Simplifying Christmas: The Entry Level Drug for YA

Argh, the holidays are looming up! Need help with presents?  In this weekly series BVC members are going to offer shopping lists, and the rationale for them.  So you don’t have to generate your own ideas — you can just take one of our lists!

I wanted to generate a list of the most addictive YA novels available today — the entry-level drug into fiction.  This came about because my aunt is worried about Number One Grandson.  The kid, aged 11, lives for his video games; she worries this will impact his schooling and thus his entry into college.  (My entire extended family is focused on Getting Kids Into Ivies, a heritable trait that derives from my grandfather, who passed the very last Mandarinate examination offered by the Chinese Empire.)

If you are a hammer, all problems look like nails.  For an author the solution to all life’s conundrums is books.  I told my aunt, “Well, he should read more.  You should give him a book for Christmas.  If you use a Sharpie and sign it “Merry Christmas From Grandma” then he can’t return it for Wii modules.”  The serpentine cunning of this struck her very much, as did my pointing out that vocabulary built by reading boosts the verbal portion of the SAT score.   (I should mention that my authority on this matter springs not from writing, but from my daughter, the Stanford alum.  It is assumed in my family that I know how to get kids into college, and my input is reverently solicited.)  Since English is not her first language, my aunt asked for a book list.

My goal therefore was books that a kid positively could not put down, and having read one, would cry, “Is there another?  More!”  The crystal meth of YAs, as it were.  I also wanted books that were available in paper format in stores (which excludes many of the specialist press publishers like NESFA or WSFA press, or even BVC) so that my un-techy aunt would actually be able to buy a copy to sign with that Sharpie.   Needless to say if you have access to Powells or Amazon you will have no problem.  Many friends and associates chipped in ideas, and you should too!  The list is long — after the jump.

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Captain Horatio Hornblower by C. S. Forester

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Wee Free Men, by Terry Pratchett

Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett

Dragon Nimbus by Irene Radford

Sabriel by Garth Nix

Tithe, a Modern Fairy Tale by Holly Black

Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein

Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville

Pay the Piper by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple

Trollbridge, by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple

Magic and Madness, by Justine Larbalastier

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare by Darren Shan

The Demonata: Lord Loss by Darren Shan

The Merchant of Death by D.J. MacHale

A Confederation of Valor by Tanya Huff

Terrier, by Tamora Pierce

First Test by Tamora Pierce

The Chronicles of Chrestomanci Vol. 1 by Diana Wynn Jones

So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane

Magic Below Stairs, by Caroline Stevermer

Philippa Fisher’s Fairy Godsister  by Liz Kessler

Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher

Dragon and Thief by Timothy Zahn

Cast in Shadow, by Michelle Sagara

The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas

Peter and the Starcatchers  by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull

The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale

Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog, by Ysabeau S. Wilce

A short story has just been added to my Bookshelf:

Or read an entire novel!



About Brenda Clough

Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. Her first fantasy novel, The Crystal Crown, was published by DAW in 1984. She has also written The Dragon of Mishbil (1985), The Realm Beneath (1986), and The Name of the Sun (1988). Her children’s novel, An Impossumble Summer (1992), is set in her own house in Virginia, where she lives in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Her novel How Like a God, available from BVC, was published by Tor Books in 1997, and a sequel, Doors of Death and Life, was published in May 2000. Her latest novels from Book View Cafe include Revise the World (2009) and Speak to Our Desires. Her novel A Most Dangerous Woman is being serialized by Serial Box. Her novel The River Twice is newly available from BVC.


Simplifying Christmas: The Entry Level Drug for YA — 2 Comments

  1. I am having Thanksgiving dinner with her and many other family members, so I will pump her on this point. Luckily the grandson is sure to be playing games and will not hear what he is getting for Xmas.