Pimp my High School Library

I chanced to reconnect, the other day, with the excellent head librarian from my high school days. She’s still there, but she’s retiring at the end of this year — and looking forward to it very much, I might add. During the conversation, it chanced to come up that she still has a fair amount of book budget to spend before she leaves.

Now, when I was a wee bairn in grade nine, I informed her in no uncertain terms that the YA collection she had was… inadequate. I believe my exact words were “after a while, you realise that all YA books are the same”, and I soon moved on to the science fiction and classics sections. In the intervening years, however, I’ve come to realise that there’s lots of really, really good young adult fiction out there, whatever my earlier impressions might have been. And after avoiding said genre like the plague, I am now coming around and highly enjoying most of what I’ve read.

So here’s the thing: I’ve promised her a list of books that she should buy for the library before she goes — a retirement bequeathal, if you will. I want to put together a list of some really kick-butt YA (in any genre), but I need some help.

Here’s the list I’ve come up with off the top of my head, in no particular order:

  • An Abundance of Katherines (John Green)
  • Looking for Alaska (John Green)
  • Paper Towns (John Green)
  • The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)
  • The Book of Lost Things (John Connolly)
  • Zoe’s Tale (John Scalzi)
  • The Amulet of Samarkand (Jonathan Stroud)
  • The Golem’s Eye (Jonathan Stroud)
  • Ptolemy’s Gate (Jonathan Stroud)
  • The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman)
  • The Bromeliad (Terry Pratchett)
  • When We Were Romans (Matthew Kneale)

What am I missing? I’m not terribly well-read in terms of YA, and so I will eagerly add your suggestions to the list — leave them in the comments for me, or contact me more directly. I’m going to try to send it to her by the end of the week.

(Note: you’re of course free to suggest other types of books than straight YA — but that’s where I want to concentrate, since I remember the YA collection being particularly uninspiring.)

What’s the best YA being written right now?

10 thoughts on “Pimp my High School Library

  1. Speaking as an English major focusing on folklore, I have to admit that reading YA is still a hobby of mine. The characters, the plots, the cliches, all of it is fun and takes me back to the years where I started to become interested in books–novels in particular. The ones I've found as of late that I enjoy and aren't on your list–'Graveyard Book' and 'Lost Things' are marvelous–are as follows:Carolyn Parkhurst's 'Dogs of Babel'Yann Martel's 'Life of Pi''Le Petit Prince'Brian Selznick's 'The Invention of Hugo Cabret'Ryu Murakami's 'Piercing' and 'In the Miso Soup'Cooper’s latest blog post:Playing Catch-Up, Taking a Left Turn and a Sociology Essay on the Dystopian Subculture.


  2. What a neat idea! You have some great ones already. I would add: Gene Yuen Lang's 'American Born Chinese'Christine Fletcher's 'Ten Cents a Dance.'Sherri L. Smith's 'Flygirl'Cory Doctorow's 'Little Brother'E. Lockheart's 'The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks'Sara Zarr's 'Sweethearts' and 'Story of a Girl'Ali’s latest blog post:Secret Son


  3. Hey, these are tonnes of great suggestions already! I hope she's got a lot of money left in the budget!(I'll compile and post the final list later in the week)


  4. Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy! Also, I recently read Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels, which was absolutely wonderful.I really like your blog, by the way, although I've only been following it for about a month! 🙂


  5. Hi! You've received some really great suggestions, but I'm a little concerned that you didn't include any female authors on your list. I love Jonathan Stroud and Terry Pratchett as much as the next part-time book reviewer, but there's a lot of fun books out there written for and/or by girls–everything from top-notch romances to manga to horror. I'd suggest checking out:'Alice, I Think', by Susan Juby'Heir Apparent', 'Companions of the Night' or 'Dragon's Bait', by Vivian Van Velde'Brave Story', by Miyuki Miyabe'Flora Segunda', by Ysabeau S. Wilce'Kin', by Holly Black (graphic novel)'Yotsuba&!', by Kiyohiko Azuma (manga)'The Summoning', by Kelley Armstrong'Wake', by Lisa McMann'The Hunger Games', by Suzanne Collins'Major Crush' by Jennifer Echols(I didn't spell-check any of those names, so hopefully they're correct.) Good luck!


  6. What about titles by Laurie Halse Anderson (Speak, Chains, Wintergirls, etc.)? I've heard nothing but great things about her books.I really liked these two fantasy titles:Graceling by Kristin CashoreEon: Dragoneye Reborn by I agree with the listings above for:Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian SelznickAlyce’s latest blog post:Sunday Salon – Happy Mother's Day


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