Book List

19 Books in Verse You Need to Read ASAP

April 7, 2022
Jill Hacking
Riveted Editorial Board

Reading a book written in verse is an incredibly powerful experience. It takes reading to a whole other level, and we’re kind of obsessed with it. Check out these must-read books in verse!

19 Books in Verse You Need to Read ASAP

1. The Rose That Grew From Concrete by Tupac Shakur

If you’ve listened to his songs, you know that Tupac’s verses held powerful calls for change and messages of hope. This collection of 72 poems published after his death is no different. Written in his own hand from the time he was nineteen, Tupac Shakur’s most intimate and honest thoughts can be found on the pages of The Rose That Grew From Concrete. It’s a mirror into the legendary artist’s enigmatic world and embraces his spirit, his energy, and ultimately, his hope.

2. Your Heart, My Sky by Margarita Engle

Acclaimed author Margarita Engle tells a painful, poignant story of love in a time of hunger inspired by her own family’s struggles during a dark period in Cuba’s history.

3. The Dead Emcee Scrolls by Saul Williams

In the underground labyrinths of New York City’s subway system, beneath the third rail of a long forgotten line, Saul Williams discovered scrolls of aged yellowish-brown paper rolled tightly into a can of spray paint. His quest to decipher this mystical ancient text resulted in a primal understanding of the power hip-hop has to teach us about ourselves and the universe around us.

4. With a Star in My Hand by Margarita Engle

This stunning book in verse tells the story of Nicaraguan poet and folk hero, Rúben Darío. Author Margarita Engle, who was named after one of his poems, writes the beautiful story of how Rúben Darío lead the vibrant new literary movement called Modernismo.

5.  Turtle under Ice by Juleah del Rosario

This beautiful book in verse is told from two perspectives as we see how sisters, Rowena and Ariana have and haven’t dealt with the death of their mother. Lyrical and full of imagery this novel explores aspects of the grieving process that aren’t normally voiced.

6. People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins

People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins

New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkins tackles gun violence and white supremacy in this compelling and complex novel.

7. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

This fiercely stunning novel takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes Will to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

8. Jazz Owls by Margarita Engle

In soaring images and powerful poems, this is the breathtaking story of what became known as the Zoot Suit Riots as only Margarita Engle, the Young People’s Poet Laureate, could tell it.

9. Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott

Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott

Amid the brutality of Auschwitz during the Holocaust, a forbidden gift helps two teenage girls find hope, friendship, and the will to live in this novel in verse that’s based on a true story.

10. Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsy

Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu

A beautiful and haunting novel about an American-Japanese girl struggling with the loneliness of being caught between two worlds when the tragedy of 9/11 strikes an ocean away.

11. After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy

After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy

A novel in verse told from the perspectives of two girls—one of whom kisses the other’s boyfriend.

12. Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Crank is a story about a monster. Not a dragon or a mythological beast, but a very real, very destructive monster—crystal meth—that takes hold of seventeen-year-old Kristina Snow and transforms her into her reckless alter-ego Bree.

13. Enchanted Air by Margarita Engle

Enchanted Air by Margarita Engle

In this poetic memoir, acclaimed author Margarita Engle tells of growing up as a child of two cultures during the Cold War.

14. Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams

Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams

When her older sister, Lizzie, becomes an elective mute and is institutionalized after trying to kill herself, twelve-year-old Hope’s life is turned upside down.

15. One of Those Hideous Books Where The Mother Dies by Sonya Sones

One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies by Sonya Sones

Award-winning author Sonya Sones brings us the story of Ruby’s developing relationship with her estranged movie star father, vividly recounted in stunning free verse.

16. I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder

I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder

Ava can’t see him or touch him, unless she’s dreaming. She can’t hear his voice, except for the faint whispers in her mind. Most would think she’s crazy, but she knows he’s here.

17. Soaring Earth by Margarita Engle

In this powerful companion to her award-winning memoir Enchanted Air, Young People’s Poet Laureate Margarita Engle recounts her teenage years during the turbulent 1960s.

18. Rima’s Rebellion by Margarita Engle

An inspiring coming-of-age story from award-winning author Margarita Engle about a girl falling in love for the first time while finding the courage to protest for women’s right to vote in 1920s Cuba.

19. Lawless Spaces by Corey Ann Haydu

Perfect for fans of Deb Caletti, this poignant coming-of-age novel in verse follows a teen girl who connects with the women of her maternal line through their journals and comes to better understand her fraught relationship with her mother.

Looking for more? Check out these historical fiction books you don’t want to miss!

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