Monday, October 19, 2009

My Top Ten Teen Reads & 2 to look forward to.

I've decided I'm still excited about Teen Read Week (who isn't, right?) & have a bit more to say about my favorite YA reads. Here is a top ten list of YA Books that have had a big impact on me both as a reader and a writer. No particular order as I can't play favorites when it comes to books. Some I read during high school myself, but mostly in high school good YA was hard to find and I was reading non-fiction feminist books like Susan Faludi's Backlash and Hillary Carlip's Girl Power or books like Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar and Susanna Kaysen's Girl, Interrupted. Yeah, that shows my mental state during high school...

Anyway, YA LIT I LOVE:

1. The Hanged Man by Francesca Lia Block-- I talked about Weetzie Bat in the vlog yesterday, and that was my gateway to Francesca Lia Block's books, but The Hanged Man has been my favorite. It deals with some really complicated and dark issues (incest, eating disorders), but with this lush imagery and language because that is what Francesca Lia Block does best. I read it in my late teens and it really helped push me to go to the darker and more dangerous places with my writing--to actually talk about the stuff that hurts.

2. Smack by Melvin Burgess-- Read this when I was 16 or 17 and coping with heroin addicted friends who I wanted to understand. It stood up with Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh, which was my favorite book at the time. Really powerful novel, definitely a Ballads of Suburbia influence.

3. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson-- I wish this novel had been around when I was 14. Seriously.

4. Beige by Cecil Castellucci-- I've raved about this book all over this blog. Captures the feeling of discovering punk and discovering who you are. That's what I love most about it-- strong girl characters figuring themselves out, not being acted on by the boys.

5. Melissa Marr's whole Wicked Lovely series-- What I said above about strong girl characters figuring out their own destinies, that is what I love about this book too. And it conjures those Francesca Lia Block feelings too. The lush world. Faeries, folklore. It just makes me very happy.

6. Almost Home by Jessica Blank-- A book about homeless kids in LA, their intertwined stories. All so heartbreaking and powerful. This book hurt to read but in that good way that opens eyes. The way I strive to write. This really pushed me while I was doing Ballads revisions. And this is one of those books I bought for the cover, I gotta admit it...

7. Leftovers by Laura Wiess-- I love Such a Pretty Girl too, but something about this book, the concept of these girls as the leftovers of society, it just cut to the core. This was a book I needed in high school. I felt like these girls. And the POV choice was daring, I liked that. Haven't read Laura's new book, and must remedy that soon.

8. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen-- After I read this in August, I did a write up here on what I loved about it and how it influenced my writing. Pure awesomeness. I must read more Sarah Dessen.

9. Shrinking Violet by Danielle Joseph-- Another one of those girl finds voice empowering books I needed as a teen. Are you sensing a theme? Those are really my kind of books. Strong heroines who I can learn from. I love it so much, I'm running a contest to help spread the word about it.

10. Girl by Blake Nelson-- I'm not really sure if this was published as a YA book, but it came out when I was in high school and was about a girl discovering herself and falling in love with a grungey lead singer. Definitely my kind of book as a teenager though I wanted it to be a little bit different. I wanted Andrea to be more like her friend Cybil and start a band.... That's okay, it probably got me thinking even back then about the story I'd write that would become I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone.

Then I have to mention the two YA books I am looking most forward to in 2010: Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly and Shade by Jeri Smith Ready. Tara's book is a music driven contemporary and Jeri's is an Urban Fantasy. Both sound perfect.

What about you? What are some of your faves (though you should really be telling me about those on yesterday's blog comment page and you'll be entered to win a signed copy of Ballads of Suburbia!) and what are you looking forward to in 2010?


Sara said...

You mentioned quite a few book/authors that I absolutely love!

I loved The Hanged Man as well, but Violet and Clare and I Was a Teenage Fairy are my favorite Block novels! I'm really looking forward to her new novel, but haven't gotten it yet!

I feel like Cecil Castellucci isn't talked about enough! She is such an amazing writer! Coincidentally, Beige is the only novel that I haven't read by her.

I love all of Sarah Dessen's novels, but Just Listen and The Truth About Forever are my absolute favorites!

Great post!

maybeimamazed02 said...

I just commented on another blog yesterday that The Hanged Man is one of my very favorite books ever. It's my second favorite Block book after Wasteland, which I praised on my own blog--a very taboo subject written in an incredibly human and heartbreaking way.

Cecil Castelucci is phenomenal. Beige is her best, but Boy Proof is excellent too.

Another YA author you should try (who doesn't get nearly enough love) is Garret Freymann-Weyr. She writes a new book every couple of years. Her writing is very cerebral and is usually about New York teens going through life-changing challenges (sexuality, the aftermath of a sister's suicide, changing your life focus). She is a lovely, challenging writer and one of my heroines.

Nice post! I love book recommendations.

Keri Mikulski said...

Some great reads, Stephanie. :) Nice list!

Chelsie said...

What a great list, I'm definitely going to have to look into a lot of these.

<3 Chelsie

BrittLit said...

I haven't read #6, #9 or # 10 but I love all of the other ones. Francesca Lia Block is definitely one of my favorite authors. I also love Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci (especially her graphic novels) ummm.... let's see I also love Elizabeth Scott's Living Dead Girl, it's such a powerful novel. And of course Julie Anne Peters... and Brent Hartinger. And more and more and more....