READ: YA books & The Queen of Tearling by Erika Johansen

I think if you don’t read when you are young, it is very hard to become a reader later in life. I believe that kids often learn to love reading from watching what the people around them do in their spare time. I have always been surrounded by people reading wide-ranging and diverse books. Lucky, lucky me.

As a kid, I would binge-read authors. If I liked one of their books, I read everything they wrote. These are the authors (and my favorite of their books) I loved as a young adult.

Madeline L’Engle – The BEST. Many WatersA Swiftly Tilting Planet, and the entire Austin family series.

Judy Blume – I re-read Starring Sally J. Freeman as Herself over and over.

LM Montgomery – I spent a lot of time reading all of her books – Anne of Green Gables books (there was a ton) as well as the other series: Emily of New Moon , Pat of Silver Bush, and the Story Girl. If you read the entire Anne series, I know you remember Rainbow Valley (about Anne & Gilbert’s children and the Meredith family) and Rilla of Ingelside.

Phillip Pullman – The Sally Lockhart books! And a few years ago, I read his Golden Cosecuredownloadmpass trilogy. So much better than Harry Potter!

Laura Ingalls Wilder – Like so many young girls, this series got me hooked on reading.

Louisa May Alcott – I have a gorgeous edition of Little Women that I’ll keep forever. I can remember reading this book and talking to my Grandma about it. I loved that the story continued with Little Men & Jo’s Boys.

Betty Smith – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and I remember feeling so adult reading Joy in the Morning

Getrude Chandler Warner – Boxcar Children! Sounded like so much fun.

Susan Beth Pfeffer – The Sebastian Sisters series (Evie at 16, Thea at 16, Claire at 16, etc.)

Lois Duncan – Locked in Time (!!!), Killing Mr Griffin

Christopher Pike -What teenager growing up in the 80’s did not read these books? Slumber Party, Chain Letter….

Lois Lowry – A Summer to Die

Katherine Patterson – Bridge to Terebithia

Willa Cather – My Antonia, O Pioneers

Cynthia Voigt – Homecoming, Dicey’s Song

Carol Brink – Caddie Woodlawn

Zilpha Keatley Snyder – The Egypt Game (I was obsessed with this book) , The Changeling, and The Headless Cupid

Beverly Cleary – Dear Mr Henshaw 

Caroline B. Cooney – Her paperbacks were ALL over the library. Camp Girl Meets Boy, Among Friends, Twins…and remember the Cheerleader series??

Also, all of these series: Babysitter Club, Sweet Valley High, Sunfire (historical love stories with titles like Amanda, Emily, etc.), Flowers in the Attic, Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, and Choose your Own Adventure.

What books have I forgot?? And I wonder if I would cringe if I re-read some of the books above…

YA fiction is a lot different than it used to be, it’s not just for kids anymore. I just finished a great YA fantasy book, The Queen of Tearling by Erika Johansen. It is the first in a trilogy and it follows Kelsea Raleigh, the Glynn Queen, as she rises to power. It embraces much-used conventions like an orphan girl raised in the woods, an evil queen, and magical jewels. It embraces fairytales, myths, a dystopic world, and the hero’s quest to create a unique, addictive read. And, surprise, the movie is in the works with Emma Watson (!) as Kelsea.

Johansen is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, like so many other published authors these days (other graduates that I have recently wrote about include Edan Lepuki & Ann Patchett). I also just finished reading another book by a graduate of the program, Cutting Teeth by Julie Fiero. It is the total opposite of YA fiction. It is a biting satire on parenthood, mommy groups, our collective anxiety, and the pitfalls/bonuses of having children. I laughed out loud several times as I read it, and some parts of it hit way too close to home.


I started reading The Mockingbird Next Door last week, and I put it aside after 2 chapters. Decided that I don’t want to know anything about Harper Lee because I want to keep To Kill a Mockingbird as pure as I can in my head.

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