YA reading list

It was time for me to re-evaluate my top 10 young adult books.  So, without your seeing my raging internal debate*, I very cleanly present to you the following:

1) The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
2) Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
3) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
4) Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
5) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
6) Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
7) Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
8) Fire by Kristin Cashore
9) Unwind by Neil Shusterman
10) Every Day by David Levithan

*Ugh, I hate making top 10 lists of books– it’s so hard for me.  Even now, I see that I’ve favored books I’ve read more recently over some of the “classics.”  Tuck Everlasting.  Bridge to Terabithia.  The Secret Garden.  It seems like a crime to leave these off the list.  The Pigman.  When You Reach Me.  A Monster Calls.  

Oh gosh.  Anne of Green Gables.  How could I leave Anne off this list– especially when I’ve included other books much more controversial?  Or The Sky is Everywhere, which is better written than several books on the list?

Next time I do this, I need to be more specific with the name of my list.  Top 10 YA Books I’d Never Want to Live Without … if that were the list title, it would be different than the list above.  Top 10 YA Books That Made Me Think.  There!  That more accurately fits the list above.

Okay, it is time to quit obsessing over this list, which only 100 people are even going to see anyway.

What I’d rather do is give you a must-read book list personalized to your reading tastes.  I LOVE doing this, so let me know if you’re interested.



14 thoughts on “YA reading list

  1. Yes please! Although you really already have… I am reading Froi of the Exiles right now and I adore it! I absolutely am in love with Marchetta’s writing.

      • Soooooo … books for Mary. Some of these, you may have already read, in which case you can ignore me!

        The Book Thief by Markus Zusak | I think you’ve read this one. Unreal.

        Everything by Marchetta … Looking for Alibrandi is my least favorite, and you could maybe skip that one. But the Lumatere Chronicles you’re reading are must-reads. You’ll also need to read The Piper’s Son, the sequel to SF. And have you read Jellicoe Road yet? It’s the best of the lot.

        The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

        Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

        Graceling and Fire, both by Kristin Cashore

        The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle | One of my all-time FAVORITES. You will ADORE this book. This book wallops me every time.

        Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine | Not the best written book, but I really love the characters … such a sweet little tale.

        A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness | I wept.

        Bridge to Terabithia by Kathleen Patterson … a classic.

        Unwind by Neil Shusterman (if you’re in the mood for something a little more action-y! … and this one will really make you THINK too!)

        Every Day by David Levithan | You’re mature enough to recognize the agenda in this book. The book itself is incredible.

        When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead | For a little younger of readers, but SO SO SO GOOD.

        Peace Like a River by Leif Enger | one of my all-time favorites. you will ADORE this book.

        short story called “The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios” by Yann Martel

        The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern … sensory overload in the best way possible!

        The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath … thinly veiled autobiography about Plath’s depression and breakdown

        East of Eden by John Steinbeck … so good. Classic!!

        Exodus by Leon Uris … I am guessing on this one, not TOTALLY sure if you’d like it. I loved this book, which I first read when I was your age. It tells the story of the Jewish nation, but the characters are fictional. I used to read this book every summer during late high school and college.

        Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott | Okay, so Lamott is a crazy liberal Christian, but she does love Jesus, and this book is great.

        Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. Such a refreshing book to read for a look at spirituality instead of just religion. LOVE THIS BOOK.

        poetry: anything and everything by Billy Collins. I gobble him up!

  2. Hey Jackie! I always love reading your book lists, favorite book posts, etc. You have talked up Jellicoe Road so much I just have to check it out! What other books would you recommend that are similar to anything like Narnia or even Potter??

    • Hi Alyssa! I’m so glad you enjoy my book posts! 🙂 You’re so sweet!


      I really enjoyed C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength) because of the integration of faith and fantasy/sci fi! You might enjoy those!

      The book that I have read that reminded me of a grown-up Harry Potter this past year was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It was DELICIOUS. I didn’t think that anyone outside of Rowling would be able to write so wonderfully about magic, but Morgenstern nails it in this book! I LOVED it.

      Other fantasy series that I have enjoyed include The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta (Finnikin of the Rock, Froi of the Exiles, Quintana of Charyn) and the Seven Kingdoms books by Kristin Cashore (Graceling, Fire, Bitterblue), so you could try those as well.

      If you’re looking for INCREDIBLE fantasy writing, I cannot stress how badly you need to read The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle. It is one of my top 10 favorite books and just so, so, so masterful!

      I hope you’ll check these out and let me know what you think!!! 🙂

  3. Yes, yes, YES – – make me a list pretty please!!! Can you cater to a mostly-short-story reader? Here are some of my most beloved authors, in no particular order:
    * Kurt Vonnegut
    * Ray Bradbury
    * James Thurber
    * Shirley Jackson
    * Dorothy Parker
    * Donald Miller
    * Roald Dahl
    * Christopher Buckley
    * Anne Lamott
    * Kathleen Norris
    * Neil Postman
    * Douglas Adams

    • Oooooh, you’ve got some GREAT authors on that list! I like your taste!

