12 Books John Green Thinks You Should Read

John Green is many things. He is a YouTube star, a semi-professional FIFA player, and the co-creator of Project For Awesome. What John Green may be most well known for are his bestselling novels including The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska.

He has a profound love of literature and when asked what his favorite book was he said, “I don’t have a favorite book. I have hundreds.”

Here are 12 of his favorites that he has recommended over the years. Also, don’t forget to be awesome.


1. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye usually opens up a bag of mixed opinions. On the surface, not much happens in the novel plot wise, and Holden can be confusing and unlikable. However, John Green makes the argument that, Holden Caulfield is not the guy you want to be or the guy you want to be with. He’s not Edward Cullen. But he is the guy you secretly know yourself to be.”

At a deeper level, The Catcher in the Rye is a story about security, innocence, and the fear of what happens when you grow up. It is a novel that always deserves a second look.

the catcher in the rye

Source: Amazon

2. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

Behind the Beautiful Forevers is a novel that explores what it is like to live with dreams in a place like Annawadi; a makeshift village under the shadow of luxury. John Green calls it, “The most interesting and complex book about poverty I have ever read.”

behind the beautiful forevers

Source: Amazon

3. Sula by Toni Morrison

Sula is a novel about two girls, Nel Wright and Sula Peace, who became friends as children. It is a friendship that guides them through many of life’s tribulations including a betrayal that threatens to tear them apart. In the words of Green, it is, “The great american novel about friendship in adolescence.”


Source: Amazon

4. Bossypants by Tina Fey

John Green read this autobiography with his wife, Sarah Urist Green, and they both really enjoyed it. Bossypants is Tina Fey’s chance to tell her own story; from her childhood to her days on Saturday Night Live, to the present.


Source: Amazon

5. The Magicians by Lev Grossman

If Hogwarts were electrocuted with a shot of whiskey, you might have something close to The Magicians. Green calls it, “A very knowing and wonderful take on the wizard school genre.”


Source: Amazon

6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This novel follows the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster child living in Nazi Germany. After her foster father teaches her how to read, she begins stealing books. She shares her books with the villagers during bomb raids, along with the Jewish man in her basement. John Green says it is “A novel where you just care so much about the characters and you don’t even understand why.”

the book thief

Source: Amazon

7. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

“My favorite time travel book ever,” is Green’s opinion on To Say Nothing of the Dog. It is a comedic novel following main character Ned Henry who is part of a project to go back in time to save a cathedral that was once destroyed in a Nazi raid.

to say nothing of the dog

Source: Amazon

8. One of Us: Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal by Alice Domurat Dreger

This book is a special look into the lives of conjoined twins. It is a thought provoking work that calls into question what we consider “normal.” John Green has a small collection of books about conjoined twins and this one he calls, “By far the best non-fiction book ever written about conjoined twins.”

one of us

Source: Amazon

9. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

This historical fiction novel follows Thomas Cromwell during the rule of King Henry VIII. He shows us a back seat view of what a king must do to replace one queen with another. This novel John Green recommended during a holiday book gift giving guide video.


Source: Amazon

10. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation by M. T. Anderson

If there ever were a number one favorite for John Green, this would be it. This two part novel is about Octavian, a boy being raised by a group of philosophers. By opening a forbidden door, he discovers a world of experiments and his unique role in them.

octavian nothing

Source: Amazon

11. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

“A short, relentless, and brilliant meditation on race and history in the United States.” It was one of  Green’s favorite reads of 2015 and brings our attention to the concerns between a father and son, as well as the connection between the nation’s history and current situations.

between the world and me

Source: Amazon

12. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

This book looks at the political background and story that revolves around the attempted murder of Bob Marley in the late 1970’s.. Green calls it, “A brilliant novel that uses an oral history format to tell this massive, sprawling story.”

brief history of seven killings

Source: Amazon

Which of John’s favorites are on your TBR?

YouTube Channel: TED


Featured image via The Odyssey Online

h/t Bustle

Leave a Reply