventure. A dash of romance. Plus, woah, a male lead? This YA book has guys in mind—but it is still interesting for girls too. There’s no passionate romance or loads of hot guys, but don’t let that steer you away. The Maze itself is enough to keep you engaged with its intriguing history and such.
Plus, the movie coming out looks awesome from the trailers.
If I Stay by Gayle Foreman
Key plot points: A girl named Mia is in an accident. She has a whole out-of-body experience where she gets to see all of her family and friends’ reactions. She must decide if she will stay or go.
Why you should read this: For those into short but to the point, this book is for you. There’s a lot going on in the 208 pages. It’s fast-paced and Mia has a lot of the same worries as all of us. She isn’t sure if she wants to move far away from home for college. She worries about her relationship with her boyfriend. She has anxiety about her future.
The movie looks promising, so if you aren’t convinced, you can at least see the movie to know what all the hubbub is about.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Key plot points: Liesel is adopted by a German family during the Holocaust. Her family hides a Jew in their basement. Hitler takes over.
Why you should read this book: Death narrates the entire book. It creates a sort of dark yet funny perspective of the story about Liesel and her family. The writing itself is marvelous and the plot never slows down.
This is not just some historical fiction novel that only throws out facts to you and doesn’t have a real plot. This book makes you invest in the lives of the characters while sympathizing with Death and maybe, just maybe, understanding Nazi Germany for a Jew-sympathizer.
The Percy Jackson Series (and second series Heroes of Olympus) by Rick Riordan
Key plot points: The world is full of half-Greek (or Roman) god kids who must fight ancient monsters for survival. Percy Jackson is one of the “demi-gods.” Quests and romance and snarky comments abound.
Why you should read this: Because the adventure is almost OVER! The Blood of Olympus comes out in November and I’m not sure I’m ready for it to be finished. Percy and co. have been on so many grand (and extremely dangerous) adventures, I sort of wish Riordan had a third series spin-off in the works. The series grows with you and is so relatable to little kids and even adults. It’s worth the ride. Plus, hey, you learn all about Greek and Roman mythology.
Warning: the movies are nothing like the books, so don’t even think about basing an opinion off of them. The books are 100x better.
Of course there are more than just these eight. What are some of your suggestions?