Proven Books for a 13 year old boy: Teen-tested Top Favorites

Updated April 2024

Here on Everead the long-standing most popular post is my list Books for 13 Year Old Boys: Ten Exciting Titles to Keep Him Reading. But, it has been a couple of years since I wrote that post. The good news is that books that were quality a couple of years ago are still quality. Nevertheless, it's time for a new take on the list. For this post I turned to the 13-year-old boys I know personally, and to some friends who have 13-year-old sons. I asked, "What is your favorite book?" Here are their answers.

The next 8 books are top favorites of multiple 13-year-olds I talked to. Most of them are bestselling fantasy or sci-fi series that are popular enough to have been adapted for the screen. Reliable selections, if you're shopping or browsing outside of your own area of expertise.

Dragonwatch -- These are crazy popular. This series isn't complete yet, but it is the latest from Brandon Mull's Fablehaven world. The Fablehaven series is complete with five books, which have the same two protagonists: Seth and Kendra.  When I accepted a review copy for book 2 in the Dragonwatch series, it was instantly snatched up by my son, then passed around his friends. Book 3 was so good he reviewed it himself. Book 4 comes out in October 2020.

Beyonders -- This trilogy by the same author, Brandon Mull, is complete and ready to go. It stars protagonists Jason and Rachel who have both been drawn into a mysterious world ruled by an evil emperor and are looking for a way home. If Dragonwatch and Beyonders aren't enough Brandon Mull for you, check out his Five Kingdoms series or The Candy Shop War and its sequel.

Rick Riordan -- This author is so popular that none of the teens I talked to mentioned any book by name, just all the "books by Rick Riordan." He's currently writing The Trials of Apollo Series, and will complete it with the release of book 5 in September 2020. Rick Riordan has already completed the following series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Heroes of Olympus, The Kane Chronicles, Magnus Chase, and he has contributed to the 39 Clues, a series where bestselling authors each contribute a book. My husband and I read all the Percy Jackson books as they were coming out (ten years ago, now...eep!) and I really appreciated Percy's good humor and can-do attitude. Friendship and family are big themes in the series. 

Alcatraz -- Brandon Sanderson is a favorite in our house. Thirteen-year-olds mentioned the Alcatraz series specifically and also other books by Brandon Sanderson. Alcatraz is his series marketed to middle grades, The Reckoners and The Rithmatist and Skyward are his books marketed to teens. He also has several series marketed for adults. My twelve-year-old who is begging for more Brandon Sanderson has read Sanderson's books for teens and adults, because my husband and I have read them and consider them at a PG-13 level. 

Consider Audiobooks -- If you spend time driving together or cleaning the bathroom needs to become more fun, an audiobook version of these books could be just what you need. Here's a link to Audible Plus, which has a nice free trial.  

Maze Runner -- This series by James Dashner is complete at 5 books. Our protagonist wakes up on his way to The Glade and can't remember anything but his name. Soon, he's surrounded by other boys whose memories are gone, and he becomes one of the few to run the ever-changing maze that keeps them all trapped.

Ready Player One -- Wade Watts is on a hunt for an easter egg, a virtual easter egg that is worth billions of real dollars. Virtual reality becomes all too real when he pulls ahead of the pack and big business feels threatened. I haven't read this version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for the retro video game nerd myself, but people do say it's tough to put down.

Ender's Game -- An oldy but a goody! Originally published in 1985, you know a book has staying power if 13-year-olds are still talking about it in 2018. This book follows Andrew, nicknamed Ender, as he leaves home for the military training school that he was literally born to enter. Ender's Game is the first in a series, but stands alone well.

Alex Rider -- This series is complete at 10 books (and one short story collection). Pegged as a teen-led tribute to James Bond and perfect for those who like Jason Bourne, the Alex Rider books follow Alex, whose uncle and guardian suddenly dies in a very suspicious car crash. Alex knows something isn't right, and soon he's right in the middle of all the danger.

Are the books above too mainstream?

Introducing 5 remarkable books, 
favorites of genuine 13-year-old boys: 

Space Case -- This is the current favorite book of a 13-year-old who was described to me as someone who "Doesn't read. He only reads for school." It is the start of the Moon Base Alpha series by Stuart Gibbs. I haven't read Space Case or the rest of the series, but I did read Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs and remember it being well written. My son also recommends this series and Gibb's Spy School series.

The Wild Robot -- The Wild Robot is the current favorite book of a 13-year-old, and a 15 year old I know mentioned it to me as "a great book" the other day. Lucky for them there is a sequel, The Wild Robot Escapes. This series follows a shipwrecked robot washed up on an island. Roz the robot doesn't know she's out of place, but she is programmed to learn and adapt and that's what she does, eventually learning to survive and thrive in the wild.

Sabotage, The Boys in the Boat, Call It Courage  -- These three are the favorites of a 13-year-old who loves non-fiction. Sabotage: The Mission to Destroy Hitler's Atomic Bomb details the amazing work of Norwegians who not only survived the elements outside of Vemork but also decimated the bomb-building progress there. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown also touches on defeating Hitler, but in this case it is the US rowing team hopes to defeat Germany at the Berlin Olympics. (The Boys in the Boat comes in a Young Readers Edition as well.) Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry is historical fiction about Maftu, a boy who must face his fear of the ocean and survive the elements on his own. Call It Courage won the Newbery Medal, and is super affordable.

Need more? Here are more recommendations for a 13-year-old boy who likes books to be fast-paced and exciting. 
Here is a list of 7 adventure titles for 13-year-old boys. 


  1. I must be a 13 year old boy because I have read and loved a lot of these books! ha ha!

  2. Ready Player one is the best book I have read so far.


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