Skip To Content

    The Best YA Books To Gift This Holiday Season, According To YA Authors

    Get a handle on your holiday shopping with the help of some fabulous YA authors!

    1. Jennifer Iacopelli, author of Break the Fall, recommends Snow in Love by Melissa de la Cruz, Aimee Friedman, Nic Stone, and Kasie West.

    Jennifer Iacopelli / jenniferciacopelli.com / Point

    Jennifer Iacopelli is the author of the OBX series and the perfect gymnastics novel for the Olympics we should've had, Break the Fall

    What Jennifer recommends: Snow in Love by Melissa de la Cruz, Aimee Friedman, Nic Stone, and Kasie West.

    Jennifer says: "The holidays are such a busy time for everyone, that's why one of my favorite reads are actually four short stories by four awesome authors. We get to fall in love while stranded on a snowy road trip, working as a holiday elf, connecting over a gift exchange, and bustling through holiday crowds at the airport! Perfect to curl up with after all the gifts have been opened with a mug of hot cocoa and some leftovers!"

    2. Patrice Caldwell, editor of A Phoenix First Must Burn, recommends These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong.

    patricecaldwell.com / Margaret K. McElderry Books

    Patrice Caldwell is the editor of Black YA SFF anthology A Phoenix First Must Burn, a contributor to Shakespeare-reimagining anthology That Way Madness Lies, and author of a YA Fantasy releasing in 2022.

    What Patrice Recommends: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

    Patrice says: "I was destroyed by the 1920s Shanghai-set Romeo & Juliet retelling, and it was absolutely worth it! One of the best books I've read in a long time. Forbidden romance. Rival gangs. A RIVER MONSTER?! What more do you need?"

    3. Kelly Quindlen, author of Late to the Party, recommends The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake.

    littleoases.tumblr.com / Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

    Kelly Quindlen is the author of Late to the Party, a celebration of late bloomers and queerness, and the upcoming lesbian YA sports romance She Drives Me Crazy.

    What Kelly recommends: The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

    Kelly says: "This is for the old souls who crave breathtaking writing and atmospheric settings. The main character, Violet, is so very human and endearing, and her quest to understand her family, her history, and her mental health is relatable and real. Plus, there's a sweet love story between Violet and a girl in town. This book swept me away like the tide."

    4. Dhonielle Clayton, author of The Belles, recommends Wayward Witch by Zoraida Córdova.

    dhonielleclayton.com / Sourcebooks Fire

    Dhonielle Clayton is an author of both contemporary and fantasy YA, who specializes in making the ugly beautiful and vice versa, and the editor of the upcoming anthology A Universe of Wishes. Her next novel is the promises-to-be-legendary six-author collaboration Blackout.

    What Dhonielle recommends: Wayward Witch by Zoraida Córdova

    Dhonielle says: "All things fae and faery, Zoraida Córdova's Wayward Witch takes us to the Caribbean kingdom of Adas, where nothing is as it seems. Rose's enchanting story gives us everything I've ever wanted from faery lore, the translation of the magic into brown and non-European spaces. Enchanting and terrifyingly beautiful, the book is worthy of a series ender."

    5. Marieke Nijkamp, author of Even if We Break, recommends Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger.

    Karin Nijkamp / Levine Querido

    Marieke Nijkamp is the author of the chilling thriller Even if We Break, the New York Times-bestselling novels This is Where it Ends and Before I Let Go, and the graphic novel The Oracle Code, as well as the editor of Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens and a contributor to anthologies Feral Youth, His Hideous Heart, and the upcoming Up All Night.

    What Marieke recommends: Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger with illustrations by Rovina Cai.

    Marieke says: "A murder mystery featuring #ownvoices Lipan Apache rep, a spectacular ace main character, and a ghost dog. It is a magical story about family, secrets, friendship, and grief, and easily one of the best YA debuts of 2020. Read it."

    6. Amparo Ortiz, author of Blazewrath Games, recommends Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez.

    amparoortiz.com / Algonquin Young Readers

    Amparo Ortiz is the author of the YA Fantasy Blazewrath Games, billed as How to Train Your Dragon meets Quidditch, and a contributor to Puerto Rico Strong.

    What Amparo recommends: Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez.

    Amparo says: "In her young adult debut, Furia, Méndez made me rabidly cheer for Camila (aka Furia) — an Argentine girl who wants to play pro fútbol — and burst into fits of rage whenever others tried bringing her down. This book is a wonderfully feminist tale about owning your truth and fighting for your future despite its uncertainty. It also features one of the kindest love interests I've ever seen in YA fiction, fútbol superstar Diego Ferrari!"

    7. Rachel Lynn Solomon, author of Today Tonight Tomorrow, recommends Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao.

    rachelsolomonbooks.com / Simon & Schuster

    Rachel Lynn Solomon is the author of contemporary YA novels You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone, Our Year of Maybe, Today Tonight Tomorrow, and the upcoming We Can't Keep Meeting Like This. Her first adult romance, The Ex Talk, releases in January.

    What Rachel recommends: Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao.

