Monday, April 5, 2010

My favorite YA book? How about a library?

What is my favorite YA novel?



by Rebecca Cantrell


I hate these favorites questions. I don’t play favorites. But I know, as someone who now writes YA, I’m going to run across this question again. So, I'm giving it a try. But it's not definitive.

From the time I could read, which is before I remember but my mother says I was about three, until the time I had to get a job, which I sadly do remember and I was thirteen, I read a book a day. Or more. So, that’s about a decade or 3,650 books. I still read a lot, but not that much. If I had but worlds enough and time…

I read anything I could get my hands on. As a child and now as an adult, I read way above my age level and way below. I read sci-fi and fantasy and detetectives and literature straight from the library’s reading list. I read romance and thrillers and suspense and comedy. The summer after fourth grade I read nothing but Shakespeare plays. Yes, I know that’s weird, and yes, I know I was awfully young to be doing that, but I decided it was something I needed to add to my education.

I went through lists of YA books to remind myself of what other kids read as teenagers so I could write this blog. It was a wonderful stroll down the pages of my reading history. But I don’t have a single favorite. I have too many favorites to list.

So I decided to wimp out and pick a category I seem to have read the most deeply in. That category? The outsider coming into or leaving a community and trying to make her way (not a big leap for a kid who went to 21 schools before graduating high school).

In this category I count: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein, The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank, Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, and This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff.

But that still doesn’t leave me room to talk about all the wonderful nonfiction (Little House on the Prairie? Farley Mowat? Gerald Durrell? James Herriot?), horror (traditional Dracula, Frankenstein, Dorien Grey, Stephen King), sci-fi and fantasy (anyone grok my Heinlein phase? Jules Verne, H. G. Wells), romance (OK, I don’t remember titles, but I sure remember some scenes very vividly) and and and…

I have to stop now. I feel a strong urge to go read a book.

12 comments:

Sophie Littlefield said...

So many of us authors, when you dig under the surface a bit, admit to having read around the clock as kids. Nowadays they'd probably haul us off as obsessive or something, and get us ice skating coaches. I don't regret a single book from childhood, even - especially - the inappropriate ones.

Jeannie Holmes said...

Sophie's right. I read everything I could get my hands on when I was a kid. Haven't changed much over the years. I'll still read the back of cereal boxes for lack of anything else, appropriate or not. :)

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Hey Sophie,
We probably would get hauled off and made 'well balanced' these days. But back in the day parents were pretty happy if you stayed quiet, out of the way, and doing something that could loosely be categorized ad educational.

Not a bad deal for kids.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Jeannie,

It is impossible not to read words right in front of you, isn't it? Besides, cereal boxes are totally educational. Like, raisin bran has more sugar than frosted mini- wheats.

Meredith Cole said...

That list of books brought back some memories, Rebecca! I, too, read obsessively -- and still do. I have a whole pile of books I read as a kid that I like to revisit at least once a year, like old friends. But I think that's my Saturday post...

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Hi Meredith! Books are old friends. When I came up with the list, I remembered where I had read them (various spot outside and inside), sometimes even the time of day or the light.

Scratch a writer and you find ink, not blood.

See you Saturday!

Terry Stonecrop said...

Yes, writers do love to read. Balanced is over-rated, anyway.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who reads cereal boxes. :)

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Hi Terry!

I bet somewhere the person who writes the contents for cereal boxes just felt a warm glow.

Joshua Corin said...

Ah, the theme of the outsider.

Reading about alienation can be so comforting to our nobody-understands-me teenage brains.

(Did you know that, scientifically speaking, the teenage brain is, due to its imbalance of chemicals, insane? I love that fact. In retrospect, of course.)

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Josh,

You love that fact as someone who is nowhere near being the PARENT of a teenager. I worry about it in advance. My son is so well balanced and easy going now, but some day....

Shane Gericke said...

You read a book a day? I hate you!!!!! I'm never going to catch up with all the stuff I wanna read cause I can only squeeze in a book every week ... I want your reading brain!

Kelli Stanley said...

Ah, Becks ... I resonate. Not 21 schools, but enough uprooting of various sorts to feel that stranger in a strange land feeling.

I read constantly, especially since I was an only child. I read to my cats. I read when I washed dishes. I read with a flashlight under the covers. I read every waking moment I could.

And, like you, everything. I'm with Sophie--let's hear it for all the inappropriate stuff we devoured! I read the Exorcist and Valley of the Dolls at 10--do those count? ;)

xoxo

Kelli