That Artsy Librarian | My Young Adult Literature Class Reading List

Posted January 15, 2015 by Jana in That Artsy Librarian / 35 Comments


Another year, another semester! This Spring, I’m taking Introduction to Public Libraries and Young Adult Literature. I’m excited for both, but obviously I’m kind of REALLY excited about my YA Lit class! I’m posting the reading list here because I would LOVE opinions on which books are the best and which ones I need to steer clear of. Please, PLEASE give me your opinions because I’m so overwhelmed and some of these titles scare me! And holy MOLY, this is a lot of reading! I also have two textbooks in this class, plus the teacher assigns scholarly articles as well! I’m gonna be a busy girl!

Weeks 1 & 2: ALA Youth Media Awards
Choose 2: The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley, The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston, Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero, The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton.

Week 3: Series
Required: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Choose 2: A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper, The Diviners by Libba Bray, The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, Wake (Wake Series, Book 1) by Lisa McMann.

Week 4: Living and Dying
Required: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Choose 1: The Hate List by Jennifer Brown, It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

Week 5: The Lives of Teens
Choose 2: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, Beneath a Meth Moon by Jacqueline Woodson, The First Part Last by Angela Johnson, In Darkness by Nick Lake, Pinned by Sharon Flake, The Road to Paris by Nikki Grimes, Shine by Lauren Myracle, Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.

Week 6: The Past
Choose 2: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers, How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, Mare’s War by Tanita Davis, Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli, Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano.

Week 7: Awards
Required: Printz Award Winning book (announced Feb. 2)
Choose 2: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, Monster by Walter Dean Myers, Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool, A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park, Sold by Patricia McCormick, A Step from Heaven by An Na, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley.

Week 8: Cross-Overs
Choose 2: Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok, The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni, Juvenile in Justice by Richard Ross, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neal Gaiman, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender, The Radleys: A Novel by Matt Haig, The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell, Room by Emma Donoghue, Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt.

Week 9: Coming of Age and LGBTQ
Required: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Choose 1: The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork, Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt, The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd, Winger by Andrew Smith, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina.
Choose 1: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan, Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright, Blankets by Craig Thompson.

Week 10: Graphically Speaking
Required: The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Choose 2: Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol, Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang (2 books count as 1), The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman (2 books count as 1), The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (2 books count as 1), Drama by Raina Telgmeier, The Sculptor by Scott McCloud, This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki
Plus: Read a single YA manga title of your choice

Week 11: Real Lives
Required: The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin
Choose 1: Bomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin, Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickels, America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone, Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White by Lila Quintero Weaver, Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans During World War II by Martin W. Sandler, We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Y. Levinson, Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) by Sue Macy.

Week 12: Steampunk
Choose 1: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld and Keith Thompson, Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant, The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross, Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices) by Cassandra Clare.
Choose 1 Film: 9, City of Ember, Coraline, The Golden Compass, Howl’s Moving Castle, Stardust.

Week 13: Book Challenges and Pushing Boundaries
Required: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell and Fat Kid Rules the World by K. L. Going.
Choose 1: The Giver by Lois Lowry or Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Phew! I told you it was a lot of reading! So, help me out! In some situations I don’t have a choice, and in others I have a few things to choose between. Which books would you recommend I read? Which ones should I run away from? We all know I hate crying, but crying is inevitable with this list. So really, I’m looking for books that will not shred my soul.

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35 responses to “That Artsy Librarian | My Young Adult Literature Class Reading List

  1. For your week 3 choices, I’ve read and LOVED The Raven Boys. Also read the 5th wave and really enjoyed it, but it did take me a while to get through. From the week 6 picks, Code Name Verity is definitely one of my favourite historical fiction books, and one of the best books I read last year. Of course I’ve also heard great things about the Book Thief. Of the steampunk books I’ve read the Girl in the Steel Corset and it was a fun read! Pretty easy to fly through as it’s not super heavy but it is fun for sure. And then from week 13 I just read the Giver a few weeks ago and was completely surprised by how good it was. I was blown away, it was fantastic.

    This looks like a really cool class! I wish I could take a course like this!

    • Jana

      I actually DNF’d The Raven Boys, but I think I need to reconsider. That series grew way more popular than a expected when I receive it for review.

      I’ve been wanting to read Code Name Verity for a while, so I think I have the perfect excuse to now! I met Markus Zusak at ALA and got a signed copy of The Book Thief, so I really want to read that one, too! And yes, The Giver is a shoe-in. I read it as a kid and can’t wait to re-visit.

      Thanks for your advice!

