12 best books for teen boys to read (even if they dislike reading)

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Reading good books can be one of the best sources of guidance, comfort, and enjoyment for any teenager. But finding the best books for teens, and especially teen boys? Not always so easy.

Often it only takes one bad book (looking at you, school reading lists) to put teenagers off reading, often for years to come. That’s a shame, because there are so many more accessible and unputdownable young adult books out there.

Many of the books in this list feel as immersive as a movie or as unputdownable as a great Netflix series, showing that reading doesn’t have to be a chore. (If it feels like that, stop reading and find another book!)

A final quick tip before getting into the recommendations: to keep costs down, download the Libby app. All you need is a library card, and it gives you free access to a huge amount of free audiobooks and ebooks.

Now, let’s dig into the best books for teenage boys to read. Several have screen adaptations you can enjoy afterward, and many are perfect to enjoy as audiobooks too. To help you choose the right books, I’ve also included the recommended reading age from Common Sense Media.

The best books of all time for teen boys to read

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian

Who will love reading The Martian? Teens looking for an action-packed, sci-fi bestseller that’s both nerdy and incredibly readable. For age 14+.

Even if you’ve seen the movie, The Martian is one of those books that captures everything you love about the movie and gives you even more. It’s also one of the best audiobooks for teens to enjoy.

Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American ReadThe Martian is the bestselling story of astronaut Mark Watney – the first person to walk on Mars, and now, perhaps the first person to die there too.

Drawing on his ingenuity, engineering skills, and relentless refusal to quit, Mark is determined to figure out a way back home. If you love this, you should absolutely read Andy Weir’s latest bestseller, Project Hail Mary, next.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Who will love reading The Outsiders? Teens looking for a fast-paced read full of drama, tension, and relatability for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider. For age 12+.

Published over 50 years ago, this iconic book for teens is just as readable today – perhaps because the author wrote it when she was just sixteen years old. (Don’t let this put you off though: it’s more profound and hard-hitting than many other books.)

In The Outsiders, 14-year-old Ponyboy Curtis’s community is split between the Greasers and the Socs. While Socs have money, engaged parents, and can get away with pretty much anything, Ponyboy and his brothers are Greasers – kids without money or a stable family.

Until now, Ponyboy has been comfortable with this split in his world. But everything changes one night when his friend Johnny accidentally kills a Soc. After reading The Outsiders, you can also enjoy the beloved movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Who will love reading Ready Player One? Teens looking for an action-packed, gripping novel that will keep them hooked until the end. For age 15+.

Ready Player One is by far one of the most recommended books for teen boys, especially those who don’t generally like reading.

In a Reddit thread of the best books for teen boys, one reader shared: “I teach high school English and a lot of my male students get hooked on Ready Player One and The Martian.”

In this binge-worthy story, it’s the year 2024 and the real world is in a bad place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes reality by spending his waking hours immersed in the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be and explore any of 10,000 planets.

Also like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed with the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality… a prize which, for years, it’s seemed like no one would ever attain, until Wade stumbles upon the key to the first puzzle.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Who will love reading HatchetTeens looking for a fast-paced young adult classic about adventure and survival. For age 11+.

This classic adventure book for teens is the story of Brian, whose life changes forever when, on his way to visit his estranged father in Canada, the pilot of the small prop plane suffers a heart attack.

Forced to crash-land the plane himself and survive ­in the Canadian wilderness, Brian slowly learns to turn adversity to his advantage in this thrilling and intense tale. Any teen boy who hasn’t read Hatchet yet should absolutely add it to their reading list.

Enders Game by Orsen Scott Card

Who will love reading Ender’s Game? Teens (and adults) who love action-packed interstellar stories. For age 12+.

In this Hugo and Nebula award-winning sci-fi classic, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers to defend their world from a hostile alien race’s next attack.

When a brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, is drafted to the Battle School, his superiors wonder if he’s the general the Earth has been waiting for. But what if it’s not just up to him, but also his two equally unusual siblings?

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

Who will love reading Heartstopper? Fans of the Netflix show who want to dive deeper into the heartwarming story’s universe. For age 14+.

Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. The only graphic novel on this list, Heartstopper has become a literary hit thanks to the beloved Netflix series of the same name.

This uplifting LGBTQ+ story about Charlie and Nick is about life, love, and everything in-between – including not-so-easy but important topics like mental illness.

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson #1) by Rick Riordan

Who will love reading The Lightning Thief? Teens who want to go on a thrilling adventure with a wonderfully relatable main character. It’s a young adult bestseller that’s entertaining for all ages. For age 9+.

Half boy. Half god. All hero. Percy never asked to be the son of a Greek god, but here he is.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians is another of the most popular book series for teen boys of all time. Here in Book 1 of 6, the story introduces us to Percy’s world.

What does that world look like? Well, his days used to look like going to school and skateboarding, but now he spends his time battling monsters and trying to stay alive.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Who will love reading The Maze Runner? Teens who love the idea of a survival story that feels like a hybrid of Lord of the Flies, The Hunger Games, and Lost. For age 13+.

One of the best middle grade books ever, The Maze Runner series opens with a teenage boy named Thomas waking up in a box. His memories have been wiped, all he remembers is his name, and he can feel the box rising to the earth’s surface.

When he surfaces, he’s welcomed to his new home, the Glade, by strangers: boys whose memories are also gone. As Thomas soon finds out, outside the Glade is a never-ending, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out, but no one’s ever made it through alive.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Who will love reading Scythe? Teens who want to read a thrilling story about a perfect world that comes with a heavy price. For age 12+.

One of the best YA books of all time, Scythe is the story of a supposedly utopian world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has solved all those things, and has even conquered death.

Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life – and they are commanded to do so in order to keep the size of the population under control.

This is the story of Citra and Rowan, two teens who must master the “art” of taking life; a role that they absolutely do not want and which comes with terrible consequences if they fail.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Who will love reading Red Rising? Teens looking for their next unputdownable book after The Hunger Games and Ender’s Game. For age 15+.

In this dystopian world, Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste. He works all day under imaginable conditions, under the impression that he’s making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

However, Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. He finds out that humanity reached the surface generations ago, but Reds like him are still under the control of a greedy ruling class.

Longing for justice, Darrow sacrifices everything to bring down his enemies… even if it means becoming one of them to do so.

Killing Floor (Jack Reacher #1) by Lee Child

Who will love reading Killing Floor? Teens who love action-packed movies and don’t want to wait long for a book to get good.

Not specifically a young adult book, Killing Floor kick-starts the Jack Reacher book series – a series that’s as gripping as any fast-paced TV show.

This is the story of, well, Jack Reacher – an ex-military policeman who’s picked a bad time to be just passing through Margrave, Georgia.

In less than an hour, he’s arrested for murder and the police chief places him at the scene of the crime. One thing is soon clear: they picked the wrong guy to take the fall.

Holes by Louis Sachar

Who will love reading Holes? Teens who love engrossing adventures with more than a touch of weirdness. For age 10+.

Holes will always be the YA classic book for me. My brother and I watched the movie adaptation what feels like hundreds of times as kids.

Described by The New York Times as “a smart jigsaw puzzle of a novel”, Holes is the story of Stanley Yelnats, a kid who’s under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnatses.

After he’s sent to Camp Green Lake, a boys’ detention center (without a lake) for something that wasn’t his fault, he and the other boys build character by spending all day, every day digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep.

It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake. Clearly the warden is looking for something. But what could it be?


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