I’ll start the list off with Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Forced to read it in high school as a freshman, I fell in love with it and couldn’t put it down. The language is slightly antiquated and ornate, but it’s certainly quite penetrable. Besides, Dickens was paid by the word. Seriously. That’s why he’s somewhat, ah, longwinded.
Anything by John Green. All his works alternate between hilarious and moving. The Fault in Our Stars in particular is fantastic.
I grew up on the Redwall series. They’re traditional fantasy, gloriously heroic, and very escapist. (By Brian Jacques)
I also grew up on Harry Potter, of course. I read each of the books many, many times. At one point my father actually took away all the Harry Potter books in my room because that was how I was spending my summer vacation, just reading them again and again.
Perks of Being A Wallflower is something I only read recently, but it described high school me perfectly, minus the residual emotional trauma. I didn’t have nearly that good of an excuse to not make friends.
Terry Pratchett is an amazing and hilarious author. It doesn’t matter where you start with his books. He created this world called Discworld, and each of the books is told from somebody else’s perspective. He’s one of those authors you don’t want to put down because the book is always building up for another joke, even better than the last.
Oh, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. I first read it in 7th grade, but I didn’t get all the humor then. I recently reread it and realized just how amazingly brilliant it is. If I could pick any of these books to be required reading in school, that’s the one I would pick. Half of the book is razor sharp humor of a quality I haven’t found elsewhere, and the other half is emotionally moving and discusses some pretty serious business. It’s… an experience.