Monday, May 10, 2010

Top 100 YA Books of All Time

Lo, in those days, Persnickety Snark sent out a command. And she spake thusly: "Thou shalt gather thy top ten YA books of all time, and thou shalt send them unto me. Eleven shalt thou not gather, neither shalt thou gather nine, excepting that it be on the way to ten. Twelve is right out."

And then did the Bibliovore wail, and gnash her teeth, and tear her hair, for it was a grievously difficult command. But finally it was done, and sent in, and hopefully, the Internet shall see it and know that it is good.

1. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton - I'd heard about this book for years, but never read it. When I finally picked it up, I thought, It can't be that good. Nothing can be that good. OH BUT IT IS. Bobby and Suzy can just go suck their malts, because this is real life--doing your best with what you've got, which frankly ain't much, and navigating the unholy mess that is the adult world, where people hate each other or love each other for the way they comb their hair.

2. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume - Okay, this one's a little young. But I think that older teens can still read it, because it takes the biggest questions about growing up and looks at them head-on. Who is God? Who am I? Am I really ready for this grown-up stuff? And best of all? Blume gives us no answers, just the reassurance that it's OK to ask the questions.

3. A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle - Another Big Question book. Why do people die? And how is it possible to live with joy knowing that it will all end someday?

4. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson - The high school ostracism, the slow reveal of What Really Happened, the healing through art . . . another book that couldn't possibly be as good as people say it is, and yet it is.

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - Just like the Outsiders, this is about doing what nobody ever have to do and facing what nobody should ever have to face, and coming out the other side. (BTW? TEAM PEETA.)

6. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler - Being yourself when yourself isn't good enough for your family takes a special kind of courage. I especially loved that she didn't lose any weight but got buff instead. Kick-boxing girls FTW!

7. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot - Actually, the whole series, with all its tangle of embarassments, false starts, mistakes in love, and the agonizing process of constantly redefining friendships, relationships, and self. Which proves that just because you're a princess doesn't make your life perfect. Far from it.

8. Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr - The slut/stud dichotomy, the fracture of family, the daddy's little girl syndrome . . . I could talk for hours about this book.

9. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by David Levithin and Rachel Cohn - This is the kind of thing that could only happen when you're a teenager. And yeah, it's not likely to happen to a lot of teenagers, but falling in love almost at first sight, the trippy Alice-in-Wonderland odyssey through New York's indie music scene, the weird friends . . . it could only happen once in your life, if it happens at all.

10. Boy Toy by Barry Lyga - Another one about sex and power, and the messed-up way our society approaches it.

And since I only remembered about it a couple of days before it was due, this was all those books I could think of right away. (And there you have a summary of my entire scholastic career.) I know I'll see the final list and shriek, "OH MY GOD HOW COULD I FORGET THAT ONE?!?!" several times.

What's on your top ten list?


Patti said...

I love hearing about what make's peoples lists! Thanks for posting. We didn't have much crossover, but that is exactly what makes it interesting.

Jenny said...

Great list! You're right about Speak, too - when I started it, I thought it was going to be another normal YA issue book, but it was so much more. Yay for Laurie Halse Anderson!