Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the bloggers over at the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers from all around create lists based on the chosen topics, and post links to the host blog to share our love of books. This week we’re talking about books we hope are “modern classics.” We’ve all read the basic stuff in English class, and the great works of years past. Like a hipster, I’m hoping these are books I read and loved before they were classics.
Top Ten Books Written In The Past 10 Years That I Hope People Are Still Reading In 30 Years
[I hope my kids read these one day]
1.) When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead — I want it to be a classic like A Wrinkle In Time. Since it’s so well written, I believe it will have staying power.
2.) The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling (technically counts, since 5, 6, and 7 were written less than 10 years ago) — Duh.
3.) Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys –Beautiful and it covers an aspect of history not covered in other YA novels, I hope this one is read in world history courses in the future.
4.) Looking for Alaska by John Green — John Green’s novels have staying power, especially this one.
5.) Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer — I think about this book a lot. The others, also, but mostly this one. It reminds us how hard it is to survive without our modern-day comforts. In that way, it is timeless. As long as no actual apocalypses occur, I will be recommending it for years to come.
6.) Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt — Great historical fiction is ALL UP ON this list.
7.) The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart — I’d like to see kids and adults reading ANY E. Lockhart novel, but Frankie has a special place in my heart. I hope the future is full of smart, sassy girls like her.
8.) Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson — I’m glad our students read this novel in 8th grade US history. I always learned about slavery around the time of the Civil War, but reading about the role of slaves in the American Revolution made me see a whole different side of the issue. Plus it’s just a gripping novel.
9.) The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne — There is a lot of great Holocaust fiction out there, but this one hit me the hardest emotionally. We can never really know the horrors of this time in history, but we can understand a piece of it and try to avoid repeating history.
10.) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – This one almost didn’t make the list, since I’m worried it’s a bit of a fad. But I do want my kids to read about Katniss, and the story is so intense! I realized it would be hard for it to just disappear…I think it will still be around in the future.
Which books do you hope are still being read 30 years from now?
by Kiera Cass
Purchased from the Nook store
[#38 in my 75 book challenge]
Here’s how I would describe the story: The Hunger Games meets The Bachelorette. You have a dystopian society (Illea) with a really strict caste system. Royalty are Ones, on down through the homeless who are Eights. When it is time for Prince Maxon to marry, one girl from each of the thirty-five districts is selected from any caste system to compete for the prince’s hand in marriage. It’s televised, the girls live a lavish lifestyle in the palace, and there is no set time frame for the process — it can take weeks or years.
Our protagonist is America Singer, a Five from the district of Carolina. She’s in love with Aspen, a Six, but she’s convinced to enter the Selection anyway. She gets selected. Cue Cinderella moments: delicious food, instant status, beautiful dresses, maids, and (of course) a love triangle on the horizon.
If you read the reviews on Goodreads for this book, it is quite obvious that everyone either loved it or hated it. There was very little in-between. I happened to love it. I had no problem with the “borrowed” plots or less-than-stellar writing because I feel this one has potential as a trilogy. While the fancy-pants stuff takes center stage here, it is obvious that there is a lot more going on behind the scenes. There are political secrets and cover ups galore waiting to be uncovered in the future novels. The pretty-pretty of The Selection is just a facade for the frightened monarchy. The second book in this trilogy will really tell us where it’s all going, because we don’t even really know yet.
The story is well-paced and kept my attention so I read it in two days. America is an okay protagonist. She grew on me. But I like the idea of her and Prince Maxon. Since we’ve got a true love triangle on our hands here, I stand firmly on Team Maxon. Both America and Maxon grow throughout the book, and I can’t wait to see what twists Cass will throw at us to shake things up in the following novels! I’m hoping to see America become a little more kick-ass and I have a lady in mind that I hope Aspen can fall for so he’s not sad about losing America.
The one thing you must know before reading this book is that IT DOES NOT END. It’s a trilogy, and the end is wide open. If this type of thing frustrates you, wait until all three are published and then read it. Personally, trilogies kind of drive me crazy, but I guess I’ll play the game. The waiting game. I’ll be watching the TV show on the CW based on this series while I wait.
FINAL GRADE: B I liked this book because I read it for fun and I read it as an independent work. Trying to hold it for a direct comparison to The Hunger Games will leave a reader very disappointed. It’s not in my Top Ten Favs of All Time, but I enjoyed the read and I’m glad I bought it. I will absolutely buy a copy for my media center because I know my students will LOVE it. Though sex and virginity are mentioned early in the novel, both the sex and violence are mearly mentioned, neither seen nor committed by the protagonist. I would also recommend it to my 20-something friends who like girly books (you know who you are!).
