It’s impossible to not think about high school when the leaves start turning from bright green to golden colors and the smell of school supplies and apple cider is in the air. Whether we’ve recently graduated, are in college, or are working “adult” jobs, we get a certain feeling when it’s autumn. It’s just a thing.
Don’t get us wrong, we love teen dramas and are eagerly awaiting new episodes of Riverdale, but there’s nothing like curling up with a good book. And when that book is of the YA genre, it really just brings you back to the day. Whoever said YA was just for teens was seriously disturbed.
Check out the gallery to find out the 18 YA books you should read to give you that fall feeling.
1. “The Start Of Me And You” By Emery Lord
Emery Lord has been compared to Sarah Dessen and for good reason: she writes emotional and smart contemporary YA about friendship and romance. This book, which was published 2015, is a love story about two high school students and the way that their relationship evolves over the school year. The story is sweet and the writing is clever and honest.
It’s one of those books that is hard to put down, but because there’s a sequel coming in 2019, we’re not going to be left hanging too long once we close the book.
2. “Someone Like You” By Sarah Dessen
Called The Queen Of YA, Sarah Dessen is pretty much the best when it comes to fall and back-to-school feels. In this novel, which she says on the description on her website is her most popular with fans, the main character, Halley, deals with family and BFF drama while majorly crushing on a classmate at school. The scenes where they chat in gym class or between classes in the hallways will give us serious teenage flashbacks — for better or for worse. Mostly for better. Because things always look better in hindsight, right?
P.S. The movie How to Deal starring Mandy Moore was based on this Sarah Dessen book and another one entitled “That Summer.”
3. “This Is Not A Test” By Courtney Summers
This young adult author is known for writing deep, dark tales, and this one, which was published in 2012, is no different. It’s a twist on a classic high school story: a group of teenage characters are hanging out at school… because it’s the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Sounds like a nightmare in more ways than one… but then again, high school was kind of a nightmare all the same.
Episodes on teen dramas where the characters are locked in their high school overnight or sneak in with a prank in mind are always the best, so this is along those same lines — and we’re totally here for it.
4. “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” By Stephen Chbosky
It’s basically impossible to not love this book… and the movie version, which came out in 2012 and stars Logan Lerman as protagonist Charlie and Emma Watson as his crush, Sam. We all remember what it was like to be a teenager and all the highs and lows (mostly the lows) — Perks of Being a Wallflower” totally encapsulated them.
Stephen Chbosky was basically the OG John Green since his book came out in 1999 and gave us all the feels. While this teenage boy’s recounting of his life at school and home might not make us want to sharpen our pencils and head back to the tenth grade, it does give us an appreciation for that emotional and sensitive time in our lives.
5. “Anna And The French Kiss” By Stephanie Perkins
What’s better than a boarding school? A boarding school in Paris. Of course. This teen romance, published in 2010, was the author’s first book and made her a star in the YA world. We can totally relate to Anna, who has to get used to a new city, a new school, and a new crush on a boy called St. Clair. That’s a lot of change and it’s all happening at the same time. This book will have us dreaming of fresh starts and new love stories. Even if we’re not in high school anymore, we can still want those things, right?
6. “Tell Me Three Things” By Julie Buxbaum
A classic YA trope is when a teenage girl moves to a new town and goes to a new school. But this 2016 novel is anything but been there, done that. Jessie moves to L.A. and thinks it’s going to be the worst year ever when an email arrives in her inbox. The note’s from a guy who calls himself S/N for “Somebody/Nobody” and he swears that he can be her guide to the inner workings of her new school. We’re not sure if that’s called a meet-cute or an email-cute but obviously, sparks are bound to fly.
7. The “Alice McKinley” Series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Some us probably grew up reading this coming-of-age series about Alice McKinley, a girl who lost her mom at a super young age and is navigating junior high and then high school. To say that these books are sweet would be a total understatement. Alice deals with it all, from drama with her two BFFs, Pamela and Elizabeth to her on-again, off-again one true love, Patrick. She even deals with having way too much homework and not being able to be as social as she wants (we remember those days).
8. “Looking For Alaska” By John Green
If Sarah Dessen is the YA Queen, John Green must be The King. His debut novel was published in 2005 and takes place at a boarding school, which gives us fall feels immediately. When main character Miles starts the school year, he meets a cool, pretty girl named Alaska, and it seems like love is on the horizon. Alaska ends up being a lot more troubled than Miles originally thought, which is what makes this such a smart, important read. But there’s still plenty of boarding school fun (think partying and staying up all night) to keep us equally entertained and feeling nostalgic.
