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22 Books You'll Wish You Had As A Teenager

The best guides on growing up and dealing with mental health, sex, and finding yourself.

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1. Open by Gemma Cairney

Macmillan

If any book could bottle sunshine, it's radio personality Gemma Cairney's upbeat guide to life. Covering mental health, breakups, career advice, periods, prejudice, and tons of topics in between, Open reads like a pep talk without sugarcoating a damn thing. It's just meant for living on your nightstand and reminding you from time to time that you're not alone.

Get it on Amazon.

Get the audiobook.

2. Doing It! by Hannah Witton

Wren & Rook

This companion to Hannah Witton's YouTube channel, which features informative and sex-positive videos, is the sex ed I wish I'd had growing up. Full of different voices and experience, as well as expert comments, Doing It includes chapters on an impressively wide range of topics relating to sex and relationships that teens are dealing with today. From breaking down consent, to LGBTQ+ experiences, to little-known laws around sexting, to sexual anatomy, to masturbation, the book answers most questions you could think of in a positive and useful way. It's a real must-have for teens, parents, and anyone who suffered through abstinence-only education.

Get it on Amazon.

Get the audiobook.

3. So Much I Want to Tell You by Anna Akana

Ballentine Books

Anna Akana started YouTubing as a way to channel her grief after losing her teenage sister. In her new book, she continues in the funny, frank, and poignant vein of her videos, becoming the world's big sister with a collection of letters and lessons on growing up.

Get it on Amazon.

Get the audiobook.

4. You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

Two Roads

In this big-sister-style guide to life, Jessi Klein hilariously reveals her strange and awkward coming of age and offers wise bits of commentary on becoming a woman and dealing with adult life. It's funny of course, relatable AF, and will have teen readers going "thank god it's not just me" a million times over.

Get it on Amazon.

Get the audiobook.

5. Never Have I Ever by Katie Heaney

Grand Central

This book is a must for every late bloomer. Full of delightful essays about friendship, teen anxiety and angst, near misses and self-acceptance, Never Have I Ever is an always hilarious reminder that life and love are definitely about the journey and the people that fall into step with you along the way.

Get it on Amazon.

6. It's All in Your Head by Rae Earl

Wren & Rook

My Mad Fat Diary author Rae Earl tackles mental health in this warm hug of a book. Incorporating her own experience, and examining a wide range of the problems you can face as you try to wrap your head around your head, as well as expert medical advice, Earl's book is a true gem.

Preorder it on Amazon.

Preorder the audiobook.

7. The Girl Guide by Marawa Ibrahim

Frances Lincoln

Marawa Ibrahim is a world-record-breaking hula hooper and circus performer, and also a KICK. ASS. ROLE MODEL. In a gorgeously illustrated and well-researched guide to body positivity that goes far beyond skin-deep, Ibrahim tackles puberty in an accessible and thoughtful way that will leave girls and parents feeling empowered and ready to take on the day.

Get it on Amazon.

8. The ABC's of LGBT+ by Ashley Mardell

Mango

Ashley Mardell's primer on LGBTQ+ issues is a bookshelf staple for kids, parents, teachers, and allies. Essentially an index for all the ideas and issues that might come up in discovering and understanding the scale of sexuality, this book is helpful, empathetic, and essential.

Get it on Amazon.

9. The Spinster Club Series by Holly Bourne

Usbourne

There's no better introduction to feminism than Holly Bourne's heartfelt, funny, and honest series about a group of friends working their own feminist identities out. The books cover mental health, activism, falling in love, sex, female friendships, and more through compelling stories and lots of laughs.

Get the first one on Amazon.

Get the audiobook.

10. A Change Is Gonna Come by various authors

Stripes

This stunning anthology from BAME authors is an absolute must: With stunning stories, poems, and more, it's a brilliant round-up of untold stories from well-known and new writers, and proves how important and vital representation in YA is.

Get it on Amazon.

11. Mind Your Head by Juno Dawson and Olivia Hewitt

Hot Key

Here's a comforting, medically sound guide to understanding mental health as a teenager. With excellent illustrations by artist (and mental health activist) Gemma Correll, thoughtful and funny storytelling from Juno Dawson, and top advice from Dr Olivia Hewitt, it's an ideal way to start looking after your mind.

