For the past few summers, the fine folks at NPR have asked their readers to contribute to themed Best 100 book lists. This year they tackled the wide world of YA novels. As one of those grown up types who still loves the heck out of teen literature, I enjoyed poring over (and judging) the list. For the most part, the list is a very fair mix of genres, ranging from classics (A Separate Peace, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Catcher in the Rye are all represented) to some of the best writers working today, with just a few “No, seriously?” entries. (I’m looking at you, Hush, Hush…)
John Green was a name I expected to see on the list a few times, but he might be the only non-series author on the list to have almost every one of his books represented. If anyone is a big deal in the realistic fiction game, it’s this guy. He’s been putting consistently good stuff since his 2005 debut, Looking For Alaska (a Printz winner). Green’s newest book, number four on the list, The Fault in Our Stars is holding strong as one of my favorites from this past year. (Bonus: he signed all 150,000 copies of the first printing.) More to check out: An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson.
Sarah Dessen – who is coming to the library in January as a speaker in the Black, White, and Read All Over series – is another realistic fiction writer with a fair bit of real estate on the list. Just Listen, The Truth About Forever, Along for the Ride, and This Lullaby were voted in and are all excellent choices. Like Green, Dessen has cracked the formula for balancing heart-breaking issues with humor and wit. More to check out: Dreamland, Keeping the Moon, Lock and Key, Someone Like You, and That Summer.
I was really excited to see the Anne of Green Gables series present among the selection of classics. Along with Little Women (sadly missing from the list), L.M. Montgomery’s books were a big part of my reading development as a young person. A girl could do a lot worse than to look to smart and independent Anne Shirley as a role model. Also, Gilbert Blythe is totally crush-worthy.
Did some of your favorites make the cut? Any you would add?