I also have to note that there was a lot of drama surrounding this book, the author, and negative reviewer on Goodreads in January, which has caused a lot of people to post negative reviews and refuse to read the book. I know very little about the drama, but I also don’t really care. Same goes for any other drama that has erupted in the book blogger world as of late. I prefer my drama in books, not in real life. I’m judging the book, not the author, when I write a review, positive or negative.
Lord knows I’d be in trouble if an author/agent/publisher/fellow blogger ever swooped in and started judging me based on my writing on this blog. Yikes. My stuff isn’t terrible, but it’s not exactly prime for publication. Y’all, writing for a living would be hard work!
I’m not telling you anything earth-shattering when I tell you that dystopian literature is hot in the YA section right now. It’s been super-hot for over a year, and I’ve been in love with it since I learned the word “dystopia” when I was student teaching in 2006. But why has it suddenly exploded? The genre has been around for at least fifty years. Novels like The Giver, House of the Scorpion, City of Ember, and Truesight already existed in kidlit. But the rest of the world didn’t seem too interested. They were off reading about magical boy wizards or sparkling vampires.
But then something happened.
That something was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
In the same way that Harry Potter inspired a surge in fantasy/magical novels and Twilight brought vampires back with a bite, the smash success of Collin’s series has pulled dystopian literature back out of obscurity and into the spotlight.
Historically, most dystopian novels were products of both the Cold War and a fear of technology/the future. These books were aimed at adults. I’m talking about novels such as:
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- Anthem by Ayn Rand
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
Most of us read at least one of these in high school. But it was never a young adult thing. This is partly because young adult only become a “thing” in the 1960′s, and didn’t gain real traction and credibility until the 21st century. Dystopian novels are dark, political, sometimes violent, and often sophisticated. YA was seen as light and simple. But a few authors decided to write novels that fit within this genre, one hit the jackpot, and it suddenly took off! This may have been a surprise to the general public or the publishing industry, but upon further examination it actually makes a lot of sense that teens would flock to dystopian fiction. Let’s take a closer look at why it works:
The future societies in these books usually live in a world with a lot of rules. The government determines what you eat, what you wear, where you work, who you love, and even when you die. One step out of line and a police officer of some sort is going to take you away. The consequences are strict. Teenagers feel like they live in this kind of world. There are rules at home, curfews, driving laws, high school codes of conduct, and even the unwritten rules of behavior in social and peer groups.
Example: In Matched by Ally Condie, the government chooses who Cassia will marry, what her career will be, what she eats, and what she does with each hour of her day.
A major theme of many YA dystopian novels is leaving one’s family behind. Sometimes this is by choice, and sometimes by force, but the protagonist must face the world alone. Though this is a typical feature of young adult novels, it is particularly strong in dystopia. Leaving the family represents rejecting the rules of the society. The choice is tough and the consequences final, but strong convictions override all of that. It’s not a matter of seeking a talisman or falling in love, but more about rejecting a particular way of life…or seeking a better one.
Example: In Divergent by Veronica Roth, Tris leaves her family’s faction of abnegation to join Dauntless.
At some point in most dystopian novels, the protagonist has the realization that the orderly government is flawed or corrupt. And once a single flaw is discovered, the additional realization is made that there might be additional flaws. The government is not perfect and they don’t know everything. Young adults often start having similar realizations: their parents aren’t cool, their teachers don’t know everything, and even the president makes mistakes.
Example: In Delirium by Lauren Oliver, Lena realizes that love is not the terrible, dangerous thing her government has always warned her about.
4.) Teens Like Action, Romance, and Victory
Nothing fuels teen hormones like passionate make-out sessions in the middle of a life-or-death situation. Dystopias always have action-packed pages. The adrenaline level is high because the fate of the main character is at stake — but also the fate of the whole society. Of course, the protagonist always fights a brave battle, gets the girl/boy, and defeats the bad guy. While this is true of other genres, it’s also a necessary feature of dystopia for capturing the YA audience.
Example: In The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Katniss may not always know what she wants, but readers get what they want!
In this economy, a lot of teens are aware that the future will be difficult. Money is tight, politicians are fighting on the news, and divorce rates are high. They can identify with the political chaos in these novels and the feeling that one person can be at the heart of change. Whether purposefully or accidentally, the protagonists in many dystopian novels are the catalyst for change.
Example: Connor, Risa, and Lev in Unwind by Neal Schusterman.
6.) It’s Realistic
Though set in the future, many of the scenarios presented are possible in next hundred years. Many readers believe that magic, vampires, ghosts, talking animals, mermaids, and zombies aren’t real. For folks who need an element of realism and logic, but fall asleep in contemporary YA, this is their genre.