      I don’t read a TON of short stories myself, but I can suggest “The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios” by Yann Martel (the author of Life of Pi). I LOVE this tiny collection of four short stories.

      You might also enjoy “The Line Between,” short stories by Peter Beagle (who is the INCREDIBLE author of The Last Unicorn). He

      Since you like Anne Lamott and Donald Miller, you might enjoy both Frederick Buechner (maybe start with “Telling Secrets”) and Annie Dillard (I particularly love “For the Time Being” and “Teaching a Stone to Talk”).

      Because you like Vonnegut and Bradbury and Adams, I highly suggest C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy (“Out of the Silent Planet,” “Perelandra,” and “That Hideous Strength”), which may very well blow your mind. I love the way Lewis is able to write theological science fiction. I mean, what in the world?! 🙂

      I also suggest “When You Reach Me” by Rebecca Stead and “Ella Enchanted” by Gail Carson Levine. They are both children’s books, but they may appeal to you!

      Also, these books are so short they are practically short stories: I love Ravi Zacharias’s invented conversations between Christ and historical people. “The Lamb and the Fuhrer” creates a conversation between Jesus and Adolf Hitler; “The Lotus and the Cross” creates a conversation between Buddha and Jesus; “Sense and Sensuality” creates a conversation between Jesus and Oscar Wilde, a writer known for his pursuit of pleasure.

      If you do read any of these, I’d love to hear what you think!

      • Authors…. Anne Lamott, Wally lamb, Barbara kingsolver, Margaret Atwood, Kate dicamillo, Lois Lowry, Emma Donahue, Donald miller, Jodi piccoult (even though every book is the same I always get sucked in), Jk Rowling of course. Those are a few that I have read and liked.

      • I highly recommend Frederick Buechner, since you like Anne Lamott and Don Miller. Start with “Telling Secrets.”

        “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern made me believe that people other than Jo Rowling could write beautifully about magic.

        “Peace Like a River” by Leif Enger is one of the most beautiful books ever written, period.

        “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy is brilliant and haunting.

        “Till We Have Faces” by C.S. Lewis
        “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath
        “East of Eden” by Steinbeck

        Have you read anything by Audrey Niffenegger? She wrote “The Time-Traveler’s Wife” and “Her Fearful Symmetry,” both of which I enjoyed, but I’m not always sure how others will react to them. Both include strange elements (time travel, ghosts), and that intrigues me.

        I also just read “The Casual Vacancy” by JK Rowling. It was nothing like Potter, but very well written. Very sad, very realistic, lots of small-town politics and harsh realities in the projects. I suggest this one since the only Jodi Picoult book I read had a look of harsh realities in it too … but I don’t know. I am glad I read this book, but I don’t know if I will ever be ready to re-read it.

        I tried to suggest mostly adult fiction in this list, since that’s what it seems you like, though you did mention DiCamillo and Lowry. Did you know Lowry has a new book out … “Son,” the fourth book in The Giver series? I read a LOT of YA books, so if you want any recommendations, just ask or click on “The Reader” on my website!

  4. Love the bell jar, so beautiful. I have read time travelers wife but not the other. I did read son… Waited and waited for it to come out. :). I would love other YA suggestions as well. I do like adult fiction, but YA is usually easier for me to pick up and put down at this point in life. :).

    • I have been trying to figure out who this mysterious “Jamie” was … JAMIE ENGLEHART! Now I feel like I’m writing to a real person and not some obscure internet persona. 🙂

      OKAY, young adult. This is the GOOD STUFF.

      These books are MUST-READS:
      The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
      Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
      (and then everything else by Marchetta … I suggest Saving Francesca next)
      The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
      Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
      The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

      I also rather liked the Seven Kingdoms books (Graceling, Fire, Bitterblue), and my guilty pleasure is The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare (City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of … Glass, Fallen Angels, Lost Souls). The first book (City of Bones) is the worst of the lot … and I am not kidding, she gets better and better as she goes.

      I also recently enjoyed “Unwind” by Neil Shusterman (an interesting look at pro-life/pro-choice) and “Every Day” by David Levithan (despite its agenda).

      But right now, I am a total Melina Marchetta whack-job. Her writing is GOLDEN. Jellicoe Road is definitely my favorite, but Saving Francesca is way up there, and Finnikin of the Rock (and the next two books of the trilogy) are awesome too, if you like fantasy at all. Right now, I’m re-reading The Piper’s Son (sequel to Saving Francesca), which Tracy is having a hard time getting into, but I LOVE.

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