With so many must-read books constantly hitting the shelves, it can be easy to forget the classic titles that first sparked our love for reading years ago. Some of those middle and high school favorites may be worth a reread though, especially during the dreary days of winter when your perfect weekend involves cozying up on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate. Grab one of these throwback books for your next reading spree, and let the reminiscing begin!
first books in favorite series
1. The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene ($8): When it comes to smart and independent literary heroines, Nancy Drew is definitely an OG. The Secret of the Old Clock will make you nostalgic for the days when a good mystery could be solved with nothing more than a detective’s notebook and some quick thinking.
2. Best Friends by Francine Pascal ($3): If you ever dreamed of having a twin when you were a kid, we’re pretty sure that Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield probably had something to do with it. Series creator Francine Pascal chronicled the story of these spunky blondies for many years, but if you’re just looking for a single dose of Sweet Valley memories, you can go all the way back to the beginning with Best Friends.
3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling ($11): Before Emma Watson brought Hermione to the screen (and proved she is a witch we can all look up to), there was a page-turning adventure that inspired many of us ’90s kids to attend midnight book release parties wearing capes and lightning bolt tattoos (embarrassing!). While the Harry Potter movies are great, there’s nothing like the original novels to remind you how magical Hogwarts really is.
4. Gossip Girl: A Novel by Cecily Von Ziegesar ($12): Just like the TV series it inspired, Cecily Von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl series gave us a peek into the ultra-glamorous world of New York City’s Upper East Side society. Revisiting the world of Blair, Serena, Chuck, and Nate from the other side of adulthood will make you wonder why your high school experience was so… unfabulous.
5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins ($11): There’s no braver book heroine than Katniss Everdeen — and there are few debates that have sparked more controversy than the one between Team Peeta and Team Gale. We dare you to cuddle up with this bestseller and not finish it in a single sitting.
middle school LIBRARY GEMs
6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee ($15): Most of us read this book for the first time because it was assigned by a teacher, but To Kill a Mockingbird takes on brand-new meaning when you pick it up by choice — especially when you have a few years of experience in the adult world behind you. The story of Scout Finch, her father Atticus, and the mysterious Boo Radley is a timeless one.
7. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot ($10): Remember when you secretly thought that maybe you were really a princess? It was probably because of Mia Thermopolis and her transition from a crazy awkward high schooler to a pretty awkward royal. Rereading this book will take you back in all the best ways (and remind you that there was a time in which Anne Hathaway wasn’t so famous).
8. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine ($7): Luckily for us, when we outgrew the fairy tales of our young childhood, we still had Ella Enchanted — the Cinderella retelling featuring fairies, elves, ogres, gnomes, giants, and, of course, a prince. If you haven’t already fallen in love with Ella, you definitely will when you read it from a more grown-up perspective. Plus, the book’s shades of old-school fairy tales will make you swoon with nostalgia.
9. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli ($10): Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl received tons of critical praise when it was published in 2000, and readers fell in love with it too. Stargirl is the new kid in school, and she marches to the beat of her own drummer. Even now, we can all learn a little something from the title character and the way she stays true to herself despite what others think.
10. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt ($7): Tuck Everlasting is a true classic that explores the concept of immortality. Today may be a better time to consider if you’d really like to live forever than when you were busy decorating your notebooks with Lisa Frank stickers.
HIGH SCHOOL LITERARY HIGHLIGHTS
11. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky ($15): The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a must-read for anyone on the younger side of the adolescence-to-adulthood transition. And really, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be required reading for those of us who have now come to the older side. This account of Charlie’s first year in high school will force you to reflect on your own teenage years and the ways they’ve influenced who you are now.
12. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak ($13): This is a more serious book with far-reaching implications for humanity, diversity, and the way we treat each other. It’s worth reading (or rereading) at any age, but we recommend that you have a box of tissues on hand.
13. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen ($10): Sarah Dessen is the queen of writing heart-wrenching teen romances, and The Truth About Forever is one of her most popular. Main character Macy is struggling with the loss of her father and spends the summer working at a new catering job (and, of course, meeting a seemingly perfect love interest). Although the characters are young, the issues they are dealing with affect us all.
14. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell ($19): Eleanor & Park wasn’t published until 2013, so many of us missed the chance to read it when we were actually in high school — which makes it all the more important to pick up this amazing novel ASAP. This book is one part unlikely romance and one part intense coming-of-age story.
15. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins ($11): If you love reading chick lit, Anna and the French Kiss will make you want to pucker up. It’s a totally romantic romp through magical Paris that’ll make it tough to decide what you should do first: Plan a Eurotrip or seek out your next crush?
What are your favorite childhood books to reread? Tweet us @BritandCo!
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