    Rachel says: "This rom-com is the perfect holiday gift! Not only is it a delightfully swoony romp, but it takes place over five holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, and Chinese New Year) during which a college freshman hires a fake boyfriend to impress her parents. Of course, they fall for each other, and of course, it's hilarious, but it's also a smart, sensitive exploration of identity and family secrets."

    8. Aiden Thomas, author of Cemetery Boys, recommends Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz.

    Elizabeth Stelle / Page Street Kids

    Aiden Thomas is the author of the bestselling and milestone-marking trans Latinx paranormal romance Cemetery Boys, as well as the upcoming Peter Pan-inspired fantasy, Lost in the Never Woods.

    What Aiden recommends: Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz

    Aiden says: "I would LOVE to recommend Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz! It's about a Puerto Rican girl, Lana, who enters the Blazewrath World Cup which is like soccer but played with DRAGONS! I love this story and seeing all the different dragons from different countries was so cool to read about! It's a high octane adventure packed with magic, a diverse cast, and did I mention DRAGONS??"

    9. Austin Siegemund-Broka and Emily Wibberley, authors of Time of Our Lives, recommend We Used to be Friends by Amy Spalding.

    Sue Grubman / Harry N. Abrams

    Austin Siegemund-Broka and Emily Wibberley are the coauthors of smart and hilarious rom-coms Always Never Yours, If I'm Being Honest, Time of Our Lives, and the upcoming What's Not to Love.

    What Austin and Emily recommend: We Used to be Friends by Amy Spalding.

    Austin and Emily say: "One of our very favorite YA books this year is Amy's timeline-switching story of a best-friend breakup and the growing up that happens because of it. Like all of Amy's books, it's funny, but humor isn't the half of what we love about Kat and James' complicated and deeply realistic story. It's got friendship and romance, heartbreak and joy — everything a perfect YA read needs."

    10. Adi Alsaid, author of We Didn't Ask for This, recommends Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat.

    adialsaid.com / Simon & Schuster

    Adi Alsaid is the author of five YA novels, most recently We Didn't Ask for This, the editor Come On In, a YA collection of stories about immigration, and a contributor to the Jewish YA anthology It's a Whole Spiel.

    What Adi recommends: Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat.

    Adi says: "I love cooking, and few things have made the pandemic feel more normal than spending hours in my kitchen (and listening to audiobooks while I clean up). This is the only cookbook I've ever read cover to cover, written in a voice that will resonate with YA readers; Samin Nosrat is a joy to read. She makes stepping outside of your comfort zone incredibly approachable for both novices and experienced cooks, and she does it with humor, wisdom, and good prose."

    11. Erin Bowman, author of Contagion, recommends Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo.

    embowman.com / Harper

    Erin Bowman is the author of the Taken trilogy, westerns Vengeance Road and Retribution Rails, the Contagion duology, and the upcoming Dustborn, as well as a contributor to historical anthology The Radical Element.

    What Erin recommends: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo.

    Erin says: "An absolutely stunning tale of two sisters who are brought together for the first time after the death of their father. Written in verse and alternating between each sister's viewpoint, Acevedo's story is lyrical and powerful, emotional and poignant. I can't recommend this one enough."

    12. Eric Smith, author of Don't Read the Comments recommends The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow.

    ericsmithrocks.com / Inkyard Press

    Eric Smith is the author of The Girl and the Grove, Don't Read the Comments, and the upcoming You Can Go Your Own Way, as well as the editor of YA anthologies Welcome Home and the upcoming Battle of the Bands.

    What Eric recommends: The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow.

    Eric says: "What happens in a world where pop music is forbidden? No, we're not talking about how your partner won't let you keep replaying the new Taylor Swift album. We're talking about aliens. On an Earth that's been overtaken by an alien race that forbids emotions, all outlets for creativity are illegal. And in Dow's absolutely stunning sci-fi debut, a teen girl who loves books and an alien who adores mankind's music, have to come together and break all the rules to potentially save the human race. Buckle up. It's a road trip like no other, and the most wildly unique book of the year. Give the gift of fighting for art."

    13. Laura Pohl, author of The Last 8, recommends Here the Whole Time by Vitor Martins.

    onlybylaura.com / Scholastic Press

    Laura Pohl is the author of the twisty and compelling The Last 8 sci-fi duology, and the upcoming fantasy Grimrose Girls fantasy series, beginning with A Beautiful Doom.

    What Laura recommends: Here the Whole Time by Vitor Martins

    Laura says: "Here the Whole Time is a perfect holiday gift. It's a cozy love story set in the winter holidays in Brazil, where Felipe has to confront his forever crush on next-door neighbour Caio when they have to spend the school break sharing the same house. If you're looking for a story to fall in love with, this is a tale full of funny characters, body positivity, and a lot of family love."

    14. Liara Tamani, author of All the Things We Never Knew, recommends There Is No Long Distance Now: Very Short Stories by Naomi Shihab Nye.

    Seneca Shahara Brand / Greenwillow Books

    Liara Tamani is the author of Calling My Name and All the Things We Never Knew, and a contributor to the Black Enough anthology.

