Unveiling our Top 10 YA Books List

The time has come for another list! As you will all soon come to realize, Emera and Kakaner have a dire weaknesses for creating and maintaining lists. We are also both fanatic collectors and readers of YA books, even in our post-teenage years

The list is reproduced below, but its permanent home is on our Lists page here:

The Black Letters Top 10 YA Books

In alphabetical order by author:

  • Alice in Wonderland (1865) by Lewis Carroll
  • Ella Enchanted (1997) by Gail Carson Levine
  • The Phantom Tollbooth (1961) by Justin Norton
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (1971) by Robert C. O’Brien
  • The Island of the Blue Dolphins (1960) by Scott O’Dell
  • Bridge to Terabithia (1977) by Katherine Paterson
  • The Perilous Gard (1971) by Elizabeth Marie Pope
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond (1958) by Elizabeth George Speare
  • Maniac Magee (1990) by Jerry Spinelli
  • Dealing with Dragons (1990) by Patricia Wrede

Well, we started with about 20 choices and it was slightly tricky narrowing it down to 10. The genres range from fantasy to urban fiction to historical fiction to animal fiction, which we believe is a pretty healthy smattering of YA genres. If anyone hasn’t read any of these, well, he or she should. All these reads would probably take about an hour, two hours tops, and promise to be most rewarding.

6 thoughts on “Unveiling our Top 10 YA Books List”

  1. Just thought of something I couldn’t resist asking – how many of these made you cry? Ella, I think NIMH, Island, Bridge (duh), and Maniac all made me cry.

    …it would be really hilarious to attempt to make a list of all the books that have ever made me cry, ranked by amount of crying. I think Ender’s Game, Watership Down, and Bridge to Terabithia would be the top contenders. Oh, and Marguerite Henry’s Mustang: Spirit of the West made me cry so hard that I couldn’t finish it until the third or fourth time I tried. Graphic scenes of horse abuse/slaughter = not for 8-year-old Emeras.


  2. D: So many good books! Half of them fall on my favourites list from my younger years… But what about Ender’s Game?

  3. Emera– I think that’s an excellent idea. Let’s start culling that list….

    I’m being perfectly serious

    Shen– *sigh* Ender’s Game was a subject of HUGE debate between Emera and I. I think it was the last book we debated…. I can forward you the email thread if you’re interested. But basically, Emera doesn’t see it as YA and I do.

  4. I’m so embarrassed that Shen hit our big point of dispute. Basically, I think that while Ender’s Game can be and is certainly read by the YA demographic (I read it when I was 11ish, and I’m sure both you and Kakaner did as well), I don’t consider a “YA novel,” on the basis that it’s a lot darker and has more complex themes and adult writing than most YA. Or put another way, I feel like much YA is primarily written with a young audience in mind, whereas Ender’s Game was not.

    Of course this is wildly subjective and heads into that really horrible territory of trying to define YA versus non-YA and makes me sound more discriminatory than I am – it’s not, say, that I think “non-YA” is “better,” it’s just how I tend to perceive and categorize a certain quality of tone and style. Anyway, I shouldn’t have been such a stickler, I just have trouble working around my subconscious hang-ups. I’m sorryyyyy

  5. yayyy YA books! i think most of my favorite books are from when i was young (my copy of Ella is so beat up it’s ridiculous)

    i think i agree with Emera about ender’s game. it was one of those books that when i read it when i got older, i understood so much more of it, and i was just even more like O__O.

  6. Oh my God, I remember Island of the Blue Dolphins being impenetrable to my young mind. While I don’t remember the prose exactly, I just remember knowing that it was far beyond me.

    One YA book that I can definitely say has stayed with me throughout the course of my entire life is Hatchet. It just really resonated with me as a kid and I remember that’s when I actually starting to think about the meaning of stories and themes and such.

    Ah, good memories.

    “Young adult” can really be whatever you want it to mean, can’t it? For marketing literature, it can be anywhere in the entire 13-20 demographic. In psychology, it’s ages 20 to 40. What an inconsistent term, don’t you think? I assume you came up with a much narrower definition – marketing opinions be damned and all that righteous fervor. At least it looks consistent.

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