The list came out in August–that list of the “100 best ever teen novels.” (And it has been in my mind since then, but I haven’t had a minute to talk about it. Don’t ask!)
The list, compiled by NPR (what would we do without these folks?), is based on voting by more than 75,000 readers! Wow.
The Harry Potter series heads the list, followed by The Hunger Games series. While both of these are aimed at the Young Adult audience, my daughter, most of my friends and I all read the Harry Potter series, watched all the movies, love the characters, love the message. Are these books more appropriate for kids or adults? Who cares?
What about the books not written for the YA reader? Dune, Go Ask Alice, Call of the Wild, Flowers for Algernon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night?
To Kill a Mockingbird, which came in third. I’ve never ever thought of this as a book for adolescents, but a writer friend of mine recently observed that if it was written today, this American classic would be classified Young Adult. The writing is simple, unembellished, real. It tells the truth. The theme is universal.
I read my share of the books on the list while growing up. I am a voracious reader, and I grew up in places where there wasn’t a lot going on. So I read a lot of other things too. After I devoured what I what was available for people my age, I read Gone With the Wind, everything Steinbeck and Hemingway wrote, and most notoriously, in my family history at least, The Catcher in the Rye. I read the Betsy-Tacy books (100th on the list), and all the Little House books–at least three times. This series didn’t make the list–perhaps aimed at younger readers. I reread them all while in high school and I read them aloud to my children. I would happily read them again today and probably find some new insight.
What did you read growing up? More important, what difference did these books make in your life and your outlook? Let’s talk.