    What Liara recommends: There Is No Long Distance Now: Very Short Stories by Naomi Shihab Nye.

    Liara says: "These beautiful stories are a great reminder of how connected we are even with distance between us. I love their brevity and depth…how they give us so much to contemplate and leave us swirling with feeling. Perfect for savoring and sharing this holiday season."

    15. Anna Meriano, author of This is How We Fly, recommends Recommended For You by Laura Silverman.

    annameriano.com / Margaret K. McElderry Books

    Anna Meriano is the author of This is How We Fly, in addition to the Middle Grade Love Sugar Magic series.

    What Anna Recommends: Recommended For You by Laura Silverman.

    Anna says: "In this sweet holiday romance, Shoshanna goes out of her way to solve everyone else’s problems — from her YouTuber friend’s subscriber count, to her boss’s struggle to keep their beloved mall bookstore in the black, to her moms’ constant bickering. But Jake, the frustratingly hot new bookseller who *doesn’t even like books* and still manages to challenge Shoshanna’s sale record and threaten her bonus, is a problem she can’t solve. With a charmingly meddlesome teen voice, diverse cast of characters, and lots of Christmas and Hannukah hijinks, Recommended for You is a perfect treat for the book lover in your life."

    16. Julian Winters, author of The Summer of Everything, recommends You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson.

    Vanessa North / julianwinters.com Scholastic Press

    Julian Winters is the author of the utterly delightful queer YA Romances Running With Lions, How to Be Remy Cameron, and The Summer of Everything, and a contributor to Out Now.

    What Julian recommends: You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

    Julian recommends: You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson is a big-hearted, royally perfect gift of a book. Filled with smart humor, family love, small town vibes, insightful commentary on social dynamics, and everything readers adore about romcoms, this story dares you not to stand up and root for Liz Lighty on her journey. Spoiler alert: You’re going to need to buy an extra copy for yourself.

    17. Brigid Kemmerer, author of A Curse So Dark and Lonely, recommends An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.

    Penguin / en.wikipedia.org

    Brigid Kemmerer is the author of a number of paranormal, contemporary, and fantasy books, most recently the Cursebreakers series, whose final installment, A Vow So Bold and Deadly, releases in January.

    What Brigid recommends: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

    Brigid says: "When I picked this book up, it rocked my world. I'm all about the reluctant hero, and I love the journey of both Elias and Laia and how they find a way to fight for what's right in their world. Anyone who loves well-written fantasy that packs an emotional punch needs to read this series — and the best part is that the final installment is being released in December!"

    18. Rebecca Barrow, author of Interview with the Vixen, recommends The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta.

    rebecca-barrow.com / Candlewick Press (MA)

    Rebecca Barrow is the author of sharp, friendship-centric contemporaries You Don't Know Me But I Know You and This is What it Feels Like, as well as the second volume of the Archie Horror series, Interview with the Vixen.

    What Rebecca recommends: The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta

    Rebecca says: "The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta is a perfect read for the cold, gloomy season. Give this story about a group of queer friends navigating grief and love of all kinds to anyone in your life who senses the magic in nature. The lyrical writing will make them feel like they're right in the misty, magical forest, too."

    19. L.C Rosen, author of Camp, recommends I Hope You're Listening by Tom Ryan.

    Rachael Shane / Aw Teen / Via levacrosen.com

    L.C. Rosen is the author of Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) and Camp, two of the most delightful and brutally honest gay novels in YA.

    What L.C. recommends: I Hope You're Listening by Tom Ryan.

    L.C. says: "Though not exactly filled with Christmas cheer, the chills of Tom Ryan’s I Hope You’re Listening will feel right at home in winter. Dee has dealt with the trauma of her best friend being kidnapped in front of her as children by creating a podcast devoted to finding missing people. Hiding her own identity, she helps her listeners find their missing loved ones, something she’s never been able to do. But when another child goes missing from her childhood home, Dee finds that this new case and the old one that’s haunted her might require her to step out from behind the podcast and solve the case. At turns thrilling and comforting, Ryan paints a gorgeous mystery that will be sure to keep readers flipping pages in front of the fire."

    20. Brandy Colbert, author of The Voting Booth, recommends The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed.

    Jessie Weinberg / Simon & Schuster / Via brandycolbert.com

    Brandy Colbert is the author of five nuanced, authentic, and brilliant contemporary novels, including Stonewall winner Little & Lion and, most recently, The Voting Booth, about a romance that builds between two Black teens on an election day filled with voter disenfranchisement and suppression.

    What Brandy recommends: The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed.

    Brandy says: "I cannot stop recommending The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed to anyone who'll listen. Part love letter to Los Angeles, part coming-of-age story, it's a candid look into what it was like growing up as a Black kid during the 1992 Los Angeles uprising. It's impossible to move forward if we don't know where we've been, and this book feels especially timely in 2020 as the nation continues to reckon with social justice and the unequal treatment of Black Americans."

    Want great book recommendations in your inbox every week? Sign up for the BuzzFeed Books newsletter!

    Newsletter signup form