“A lot of people have no idea that right now Y.A. is the Garden of Eden of literature.”

Thus spake National Book Award-winning Sherman Alexie.

Here are a couple of myths about YA lit: (1) YA is all like Harry Potter. (A myth popular among those who've read little YA other than Harry Potter. And don't get me wrong, I love Harry Potter! But he's SO not representative of all YA. No single series could be.) (2) YA is only read, loved, lauded and applauded by young adults.



Are you a person who hasn't read much YA? If so, I am now going to recommend some beautiful and complex YA literature that will knock your socks off, even if you're so old that you grew up in the 1920s wearing spats, making your socks more difficult to access.
I've included descriptors in parentheses just to give you a sense of genre, but click through to the links to get to the Amazon descriptions.

However! Before you buy the books from Amazon -- or even before you buy them from Powells -- I want to say one thing (with thanks to my pal, secret code name: Heroes Use Headsets, for reminding me of this). Did you know that a lot of independent bookstores do online ordering and shipping -- or, can take orders by phone and ship them to you -- or, can take orders by phone and then contact you when your books come in? And when you shop at local independents, your entire community benefits. :o) If you live in the U.S., the American Booksellers Association has a handy-dandy independent store finder right here to help you locate your local indie.

One final thing before I go: Graceling fell today in the Battle of the Books -- to The Lincolns, by Candace Fleming. Judge Nancy Werlin's wise decision is here; she's convinced me to read The Lincolns asap. Thanks, Battle, for throwing me in with so many great books! And good luck in the final two rounds. (You can keep track of next week's semi-finals on the Battle Blog.)

More YA recommendations are welcome in the comments -- and maybe I'll follow this up sometime soon with a middle grade list and a picture book list. Happy Thursday, everyone :o)


Teresa Kravtin said…
Thanks for the plug for independent booksellers. It can never be said enough!
The dententionist for a week said…
Awesome. The Attolia series. Awesome.
tinkandalissa said…
I'm sorry you got the cut on the book battle. But I havent read half of those books so now I have added some more to my tremendous stack of TBR. Thanks for the other referrals also!
Nikki said…
Thanks for the recommendation list! I love all the ones I've read of those, and one of them I just bought the other day but have a question about: do I need to read Make Lemonade before True Believer?
Artemis Grey said…
So, secretly, I have this obsession with spats, which makes no sense at all because I'm barefoot all the time and wouldn't wear them if I had them. But honestly, I could be lured into dark alleyways by a man in spats...

On other notes, thanks for the poke about indie bookstores! I found THREE right in town that I knew existed, but that I didn't know were indie! (I am SO going shopping and spending too much money...)

I'd say sorry about you getting cut from the book battle, but while I AM sorry that you got cut, it somehow seems more important that you were involved in the battle to start with, than that you won in the end. You know, being as you're a first time author and all. I hope that comes across as I mean it to... I'll End this bit by just saying, again, congrats on your success in getting put into the battle of the books! :)

Oh, and please do follow up with middle grade and picture books and any other sort you take a fancy to. I might be alone in this, but no matter how much I study things, I have trouble classifying books into those kinds of categories. Maybe my brain's got a dent or something, but I'm perpetually surprised by what's put into YA or middle, yada yada yada...
sarah said…
Thanks for the list! I've been camping out in YA literature for a while now, since I found and loved Shannon Hale's Book of a Thousand Days.
Anonymous said…
Wow, The Lincolns must be a really amazing book! *added to the Stack*

I order my books from bookdepository.co.uk, which is a company in the UK that has free worldwide shipping, or sometimes from Tattered Cover Bookstore, which is Denver's largest independent, and is only 5 hours away so I get my books sooner.
Natasha said…
Thank for the recommendations! I've spent a delightful hour combing through them and deciding which ones to place on my library list.

A book that I've long loved, which I first read in high school, is "My Sweet Charlie" by David Westheimer. It's a wonderful tale about desperation, race, learning and caring. I'd love to read it again someday - it's out of print now. I need to see if my library has it. It's one of those books that I loved so much I'm almost frightened to re-read it in case I don't love it as much now as I did when I was 16.

