12 Books that Ruled Your Life When You Were a Teenager
If you're a book nerd like I am, you know that the love that you have for books did not just appear overnight. Perhaps it started at the library, at school, or you simply just had a lot of relatives that didn't know what to get you for gift-giving holidays. Either way, you're now a full-fledged super book nerd, and that is awesome. However, you're not born knowing the classics. It's the rare person who comes out of the womb reading Jane Austen, and as we grow, the books grew with us. Spending the majority of my childhood in the '90s, I grew up devouring Goosebumps , Animorphs, and of course dove into the wonderful world of Harry Potter, but as I blossomed into a wonderfully awkward teenager, my tastes moved from fighting alien and monsters to fighting for love (while also fighting aliens and monsters).
Teenagers are running on all cylinders when it comes to things that they love. Have they made a new friend? They will be friends until they die. Did they get dumped? Oh my god the world is over. Do they love their friends' new shirts? OMG they are obsessed. The same happens with books, of course, and during my teen years I read so many books that I will never forget.
Inspired by my early '00s teen years, I've compiled a list of 12 books that you might have been obsessed with when you were a teenager. Take a walk down memory lane and read some old favorites, or perhaps pick up something you might have missed. Either way, be prepared to be obsessed.
1. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
High school student Mia Thermopolis thought her entire life was normal — that is until her father had to go and tell her that he was the crown prince of a small country called Genovia. This springs Mia into a crazy world full of etiquette classes and makeovers as she learns how to become royalty. I'm not saying that every teenage girl secretly wishes that they were a secret princess, I'm just saying that if you were one of those teenagers, you were obsessed with this book.
2. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
As a teenager, no story could come close to the story of how you became friends with your sisterhood, but The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants came close. Centering on besties for life Tibby, Lena, Bridget, and Carmen as they spend the summer apart, the main thing keeping them together is a seemingly magical pair of pants that manages to fit all of them perfectly despite their varying body types. This book used to make you laugh, cry, and search every thrift store in the area for your magical pants. You'll find them one day, I promise.
3. Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar
Gossip Girl is easiest remembered as the addictive TV show on the CW, back in the days of the WB it was its own book series. Blair, Serena, Chuck, and Nate all turned out to be wildly different than their small screen counterparts, but it was so easy to become obsessed with the dirty and twisted lifestyles of the rich and famous, especially when such a sassy mystery person was reporting it all. You know you loved Gossip Girl, xoxo.
4. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Were you the girl who loved to buy things on sale at Hot Topic but never had the money or the bravery to go full goth? Then Coraline was your obsession. Though not exactly YA, Gaiman's chilling writing style made it universal. The tale centers on young Coraline, a girl who discovers an alternate version of the building that she lives in, and the terrifying creature who dwells there with buttons for eyes. Coraline was an edgy choice, but not too edgy.
5. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Some bibliophiles may object to this being on the list, while others are ride or die Edward (or Jacob) and Bella, but like it or not, Twilight was an institution for many years. Thousands of teens girls desperately wished that the boy that hated them in their biology class was really an immortal vampire desperately in love with them thanks to this book, and there's a decent chance that might have been one of those people as well. There's no shame in it, you still read a book.
6. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
For the girls who were already suspecting that they might gave been born in the wrong century, while also tapping into that deep desire for magical powers that I believe all people possess, A Great and Terrible Beauty has everything. Secret powers, close girl friendships, boarding school, and not to mention some terrific mysterious love interest appeal.
7. Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
As a teenager, did you love art, history, as well as historical fiction? If so, you were most likely obsessed with Girl With a Pearl Earring. Griet is a 16-year-old girl, recently hired as a servant in the Vermeer household, and we follow her story as she grows increasingly closer to the enigmatic painter Johannes Vermeer, eventually sitting for the portrait that would soon become famous. For the artsy girl, the idea of a genius artist thinking you aren't like other girls is irresistible.
8. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
If you were the kind of teenager that liked a little realism with their stories, Wintergirls was there for you. The story centers on best friends Lia and Cassie, two girls who are locked in a deadly competition to see who can lose the most weight. When Cassie succumbs to her illness, Lia feels as though she is being haunted by her best friend. Written in a unique style, Wintergirls is a tale that is easy to get obsessed with, and also warns about the danger of obsession.
9. Tithe by Holly Black
If you loved stories of magic but were sick of vampires, Tithe was an awesome story to be obsessed with as a teenager. Centering on 16-year-old Kaye, who, after growing up following her mother's rock band around, ends up in the industrial wasteland part of New Jersey, only to discover that she's actually a changeling — a faerie who had been swapped with the originally baby at birth. To a teenager, Kaye's life before she found out she was a faerie was exciting enough, but imagine being a faerie, too? Bring on the inevitable faerie war, I want wings!
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is another easy book to fall in love with as a teenager. Even the most popular kids in school most likely had moments of self-doubt about themselves and their place in the world, so of course you felt that way, but the lucky thing was that this book told you that it was all okay to feel that way. Charlie's forays into sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show might not be universal, but they feel like they could be.
11. Gifted Touch by Melinda Metz
This was an easy series to become obsessed with given the fact that it had more twists and turns than most popular soap operas today. Teenage Rae thinks she's losing her mind when she starts to hear voices everywhere, only to discover that she was actually picking up the thoughts of people around her by touching their fingerprints. This launches her and two of her friends out on a crazy adventure that lasted seven books, and was full of betrayal, love, and secrets. Added early 2000s bonus: This series was written by the same author of Roswell High, the companion series to that WB hit Roswell.
12. Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block
Think that the girl who liked Coraline didn't push it far enough? Francesca Lia Block's spell binding Weetzie Bat books were set in an ultra-cool, surreal version of Los Angeles. They centered on the eponymous Weetzie Bat as she discovers a magic lamp and makes five wishes that don't turn out the way that she thought they would. The edgy and poetic writing was catnip for the angsty teen and the unflinching depictions of otherwise tricky topics for the time (homosexuality, abortion, and children born out of wedlock) could have potentially made you feel less alone.