Adolescent Reading Week? In modern nomenclature this event is refered to as Teen Read Week. It occurs every October and is sponsored by the Young Adult Library Service Association (YALSA). Historically, interest in reading or visiting the library drops significantly during the teenage years. In an effort to encourage young minds to pick up a novel for pleasure reading, Teen Read Week was born in 2003. Like Banned Book Week it is a holiday or week-long celebration of books for the young adult demographic within the sphere of Librarianship.
To this effect, I began to read through the list of the previous Teen Top Ten winners. Each year YALSA announces the winners of the most loved newly published novels of the previous year. The top ten winners are chosen by a national adolescent vote. More on the subject are found on the Teens’ Top Ten website.
As for the list, I only have read about a quarter of previous winners. Considering this is a teen choice list . . . well, I do not always agree with their choices. So far, a large portion of their choices I have found dull or mawkish. All the titles I enjoyed, came to me as pleasant surprises. I am already familiar with the components of writing which usually result in an appealing book for myself. So if a novel does not include these components and it still holds my attention?Well, how delightful! First person narrative, wit/sarcasm/word play, complex sentences, minimal romance, and convoluted or higher concept storylines drive my preference.
In no particular order of preference my favorite titles from the Teen Top Ten list is as follows:
The Mortal Instrument Series by Cassandra Clare: The sarcasm between two of the main protagonists; Simon and Jace. Complex sentence structure and a romance which is not at the forefront of the novel helps elevate the series. Categorically this is an Urban Fantasy book a subgenre of my two least favorite genres.
Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling: A modern classic! Can you believe I did not read the series until two years ago? It was practically sacrilegious in literary circles. My main hurdle was the genre of fantasy. I really do not care for it, but alas I took up the series upon my supervisor’s insistance. I have crossed over and truly am an ardent admirer.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockheart: This novel is fought with wordplay and literature references which is absolutely riotous in some instances. The higher plotline about a politely devious girl who wishes to make a subtle point about women and power has made this quite an entertaining and subtly thought-provoking book.
Captain Hook: Adventures of a Notorious Youth by J.V. Hart: This novel gave a glimpse into a British boarding school during the 1700s with a big of fantasy interplay, as it is in reference to Captain Hook of Peter Pan fame. More importantly, it also introduced British slang. Top form!
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins: The second book in the Hunger Games trilogy is by far my favorite. Its pace is more measured but explored more of the psychological aspects of the victors. The protagonist’s struggle to resist becoming a celebrity or icon of a movement and the people who are desperate for a hero. The clincher for the title being added to my list is the shocking cliff hanger at the end of the novel.
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer: Before my more refined readership groans for including such a pedestrian title, let me explain. I only enjoyed this book in the series and feel the author should have ended it with this book. It is certainly not as well written as the other titles on this list. At its center is a romance which goes against type for my preferences. However, this title is in first person and the inner dialogue was quite witty which did not transfer well to the screen version of the novel. The ridiculously basic sentence structure and dialogue allows for a wide readership. I really did enjoy this book, it brought to the foray how restraint can be sexually appealing to a demographic who would claim otherwise.
By this time next year, I assure you, I will have read at least another quarter of the list, if not more. Hopefully, I will have more titles to recommend for those who would like to try their hand reading a young adult novel. By nature the books are exceedingly fast pace compared to the typical adult novel. Traditionally, many novels are centered around the halls of high school education or the lack there of. However, a great many move away from academia and explore other settings. Once, I have completed this list I will continue to keep up with the new titles as well as reading those off YALSA’s other list, such as the Alex, Princz, or Morris Award.