The Books the Hey YA Podcast Hosts Are Most Obsessed With

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Sarah Hannah Gómez

Staff Writer

Formerly a school librarian, Sarah Hannah Gómez is a doctoral candidate at the University of Arizona, studying children's and young adult literature with a minor in social, cultural, and critical theory. Find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Clubhouse @shgmclicious

Did you know Book Riot has a podcast dedicated to all things YA? You do now! (Or maybe you already did, in which case, thank you for listening! You’re our favorite! Please rate and review.)

I joined Book Riot and Hey YA in September of 2020. Founding co-host Eric Smith left big, hot dog-shaped shoes to fill, but I’ve been having a blast chatting with other founding co-host Kelly Jensen about things we talked to each other about all the time anyway.

brown abaca
Photo by Crissy Jarvis on Unsplash

Kelly and I are both committed to reading diversely, which is not a chore but a joy, and it happens naturally because we’re both interested in a number of different things. BUT there are definitely books that come up multiple times. In total, more than 1387 unique titles have been mentioned on the podcast, and the reason I give such a precise number and then say “more than” is because I didn’t record books that were published as middle grade, children’s, or adult, even though there are tons of excellent crossover books we recommend regularly! Always check the show notes.

Here are the top three (sort of — you’ll see) most-mentioned books, and the runners up, since the podcast debuted in September 2017. These numbers are inclusive through episode 89. See after the list for some context and notes as to how I got these numbers.

Cover for Anger Is A Gift by Mark Oshiro

5. Tied at 7 mentions each

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro; Timekeeper series by Tara Sim; Finding Yvonne by Brandy Colbert; Here to Stay by Sara Farizan; Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston; Slay by Brittney Morris; You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

4. Tied at 8 mentions each

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo; The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo; The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan; The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert; With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo; We are the Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes cover

3. Tied at 9 mentions each

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (fewer mentions, but it’s worth noting that there’s also a graphic novel version with art by Danica Novgorodoff!); The Hunger Games trilogy and The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Want by Cindy Pon cover image

2. 11 total mentions

The Want and Ruse duology by Cindy Pon

1. Tied at 12 mentions each

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas; Dear Martin and Dear Justyce by Nic Stone; and, yes, Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan. Congratulations, Eric.

Please note that I counted this by hand, literally going through each set of show notes, so it’s possible for there to be errors. I counted series books as one title, and I took out any books that were not published as YA, which means adult crossover and middle grade crossover did not factor in. Also, because of how linear time works, books published prior to 2020 naturally had more chances to appear than books that have only been out for a year or so, so many of the titles you’ll see here are backlist.

Speaking of linear time, if you’re a longtime listener, you may be surprised at some absences and be like, “nah gurl, you have definitely referenced X a lot.” But no. You’re probably feeling that way because there are definitely some author faves ’round these parts. If I had been counting repeat authors, this list might be very different. But I didn’t, and please don’t ask me to, because just getting these numbers took — and I am not kidding or exaggerating because I timed it — more than 8 hours. Jury’s out on whether it was worth the time, but once I started, it felt like it would be more meaningless if I stopped.

So, were there any surprises?

Tune into Hey YA every other Thursday, anywhere you get your podcasts, and on alternating Thursdays catch Hey YA: Extra Credit for bonus content!