I would also point out that dystopian YA is largely popular because it’s being read by all ages. Current twenty-somethings read these novels for all of the same reasons listed above because we’re still trying to find our place in the world. But while fantasy and vampire novels might be read for escape or to satisfy the imagination, or romance novels are read as a form of wish-fulfillment, there is also a draw to dystopia that is very “now” and very relevant.
A Sampling of YA Dystopian Novels:
(most are trilogies, but pace yourself and focus on the first one!)
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Delirium by Lauren Oliver
- Divergent by Veronica Roth
- Unwind by Neal Schusterman
- Matched by Ally Condie
- Uglies by Scott Westerfield
- The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
- Wither by Lauren DeStefano
- Bumped by Megan McCafferty
- Feed by MT Anderson
- Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien
- Among The Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
And for More Information:
Teenage Wastelands: How Dystopian YA Became Publishing’s Next Big Thing by Scott Westerfeld (author of Uglies)
Author Alison Stewart on YA Books and Dystopian Novels from Penguin Teacher’s Corner
Why is Dystopia So Appealing to Young Adults? from The Guardian, by Moira Young (author of Blood Red Road)
Full List of YA Dystopian Novels on Goodreads (voted by readers)
The Selection by Kiera Cass
I’m about halfway through this one, and OMG YOU GUYS, I love it. It has some flaws, but I don’t care. If The Hunger Games and The Bachelorette got together and created a baby, it would be this book. I’m not one to get lost in wish-fulfillment, but c’mon!
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
I know some of you were upset that I liked Goblet of Fire less on my re-read of it. Well, you will be pleased to know that I like this one much more on round three! It’s slow going because I already know what happens, but I’m about halfway through the audiobook.
The Know-It-All by AJ Jacobs
Non-fiction, the story of a man who reads the entire Encyclopaedia Brittanica in one year. I have been working on this one for over a year, and I’m twenty pages from the end. Good thing I wasn’t trying to read the encyclopedia, huh? I would have FAILED. TAKE THAT, NOOK BOOK! I cannot resell you, so I WILL finish you!
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
The story of a girl and a boy who meet at the airport and fall in love over the events of the following 24 hours. I read maybe 20 pages before getting sucked in to The Selection. But since this one is required reading for April, rest assured that I will tackle it in the next four days!
Across The Universe by Beth Revis
Sort of a sci-fi love story, I’m still not sure what this book is actually about. Something about a girl getting un-cryogenically frozen on a space ship and trying to figure out who did it. Just got the audiobook via Overdrive at the public library, after being on the waiting list for about six weeks. I burned it to nine CD’s last night. Depending on if I can renew Harry Potter, I will be starting this one on my drive to Virginia tomorrow.
A note on my post-Picnik photo-editing woes: Getting a graphic with book covers like this was a PAIN in the ASS. I had to use Pixlr, which is like a light, web-based version of Photoshop, to create the basic gray background and add each book cover. Resizing and aligning the covers sucked, but I know how to do it now. Then I uploaded the saved collage to Picmonkey to add the framing, rounded edges, and caption. Yikes, that’s a lot of work. It took me two hours! Granted, it will go faster next time. But it used to take 5 minutes in Picnik.
So, in short, I’m still playing with graphics in a post-Picnik world. If anyone has advice on how they are displaying book covers in better way, please let me know! I like there to be a simple elegance to it.
The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
Purchased from book fair and audible.com
[#23 in my 75 book challenge]
I did it. I started my re-read of The Hunger Games this week and finished it within 48 hours. I will have it fresh in my mind when I go to see the movie premier at midnight.
For those of you who don’t know the story: 24 kids have to fight each other to the death on national TV. That’s the basic jist. Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are chosen to represent District 12 as tributes in these awful “games,” which are just one more strategy the Capital uses to oppress and control the citizens of the futuristic, dystopian country of Panem.
Basically it’s, like, my second favorite book ever. I adored it the first time I read it and I adored it the second time. Re-reading was nice because I could keep track of all the different tributes from each district a little better. Cato, Clove, Glimmer, Foxface, Rue, Thresh, and each of the careers.
This time around I really liked that the games didn’t start until halfway through the book. The first time I was just impatient, but I realize that the reaping and the preparation in the Capital were just as important as the Games. I was surprised by how little I actually remembered from the actual scenes in the arena. The scene with Peeta and Katniss stuck in my head, the landmines at the Cornucopia, and the ending but everything else was like, “oh! Yes! I forgot about that!” Of course, I was also thinking about how some of those scenes will play out in the movie. Now I’m SUPER excited.
