As a young adult (YA) author, I wish I could say I’ve read every great and even every good YA novel.
But I haven’t.
In fact, I’ve come to realize my YA bookshelf is rather lacking.
I came to this conclusion when recently talking to a friend about books because, well, it’s my favorite topic of conversation. During our discussion, we both grabbed each other’s arms and said the words, “I can’t believe you haven’t read that!”
My exclamation of shock was in reference to my friend having only read a single Jane Austen novel and not even liking it. She was shocked I’d never read The Hunger Games. It’s a YA novel, possibly one of the most famous, after Harry Potter, of course. And, I being a YA writer, had never read it. (Cue the gasps of horror.)
And, I being a YA writer, had never read it! (Cue the gasps of horror.)
In my defense, I have a real problem with kids killing kids. Or any book where kids die. (One of the reasons I threw the book The Road across the room and almost tossed it in the garbage after only a few chapters.)
An aversion to reading about children being hurt can be problematic if you’re reading books about, well, children. But Hunger Games felt particularly brutal to me. I just couldn’t pick it up. Now, after all the movies and the hype, I wish I’d gotten past my issues and read it a long time ago.
So if I want to rectify this, where do I start? There are no shortage of opinions on the best YA novels.
There are no shortage of opinions on the best YA novels.
Time Magazine recently published a list of the top 100 young adult books of all time. (Harry Potter is, not surprisingly, #2. The Hunger Games is on there at #56. And even Twilight makes the cut at #100.)
I was happy to find out I’ve read more of them than I thought! Thirty-one to be exact. Several more on the list are already languishing in my TBR pile. While it’s an interesting list, it contains some more “old-fashioned” YA novels (A Wrinkle in Time is YA?) If you read the fine print under the giant header, you’ll know it also includes Children’s books.
Many other organizations and media outlets have published “best of” YA lists. Even Business Insider has one. My favorite is the one from BuzzFeed. It seems to best embrace the diversity of YA novels and made me feel serious YA readership shame at the number I still have not read.
So, given I am a YA author and have a stack of YA books on my nightstand, which YA novels am I most embarrassed to say I haven’t read? Here we go with the top 10… (Ready yourself to be shocked. ;))
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
A Court of Thorn Roses by Sarah J. Maas
City of Bones (part 1 of the Mortal Instruments series) by Cassandra Clare
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
I’d love to hear any other “must read” YA novels I may not have read yet and need to be added to this list!