Monday, April 12, 2010

Forever Young

So I just voted for my top ten favorite young adult books on Persnickety Snark. After submitting my votes, which I used Goodreads to help me out, I realized I completely left out some of my favorite books o' my youth.

Which brings me to a very important question: How can I even begin to choose my favorite books?

Most of the books that have meant the most to me/stuck with me/made me giddy with glee are books I read when I was younger. Granted, I was reading books above my reading level at a young age, so books that are considered Young Adult (about 13 yrs or older), I read before I qualified as one such Young'n. In fact, I had to look up what books are considered Young Adult and it all seems very vague to me, because Twilight, Maniac McGee and Catcher in the Rye all fall under the category of YA. Really, they should be grouped as such: Suckfest of terribly bungled writing of a semi-interesting concept but really has no redeeming qualities; middle school book that was kind of cool; AMAZING.

Seriously, what constitutes young adult? Is Chuck Palahniuk's work considered YA? What about Watchmen? I NEED ANSWERS, PEOPLE.

Most of the books considered YA are written for younger kids, yes, but the good ones (i.e. Catcher) are the ones that are timeless. That you re-read and still relate to. I just recently re-read The Phantom Tollbooth, which is unarguably one of my top three favorite books of all time. It's the perfect book for people like me who revel in words and language and the use (and misuse) of it all.
One of my favorite lines (I love a good play on words):
"Oh dear, all those words again," thought Milo as he climbed into the wagon with Tock and the cabinet members. "How are you going to make it move? It doesn't have a--"
"Be very quiet," advised the duke, "for it goes without saying."

Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass, The Little Prince, Great Gatsby and Brave New World are all books I try to read again every once in a while. They really aren't just for "young adults," after all. Alice particularly has always resonated with me no matter how old I am when I read it. Other childhood (young adulthood? That just sounds gross) favorites included The Voyages of Dr. Doolittle, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and the Narnia books. Yeah, I loved me some fiction.

After all that, here's the list I submitted, which totally isn't comprehensive or even really what I would have put if I'd given it more thought. After No. 2, they aren't in any particular order (because I can't remember what order I put them in on the survey). Among other things, I'd take Mixed-Up Files off, although it's still my ultimate fantasy to get locked inside the Met, and maybe add James and the Giant Peach and Alice in Wonderland. And Brave New World, which I am ashamed I forgot about. Oh, and Heart of Darkness. THERE IS NO WAY TO CHOOSE JUST TEN.

1. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
2. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
3. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
4. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
5. The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
6. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
7. The Giver by Lois Lowry
8. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
9. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
10. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

Man, this post is a jumble of thoughts.

What would you guys list as your fave YA books?


Brian said...

The Great Gatsby? God, I hate that book. Sorry.

I agree with Catcher, Wrinkle, Giver, LotF. I would switch The Magician's Nephew for The Silver Chair (clear the best). I never read Coraline but I would include it. Annnnd I can't think of any more...

Brian said...


Little Lauren said...

The Great Gatsby is an amazing book! Never thought of it as YA though.. my list is as follows:
1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
3. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
4. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
5. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
6. The Giver by Lois Lowry
7. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
8. Heaven to Betsy by Maud Hart Lovelace
9. All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
10. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

It was so hard to pick just 10 - I left so many out!
Summer of My German Soldier, Little House on the Prairie, everything by Judy Blume! The Sweet Valley Twins Series! Baby-sitters Club, Nancy Drew! But I limited it to books that I felt had the greatest impact on me and that I read and reread over and over again. (Fortunately the Sweet Valley twins series did not make a huge impact on me. Except to make me hope that when I grew up I would somehow magically be transformed into a perfect size 6 blue-eyed blonde).

meesh_mosh said...

Ah, and I had to cut out Matilda by Roald Dahl. I tried to move a peppermint with my eyes for like an hour after I read that book.