The books by authors I’ve listed here are those our children enjoyed reading in their spare time when they were in their teens. An asterisk means some of my children read it before their teens or that it’s suitable for a younger age level. Just be aware that this is only my opinion & even in our own family, what might have been right for one child at age 12 or 14 years didn’t necessarily mean it was suitable for another at the same age.
Alistair Maclean (1922-1987)
Action, intrigue, espionage; one man against all odds, fast-paced. A number of his books have been made into films and although you wouldn’t call them great literature, they’re mostly good reads (his earlier books are better) & and his writing doesn’t have the ‘romance issues’ or inapproriate material of other authors who have written books in a similar genre. Probably most suited to ages 14yrs and over, but I let my 12 year old boy read a few (*).
His books are often available secondhand or try here.
The Guns of Navarone *
The Lonely Sea (a collection of short stories)
Ice Station Zebra
Where Eagles Dare
Force 10 from Navarone *
The River of Death
The Golden Gate
Golden Rendezvous *
Caravan to Vaccares
The Last Frontier
John Buchan (1875-1940)
A prolific author, he also wrote historical works such as Sir Walter Scott and The Great War but is better known by far for his suspenseful thrillers such as The Thirty-Nine Steps in which he introduces the hero, Richard Hannay. Framed for murder, Hannay embarks upon a life of espionage in the lead up to the First World War. This book and four others immediately below follow the hero’s life through danger, intrigue & war and are great reads with intricate plots & interesting characters. These books are available here:
The Thirty-Nine Steps *
The Three Hostages
The Island of Sheep
Other adventure novels include:
Sick Heart River
I’d recommend starting with The Thirty-Nine Steps for a younger reader – it’s not as involved as some of his others and the plot is easier to follow. I think 14 year olds & up would appreciate Buchan’s other books most.
I haven’t included some of his other titles that I’ve read & enjoyed here eg. Witchwood, as I think they’re more suited to an older audience. My thoughts on a couple of the books are here & here.
Buchan’s books are in the public domain.
Regina Doman (1970-)
Regina Doman has written a series of modern day fairy tales for teens based some original fairy tales eg. Snow White, Sleeping Beauty & Ali Baba which my daughter started reading when she was about 16. I wrote about these books on my post, 8 Favourite Fairytale Retellings for Teens. The author’s blog has some details about the books. I think they are done well, particularly the first three, Shadow of the Bear, Black as Night, & Waking Rose (it helps if you know the original tales) but there are some themes you should be aware of before giving them as free reads. For an interview with the author see this website.
Her books may be bought here.
At two years of age Rosemary Sutcliff contracted Still’s Disease (a type of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis) and spent most of her life in wheelchair. In her early years she had to lie on back and during this time she was read to by her mother – books by Dickens, Thackeray, Trollope, and Greek & Roman legends.
Bonnie Dundee – Hugh Herriott was a young lad who had grown up in a Scottish Covenanter family. When he witnesses an attack on Government troops in which his older brother kills a boy not much older than Hugh himself, he is taken by Government troops and brought before Bloody Claver’se (Bonnie Dundee). Claverhouse questions him and then sets him free but Hugh cannot forget the ugly attack in which the young boy was killed:
I wanted no more to do with men and the world of men ever again. The pull of two loyalties within me was over and done with, and there was some relief in that. I knew now that I was like Montrose: that I was no Covenanter nor ever could be. But oh, the grief was on me was sore.
Song for a Dark Queen – A fictionalised account of Queen Boudica of the Iceni and the Roman invaders.
The Man Who was Thursday
Club of Queer Trades
The Napoleon of Notting Hill