Friday, July 31, 2009

Rediscover Your Favorite YA Book with Lizzie Skurnick

Yesterday, a very nice woman who works down the hall told me she'd burned her ear with a curling iron. My first reaction: "Ouch. That's horrible." Next, I told her how Meg singed off her bangs with a hot iron while getting ready for a big night out. Thankfully, her enterprising sisters came up with a solution: They added a ribbon to Meg's hair to hide the damage—and Meg got compliments all night long. I told this story to my co-worker as if I knew Meg—but she doesn't exist. She's one of the March sisters from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women—a book I read many, many times throughout my childhood. And, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy felt—and still feel—real to me.

I thought I might be a bit off center until I remembered Lizzie Skurnick's "Fine Lines" column on Jezebel.com. In her column, Lizzie looks back—with an adult eye—on the books of her adolescence—from award-winning classics to cult classics--and she discovers that her YA favorites still have a place in her heart, head, and soul. After all, we are what we read (and have read), and our favorite books shape the way we see the world and our place in it.

In Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading, Lizzie expands her "Fine Lines" column, and she invites many of her (and my) favorite authors to come along for the ride. Shelf Discovery is a girls' night out—a mix of everything from poignant and nostalgic to hysterically funny. Best of all—you get to spend time with Lizzie, Meg Cabot, Laura Lippman, Cecily von Ziegesar, and Jennifer Weiner—AND their teen favorites: Are You There God?, It's Me, Margaret; Blubber; Go Ask Alice; Jane-Emily; The Wolves of Willoughby Chase; The Secret Garden; Flowers in the Attic--and so many more.

After reading Shelf Discovery, I'm determined to find my copy of Little Women. I know that dog-eared book—complete with chocolate smudges circa 1970—is still on one of my shelves—and I'm going to rediscover it.

For a bit more fun, check out Lizzie's collection of classic YA jackets.

What was your favorite book when you were a young adult?

16 comments:

  1. Hello. I'm excited about the new book! I read and re-read the Arrow Book of Poetry as a kid. My mom bought it for me at a Parents' Night book sale, and I've treasured it ever since. I also re-read Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. And I can't leave out Betsy Byars' books.

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  2. I loved most teen lit. involving a lot of drama and a female protagonist. One of my favorites was Silver by Norma Fox Mazer. I checked it out from the local library several times while I was in junior high. I would recommend it to my own female students.

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  3. For some reason, my favorite book when I was a teen was Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voigt. It's a novel about a girl who has to go through a lot of really challenging and uncomfortable situations, yet she gets through them. I looked it up and it is a Newbery award winner. I should read it again to see what captivated me so much!

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  4. As a teen, I read Les Misérables and once stayed home... and choose NOT to go out partying with my friends on a Saturday night so I could spend my time with Victor Hugo.

    They thought I was nuts. And being that I was a bit of a wild child in high school, this wasn't standard behavior at all for me. And yet, when I look back on that Saturday night, I only wish I had spent more of them in better company with folks like Voltaire, Dumas, Flaubert, and so on. (I was really into the French for some reason -- still am in a way.) They would have been much better company than some of the scallywags I ended up with at 2:00 am back in the day.

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  5. Depends on when. 'Teen' covers several years.

    I read Robert Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" compulsively through middle school and into high school. It made me want to join the Army, then made me want to be a pacifist, then left me wondering. Every year, I recommend it to some students and help it find a new audience. Some are familiar with the movie, which bares only a remote similarity to the book.

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  6. The teen years covers a lot. I compulsively read Robert Heinlein thoughout middle school, with "Starship Troopers" being my favorite. It made me want to join the army, then be a pacifist, ultimately leaving me unsure. The movie, which came out some years back, held none of the excitement and magesty of the book, raised none of the interesting issues. To this day, I wonder what role military service plays in a democracy.

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  7. I was absolutely addicted to J.R.R. Tolkien. I read and re-read through The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy at least 7 or 8 times throughout my high school years. Other books I loved were Les Miserables, The Count of Monte Cristo, and A Tale of Two Cities. I absolutely never read girly books: romance would have been right out!

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  8. For me, it was Wharton's The Age of Innocence. I kept coming back to it even in college, and then I read everything else by her that I could find. The absolute struggle of women in an age of convention and hypocracy is still fascinating.

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  9. Perhaps this is strange, but . . .. I loved Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. I had never read a book that told the same story from different viewpoints before, and I thought Faulkner's ability to develop characters, speak from their viewpoint, was brilliant.

    Other books I loved during my teens were: Orwell's 1984, Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, and Atwood's The Edible Woman (I've read everything she's ever written since!).

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  10. When I was in high school, I only read books about vampires, so 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King was my favorite.

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  11. I was a Stephen King freak. I still re-read The Stand from time to time. The first time I read it I was probably 16 or so, and I remember rolling the book around in my hands, saying to myself, "How come no one ever told me there were books like this?"

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  12. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and A Wrinkle in Time. One after another in constant rotation until I was about 17.

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  14. I know I'm a little late chiming in, but this is a great topic! I loved The Outsiders, and now, as a sixth grade teacher, I can actually teach it as a novel! Woo Hoo!

    I promise not to kill it for my students!

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  15. I loved Gone With The Wind and its largesse is impressive to my students. However, it was not hard to read; it was hard to put down. I still love historical fiction.

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  16. Thank you for this. My co-teachers have recommended to use this book together with "Little Women", saying this will greatly help out students appreciate the whole concept.

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