Recommended Reads

After being disgusted by a review yesterday that celebrated a YA book synopsis “teas[ing] a dark eroticism so often lacking in YA,” I decided to put together a list of books (and authors) that need more attention for their cleanliness and/or positive values. So here we are. (A handful of these are actually found in the adult section, but I’d be comfortable handing them to a teenager and I read them as a teenager myself. Others are technically middle-grade but are of a quality that they can be enjoyed by people of all ages.)

BookShop links below are affiliate links, which means if you buy through them I earn a commission at no extra cost to you. BookShop is an online retailer that orders from independent local U.S. bookstores, so buying through them supports small businesses!
Links on book titles lead to book reviews, and links on author names lead to those authors’ websites.

Clean Books

The Door Within trilogy by Wayne Thomas Batson (Amazon | BookShop)

The Dreamtreaders trilogy by Wayne Thomas Batson (Amazon | BookShop)

The Isle Chronicles by Wayne Thomas Batson (Amazon | BookShop)

The Berinfell Prophecies by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper (Amazon | BookShop)

The Truth series by Dawn Cook (Amazon | BookShop)

Atlantis Rising by T.A. Barron (Amazon | BookShop)

The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson (Amazon | BookShop)

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (Amazon | BookShop)

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede (Amazon | BookShop)

The Terebinth Tree Chronicles by Hannah Heath (Amazon | BookShop)

The Stealthmaster’s Shadow by Hope Ann (Amazon)

The Midnight Thief duology by Livia Blackburne (Amazon | BookShop)

The Beaumont and Beasley series by Kyle Robert Shultz (Amazon)

The Mirror-Hunter Chronicles by R.M. Archer (Amazon)

Short Story Collection vol. 1 by R.M. Archer (Amazon)

Child of the Kaites by Beth Wangler (Amazon | BookShop)

Steward Stories by Beth Wangler (Amazon | BookShop)

The 100 Cupboards trilogy by N.D. Wilson (Amazon | BookShop)

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander (Amazon | BookShop)

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielson (Amazon | BookShop)

The Secret of the Rose series by Michael Philips (Amazon | BookShop)

Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker (Amazon | BookShop)

The Traveler by E.B. Dawson (Amazon)

The Fire Rain Chronicles by Miranda Marie (Amazon | BookShop)

The Giver by Lois Lowry (Amazon | BookShop)

Fallen Leaves by Tessa Emily Hall (Amazon | BookShop)

The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson (Amazon | BookShop)

The Whispers of White duology by Miranda Marie (Amazon | BookShop)

Strange Waters by The Phoenix Fiction Writers (Amazon | BookShop)

To Best the Boys by Mary Weber (Amazon | BookShop)

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (Amazon | BookShop)

Synapse by Steven James (Amazon | BookShop)

Watson & Holmes by E.B. Dawson (Amazon | BookShop)

The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis (Amazon | BookShop)

ETA – October 23, 2022

The Memoirs of Lady Trent by Marie Brennan (Amazon | BookShop)

The Midnight Thief duology by Livia Blackburne (Amazon | BookShop)

The Story Peddler by Lindsay A. Franklin (Amazon)

Sing to Me of Rain by E.B. Dawson (Amazon | BookShop)

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (Amazon | BookShop)

Wishtress by Nadine Brandes (Amazon | BookShop)

Harbinger of the End by Nicki Chapelway (Amazon | BookShop)

Escape from Mathebos by Sarah Rodecker (Amazon | BookShop)

Renegades by Marissa Meyer (Amazon | BookShop)

Timely by The Phoenix Fiction Writers (Amazon)

Positive Books

The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan (mild language, drug use painted in a negative light in a later book) (Amazon | BookShop)

Women of Kern: Book One by Maris McKay (the first story gets a little graphic on the romance toward the end, but that’s the only uncomfortable content I recall and the book promotes many different types of strength) (Amazon | BookShop)

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (includes a handful of sexual references, if I recall correctly, and it gets heavy on violence in places) (Amazon | BookShop)

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (mild language throughout) (Amazon | BookShop)

A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes (semi-graphic violence at times) (Amazon | BookShop)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (language throughout and a brief sexual scene, but a good look at the issues it addresses) (Amazon | BookShop)

A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews (addresses abuse) (Amazon | BookShop)

100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons (mild language) (Amazon | BookShop)

Antiheroes by The Phoenix Fiction Writers (heavy violence in places and maybe light language) (Amazon | BookShop)

Of Myth and Monster by The Phoenix Fiction Writers (mild language) (Amazon)

Love and the Sea and Everything in Between by Brian McBride (lots of content—the book focuses on such issues as suicide and sexual abuse—but it handles those issues well and is extremely well-written) (Amazon | BookShop)

ETA – October 23, 2022

The Riven Realm by Deck Matthews (violence and mild language, but great themes of family and community, among others) (Amazon)

Authors to Follow

Andrew Peterson

Hannah Heath

Nadine Brandes

Kyle Robert Shultz

E.B. Dawson

Beth Wangler

Miranda Marie

Kara Swanson

Abbie Emmons

I want to say thank you to all the authors writing clean, high-quality books, or books that portray real issues through a conservative/Christian lens. Keep doing what you’re doing. Your work is important.

And to all of you readers, promote clean and positive books. Spread the word. Recommend them to people. Buy them as gifts. Support the authors. Let’s create a community of readers and authors that produces and spreads quality work that’s truly intended for teen readers, both clean options and options that aren’t afraid to tackle issues that teens are worried about but from a Christian perspective. (And I’ll talk in a few weeks about the importance of both flavors of Christian fiction.)

Do you have any recommendations that didn’t make it onto my list? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Looking for more edifying reads? Want updates on the books I’m reading and releasing? Sign up to my newsletter!

9 thoughts on “Recommended Reads

  1. The Lunar Chronicles does have a couple of pretty mild sexual references, but as I say, they’re quite mild and I read that series when I was probably about 10-12 and it seemed pretty fine. You might want to read it first just to make sure you’re comfortable with giving it to a young teen/tween (I wouldn’t give it to anyone much younger probably) if you have concerns, but it really is pretty mild. Nothing terribly graphic.

    1. Personally, I think the violence is more concerning for younger readers than the sexual references, but the sexual references are something to consider as well even though mild.

  2. By the way, this is a great collection of books (and authors). I know of a quite few here but there are others that I haven’t heard at all, and that’s awesome. :) I can never get enough of clean and good books!

  3. Bless you for this! I absolutely loathe the thought of a YA book being /celebrated/ for its erotic themes; that’s absolutely vile.
    Plus, so many of these books you’ve listed just don’t get the attention that they deserve. It’s great to see them getting more support.

  4. 😢 this is so sad.

    but the list is wonderful, archer! i love when people take something negative and create something positive because of it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *