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29+ Fiction Books that Taught Me Writing Skills

Hey sparkles! Welcome back to SSS! I know I’m late, but since I only had time for one more post before the end of summer (how?!), I wanted to share something a little more bookish for readers and writers alike! The best way to learn is to watch others do it and implement what you learn and these books not only charm readers but are absolutely brilliant to learn from as writers! Let’s dive in!

Note: All of these books are ones I chose from my own personal favorites. I can’t represent every writer or reader, but I can say that I read in nearly every genre and use content warnings for accessibility. I still recommend researching content warnings yourself before reading because I likely missed one or two. I also debated putting some books in multiple categories but selected these based on what I thought they did best. The choices were hard and possibly flawed, but I hope you enjoy them all anyway!

Character Building

The best characters are relatable, imperfect, and engagingly lovable.

  1. The War That Saved My Life + The War I Finally Won – These two books give a funny and heartbreaking account of the World War 2 realities for British children, as well as lessons of forgiveness and love. The main character is strong but has physical weaknesses and doesn’t know many things. CW: Abuse, war, medical scenes.
  2. Little Men – Louisa Mae Alcott is a beloved author with good reason! Although her book “Little Women” is most well know, the second (or third, depending) book in that series is a story of Jo’s children. This book is so playful, full of stories of a childhood some of us had and some of us dreamed of. The happiness and youthful fun never ends and each character is remarkable, just as in Little Women. Still, there are painful themes under the surface that prove just how much gentleness and love can do. CW: Mentions of gambling, smoking, and injury, though nothing graphic.
  3. We Dream of Space – This book comes from multiple perspectives, an achingly wonderful portrayal of discovering who you are when the world is broken. Set in the 80’s, you fall in love with each character and come to see who they can be even beyond their flaws and brokenness. CW: Feminism and mention of feminine things, family fighting, a historical accident.
  4. Sweep – Whimsical and heartbreaking, historic and fantastical, cute and powerfully deep are just a few seemingly opposing pairs of words that describe this book. Not only with the chimney sweep and monster make you laugh and cry but you’ll see backstories and unique characters you’ll love as you learn a thing or two about the past in England and Jewish culture. CW: Near-death experiences and a (friendly!) monster.


Just like in a photograph, a background can add to a story… or take away from it.

  1. Dust + Shadow – These two books are some of my favorites. Although I adore the characters, I’m also in awe of the world building here. The gardens, apartment, and the tribal village are all just a few places I vividly remember. From real-world places you can picture to vivid imagery of Neverland, this book isn’t one I’ll soon forget… and I’ll be reading it more than once. CW: Romance, fighting, injuries, kidnapping, magic, and adoption.
  2. The Hobbit + Lord of the Rings – I’ll go ahead and admit I have yet to finish this series, but it’s simply because they demand your full attention. J.R.R Tolkien is so thorough in his world building that anyone can see both how the world looks and how it functions, even crafting a language for his world. CW: Battle, blood, and graphic violence.
  3. Alice in Wonderland – Classic and disturbingly strange and unusual, Alice in Wonderland is a masterpiece of world building that many have enjoyed for decades. CW: Violence, disturbing characters and creatures.
  4. Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling is absolutely phenomenal at making the wizarding world come to life. Every one who’s read it seems to wish they could go to Hogwarts for a day. From Quidditch to jellybeans, wingardium leviosa to bogarts, mandrakes to port keys, J.K. Rowling took things we knew and added a heaping dose of her own imagination to create a world that influences our own world today. CW: magic, gore, blood, disturbing creatures, violence, death, and romance.


Action is what makes a character change… and what makes us really relate to them.

  1. Around the World in 80 Days – When Phileas Fogg makes a seemingly impossible bet to travel around the entire world in 80 days in a time before airplanes and cars, those involved in the bet are confident in his failure and Fogg believes he will be able to win the bet. However, most surprising events ensue as he travels, from loosing his valet to saving a woman in India. The question still remains, though: can he travel the world in 80 days? CW: violence, smoking, drugs, gambling, racism, disturbing religious rite, and theft
  2. Call of the Wild – Told from the perspective of a kidnapped dog, Buck is a spoiled pet turned sled dog. As he becomes more wild and is given from owner to owner, he must learn to protect himself… and survive. CW: blood, survival, animal abuse, animal neglect, death, violence, and mild language
  3. Holes – Stanley Yelnats is simply unlucky. He always has been, as has his family. So when he find himself in an awful juvenile prison camp for a crime he didn’t commit, he’s not overly surprised. But the past is still in play, and Camp Green Lake is about to be shook. CW: Death, survival, violence, romance, crime
  4. The Wingfeather Saga – If one was to take the world building genius of Tolkien and Rowling and mix them with a plot as exciting and emotional as any ideal fantasy for teens yet as wholesome and all-age friendly as our childhood favorites, you would get a copy of the Wingfeather saga. From fighting our inner darkness to choosing the light and living as children of the King, this Christian series is symbolic but not so full of religious concepts that others couldn’t enjoy it. This series is perfect for anyone at any age, stage, or place in life… or writing skill. I know this review is unique to this post, but this series is in a category all its own. CW: violence, religion, magic.
  5. When You Reach Me – Miranda’s life is fairly normal, at least for a fairly poor New York City kid with a single mom. But when she starts receiving notes from a mysterious stranger, things start to go awry. It seems they know her and her future… and they need her help to save a life. Will she be too late? From time travel to ordinary life, this book is both relatable and inspiring. CW: Gore, insanity
  6. A Wrinkle in Time – A classic story of good vs. evil with so many unique twists, this book is difficult to summarize but quick and enjoyable to read. Hooked from page one, you’ll find yourself reading this page-turner at the speed of light. CW: romance, terrifying imagery, religious quotes
  7. The Secret Garden – Loneliness and riches have surround Mary Lennox all her life until tragedy strikes and she is forced into a curious new home… with a secret garden. Lessons on tragedy, grief, and hope fill this story. This book has become a delightful childhood memory for many and it’s no surprise why. This book is absolutely amazing and a great family read. CW: death, pain, trauma, alcohol references
  8. Lunar Chronicles – A series of fairy-tale retellings twisted into dystopian YA novels, the Lunar Chronicles throws plot twists at every corner. Cinder, the main character, is the cyborg member of an awful step family after her father has passed. Living in a world of doubt and fear as a plague sweeps her nation and political unrest surround her, she finds herself betrayed and thrown into a world of danger. As she fights for her country and discovers unsettling secrets of who she is, as well as meeting other characters with powerful stories along the way, we can’t help but wonder… will she win? Or will the world fall apart? Warning: you can’t just read the first book! This series is extremely hooking. I ended up binge reading the whole thing and then giving away my series because I was personally too young (I was early 13 and had never read YA) but couldn’t stop. It may sound silly, but I definitely would warn you before beginning. CW: violence, gore, abuse, romance, sexual references and implications, war, politics, destruction, magic.
  9. The Girl Who Could See – Fern is crazy. She can hardly keep a job, let alone take care of her niece on her own, at 19. Her childhood imaginary friend, Tristan, refuses to leave, and her mind keeps playing tricks on her that make her say and do things she would prefer not to do. She’s ready for it all to be normal until she realizes that Tristan isn’t imaginary… he’s from another world, and it’s in danger. And they’re the only people who can save them all. Painfully real and inspiringly imaginative, The Girl Who Could See is a must-read. CW: trauma, gore, mental health topics, and romance.

Voice + Writing

Every person is unique and the best characters (and authors!) have a distinct voice too.

  1. Persuasion – Jane Austen is a legend for a reason, and I find her characters to be distinct and engaging. From the beginning of this book, we know what kind of person Anne’s father is and what kind of person she is. We watch her change and our perceptions change, but the characters’ voices remain unmistakable throughout the book. I personally enjoy this book most of hers.
  2. Orbiting Jupiter – Tragic and painfully beautiful, Gary D. Schmidt’s story is a lesson in narrative and character voice. Even those who often don’t cry for books would sob for this story, not simply because of what happens but because we love the characters in every aspect of who they are. The author makes it clear that from deep pain comes actions one regrets… and from struggle comes beauty. CW: sexual references, abuse, drinking, death
  3. Wonder + The Wonder Collection – If you’ve ever wondered how to write distinct characters, you should open a copy of Wonder. Every character feels real, not just because of what they do and experience but because of how they speak. This author is incredible at coming to the character’s level to tell their story through their own voice. Beautiful, hopeful, and sad, these books show the beauty of friendship and being yourself. CW: medical problems, bullying, injury, death of an animal
  4. Wednesday Wars, Okay for Now, & Just Like That – Set during the Vietnam war and with unique characters with flawed lives and interesting voices, this “series” is like nothing I’d ever read before. Not only are the characters realistic and relatable but they’re fantastically written, each unique in how they speak yet showing the author’s own voice clearly. I can pick up any Gary D. Schmidt book and know for a fact that it’s his. CW: war, mention of blood and gore, abuse, divorce, murder, danger, violence, theft.