Watching this as a movie tonight will be intense. It’s one thing to read the book and imagine everything happening, and it’s another to see it taking place right in front of you. Even though I know it’s not real, it will feel real in a different way than the book did. I can already tell you that I will cry in at least one scene, and I will think the psychological terror of what the tributes experience is terrifying.
FINAL GRADE: A I love it. Duh. It may not be stellar prose, but it’s good. The story, the characters, and the pacing are spot on. Recommended to everyone over eleven (my sixth graders do love it). You can read my review of the book as #2 on my all-time favorites or my review of the The Girl Who Was On Fire (a collection of essays about the series) if you love the book as much as I do!
Are you going to the movie tonight? Friday? This weekend? Do you think you’ll be thrilled or disappointed?
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the bloggers over at the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers from all around create lists based on the chosen topics, and post links to the host blog to share our love of books. This week we’re looking at which books I would recommend to folks who don’t normally read YA. I wanted to take this two different ways: quintessential YA books that are representative of the genre, and YA books that have mass appeal and/or read more like adult books for folk that think YA literature is “junk”. So I’m doing two top 5 lists instead!
Top Ten Books I’d Recommend to Someone Who Doesn’t Read YA
Part I: Quintessential YA Novels (AKA YA 101)
These books are all a good representation of the YA lit canon. They are not necessarily my favorites, but they are ones that folks in the YA lit world will hear about constantly or need to read.
1.) The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen — Sarah Dessen is sort of the quintessential YA author, so I had to include the only one of her books that I’ve actually read. She writes realistic fiction about girls and life and love. (Random note: While I was at UNC I took a class in literary performance, and we were required to see the literary performance of this novel. It was really interesting to see it performed that way.)
2.) The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky — While this was not my favorite YA book of all time, it is one of the few YA books that I actually read as a YA. It needs a re-read before the movie comes out and a re-evaluation. It’s on this list because I know SO MANY people that love it.
3.) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson — Though this story offers a sarcastic, funny look at high school life, it also shows the darker side. Melinda doesn’t talk about what happened the night she called the police at a party because she has a secret to hide, and her friends have ostracized her for it. I guess you would call this an issue novel, and it’s one of the most popular in the genre. It won the Printz honor medal and was nominated for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2000.
4.) The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart — Like Speak, this book was nominated for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature AND won a Printz honor medal in 2008. This book represents snarky, intelligent, kick-ass feminist literature. It’s a book about boarding schools and secret societies and it’s just GOOD. You should read it.
5.) American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang — For all the people who don’t like graphic novels, this one might change your mind. Graphic novels for teens have surprising depth and complexity, and there’s a reason the kids love ‘em. American Born Chinese takes three stories about identity crises and tells them with wit and honesty. In 2007 it won the Printz award and was nominated for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.
Part II: YA Novels With Mass Appeal (AKA YA for Grown-Ups Who Hate YA)
6.) Looking for Alaska by John Green — If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you are probably sick of me talking about this book. FOR REAL, Y’ALL, THIS IS A GOOD BOOK! Plus there’s, like, philosophical stuff. And fellatio performed on a tube of toothpaste.
7.) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie — Junior is a kid living on the Spokan Indian Reservation, surrounded by poverty and alcoholism. The book follows the format of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, a hand-written journal with pictures and angst, but the content is far more mature. At its heart, though, this is a story about hope…even when there are no magic fixes or happy endings. Oh, and it won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2007.
[Side note: I am little tired of typing "National Book Award for Young People's Literature." Longest book award title EVER. It's going to be the NBAYPL from now on.]
8.) The Giver by Lois Lowry — If you are between the ages of 18-30 and you have not read this book, I don’t understand how you managed to escape it. It’s dystopian from a time long before dystopias were cool. Don’t even read the description for the book because 1.) it won’t make sense or convince you to read it and 2.) it may spoil the plot for you. Though very simple in nature, this YA book packs a big punch worthy of adult attention. Oh, and it won the 1997 Newbery.
9.) House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer — The story is about Matteo, the young clone of the dictator of Opium, born only to serve as organs to harvest when the dictator’s fail. Though the award list for this is long (NBAYPL winner, Printz and Newbery Honor in 2003), I don’t know that I’ve found many kids that actually like it. Adults, though, would appreciate all of Nancy Farmer’s work.
10.) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins/Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling — I recommend Hunger Games to everyone, and I’m glad to see it’s finally catching on. As for Harry Potter, I believe it shifts between being children’s lit and something greater around the third or fourth book, so I always recommend to adults to keep reading past the first few to the darker books later in the series.
