5. Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown
More than anything, Roan wanted to go to Pilot Academy like his big brother. When he doesn’t get in, he starts to doubt his skill and wonder if he’s doomed to be a moisture farmer on his home desert planet of Tatooine. That is, until he’s accepted into Jedi Academy- a school for force-users. Roan’s happy to not attend farming school, but just like any school, there are plenty of tests, girls, weird teachers, and bullies that await him. It’s the classic middle school experience, but with lightsabers. Roan’s definitely in for a rough ride. Minimum age: 7.
4. Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
I actually started reading this book to my dad, to prove to him just how much better than the movie the book was. One night, my brother heard me reading from the other room, and now I’ve gotten him invested in the story too. In this particular installment to the series, Percy tries to prove his worth as more than a one-time hero. His best friend Grover is in mortal peril, the new activities director is favoring Percy’s rival over him, and we are introduced to a close relative of Percy’s- one he wasn’t aware of until this point. We learn more about the mysterious prophecy involving Percy, and find out that there may be more than one traitor at camp. Minimum age: 10.
3. Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan
Yes, another Percy Jackson book. What can I say? I successfully got my brother hooked. If anything, I deserve a pat on the back. He likes this one better because there aren’t so many consistent characters to keep track of. In Greek myths, most people just come and go, and only a few key people stick around the whole way through. Yes, there are exceptions to this, but for the most part, because they’re individual stories, myths are easier to keep track of. (At least, in my brother’s brain, that is.) Percy’s witty, informal way of explaining some very complicated concepts is just perfect, and it makes for a very entertaining story.
2. The Contract by Derek Jeter and Paul Mantell
I did say my brother wasn’t much of a bookworm, so you shouldn’t be surprised to see a baseball book on this list. Despite my initial thoughts of, oh my gosh, Derek Jeter’s trying to write books now? I was pleasantly surprised with the quality with this book and the following in the series. Derek deals with a lot of drama amongst his friends, and he sometimes can’t properly balance schoolwork with his dream of being a professional baseball player. However, it always works out in the end for Derek, and he handles all his heavy drama like a champ. He’s a pretty good role model for other athletic kids. I particularly like how the fact that he likes baseball doesn’t hinder him from wanting to be top of the class. He’s always working towards both his goals, and as we can see today, he achieved the more far-fetched of the two. Minimum age: 9.
1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
I had to put this one in here. When I asked my brother what his favorite books were, this one was right at the top of his list. The Harry Potter books were one of our first common grounds, a peace pact between us. We both liked Harry Potter. We could talk about it together without getting annoyed with each other. It was a very pleasant concept. This is my brother’s favorite of the series because it was where the action picked up. It wasn’t as serious as book four, and it wasn’t as mild as book two. It was the happy medium, where Harry and his friends got chased by a werewolf and solved a murder mystery but had fun along the way. My favorite part of the book is when Ron’s mischievous older brothers gift Harry with the Marauder’s Map, a magical map that showed all the secret passages within their school, and kept track of everyone inside it. It was a priceless gift, especially after we discover exactly who the Marauders are. Minimum age: 10.