Do You Read… YA?

Young Adult books are one of the fastest growing publishing categories. But their popularity is not because 12 to 18 year olds are insatiable readers.  It is because they appeal to all ages.

YA quest?

The YA years are the quest years — a time of testing limits, questioning authority, flaunting conventions, searching for answers and discovering one’s self. It is also time of short attention spans and high entertainment requirements. Hence successful books geared to this audience tend to be thoughtful, imaginative, provocative, well written, and, whether dramatic or comedic, have main characters that are rebels at heart.

And don’t we all have a bit of a secret rebel within?

Even as we mature, most of us go through stages in our life when we find ourselves questioning and re-evaluating our professional path, our personal choices, our friends, our enemies, our allegiances, our basic assumptions about life — and death.   So it makes sense that we would return to those favorite books and characters from our youthful to refresh and refine their imprint on our memory and ponder them anew — or seek out new YA favorites to keep company with the old.

After all, who doesn’t enjoy a good  rebellion or enlightening quest now and then?

The top 20 of NPR’s Top 100 Teen Books

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. The Hunger Games (series), by Suzanne Collins
3. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
4. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
5. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
6. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
7. The Lord of the Rings (series), by J.R.R. Tolkien
8. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
9. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
10. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
11. The Giver (series), by Lois Lowry
12. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (series), by Douglas Adams
13. The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
14. Anne of Green Gables (series), by Lucy Maud Montgomery
15. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
16. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
17. The Princess Bride, by William Golding
18. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
19. Divergent (series), by Veronica Roth
20. Paper Towns, by John Green

The complete list of Top 100 books with links and descriptions.

The complete list of 235 YA finalists by title.

Are your top YA books on the list?  What books or authors would you add or delete from the list?  NPR’s post discussing their criteria for inclusion and exclusion can be found HERE.


7 thoughts on “Do You Read… YA?

  1. Hi Linda, that’s an interesting subject. When my daughters were in school in the 1970′s and 1980′s they were required to read tons of books, six of which appear on that list of 20. I always read the books too just because I think a parent needs to know what their child is reading. Now I’m doing that with my grandgirls. I still choose to read some YA fiction. Recently with CINDER by Marissa Meyer and SERAPHINA by Rachel Hartman. I’ve found some really excellent novels in the YA genre. Book one of Harry Potter was enough for me and THE HUNGER GAMES just left me cold so I never finished the first book.

    • I haven’t read either Cinder or Seraphina yet, but will add them to my Must Read List. Don’t know why, but I never got very interested in Harry Potter either. One of my all time favs is Princess Bride. I’m a bit surprised there aren’t more classics, but since it was reader generated, I guess these are what are being read now.

      • If I were to add every good sounding book I become aware of because of this blog to my list, I think my husband would send me out to a credit card rehab facility!! Right now I’ve got him fooled by telling him the packages I receive from Amazon are from Vine. (Vine products are free.) One of these days he’s going to start noticing the address label on some of those boxes doesn’t say “Vine”.

        • Hahaha. Having a kindle helps. No telltale packages. But yeah, my TR list is getting pretty long. Not to mention the TR stacks in my office and nightstand. And under the bed… Clothes aren’t my weakness. Books are.

  2. I’ve read 7 of the top 20 you listed, but not until I was an adult and all within the last several years. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff was my first adventure (in my adult life) into YA fiction and I was hooked. What captured me about that book was the way the author wrote out the thought process of the teenage protagonist. I mean, it read exactly like the way my niece would talk – sudden excited frantic bursts of speech, that would lull back into sullenness. I loved it! I grew up in a not so affluent area of the San Fernando Valley (California, near Los Angeles) and I don’t remember being assigned any special reading. So many adults I know that grew up in other areas tackled many of the books on this list in middle and high school. I think the high number of non-English speaking households were I went to school might have had something to do with it…I don’t know, but I do remember thinking how terribly 10th and 11th grade students read out loud in class. I still shudder when I think about it. I used books to tuck myself away in my room and not have to be with my parents, but they were not this kind of literature. Boy, that was a long winded way of saying, “Yes! I love YA!!”

  3. I think To Kill a Mockingbird should top the list of any groupf of must-read books — any genre, anytime, anywhere. I was pleased to see some favorites and to learn of new titles I think I need to investigate. I love and hate My Sister’s Keeper. The ending was just cruel to the readers as well as the characters. Excellent, and very uncomfortable writer. I was surprised not to see A Wrinkle in Time, or Wizard of Earthsea… But thanks for posting this and a link to the full list. Time to do some shopping, I think! :)

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