9. “One Of Us Is Lying” By Karen M. McManus
No doubt about it, high school is pretty mysterious. But while we were probably focused wondering what that cute guy in English class was thinking while he stared out the window all the time, this 2017 YA book is a more ~serious~ mystery. While a group of teenagers are stuck in detention (which of course has gotten this book comparisons to The Breakfast Club, BTW), someone dies — that’s different!
Who did it? What is everyone hiding? These might not be the things that we, personally, stressed about in high school, but hey, we should consider ourselves lucky.
10. “The Carrie Diaries” By Candace Bushnell
The first of two prequels to Sex and the City are worth reading to learn about a teenage Carrie Bradshaw alone. The fact that it has awesome high school scenes is just a bonus. Carrie is witty and wonderful and dreams of moving to NYC and starting her actual life. But first, she has to finish high school. That means navigating classes, friends, and boys. Oh, the boyyyyyssssss.
This 2010 book is definitely worth checking out. And the two-season show on The CW is a fun ride, as well.
11. “I’ll Give You The Sun” By Jandy Nelson
If we only think of twins as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, this 2014 YA novel will change our minds. This is the coming-of-age story of fraternal twins Jude and Noah, and we get to see high school from both a girl’s and guy’s perspective. Jude is a bit of a wild child and Noah is a quiet artist, and the writing in this book is truly beautiful and something special. It’s a nice reminder that teens come in all shapes and sizes and that being different is so much cooler than being “normal” (and what is normal, anyway?).
12. “Paper Towns” By John Green
Yup, before this was a 2015 film starring Cara Delevingne and Nat Wolff, it was a book by John Green published in 2008. It’s a pretty classic tale of a nerdy guy, Quentin’s unrequited love for the cool girl next door, Margo.
When she disappears, he decides to find her, and suddenly the problems of high school seem so far away. It’s the perfect way to remember that there is life outside those walls, even if it didn’t always feel like it, and that eventually, high school does end. Phew.
13. “What Happened To Goodbye” By Sarah Dessen
Sarah is such a classic YA author that two of her books definitely had to be on this list. Published in 2011, this is the story of a teenage girl named Mclean who constantly moves around. And every time she starts a new school, she basically pretends to be a totally different person. Let’s be honest, we’ve all wanted to do that, right?
Whether we’ve headed back to school this month or not, we can all admit that when September rolls around, we want to make some changes. And we want lots of pumpkin spice lattes.
14. “Before I Fall” By Lauren Oliver
The 2017 film starring Zoey Deutch is based on the 2010 book by Lauren Oliver. It’s about high schooler Samantha who dies… and then keeps waking up on the day that she passes away. She’s given a bunch of second chances and she has to learn why this happened to her and if there is anything that she can do.
This one’s got all the high school feels: best friends who are more popular than nice, a boyfriend who is actually the worst person ever, and a nerdy guy who will grow up to be the coolest. Plus the eerie feeling of the book just screams “cooler weather reading.”
15. “The Real Real” By Emma McLaughlin And Nicola Kraus
Ever wonder what it’s like to be a reality TV star? Who hasn’t? This 2009 novel from the authors of The Nanny Diaries is about normal girl Jesse who gets swept up in the perils of fame when her high school is selected for a reality show.
Can we even imagine going through normal things like dealing with crushes and not embarrassing ourselves on a regular basis… and having producers film our every move? Nope, probably not. This will make us all grateful AF that our own high school days were not captured by cameras à la Laguna Beach.
16. “Sweethearts” By Sara Zarr
Sara Zarr is a beloved YA author known for telling very emotional stories and this 2008 work is one of her best (but really, all of her books are awesome). Jennifer was BFFs with Cameron back when they were kids, but then one day he was gone, and she moved on and became a popular girl. Now they’re in high school and he’s back.
Yup, that’s enough to give us all the feels. It’s tough navigating the tricky waters of popularity and friendship and this is a clever take on that theme. The return of old friends is always something that gives us that fall feeling, right?
17.“Anya’s Ghost” By Vera Brosgol
Published in 2014, this graphic novel is about Anya, who has some typical teenage problems. She feels super different from absolutely everyone, whether that’s her own relatives or the kids at school, and it’s impossible not to nod our heads to that. She becomes good friends with a ghost and that is pretty life-changing. Since it’s a graphic novel, it’s got beautiful illustrations that will definitely keep us turning the pages, all while we wish that we had our own friendly ghost to get us through math class and bullies.
18.“Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling
Of course, we can’t think about fall without thinking about the most beloved, iconic school of all: Hogwarts (duh). The debut book in the insanely popular series came out in 1997 and introduced us to the magical world of Harry and his friends. This one’s great to re-read any time, but it’s best in the fall when we’re in that back to school mood. Also, the troll in the dungeon scene will always make us think of Halloween.