Books are often meant for learning and growing, not just for entertainment.

  1. Black Beauty – If you’ve ever read this book, chances are you’ve never looked at a horse quite the same. Though it never explicitly demands immediate change to the society it was written for, this classic is bubbling over with sympathy and reason to love horses. Though it can be enjoyed without focusing on the theme, it is impossible to entirely ignore the book’s theme because it demands your attention.
  2. Night Gardener – There’s a difference between a story and a lie, and in Jonathan Auxier’s hauntingly beautiful book he shows you exactly that. Overflowing with amazing quoteable lines and characters we cheer for, this book is both creepy and stunning, really showing the danger of lies and falsehoods. CW: ghostly character, disturbing concept, loss, death, illness
  3. Wolf Hollow + My Own Lightning- When awful people suffer, should we help them? This book answers this question, along with other questions about justice, prejudice, and forgiveness. Set during the 40’s in a farming town, this book is authentic and deep. You’ll cheer for the main characters and find yourself deciding whether or not first impressions and assumptions matter. CW: gore, violence, weather, medical scenes
  4. Pay Attention, Carter Jones – Crazy family, a fancy butler, and a car dubbed The Eggplant are the surface-level elements of this hilarious middle-grade novel. But if you look deeper, there are themes of moving on from pain, leaning on one another, and never forgetting who you are. This book is an amazing MG book. CW: Divorce, underage driving, rude humor, mild violence, adultery.
  5. Pilgrim’s Progress – This legendary allegory has made the list under themes because of the stunning amount of symbolism and wisdom. It is very much in the category of Christian, but if you want to learn from the highest form of allergy, this is the book for you. CW: Religion, gore, violence, monsters
  6. Running on Empty – This book by S.E. Durrant is a powerful story about loss, hope, and anxiety. It’s been years and I still remember the themes clearly. It’s very distinct and the most powerful sports story I’ve read. CW: Medical conditions, death.
  7. Right as Rain – When someone dies and you helped them go to the place they died at, is it your fault? And how do you heal as things fall apart? These are just a few of the questions the main character asks after the loss of her brother. Community, hope, and healing are strong themes in this powerful book and it most definitely is an excellent MG read. CW: death, mild language, verbal and mental violence.

While I likely could go on, I need to be done here. I have to announce the blog party! Although the original plan was for it to happen on Wednesday, it won’t be happening until Friday, since this post is so overdue. However, I hope both this post and the blog party will be better for more effort! What are your favorite fiction books that taught you writing skills? Let me know in the comments!

Published by Kaley Kriesel

Hello, friend! I'm Kaley, a teen girl pursuing Jesus and working toward sharing powerfully authentic stories for Young Adults who want clean, life-changing books. I play three instruments and have a passion for music as well as a love for reading. I believe words can change the world. If you want to find out how, check out my blog, Words!

6 thoughts on “29+ Fiction Books that Taught Me Writing Skills

  1. I enjoyed reading this! I am almost done reading the Lunar Chronicles (I have to finish reading Stars Above and Fairest), and I absolutely LOVE it! I love the relationships between the characters, the world Marissa Meyer created is amazing, and I loved all the elements she included from the original fairytales!! So, as you might be able to tell, I am obsessed with it at the moment… 😅😂 I have read some of the books on this list, but some of them I haven’t even heard of!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad! They’re really good! The short story with Cinder and Kai, I’ll warn you, does have much more romancey content than the other books. I personally couldn’t get through those short stories. I was obsessed too and I’m tempted to reread them… but my TBR is full of new adventures, so onward not backward! XD I hope you enjoy more of these!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Words and commented:

    Hey warriors! I’m sorry it’s been a minute since I last posted. I hope to get a post out on Friday with a little life-update and some news about how I’m going to do better at consistently posting quality content for you all. Until then, I hope you enjoy!


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