Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books Every Teen Should Read

Top Ten Tuesday is created by and hosted at The Broke and the Bookish
Go there to check out more Top 10 lists and add your own to the mix!

This week's topic is:
Top 10 Books Every Teen Should Read
Is it awful of me to change the meme slightly? I've read quite a few lists from others recently, and while I agree with many of the books they've included, I've also seen many people comment on how it's impossible to compose a list of books that every teen should read because every teen is different. So, I thought I'd give you a look into my life instead.

Top 10 Books My Teen Self Loved 
(or would have loved had I read them as a teen)

Harold and the Purple Crayon
by Crockett Johnson
It's the namesake of my blog because it's the one I always go back to when I think about why I love stories so much. I actually first read it in high school - I was browsing my local bookstore and found myself in the picture book section. I randomly picked up Harold and started reading. I had no idea it would be one of the books that changed my life. I didn't feel any different afterward. But then I read it again. And again. And Harold's imagination inspired me. Still does!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
I wore this book out in high school, and it's coming to a theater near you in 2012. The subject material in Perks is quite raw, and perhaps that's why I loved it so. It was so different from my ordinary life as a teen, but the emotions were still all too familiar. I like this line from the blurb - "The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite." Oh, and if I ever start using the word "incidentally," you'll know I've recently re-read this book. :)

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
I fear the day when this book will no longer be relevant. I don't think it's here yet. But it's awfully close. How can you connect to this book if you already do not see the value in the printed word? I'm afraid many teens do not. But for those who do, like my teen self did (and of course I still do), Fahrenheit 451 will strike a chord. It will reveal a reality that cares not for knowledge or wisdom but is happy for ignorance and complacency. There will always be knowledge seekers regardless of the format, so this one's for them. 

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
It's already on many required reading lists, but I read it as a senior in high school when it first came out. I remember being completely ripped apart by it. Before then, I had never had so much emotion spew forth all because of a book. I cried and cried and felt too much for Melinda. And I had never experienced anything like it nor known anyone else that had. It's a new classic, for sure. 

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
This was not required reading in high school - I actually picked it up on my own. It's not one that I would even think to recommend, but I remember it vividly from high school. It was the summer after my junior year, and I was attempting to devour the classics. I had read too much Victorian lit and was looking for something with a little more edge, and The Bell Jar certainly fits that description. I like to say that I was Emo before Emo even existed, and this book brought out all sorts of crazy emotions. It was a trend for me - to read the books that evoked strong emotions. Yep, it still is. 

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
You either love it or you hate it, I think. And I happen to love it. Holden Caulfield is a voice you will not be able to get out of your head for weeks after reading Catcher, and it just may stay with you forever. Not that it's a particularly inspiring or heroic voice. He's basically a pain in the rear. But that's why I love him. 

Man, my junior year of high school was such an influential reading year. So many of my favorites come from then!

That concludes the "books I read in high school" portion of the list. I read the following books in college and beyond, and they are listed chronologically by when I read them. They're books that I would have loved in high school had they been published back then.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
This was one of my first forays into science fiction, a genre I did not think I would enjoy, and oh, how I loved it! Tally Youngblood, you quietly rebellious little thing, I couldn't help but want to be you. More than the characters though, I was impressed that I could be so into the description of Westerfeld's dystopian society. And the language! Just make it all up, why don't you? Such creativity, how could I not love it?

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
I remember reading this book in college while lounging with a friend and stopping after every paragraph to discuss something Frankie just wrote or said. It must have been supremely annoying, but I couldn't help it. I would squeal and giggle and just be so happy that Frankie was such a strong girl, so attuned to the injustice happening at her school and unwilling to take her place as a docile woman in a male-dominated society. You go, girl. 

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
My high school self would have LOVED this book. And it was so perfectly channeled while I read it last year - I acutely remembered what it was to be 16 again. There are just certain books that click with you, like kindred spirits, and this was one for me. And shocker - the main characters are both male! Nonetheless, the setting and situations were entirely relatable and believable in a too real way, and I just glowed while reading it. :) I wish that every teen could share that experience! 

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
I wish I had this book in college when my grandmother passed away. Not that I'm sold on bibliotherapy, but for me, it would have done a world of good. It still did, as grief seems to be never ending, and I'm quite thankful for it. But I don't think you need to have experienced the loss of a loved one to connect to this story. Maybe to understand some of the choices that Lennie makes that seem completely inappropriate. What I love most about it is that it wasn't a sobfest - there was an equal amount of love and laughter. Thank goodness! 

So, those are my Top 10 this week! I'm off to go read some others!



Beth S. said...

Completely agree with Fahrenheit 451. I'm surprised it's not on more people's list.

Beth D. said...

I agree with the other Beth :) Fahrenheit is on mine. I personally hated the Catcher in the Rye in High School, but love it as an adult. Now I think, wow, we acted like Holden, or at least I did.

Lisa said...

The Uglies is a great choice. I think it would make teenagers realize that beautiful does not mean the same thing for everyone.

Let's Evaluate said...

Great choices!
I haven't read a few on your list, I'll definitely have to look into them. [:
Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Erin @ Let's Evaluate

Anne Bennett said...

I love all the books on your list, too. I created my book with a Required Reading List in mind. Many you would expect to see but others a new additions to those old dusty books in all high school textbook rooms.

Anne Bennett said...

New Follower!

scattered_laura said...

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" and "Speak" are two that I've seen on a few lists now and I've never even HEARD of them! I feel all dumb and book-ignorant. Shall add them to me To-Read list (which is only about seven miles long at this stage)!

My Top Ten

LBC said...

If I had included contemporary YA I definitely would have included Will Grayson and The Sky is Everywhere. They are two of my favorite books of any kind from the past couple of years.

Come visit me at The Scarlet Letter.

Birdie said...

Good calls! I thought about Fahrenheit 451, but I went with Something Wicked This Way Comes because I think my teenage self would have enjoyed it more.

I'm going to have to try Speak; I've heard so many good things about it.

Enbrethiliel said...


Harold sounds wonderful! I think there are lots of great picture books that can be enjoyed--and learned from--no matter what age one is. =)

Fahrenheit 451 is another good pick. I think a lot of the things described in it are actually happening right now.

Katie said...

Hi, Natalie. Thanks for visiting my blog yesterday! I love the way you approached this list. If I'd thought of them in time, I would probably have included Speak and Will Grayson Will Grayson as well. All teens should know Tiny Cooper! Haha. Have you heard the audiobook version? I'm not usually an audiobook listener, but it's actually really well done.

The1stdaughter said...

I'm so glad I wasn't the only one to include a picture book! Harold and the Purple Crayon is such a fantastic choice, I absolutely agree with you on that! And so many others made your list that had completely slipped my mind. I think this could quite possibly be a "Top 100" instead of just 10 because there are so many more to choose from now. Love Fahrenheit 451, Speak, The Uglies and Will Grayson Will Grayson. Wonderful list!

Jan von Harz said...

The perks of Being a Wall Flower turned up on several lists. I have not read this one, but am going to soon. Also need to check out Harold and the Purple Crayon. Great list!

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

I've heard about The Perks of Being a Wallflower for years, but I haven't read it yet! I think it's about time I do! I'm really excited to see Uglies on your list -- I think that was the first dystopian I read, and now I'm addicted to the genre =) Great picks!

Peaceful Reader said...

A great mix of new and classic on your list, Natalie! A few of them are on my to-read list like Frankie! I adore that you began with Harold!

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