What To Read Next, Based on Your Favorite '90s Book

by Charlotte Ahlin

Seriously, the '90s were a prime decade for young readers. We had plentiful YA novels, fantasy series, and those deeply weird Animorph covers. But let's say you're tired of re-reading your old Baby-sitters' Club books for the umpteenth time (sorry, Kristy). Maybe you're looking for something with that lovable '90s vibe, but slightly more adult content. Lucky for you, there are quite a few books out there that can satisfy your nostalgia while giving you something for a more discerning, grown up reader. Here's what to read next, based on your favorite '90s book.

Now, of course, I'm not saying that you shouldn't reread your old '90s books if you want to. There's enough unpleasantness in life already without stopping yourself from reading great books on the grounds that you're now "too old" for them. You're not too old for them. You're never too old to read about friendship, history, or school buses that defy all laws of physics. But sometimes, you want to read a time travel book that's maybe a bit more steamy than the Magic Tree House series. You want a book that's a lot like Redwall, but with more gore. And you want your historical princess diaries to have a lot more kissing in them, now that you're a real adult with bills and a commute. So if you liked these '90s kids' books, here are a few adult books you might want to check out:


If you liked 'Goosebumps'...

...try Stephen King's It. Or just about anything else by Stephen King, for that matter. R.L. Stine is the undisputed master when it comes to children's horror, but King has the market cornered when it comes to absolutely terrifying grown ups. It has a lot of those classic Goosebumps elements, like a gang of curious kids and a very creepy clown, but It gets far, far darker. If it's your first King novel, you might want to read with the lights on.

Click here to buy.


If you liked 'The Baby-sitters' Club'...

...try The Group by Mary McCarthy. Sure, it's actually set before the '90s (was there even such a time?). But if you're looking for a witty, intelligent, frank novel about a group of female friends, you can't do much better than this classic. Eight college friends find themselves entering the post-grad, adult world of work, love, and heartbreak. No, they're not babysitters, but they are all very different individuals who draw their strength from each other.

Click here to buy.


If you liked 'Dear America'...

...try Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz. The Dear America books and the spin-off Royal Diaries series got a lot of us interested in history back in the day (and also taught us all what the word "dysentery" meant). But let's be real: those books didn't have nearly enough kissing in them. Step into America's past with Alexander and Eliza Hamilton—and no, you don't need to know the musical to understand this brilliant, historical retelling.

Click here to buy.


If you liked 'Animorphs'...

...try Octavia E. Butler's Wild Seed. It's got all the shape-shifting and body-snatching and mind-powers that you loved from the Animorphs series, plus an extra helping of intense historical commentary and romance. Two immortal, incredibly powerful beings meet in Africa many years ago, and find themselves entangled in a power struggle that'll last through the centuries. It's a more emotionally charged story than Animorphs ever was, but the cover won't give you nightmares.

Click here to buy.


If you liked 'The Little House on the Prairie'...

...try Lila by Marilynne Robinson. I know that The Little House on the Prairie didn't come out in the '90s, but just about every '90s kid alive read those books at some point (or at least played Oregon Trail). Lila is a beautifully written novel about creating a life on the fringes of society, and about surviving and finding love on the American "frontier." Pick it up if you ever find yourself longing to live in a log cabin, grow crops, and/or marry a minister.

Click here to buy.


If you liked 'The Magic School Bus'...

...try What If? by Randall Munroe. Because if you loved The Magic School Bus as a kid, then you were a small nerd, and you probably still enjoy absurd hypothetical questions with smartly scientific answers. Read What If? for a hilariously clever, highly accurate discussion of questions such as "What if everyone only had one soulmate?" and "What if the moon went away?"

Click here to buy.


If you liked 'The Magic Tree House'...

...try Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. It's also time travel, but much sexier. The Magic Tree House, much like the similarly supernatural school bus, was always whizzing kids off to different times and places, and forcing them to pick up various video game quest objects before they could go home. Outlander sticks with just the one locale of 1700s Scotland, but it's still an entirely engrossing time travel narrative, full of historical fun, romance, and political intrigue.

Click here to buy.


If you liked 'Redwall'...

...try Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I'm sure you've heard of it. True, it's missing a lot of the fuzzy characters we know and love from Redwall. But the Song of Ice and Fire series is pretty much just Redwall with ten times the number of characters and a whole lot more blood. There's intense fictional history, minimal magic, lots of politics, and quite a few tricky prophecies to keep you on your toes.

Click here to buy.


If you liked 'The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids'...

...try Dead Until Dark. You still get vampires, werewolves, and punny titles, but with much more adult situations. The Sookie Stackhouse series kicks off with the titular waitress, Sookie, falling for one of her vampiric customers. This launches her into a world of paranormal mysteries and unanswered questions, much like the Bailey School kids and their constant need to bother the adults in their lives.

Click here to buy.


If you liked 'Holes'...

...try The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. Both books, after all, deal with misunderstood, overweight teenage boys dealing with curses from generations before them. But while Stanley Yelnats is sent off to a prison camp to unravel his family history through digging holes, Oscar has a slightly more complex journey to figure out who he is and how to deal with his own familial curse.

Click here to buy.