I’m putting them in a bit of an order. I can’t help it, I like lists. The important thing is, this order is just how I feel about these books today. For the most part, I’m loathe to say one book is really better than another. These are 10 books that have touched my life in some way, in the past or recently.
I’m not really giving a synopsis, instead telling you what I like about the book, what impressions it made on me, etc.
10. King Dork by Frank Portman, published in 2006, I read it in 2006.
I like a book that knocks Catcher in the Rye a little. Don’t get me wrong: I love Catcher & I admire Salinger’s writing. That said, I like the idea that there isn’t a big cult of hushed tones & reverence around it, even if it’s depicted in fiction. I grew up reading it, liking it but when it started to be assigned in school, I started to feel like Tom Henderson does. Anyway, Portman infused King Dork with a unique humor and it was well worth my time.
9. Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block, first published in 1989, I read it in the early 1990s, maybe 1991.
This was the book that in part, made me crazy because I read it when I didn’t fully understand it. And in part, made me so happy because it gave me such an appreciation for using a place like Los Angeles. Block made L.A. seem sort of like anywhere but not. It’s hard for me to describe quite adequately.
8. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen, first published in 2002, I read it in 2002.
This was the first YA novel I’d picked up in years. I had graduated college, was living at home, and when wandering around my public library one summer, I saw this face out on a shelf. I liked the cover – a hand holding a paper cut-out of a heart. It’s the story of Remy, a cynical girl who doesn’t believe in love. Or so she says. I read it in about a day with my bedroom windows open & a breeze spiraling in. I loved the romance of it immediately. Dexter was a boy like the boys I had crushes on in high school. He was in a band, wrote silly songs. I could see who I’d want to play him in a movie.
7. You Know Where to Find Me by Rachel Cohn, published in 2008, I read it in 2008.
A book about a girl whose left confused, sad & lost when her cousin kills herself. To Miles, Laura had everything a person could want: a doting parent, beauty, brains, popularity. So, why’d she do it? It’s what Miles struggles with throughout the novel, eventually learning she’s not as alone as she thought.
6. Bloom 2007/Perfect You 2008 by Elizabeth Scott. I read them in 2008.
I am being honest here: these are my two favorites by Elizabeth Scott. I cannot pick between them, so there’s technically 11 books on my list. I never formally reviewed them, so I’m going to give you a snippet here. Bloom features Lauren, a sort of shy girl who has a boyfriend that she likes but it seems like she needs more. Then, from her past, arrives Evan. Romantic with moments that made me squee, but also sad moments where Lauren realizes what she’s done wrong, Bloom is genuinely touching.
Perfect You’s Kate likes Will. But she doesn’t want to like Will. He’s everything she hates: good looking & he knows it & a girl magnet. Kate’s family life is a bit messy – her dad’s quit his job to sell vitamins that he thinks changed his life, her mom’s at her wit’s end & she’s got a clueless college graduate brother who loafs around the house. Then her grandma arrives & becomes a thorn in everyone’s sides. But one bright spot is that Kate & Will grow close, bickering & sniping at each other at the same time. The payoff happens right near then end. Oh, it’s a good one!
5. Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr, published in 2007, I read it in 2007.
When Deanna’s caught in the backseat of her brother’s friend’s car, she’s instantly the target of rumors & snide comments. Her father stops talking to her. This novel made me sad because I take offense to the idea that women & girls are made to feel ashamed for being female and enjoying sexuality, closeness. It’s not that Zarr seems to feel this way. I’d definitely say she doesn’t. It’s the way Deanna’s held to the classic double standard. She’s a slut because she was in the car with an older boy, but what of the older boy? What happens to him? Where is the parity?
4. Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty, published in 2001, I read them in 2001. These books are hands down, the books that everyone reads & loves most when I recommend them. So I keep doing it. I love telling people how funny, acerbic and even annoying(at times) Jessica can be. Getting to know her & everyone else in Pineville was fun. Sometimes I’m sad the series is over but I’m also happy with how it ended.
3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, published in 1999, I read it in 2000. This is an epistolary novel. I was reading a lot of those at the time I read Chbosky’s novel and it stood out. I actually wrote my senior project of college as an epistolary story, but that’s a tale for another time. Charlie is relatively friendless when the novel begins but as it goes on, he meets older students and suddenly has adventures and learns things about his family and himself.
2. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, published in 2004, I read it in 2007, maybe. I also listened to it on audiobook in the car.
1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, published in 2006, I read it in 2006 & again last month when I listened to it on audiobook in the car.
This book occupies the top spot on my list on purpose. The others might be able to be shuffled but I cannot move this book. I have not really been able to formally review this book because to say anything about it feels like ruining the bittersweetness this novel offers. I was amazed, horrified and in love with it all at once. It had the honor of being the book that has made me cry the most. Ever. And that’s honestly saying something. It’s the most wrenching book I’ve ever read.
So there you have my list. I did try to pick books that maybe not everyone has read or has read recently, but they are all, as I stated above, books that have sparked something in me for whatever reason. I love them all.