Friday, April 30, 2010

Top Ten Favorite YA Books, part 2

I just submitted my list to Persnickety Snark for the Top YA Titles Poll. I'll admit that this took me forever. I started off fine, but hit a snag around book 5 and then didn't look at the list again until this week when I realized I was running out of time. Patti's list is here.

First of all, I'm indecisive. Compiling a best list is a tough task for me. Another part of my delay is the problem of not having read/reread a lot of older YA. I read YA as a teen, but I can't really say I remember too much. I remember loving Dicey's Song, but dang if I can tell you much about it now. I also couldn't pick one Judy Blume. Tiger Eyes? or Forever? Argh! There's so much missing from this list so I'm hoping that some of my just missed titles were not passed over by others. (e lockhart, WD Myers, Louis Sachar, Polly Horvath, Angela Johnson, MT Anderson, JK Rowling, Rick Riordan, Suzanne Collins, Marcus Zusak, Terry Pratchett...)

So with that rambling, here's my contribution.

Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
I am a huge Anne fan. Like when I meet Annes-with-an-E I wonder if it is because of Miss Shirley. My mom gave me a copy of this book when I was in 7th grade which coincided with the time that I was really developing into a voracious reader. Middle school mostly sucked. I know, shocking. Like Anne, I was trying to figure stuff out and usually remarkably lousy at it. Smarter is better than being pretty, it is … but couldn’t I just be a little bit pretty? Couldn’t I be a little more popular and have nicer clothes and hair? I loved that Anne wrestled with this and wasn’t a saint. She is mouthy and angry and also loyal and loving. She reached out to me, across time and culture, to be my kindred spirit when I really needed it. And she got the hot, good guy in the end. Hello! I know people recommend Anne to younger readers, but I think middle schoolers are a better choice.

Weetzie-Bat by Francesca Lia Block
The YA book that I read as a real young adult – my freshman year in college. Sassy Magazine gave a short, enthusiastic review of it and somehow I got myself to a bookstore to purchase it. Rocked. My. World. In a time when I was reading “serious college literature” (even earlier in high school) this book jumped in to shove it in my face that the book that will change your world isn’t a classic written by a dead person. It may just have a hot pink cover and be about an LA pixie punk you would love to cruise around town with and look for plastic palm tree wallets.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Anderson has a way of making the problem novel literary. An important book for being about date rape and one of the groudbreakers for the golden age of YA.

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
I think This Lullaby is the first book of Sarah’s that was the most fully realized. Her books since all follow a rather reliable narrative and to me This Lullaby was the turning point in her career with the smart-girl voice and the boy with a heart stories. Sarah is one of the most reliable writers out there for contemporary YA. When I read her books, I know what to expect (pretty much) and that is exactly what I want.

how i live now by Meg Rosoff
Another book that completely knocked me off my rocker. Achingly beautiful. Completely different from everything that came before.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
John changed YA with the publication of Looking for Alaska. Practically a YA when he wrote it, Looking for Alaska was full of literary geek love that equally appealed to both sexes. Katherines appeals to me more because I am not a fan of "girl who changed my life then dies" stories. Alaska is great, but Katherines is more fun. When the world was all about Harry Potter, John brought back brainy contemporary realistic fiction. He dares the reader with mathematics and obscure history, and also introduces one of the greatest literary BFFs ever.

Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner.
My favorite of the four because I just love Attolia. She is a fascinating character, equaled only by Gen, and thus their ridiculous joining was the best. pairing. ever.

Make Lemonade by Virigina Euwer Wolff
As I was combing my stacks for favorites, I noticed this book. It's one of the grimiest books in my collection so it really stands out (my library got a completely new collection 3 yrs ago). One of the first YA I read as a new teen librarian and my very first novel in verse. Love it.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
I debated this one, but in the end I love a funny book.

Sabriel by Garth Nix
As you can see, my list is heavily realistic fiction. I was never a fantasy or scifi reader and Sabriel was probably one of my first ventures. So beautiful in all its horror and it scared me silly.


Trisha said...

Weetzie Bat! That's the only book on my list from my teen years. I was thirteen when I read it because Sassy had reviewed another of Block's books and mentioned this one. When I went to the bookstore, they didn't have the book that had been reviewed (The Hanged Man, I think), but they did have Weetzie Bat. So I bought it, had no idea what to think when I started reading, it was so unlike anything I'd read before (a character named My Secret Agent Lover Man? Really? Okay...), but quickly fell in love with the book and the beauty of Block's writing.

Is this the order in which you ranked your books, Anne of Green Gables #1 and Sabriel #10?

Patti said...

Great list Joanna. This Lullaby is also my favorite Dessen.

I don't think I ever read Anne of Green Gables. Or I might have. When I think of it I think of the t.v. show. I loved that as a kid.

joanna said...

Hey Trisha, sorry for the delay. The numbers are how I ranked them. It will be interesting to see how it all works out for the poll. Good old Sassy inspiring readers everywhere!

Patti, one of my favorite things about you is that you are my only Canadian friend and you have never read AoGG.