I often see people complaining about movies that are made from books. This is understandable. Many movies made from books are crap. Or they change things around. Or they barely even resemble the original material. When a book lover reads a book, she is creating a whole world in her head. Each person imagines scenery, the characters, the action, the sounds, and the mood differently. Some of us even know what the soundtrack would be for a novel (not that I’ve ever done that…). Book purists like that image in their heads to stay untouched. Watching a movie based on a book forever changes that image.
I LOVE seeing movies made from books. I definitely try to follow the rule about reading the book before watching the movie, but I like going to see the film adaptation. Generally, if a movie exists for a book I’ve just read, I’ll go see/rent it. To me, reading is a social activity. I like discussing novels with friends and students. I like seeing how people can get a totally different interpretations from the same combination of words on a page. Watching a movie is like really seeing inside of someone else’s head. I love it.
Yes, it affects my image of the novel for the rest of time, but I don’t care. Harry Potter looked like Dan Radcliff throughout the 5th, 6th, and 7th books. Skeeter Phelan looked like Emma Stone throughout the novel because I’d already seen the previews for The Help. Still totally worth it. Some movies are terrible, but that doesn’t ruin the book — they just reinforce that reading is an experience that can’t be duplicated on the screen. Some books are flash and trash, and the movies are as well (Davinci Code, I’m talking to you). Some movies are even better than the books or add something of great value to the books (I think the Harry Potter movies do this for me).
And you know what? Sometimes the vision presented in the movie is better than the one in my head. I don’t have the creative genius of Hollywood screenwriters and directors. My imagination is limited. If I love a world presented in the movies, I’m glad to have a more concrete visual of the story to take with me. Many people won’t agree with me. Maybe I’m just impressionable, but I don’t care.
Below I’ve created three lists about movies I’ve seen, movies that are coming out in the next few years that I know I will go see, and movies I’d like to see. How do you feel about the book to movie debate? What movies have you loved? Hated? Which do you recommend? Do you read the book before you see the movie? And which movies would you love to see on the big screen?
Movies I’ve Seen Because I Read the Book:
- Harry Potter (all of them) — Fabulous. I own them all on DVD.
- The Help — Ehh. My review of the movie and the book.
- A Wrinkle In Time — Meg set off my gaydar and I couldn’t concentrate.
- Twilight — I continue to pay to see these, but quit reading the books.
- My Sister’s Keeper — Two completely different endings. Why?
- Speak — Kristen Stewart played the role quite well.
- Pride and Prejudice – The BBC movie was very true to the book.
- Holes — Book is excellent, movie is almost as good.
- Carrie — I can’t really remember either. I was 13.
- The Outsiders — There were a lot of notable actors in the movie!
- Anne of Green Gables — I have a soft spot for the movie. Love both.
- Murder on the Orient Express — Again, I was 13 and don’t remember.
- The DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons — Flash and Trash x2.
- The Nanny Diaries — Book was better than the movie. But the movie had Scarlett Johannson.
- Hoot — Liked the movie better than the book.
- The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe — Movie was better (don’t hit me).
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid — The movie made me laugh, the book made me mad.
- Ella Enchanted — Cute book, but the movie was weird, it tried to be too modern (Escalators? Really?)
Movies Based on Books that I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE
- The Hunger Games
- Ender’s Games
- Into Thin Air
- If I Stay
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower
- The Great Gatsby
- Forest of Hands and Teeth
- Jane Eyre
- The New Wrinkle In Time
Movies Based on Books That I Wish Would Be Made
- Delirium by Lauren Oliver
- Matched by Ally Condie
- The Giver by Lois Lowry (I just want to see how they’d even do it!)
- Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
- A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
- Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
- 1984 by George Orwell (could be done VERY well, I think)
- The Maze Runner by James Dashner (would be better on screen than in print)
- Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
- Anything by John Green (would be hard to do well)
- When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
- The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
I watched this today at school and squealed like a little girl. Now I really can’t wait to see the movie.
I love that the trailer ends after the final countdown before Katniss enters the arena. I love that it, and hopefully the movie, focuses more on the characters and emotions than on the action in the arena. I think Jennifer Lawrence is an interesting choice for Katniss, but it appears that she can act and I’ll be interested in how the role comes across in the final product.
I also think the Mockingjay notes at the end are perfect.
But most of all, I’m super excited that kids might have a kick-ass girl like Katniss as their role model instead of Bella Swan.
…and if you want a good laugh, go read the comments on the YouTube video from the website. I thought I was getting a little too giddy-fangirl about it, but those people are on a whole different level.