1. J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Series)
If you're one of the few hold-outs who haven't read this series, try them! I think you'll enjoy them more than you think you will. The characters and events are now such a part of our cultural meme that, really, everyone should read the books. For those who've already read and loved the books, click on her name and enjoy the massively wonderful author's website!
2. Louis Sachar: Holes
This is quite an engaging book, that verges on poetic at moments. Impressive achievements for a book about boys on in a West Texas punishment camp!
3. Cornelia Funke: The Thief Lord
I love the magical realism of this book. The only thing that made it better? Actually going to Venice! :)
4. Eoin Colfer: Artemis Fowl (series)
Who doesn't love an evil genius, even when he's just a teen? Oh yes, this is a series that'll make you laugh and keep you reading. Enjoy!
5. Lois Lowry: The Giver
This utopia/dystopia is a wildly good read. English teachers glommed on to it a bit, but feel free to go back and reread it from an older perspective. This is one book that ages really well.
6. Jerry Spinelli: Stargirl
I don't really know what to say about this one other than, read it!
7. Carl Hiaasen: Hoot
Set in Florida, and focusing on odd characters and an environmental issue, as do most of his books, this Newberry winner is a fabulous read.
8. Gordon Korman: No More Dead Dogs
This excellent little book is for all of us who HATED the fact that the dog always dies in the books the English teachers assign. Old Yeller, Little Ann, Old Dan, Sounder, this book is for you!
9. Rick Riordan: The Lightning Thief (series)
Following in the Harry Potter genre, this wildly readable series is based in the idea that the Greek gods never really changed their ways. And yes, this includes their predilection for creating half-gods (aka: Heroes).
10. Orson Scott Card: Ender's Game (series)
This book is my favorite example of how marketing can affect how you see a book. It's got two covers and is placed in two areas of the bookstore:
The Teen Version: (kid in space suit? check!)
The Adult Sci-Fi Version: (mysterious spaceship? check!)
That said, it is destined to become a classic in the genre (if it isn't already). Mind you, the deeper you go into the series, the harder you have to think, as it focuses increasingly on philosophy. The first book in the series though? Sheer genius!
Focus for this list:
I'm not a huge fan of the Young Adult label for books. A good book is a good book, and teens don't deserve to have their fiction watered down. That said, I can understand that creating a transitional section is helpful for parents wishing to shield their kids a bit as they move from chapter books to adult novels. So, this list is the best of the section (IMHO) and I'd encourage everyone to read these books, as they've all got something important to say about humanity. That, and they're ferociously good reads!
NOTE: you can now click on the author's names and follow a link to their website. Also, if a book is the beginning of the series, I've created one link for the first book and then, where it says (series), a link to the rest of the series. I hope these help you track everything down!