Best YA Books?

Over the last few summers, NPR has compiled the Top 100 audience picks in a select genre of books (thriller, sci-fi/fantasy, beach). They’ve just opened up nominations for this year’s genre: Young Adult.

First…seriously?! Second…isn’t it kind of impossible to define “young adult”? Anyway…I’m still participating, but it got me thinkin’ about “young adult” books and how to pick my nominees.

My first instinct was to go with newer books because that’s what “YA” is to me these days…you know, because it’s a genre now and it wasn’t when I was a teen.

Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Harry Potter by JK Rowling (The only one on this list I read as a teen — the first few in the series anyway!)
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

So I nominated those, but then I started thinking about the books that impacted me when I was a “young adult”. Are they considered “YA”? Some of them, yes, I think they are, but others…I’m really not sure.

Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy
Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
Remember Me (series) by Christopher Pike
My Sweet Audrina by VC Andrews

They aren’t literary masterpieces, but they’re the books that made me a reader (along with Babysitter’s Little Sister, Freddy the Pig, and R.L. Stine) and have stuck me with forever.

We didn’t have a bookstore in my hometown, just the tiny shelf at KMart (WalMart came later), so the books I read were the ones available. And that was the books on my sister’s shelf (Pike & Andrews) or those my oldest sister would bring for me (Babysitter’s LS, Stine). My mom would buy me a few books from KMart, mostly the Pike my sister didn’t have and Goosebumps or Fear Street. Let’s be real here…it was usually Mass Market Paperbacks because they were the cheapest. I definitely read V.C. Andrews before it was age appropriate (Stephen King, too) and My Sweet Audrina is still one of my favorite books.

In elementary school I read the Freddy the Pig series…I think that’s really the series that sucked me in to books. I remember reading Animal Farm because I thought it would be like Freddy…talking pigs?! Can’t be that different right? As an eleven year old, I definitely didn’t get it.  Alas, Freddy is not young adult.

I might add one more to the list: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn…but I didn’t love it until I read it again in college. It didn’t stick like Cold Sassy Tree (both were required/summer reading).

My rambling is done now.

Go submit YOUR nominations!

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