Sunday, July 12, 2009

Twisting the Meme

There's a YA book meme going around now (well, I've seen it twice just today... I'm sure it'll continue to pop up) with a list of 100 books that you're supposed to check off if you've read, liked, or want to read them. I must be fairly out of the loop, because I set out to fill in my own answers and found that I'd only read a small percentage of the books on the list (and they were mostly older ones like Ender's Game or The Stranger). In her related blog post, Melissa Marr suggested that we add our own suggestions to the list. I thought I'd do that instead... since the number of my X's on the actual meme list would be rather pathetic. So here's a list of YA books (or books suitable for young adults) that I would recommend if you wanted to stock a nice, readable bookshelf for a teenage girl:

1. The Witches of Willowmere by Alison Baird
2. The Warding of Willowmere by Alison Baird
3. The Wyrd of Willowmere by Alison Baird

These books were written by a Canadian author and published a few years ago. Fans of Twilight, Wicked Lovely, or Evermore would probably like these books about a girl who learns about witchcraft while trying to uncover the secrets of her past.

4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I had to read this in my first-year university English course. After I'd read it, I wished I'd done so years earlier! I was struck by its readability, after years of slogging through old novels in high school that made you want to say "Huh?"; Jane's voice is the perfect guide through what is, ultimately, a love story.

5. Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman

This entertaining historical novel is probably more of a middle-grade level book than "young adult", but I read it as an older teen and still enjoyed it.

6. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

It's a classic. It's been years since I read it, and I don't remember too much about it, but I do remember that I liked it.

7. The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint

Charles de Lint is a somewhat underappreciated Canadian author who specializes in urban fantasy. Some of his books for younger readers have been hit-or-miss, but The Blue Girl is one of his best.

8. Momo by Michael Ende

I read this mind-bending story years ago. I remember something about a little girl following a tortoise, and the slower she walked, the faster she went. I'd love to read it again (as I've forgotten much of the plot), but I do remember that I loved it when I read it.

9. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

Like most kids who grew up in the 1980s, I saw the movie many times. I didn't read the book until years later. I loved it. The movie is good, but the book is so much better. Plus, I read the edition that had alternating green and red type (to differentiate between Bastian's world and the story in the book)... which was just plain awesome.

10. A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer

I don't usually read books like this, about a girl in Africa on the run from an arranged marriage. But it was quite well done, and I enjoyed it a lot.

11. The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer

After reading A Girl Named Disaster, I sought out some more Nancy Farmer books. This one is pretty different... a science fiction tale about three supernaturally gifted detectives in 22nd-century Zimbabwe. How could that not be interesting?

12. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

This is probably my favourite of Nancy Farmer's books. The story and writing were so strong that I found myself thinking about the book, the setting, and the characters long after I'd finished.

13. Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Who could forget the Other Mother? This deliciously creepy tale is now a movie... but the book is still worth reading.

14. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Another movie that eclipsed the book. But readers don't know what they're missing! If you liked the movie, you'll definitely like the book.

15. Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones

Like many of Diana Wynne Jones's books, this one was based on an older story; in this case, it was the ballad of Tam Lin. It was one of the first DWJ books I ever read... and it's my favourite.

16. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

More like a modern fairy tale than an anti-war commentary (or whatever it was the movie turned it into), Howl's Moving Castle is just plain fun. Spells, magical creatures, witches, and romance... what more could you want?

17. The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan

This book about prejudice and ignorance made a big impression on me when I read it years ago. The characters were compelling and I found myself truly caring about them.

18. The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

I bought this book in a set (along with Ella Enchanted and Fairest), but this book ended up being my favourite out of the three. It's a classic fairy-tale type of story, with a strong, memorable heroine.

19. The Giver by Lois Lowry

What can you say about The Giver without giving too much away? Basically, if you like dystopian fiction, you'll probably like this book.

20. Emily of New Moon by Lucy Maud Montgomery
21. Emily Climbs by Lucy Maud Montgomery
22. Emily's Quest by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Ahh... Prince Edward Island. And a dreamy little girl who aspires to become a writer. These are some of my favourite L. M. Montgomery books (some others being Jane of Lantern Hill and Pat of Silver Bush). Oh, and of course there's always Anne of Green Gables (but since I read that when I was 7 or 8, I really don't remember enough to recommend it!).

23. Sabriel by Garth Nix

Awesome fantasy! I gobbled Sabriel up when I read it. But I couldn't get into the second book (so I didn't even bother with the third). This first volume can stand on its own, though.

24. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

I loved this book when I first read it. I liked the second book, too. But there was such a gap between the release of the second and third books that by the time I got my hands on The Amber Spyglass, I'd forgotten most of what had come before and was completely lost. The first book is definitely worth a read (the others may be, too, now that they can be read in quick succession).

25. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

If this play was in the high school curriculum, kids might not hate Shakespeare so much. I actually read this of my own volition, after seeing the movie. It's too funny (who doesn't love a good Shakespearean insult?).

26. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

One of my all-time favourite books. I identified so much with the main character. It's one of those books that's underrated... but definitely worth reading.

27. Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr

As mentioned in this post, this is a creepy little story that fans of Coraline would probably enjoy.

28. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Another one of my favourites. I absolutely hated the second book in the series, though. But The Thief is great. If you like adventures, this might be right up your alley.

29. A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

A fairly recent read for me. I was captivated by the writing from the very first page... and the story wasn't too shabby, either. Body-snatching ghosts, love, forgiveness... It's a great read.

I feel like I'm forgetting some (and I probably am), but this list has gotten long enough for now. Hopefully, I've given you some ideas for some different books to read. Some of them are older (and therefore harder to find). But they're worth it.


  1. YOU READ JANE EYRE!?! I'm impressed :-D
    I gave up on the book and just watched the movie. For some reason(I was 10) I intensely disliked the older guy who she really loved. The wife in the attic creeped me out and still does.

  2. I've read 7 off your list. And have a few more in my TBR.