The Top Ten Books I Read This Year-ish

In the spirit of end of the year “best-of” lists here is a list of the best Y/A books I read this year. Actually, I can’t remember if I read some of them last year so consider this the best books I’ve read… in a while.

Here it goes and in no particular order! Actually, that’s a lie. John Greene’s Looking For Alaska continues to be the best young adult book I have ever read. But the other books on this list are awesome – that’s why they’re on the LIST.

1. Diary Of A Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney. Hilarious and the story was well rendered. It had just the right mix of gentle humor and mischievousness. There are like 900 sequels to this book. I plan to pick them up as soon as I can.

2. Absolutely True Diary of A Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.
Sherman Alexie happens to be one of my favorite writers of all time. He’s funny, poetic, witty and his use of figurative language is so strong, he’s brought tears to my eyes many times. Big, BIG fan.

3. Marked – The House Of Night Series by PC Cast and Kristen Cast. I’m not just sayin’ this because St Martin’s Press happens to be my publisher as well as theirs. I had so much fun reading the first two books in this series. Zoey Redbird, the main character is compelling, strong and has her own mind. I love PC and Kristen’s twist on the vampire world and right now (because of where I am in the series) I am scared to death of Neferet.

4. Evermore by Alyson Noel. Again, I am not just saying this because of the publisher. I loved this book. I adored Ever’s voice and I felt really comfortable living in her head space. Ever’s relationship with her sister is heart breaking. Ugh – just thinking about it gets me all misty. Loved this book.

5. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. This book is HUGE. No, really it’s like 400 pages or so. I was scared by the daunting size of it – that was, until I started reading it. I really enjoyed opening this book up knowing virtually NOTHING about the plot. So I was doubly surprised to find that my protagonist was a young male. The book’s setting is in fictional Gatlin county – a southern Gothic town. The atmosphere of the book was my favorite aspect. Book 2 please?

6. 13 Reasons Why – Jay Asher. Beautiful narration. I felt like Asher fully embodied Hannah Baker, the tragic narrator throughout the book. Actually, the book is in first person narrated by main character, Clay Jensen but Hannah makes appearances throughout the narrative. It was mysterious, poetic and compelling. Loved it. Reminded me a little of John Greene’s Paper Towns – which is a good thing.

7. Life As We Knew It – Susan Pfeffer.
Me. – Epistolary format (told in letters). Even now (I read it last January) it haunts me. I’m buying flashlights and Power Bars as I type this.

8. The Hunger Games and Catching Fire (Sorry, I originally had Chasing Fire which was a typo) by Suzanne Collins. Dystopian society meets Logan’s Run meets Reality TV meets awesomeness. I love the casual elegance of Collin’s writing style. Katniss is strong, independent and is going to kick some Capitol butt in Book 3. Collins is probably my favorite writer that I have read in the last couple of years. I just love her ability to surprise you even down on the line level. She might write something long and languid in one sentence and then juxtapose another sentence that is really short and terse. Blows your mind. This was great on a narrative level as well as a literary level.

9. Story of A Girl by Sara Zarr. This book was really powerful but in a profoundly quiet way. I was compelled to keep reading because of the protagonist, Deanna’s story. This character’s conflict is so realistic. I don’t want to give the plot away but in a general sense, every girl I have ever known has been in a similar situation to Deanna, even in some small form. I found the prose accessible and Deanna’s family life and socioeconomic situation to be very realistic. I enjoyed it a lot.

10. And last but not least, as I said this is not in order…The Twilight Series. Yes, it had to be done. Even as over hyped and over Cullened as this series is, it stands as one of the best Y/A series I’ve read. I stood in line at midnight on Cape Cod when Breaking Dawn came out last year. I re-read the series this year and each time I opened the books I was compelled to keep reading. I really admire Meyer’s ability to bring you so close to a character that you feel as though you are there with them, breathing in the same air, close enough to touch their skin. She writes so, so close to the bone. Even though I know Edward Cullen doesn’t exist…I can dream, right?

On a non-YA note – I also suggest, Amy Hempel’s Collection of Short Fiction. Loorie Moore’s new novel (her first in 15 years apparently), called A Gate At The Stars and the Tin House collection of essays on the craft of writing.

Happy Holidays!

I had one of the best days of my life in NYC this past Monday. I met my agent, Matt who is funny, generous and extremely nice. He bought me a veggie quesadilla and we discussed existential crises. 🙂 Then we met my editor at St. Martin’s Press and she was gracious, invested and gave Matt and me candy. M&Ms, actually. They tasted wonderful on my 900 hour drive back to Rhode Island in rush hour traffic. So did the Crumbs bakery cup cakes I brought back for my boyfriend and family.

It’s an incredible experience to meet an agent, editor and publisher who not only want to talk to you but like your written work. I never imagined myself in this position and every day that I wake up and get to work on the edits of Warm Days (now tentatively titled) I feel lucky and grateful.

So what’s the plan? I work on “WD” for another month or so, flesh out some parts that need a little tweaking and then it goes back to St. Martin’s where I suppose the wheels will start turning. I’ll keep you updated as I know more but for right now, I’ll keep smiling as I work on Lenah’s story.