Top Ten

A teacher suggested I put a summer reading list together for adults on campus. This turned out to be a WAY bigger project than I think she envisioned because there are only so many days in the summer and there is so much to read. So I decided to put together lists. The first is my top ten. This is an evolving list, and I probably left off something I like better than what is on here, and I cheated a little here and there (hey, all Weetzie Bat books are in the Dangerous Angel book) but here it is:

Dangerous Angels (Francesca Lia Block): This is cheating because there are actually five novels in this book: Weetzie Bat, Baby Be- bop, Cherokee Bat and the Goat Boys, Witch Baby, and Missing Angel Juan. I suppose if you had to read one my favorite is Missing Angel Juan, but it helps to start with Weetzie Bat. Francesca Lia Block’s language and descriptions are what set this apart.

how i live now (Meg Rosoff): This is a fairly new discovery but it easily moved into the top ten. You have to love a book that describes a garden as “Disney on ecstatsy”. The plot isn’t something that I thought would appeal to me but it was secondary to the language of the story. Daisy has been sent to England to live with her cousins when a war breaks out, leaving Daisy and the cousins to fend for themselves. But this is also a romance, a story about family, and healing.

Tenderness (Robert Cormier): I rooted for the serial killer, and spent the entire book asking myself how on earth the author was going to get out the predicament he put himself in when he wrote a story about a serial killer, especially one the reader feels some sympathy for.

Chinese Handcuffs (Chris Crutcher): I struggled with which Crutcher to recommend. This is my favorite because I read it first but most people prefer Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes or Whale Talk. Ironman is probably his best, with the least amount of melodrama. In general I find people prefer the first one they read, and that after a while he can seem preachy with a too similar character voice. This, however, is heresy in certain YA circles. PS: He has the WORST, and I mean the WORST, covers EVER!

Life is Funny (E.R. Frank): This book of multiple narrators growing up sang in parts. The characters all had their challenges but I appreciated the humor, the voices, and that there was something for everyone. The author’s second book, America, was better received but I prefer this one.

Make Lemonade (Virginia Euwer Wolfe): This book can intimidate readers because it looks like poetry – free verse. Often I have people tell me they don’t read poetry, but it doesn’t read like poetry, it reads like poetic prose. This is one I keep meaning to go back and read because I enjoyed it so much.

The First Part Last (Angela Johnson): This one was what I call a triple crown winner: Printz winner, Coretta Scott King award, top ten Best Book for YA (I think Printz winners have to be????), and significantly a top ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, which is somewhat unusual. At AHS it is primarily reluctant moving into avid readers who read and love this book because of its size, but it really is a great book.

Monster (Walter Dean Myers): A book that plays with format; it is a journal, and a screen play and it takes advantage of the font and design. There are no easy answers for Steve, which works well with a teen audience I think. Also this has “classic” word of mouth, in that it has sustained in interest over the years.

The Golden Compass (Phillip Pullman): This is the one fantasy book I included, I am not a fantasy fan but I liked this story. Lyra’s world is parallel to ours and so while there are parts that are recognizable there is also warrior polar bears, daemons, and plenty of adventure. It is also a, hmmmm, reimagining I guess, of Paradise Lost.

Blankets (Craig Thompson): A graphic novel. I am also not a fan of the graphic novel but this blew me away. It really deals with spirituality, sexuality, and growing up in the most amazing manner.


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