Randi's Top Ten Books High Schoolers Made Her Read

Prior to my life at Brazos I spent my days surrounded by hundreds of seventeen year olds. It never took long before the bookish ones realized I was “one of them” in spite of the fact that my name was listed under the Math Department. Eventually I developed a decently sized classroom library out of donations and weed outs from my personal shelves; the more students borrowed from me the more recommendations started to come in… oftentimes in the form of books being physically shoved into my hands. 

Below is a list of books that I may not have ended up picking up if it weren’t for those teenagers, but I’m so grateful I did.



The Lost Apothecary By Sarah Penner Cover Image
ISBN: 9780778311973
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Park Row - February 22nd, 2022

“All the AP English teachers were freaking out about this in the hall one day so I picked it up - I’m dying, you’ll love this!” - a senior during first period, trying to delay the start of class. 

Reader, they were correct. I love a historical fiction. Especially one featuring some strong women. We have a split timeline and viewpoints from three very different women whose lives become intertwined in a stunning twist of fate. Two viewpoints are from the 1700’s, where a female apothecary is dispensing poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them. The third is of an aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell, a woman in the present day reeling after having been wronged by a man herself. Follow along as she works to heal herself and investigate the unsolved “apothecary murders” from over  two centuries prior

The Night and Its Moon By Piper CJ Cover Image
ISBN: 9781728270678
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Bloom Books - September 20th, 2022

“You *have* to follow this TikTok creator! She has a Master’s in Folklore!” - a slightly witchy junior one Friday afternoon when she was supposed to be doing math. 

I did follow her. She does have a Master’s in Folklore (why didn’t 18 year old me know that existed?!) and she had just self published her first novel, a bi fantasy starring the beautiful orphans Nox and Amaris, who just so happen to be commodities for sale. When the madame of a notorious, high-end brothel comes calling with a massive bid for Amaris, Nox finds a way to take her place. Once inseparable, the two girls are now set to grow up with two wildly different lives and identities - forever scheming of ways to reunite. You have a war between human and fae, multiple view points, and a series that was picked up and fast tracked so books 2 and 3 are already on shelves and four is on its way shortly.


The Silent Patient By Alex Michaelides Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250301703
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Celadon Books - May 4th, 2021

“I don’t care that you don’t read thrillers, you’re reading this next.” - a sweet student the day we returned from break. 

This book was shoved into my hands the day we returned from winter break. I started it on a Friday and finished it during lunch on Monday, hunted the student who lent it to me down and shoved it back into her hands. This is the first thriller to truly catch me unaware with it’s twist. Alicia shoots her beloved husband five times… in the face… and then never speaks another word. Theo, a psychotherapist, is captivated by the story and wants to help. Can he get her to speak again and divulge her motives? Or will he lose himself to the mystery first?


Darling Girl: A Novel of Peter Pan By Liz Michalski Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593185650
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dutton - May 2nd, 2023

“Hey, can you pick my book of the month this time? I can’t pick.” - me, to an unsuspecting student when grades were due. 

What a pick. I’ve always been a big fan of a new take on an old tale, and this one takes us back to the world of J.M. Barrie as we follow Holly Darling, granddaughter of Wendy, and learn that everyone’s favorite innocent, impish boy, Peter, may not be as innocent as we believe. With all of the magic and joy of a classic tale, Micalski takes a story you think you know and turns it on its head and down a Grimm-like dark alley way.


The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives By Dashka Slater Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374303235
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) - October 17th, 2017

“Oh no, could you hurry and go grab a book off the shelf in my room before we’re not allowed to move all day?!” - me, to a student aide on a state testing day as I set up to be a hall monitor for six hours. 

The writing style on this non-fiction is beautifully done, creating a cohesive storyline from multiple viewpoints that reads like the most riveting fiction tale. Unfortunately the crimes depicted in this book are however, very real. You have two teenagers on a bus, one in a skirt, the other with a lighter and some friends to egg them on. Afterwards you follow the path to recovery for one and the path through the justice system for the other. This tale gives you the opportunity to explore how varied two sides of a story can be, and how one small action can change lives forever

Turtles All the Way Down By John Green Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525555377
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Penguin Books - June 11th, 2019

 “I LOVED A Fault in Our Stars, can we get more books by him in here?” - A students request to expand my class library. 

John Green has written many relatable teen characters that he refuses to dumb down, and Aza Holmes is no exception. Spiral down with Aza as she explores a local mystery and copes with her OCD and anxiety sprirals - which are written based off of the authors personal experiences. But don’t forget the local billionaire is missing and, well, Aza happens to know his son. Please note that this representation of mental health is not easy to digest at times, it is ugly, it is sad, it is disturbing and frustrating, but it is very real.


An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: A Novel (The Carls #1) By Hank Green Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524743468
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dutton - July 30th, 2019

“Oh my god…. John Green’s brother wrote a novel too!” “Isn’t he that hot dad on TikTok?” - A conversation between two freshman. 

I’m not a giant sci-fi fan, never have been. And that’s the only thing I knew about this book going in, and honestly I’m glad for that. This is a great novel to go into blindly. A science fiction novel set in modern society with constant twists and turns and a fun mystery that unfolds at a perfect pace. Again I think this is one better taken without any prior knowledge so all I’ll give you is that two of the main conversations are centered around fame (specifically the viral kind) and mistrust of change/outsiders.


Portrait of a Thief: A Novel By Grace D. Li Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593186060
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tiny Reparations Books - April 4th, 2023

“Did you hear? A girl from our school wrote a novel!” - a senior of Chinese decent that was thrilled to see herself in a local novelist’s work. 

A few years back, college student Grace Li saw news articles about Chinese art being stolen from Western museums… specifically art obtained as the spoils of war/conquest. Grace then let her imagination run wild about how these priceless artifacts were disappearing. Enter her debut heist novel about stealing back history

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot By Mikki Kendall Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525560562
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Penguin Books - February 23rd, 2021

“I really want you to borrow this, please? I just think you’re my only teacher who would get it.” - a junior, who I still owe a copy of this book because it’s still on my personal bookshelf

A wonderful critique of the feminist movement and the divide between white women and BIPOC women. This collection of essays includes conversations on respectability politics, poverty, race, and hyper-sexualization. A brilliant and seething essay collection recommended for anyone interested in learning more about intersectional feminism

A Court of Thorns and Roses By Sarah J. Maas Cover Image
ISBN: 9781635575569
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - June 2nd, 2020

“Oh come on, you have to give in on the BookTok trends at some point?! Didn’t you say you used to like fantasy?” - my own personal bully in the form of a 16-year-old, she was the best. 

A fantasy/fae retelling of Beauty and the Beast to kick off a series. When Feyre kills a wolf in the woods in an attempt to provide for her family, she has unwittingly broken an agreement between human and fae and is drug to the fae realm as retribution. A curse has befallen her captor’s land, but how could simple, human Feyre do anything about that? This is a great set up novel for the series, which is still going, and a part of the Maas universe where series are starting to collide. If you haven’t caved on ACOTAR yet… it might be time.

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