Smells like Teen Read spirit: YA authors talk about their favorite books as teens
By Lauren on October 19th, 2011
We’re in the midst of celebrating ALA’s Teen Read Week here at OOM. Jessica already told readers a little about it and talked about the recent media coverage YA has been receiving lately. To get into the Teen Read spirit (as if we aren’t already) we reached out to some Scholastic YA authors to find out what books they loved when they were teenagers.
Coe Booth, author of Tyrell and Bronxwood (September 2011), chose Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. “I read this book so many times when I was teenager. It had everything — growing up, love, loss, humor. I especially loved the dialect; the rhythm of it sounded like music to me!
Cecil Castellucci, author of Rose Sees Red and First Day on Earth (November 2011), named Mockingbird by Walter Tevis as her favorite. “It was epic, post-apocalyptic, sweeping, and the image of the robot rolling to the edge of the Empire State Building because it was so sad captured my imagination. “
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was Elizabeth Eulberg’s pick. The author of Lonely Hearts Club and Prom & Prejudice (January 2011) said, “One of my favorite books of all time; it was assigned reading my freshman year of high school. I was so taken in by the story and characters that I couldn’t help but read ahead of the class–we were going too slow!” (Elizabeth’s not alone…To Kill a Mockingbird is the most-listed book over on You Are What You Read!)
It’s no surprise that Kim Harrington, author of Clarity (March 2011), who enjoyed spooky stories as teen, chose House of Many Shadows by Barbara Michaels as the book she most loved. “I’ve always enjoyed mysteries, ghost stories, and books with a touch of romance. One day I discovered House of Many Shadows by Barbara Michaels in the library, and I was hooked! It was gothic, haunting, romantic, and mysterious—everything I love. I went on a Barbara Michaels binge and read every single one of her books (over twenty titles) in a year. Some of them were hard to find, but it was worth it!”
Debut novelist Jeff Hirsch, author of The Eleventh Plague (September 2011), chose The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper. “This story of Will Stanton discovering his identity as a magical Old One hooked me from the first sentence and is probably responsible for turning me into a lifelong reader, and a writer as well. It was dark, moody and incredibly magical. I had never felt so absolutely surrounded in a world before. The story of a young person coming into magical powers has been done many times since Susan Cooper write The Dark is Rising but I don’t know that any other book captures the grand, mythic quality of that story like Cooper’s.”
Sarah Darer Littman, author of Life, After and Want to Go Private? (August 2011) had a surprising choice, MILA 18 by Leon Uris. “I was (and still am) a history geek and a book I read and re-read as a teen was Leon Uris’ MILA 18. The Holocaust still loomed very large in our lives when I was a teen—my father often spoke talk about his 8th birthday, when they got the telegram with the news that his grandparents in the Ukraine had been killed by the Nazis. Uris’ book about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising was epic. Even though things seemed hopeless for the inhabitants of the Ghetto, they refused to give up without a fight. I was a depressed teen and I think I kept rereading MILA 18 because I needed to remember that.”
Blake Nelson, author of Destroy All Cars and Recovery Road (March 2011), loved Super Bowl Diary by Ken Stabler. “My favorite book as a teenager was called Super Bowl Diary and it was about the Super Bowl that Joe Namath won for the New York Jets. It was the first book that told me the story inside the story, which is still one of the favorite things book do for me.”
Michael Northrop, author of Gentlemen and Trapped (February 2011), picked Grendel by John Gardner. “It’s such a simple idea: Take a famous story in which a hero defeats a monster and retell it from the perspective of the monster. And yet no one had really done it before—or at least no one had done it so well. If you feel at all misunderstood, you end up rooting for the monster. (And what teenage boy doesn’t feel misunderstood, and maybe even a little monstrous?) I copied about a page worth of quotes from this brilliant little book into my writing notebook and carried them with me everywhere: ‘I am not the only monster on these moors.’”
Maggie Stiefvater, author of The Shiver Trilogy and The Scorpio Races (October 18, 2011), loved Dogsbody by Diana Wynne and credits the book with helping her become the writer she is now. “My favorite book growing up (since I can’t say “all of them!”) (though it would be true, because until the age of eleven or so, I thought all books had equal merit) was probably Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones. I loved it because it combined three things I still value in novels today: it was set in the real world but with a touch of magic, it drew on older myths that were hidden just a little from view, and it was just a little bit funny. I think it’s safe to say it made me the writer I am today.”
Looking for more great reading suggestions? Check out our awesome book finder on this is teen. While you’re there you can learn more about your favorite Scholastic YA authors and books and find out about cool author events happening in your area. You can check out the ALA website for more information on Teen Read Week.
What books did you love when you were a teen? Sound-off in the comments!
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