I'm very excited to see your recommendations for children's picture books. My 2 1/2 year old son, Henry, will be happy to provide his opinion on your choices. :-)
Sam said…
I shop at independent bookstores all the time. They're great!

Don't forget your public library either. That way, if you happen to dislike the book, you can just return it, and you didn't spend any money at all! (Of course, I may be biased, as I work in the children's room of a library.)
Horselover said…
Thanks for your book list!! The House on Mango Street is really an amazing book...very honest, down to earth, easy to relate to. I also really would recommend A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, simply because it is an awesome book. And I'm sorry Graceling got thrown of the Battle of the Books, but I'm sure that it will win many other competitions in the future!
cindy said…
SKIN HUNGER by kathleen duey. a rather dark and compelling fantasy.

PAPER TOWNS by john green. my first read by him. i truly enjoyed it. couldn't stop reading.

THE GOOSE GIRL by shannon hale. felt like reading a fairy tale.
Unknown said…
I'm sorry to hear the Lincolns smacked Graceling down BUT it is a remarkable book. Frankly, I don't know how the judge picked - both books are well written but nothing alike. Guess it's comparing cupcakes with PB buttercream frosting to chocolate chip cookies - it's not an easy choice when you want them both.
Thank you for the recommendation list. I 'fell' into YA books because of a graduate class for adolescent literature. The prof was EXCELLENT (a librarian) and introduced us to all kinds of great books that somehow I was too 'old' to read. All the books I've recently reserved at the library have been YA - and usually recommended by the posters above! So, I need to say THANK YOU fellow Gracelingers - I appreciate your recommendations!
Oh, and horselover? I'm in the middle of the trilogy of A Great and Terrible Beauty - it's wonderful.
BookWorm said…
What a great list! Its good to see Megan Whalen Turner's books get a recommendation from another author, they are terrific and not enough people know about them.

A few more YA books that are just amazing:

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt

The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud

Happy Reading!
slkcivil said…
Of the ones you mentioned (Peeps) and by others (Hunger Games), they are both GREAT reads! I like a lot of Scott Westerfelds YA books (Peeps, The Last Days, Uglies series & So Yesterday). A couple more I liked are Skinned by Robin Wasserman and The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong (both have sequels coming out this year, along with Hunger Games sequel, yea!)
I've been camped out in YA for a while now too so thank you for more read options.
Yours is also already on my soon to read list as recommended to me by my new blog and writer friend tinkandalissa! Thanks again for the list of reads (from you both)! ~Shauna
I completely concur. YA literature is my absolute fav.
yay!! the closest independant bookstore is 30 min away (*sigh*the disadvantages of living in a tin town) and now i can do some ordering!! yay!

btw, a random question: if you were a fruit, what would you be?
Kristin Cashore said…
Hey, thanks for the additional recs, everyone!

AG, thank you. To be honest, I was somewhat relieved by the decision. I was finding the whole thing exhausting. :o)

Nikki, I'm pretty sure I read True Believer first and had no problem with reading them backwards... but I don't remember for sure. Does anyone else have an opinion on whether it's okay to read the Wolff books out of order?

IDOTD: I'm going to have to think about that one...
cindy said…
bookworm, i have the thief by MWT on my shelf to read. have heard lots of great things about it--first from my editor. i had no idea it was a greenwillow book until i bought it. ha! am looking forward to the read!
LuckyCharm said…
Oh, how I adore YA. The best fantasy novels always seem to be put in YA, maybe they think "grown-ups" won't read them. It's an old one, but The Hero and the Crown is a great book.
Anonymous said…
I love the "realism, sort of" for The Book Thief ;) It really is just that. Gosh, I love that book. It's books like those that make me feel that I am capable of such passion in my own life.

"She must have loved him so incredibly hard" (Zuzak).