Get it on Amazon.

12. Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Fourth Estate

In this powerful, wise, and brief primer on feminism, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes to a friend on the subject of raising her daughter as a feminist. Razor-sharp and unsurprisingly beautiful, Dear Ijeawele is an ideal introduction to feminist and intersectional theory and an important meditation on growing up female.

Get it on Amazon.

Get the audiobook.

13. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

RHCP

Nicola Yoon has spoken at length about representation and inclusion in YA; The Sun Is Also a Star, which tells a love story between two children of immigrants from different cultures, is the kind of book that will open conversation, make readers feel seen, and inspire empathy. It's an essential addition to every library, especially in divisive times, and is a compelling AF read on top of it all.

Get it on Amazon.

Get the audiobook.

14. Almost Adulting by Arden Rose

Harper Collins

This bright and sunny essay collection on growing up is equal parts inspiring and comforting. Ideal for anyone trying to bridge the gap between teenagedom and adulthood, Almost Adulting will be a wonderful companion along that rocky journey where we all learn there's really no such thing as "together".

Get it on Amazon.

Get the audiobook.

15. Teen Angst? Naaah... by Ned Vizzini

Delacourte Press

YA author Ned Vizzini has always been a pro at making his readers feel less weird and alone, and his memoir is no different. Full of true-life stories about the strangeness of growing up, Teen Angst? Naaah... is essential bedside book for when you're having a shit day and need to hear someone go, "I've been there and it's going to be okay."

Get it on Amazon.

16. History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Simon & Schuster

For anyone who ever felt like they couldn't find enough positive novels about male friendship and growing up gay, here's one for you. Adam Silvera's book is equal parts heart-wrenching and delightful, and while a thread of grief runs throughout, it's ultimately about joy and connection and has the potential to make a lot of readers who couldn't find themselves in popular books a few years ago feel less alone.

Get it on Amazon.

Get the audiobook.

17. This Is Not a Sex Book by Chusita Fashion Fever

Anima

Here's another unmissable sex-positive guide for teens, because I honestly believe you can't have too many. YouTuber Chusita Fashion Fever takes a look at sex and relationships and everything that comes with them.

Get it on Amazon.

18. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Hodder

Moxie is a brilliant novel about real girls kicking ass, which I for one know I would have like to read more about, growing up. The story follows Moxie as she faces the double standards young girls are infinitely familiar with. With a powerful feminist message and loads of spunk, it's an inspiring read that brings feminism to girls and boys in a brilliantly fun way.

Get it on Amazon.

Get the audiobook.

19. Note to Self by Connor Franta

Simon & Schuster

In his second memoir, Franta talks openly about depression, anxiety, and coming out. Note to Self is a comforting friend in rough times – it's particularly nice to see someone who seems to have it so together be open about how hard life can be for all of us.

Get it on Amazon.

Get the audiobook.

20. The Gender Games by Juno Dawson

Two Roads

This book is required reading – there's just no way around it. Part memoir, part investigation of gender constructs, The Gender Games can be a balm both to anyone working out their own identity and, vitally, to anyone seeking to start their education as a trans ally. Dawson is direct, comforting, and full of moxie, and the book's as fun to read as it is enlightening.

Get it on Amazon.

Get the audiobook.

21. No Filter by Grace Victory

Headline

No Filter is a brilliant book for reminding you you're not alone, and for wrapping your head around difficult issues. TV presenter Grace Victory chats through all of the trials and joys of becoming a person, from embarrassing moments to body image to rough home lives. It's a lovely, encouraging, and laugh-out-loud read that's perfect for guiding you through a difficult time.

Get it on Amazon.

22. Notes on Being Teenage by Rosalind Jana

Wayland

Written at the end of her own teenage years, this lovely essay collection sees Rosalind Jana offer down-to-earth and wise-beyond-her-years advice on growing up. It's a must-have for anyone trying to find their own way in the weird, wonderful world.

Get it on Amazon.

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