Monday 6 May 2013

Reading recommendations

Nearly two years ago (jeepers) I put together a reading list for a friend's teenage daughter, based on what she'd been reading lately. Recently a friend on Twitter requested some similar recommendations, so here goes: YA for the discerning reader. (Most of the links lead to one of my Goodreads reviews.)

From that 2011 list, a few still stand tall. For example. you can't go wrong with Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' (Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass) and Patrick Ness's 'Chaos Walking' - The Knife of Never Letting GoThe Ask and the AnswerMonsters of Men. And I continue to press Rebecca's Stead When You Reach Me on everyone I can.

Likewise, Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching series remains high in my regard. They are sweet, funny, wise books that teach you how to live strongly and well.

Since then I have read some very good books to add to the list. Mal Peet's Life: An Exploded Diagram does amazing things with time and perspective. I fell for John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, despite its Titanic-like purposeful heartstring twisting. Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races is not great, but it's eminently readable and I like that, in opposition to the Green, it doesn't set out to play your heart like a fiddle.

Lev Grossman's Magician King series is more like a homage to all things YA than YA itself. The first book is hipsterishly funny whilst also being a love letter to C.S. Lewis and (my god amongst writers) T.H. White; the second starts to dribble on a bit.

Two books I highly, highly recommend though: Margo Lanagan's beautiful dark twisted romance Tender Morsels and Karen Thompson Walker's quiet, almost mundane dystopian fantasy The Age of Miracles

And I have a dreadful feeling that I left Meg Rosoffs' How I Live Now off that original list. I think it's a masterpiece. Her There Is No Dog is not as good, but still a blast.

And to go back in time. If you have reached adulthood without reading Richard Adam's Watership Down, Dodie Smith's I Capture The Castle and T.H. White's The Once and Future King, then shame on you. Fix that fast.

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