Sibylle said…
The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games! It was one of my favourite reads this year. Compelling and food for thought, I can't wait for the sequel. Also, anything by Neil Gaiman. I didn't read fantasy prior to 2009 but I discovered his writing a few months ago and he's convinced me to check out more books in the genre.
Two thumbs up for His Dark Materials, those are truly excellent books.
I keep hearing about so many of the books on your list.
Nikki said…
Kristin, thanks for the answer. I checked out Make Lemonade from my library yesterday just in case. (What's one more book in a to-read stack that's already enormously high?) Also checked out Mahy's Tricksters. Thanks! =D

More recommendations:
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman,
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier,
Blackbringer by Laini Taylor
here is my suggestion for YA:
the maximum ride series by james patterson
the daniel x series by james patterson
james patterson's newest series which isn't out yet but i'm sure will be awesome
bleach (okay, so it's a manga, but its still awesome!!!)
Aria said…
My boyfriend is always scorning me for reading YA books. He reads big complicated books 1000 pages long OOOOOOOOO!!! I've decided to be patient and wait until we have children, then he'll realize what he's been missing while reading them to our children.

Chronicles of Prydain (the disney movie the Black Cauldron is based off these books. A story about growing up and maturing.)

Lament the Faerie Queen's Deception (An excellent modern faerie tale without excessive drug use and extensive knowledge of faeries from all over the world)

Cry of the Icemark (an epic war story about a proud country being led by their even prouder warrior princess)

The Chrestomanci Chronicles (good stories about two Chrestomancis. enchanters with nine lives, and how annoying adults can be while still meaning well)

Howl's Moving Castle trilogy (a story about youth growing old before their time, imperfect true love, and the power of magic)

Enchanted Forest Chronicles (hilarious stories. I want to have children just so I can read them these books. Stories revolving around a heavily enchanted forest, it's king, a dragon's princess, and the messes they all make and mend)

Dragon Slippers and sequels (A story about rather original dragons and the unasuming girl who saves them. All side splitting hilarious)

The Abhorsen trilogy soon to be quartet (I've been reading these books since middle school, so almost 10 years! A story about a girl who commands death even as it commands her)

Looking Glass Wars (I love these books that both make more and less sense of Alice in Wonderland)

Tale of Desperaux (a children's book about honor, courage and valor. Things sadly missing from our society)

Princess Bride (that's right it's a book! And it kicks the movie's butt!!!)

The Bayern Books "Goose Girl" (a retelling of the Goose Girl. Very good)

The Twelve Kingdoms (novels from the land of Japan, currently being translated by tokyopop. The first is about a common girl who is suddenly thrown into an ancient and cruel world. There are few ups and a lot of downs)

Thornspell (a clever retelling of Sleaping Beauty. There are marks in the cover from me gripping the book in excitement)

101 Dalmations (another book made into a disney movie. Sometimes it's nice to slow down and read something simple but still important)

Graceling (this story helped me realize that it's distubingly easy to misconceve things about myself)

Princess Ben (a story about a spoiled princess who becomes a witch and runs away from home)

Wildwood Dancing (a story about the Twelve Dancing Princesses and the Frog Prince. Combined with vivdly portayed faeries makes for a good wintertime novel)

Beauty (Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale, and this is my favorite retelling)

sorry if this is too long but you did ask for reccomendations
lis said…
O_o So glad you love Harry Potter. I was wondering if you also were a fan of twilight? I wonder how Bella and Katsa woul get along. Terribly, I would assume. They're on opposite ends of the femminist spectrum, it seems..You'll be happy to know, I'm sure, that I adored Graceling..And I am now going to force it into the hands of everyone in my social network. =D
Dustfinger said…
INKHEART TRILOGY by Cornelia Funke. You will be surprised.
THE BARTIMAEUS TRILOGY by Jonathan Stroud. You will absoulutely love it!

By the way, loved Graceling, reading an Advance Readers Copy of Fire and loving it too!
Anonymous said…

It's Deirdre, and I'm SO happy to see so many great book recommendations (which I agree with, of course)!

Attolia!!! Everyone must read!! at once!

And I'm so happy someone mentioned Princess Ben! If you're more into realism than fantasy, or you like both, try "Dairy Queen" and "The Off Season," by the same author.

Speaking of authors -- Terry Pratchett, anyone? Everything he writes is brilliant, and his latest book, "Nation," is extraordinary!

And how about Kate Thompson? Her latest is called "Creature of the Night." Realism with one foot in faery, and rather creepy -- but in a brilliant way!

Well, I must run -- I have a lot of reading to do!

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