  2. Thirteen Reasons Why is soooo good. I couldn’t put it down and finished it in 24 hours. I would definitely recommend it. I don’t know too many of the other ones that are listed, surprisingly! I’m glad that there is a list for some graphic novels. I decided I wanted to try to read a graphic novel this year and now I have a few to look into!
    Lindsey recently posted…Birchbox January 2015

    • Jana

      Thirteen Reasons Why scaaaares me! It’s a super heavy subject, but I’ve heard wonderful things about it. Am I going to spend my semester crying!? lol. Seriously, can I handle it? How sad is it?

      • I didn’t think it was too sad. Then again, I’ve only ever cried with one book (Second Chance Summer). I would say that Fault in Our Stars is sadder than this one. I think that the author does a great job tackling the subject without making it hard to read.
        Lindsey recently posted…The Rosie Effect

  3. What an amazing class!! I WISH my reading lists had have looked like that!!

    OK – I haven’t read them all, but if I was choosing, these would be my picks (though if you need to write essays on these or anything, other picks could be good based on topics and themes to discuss, but I digress) –

    The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows and Gabi, A Girl in Pieces
    The Raven Boys (EVERYONE loves them)
    13 Reasons Why
    We Were Liars and The Part-time Indian
    Code Name Verity and The Book Thief
    Where Things Come Back and The Graveyard Book
    The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Room (it’s brilliant)
    Winger and Two Boys Kissing
    Boxers and Saints and The Complete Maus
    Wheels of Change
    Clockwork Angel for the book and Stardust for the movie
    Week 13 I’d read both, because they’re meant to be amazing!!

    I’d check out Goodreads first though to see if anyone who has similar tastes to you particularly enjoyed any of them! R x
    Rachel (Confessions of a Book Geek) recently posted…Poll: Do You Review Your Reviews?

    • Jana

      The list does have some great books on it! I’m really excited to read some of them. :)

      My prof. has not decided exactly how she wants us to prove we read these books. Right now, it looks like it’s just going to be a big book club kind of chat every week which I think is going to be a lot of fun! We’ll see if she changes her mind, though.

      Thanks for your list of recs! You and I are pretty much on the same page with these, as I had already decided on quite a few of them. :)

  4. You ARE going to be busy! But thanks for sharing this list with us. It’s very interesting to see how academia trains our future librarians. Curious moment: is a librarian’s “goal,” as it’s taught, to acquire materials the patrons want or acquire as much variety as possible and present it to patrons, or does it depend on the budget? I’ve always wondered about that. :)

    As far as books go, I can recommend The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, The Giver, Speak, and the films Howl’s Moving Castle and Stardust (though I think Howl’s, and Stardust really, are both more magic than steampunk). Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow has a very steampunk feel, too, if you want to give that one a try. I also read a ton of manga in high school and still enjoy rereading Beauty Pop by Kiyoko Arai.

    Best of luck with the class!
    Kel @ Booked til Tuesday recently posted…Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay (2 stars)

    • Jana

      To answer your question, librarians actually shoot for both. I think the number one goal is to provide a wide variety of materials to help serve all types of readers. Libraries really want to grab the non-readers, so this helps almost guarantee that there’s something there for everyone. At the same time, though, libraries try to get what’s popular (even if they did not receive good professional reviews) because they want to remain a part of their patrons’ lives. And, of course, everything is dependent on the budget. One thing I learned last year is that award-winners and books nominated for awards are highly sought after, and will almost always jump to the top of a library’s desired titles for acquisition.

      I’ve been intrigued by The Graveyard Book for sometime, so I’m going to borrow my friend’s for that week. I’m actually pretty excited for that one.

      Thanks for recommending a graphic novel! That one has had me stumped, so I’ve gone to my bookish friends here and on Twitter for help with that decision!

      Thanks for the good luck wishes!

    • Jana

      I haven’t read pretty much any of them either. Haha. It’s interesting how the masses recommend one thing and ALA and professional book review publications frequently go in a different direction. This class really focuses on award-winners more than popular fiction, which I was a little disappointed by. It will force me to broaden my horizons, though, which is a good thing for me if I want to be a versatile YA librarian in the future. :)

      I do want to read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making for sure. I’ve heard good things as well.

      Thanks for your input!

  5. OMG! How cool is this?! Can I be you? I would love that my career path lead me to read all this amazing books. Alas, it will not. Not ever. At least not in the path I’m currently going. Anyhow, I haven’t read many of the books in your list, although I’m really dying to read a lot them because I’ve heard so many great things about them (you’re going to have an awesome semester), so I’ll focus in the books I have read.

    My recommendations would be:

    For Week 6: The Past: You should definitely, by all means, please choose Code Name Verity. It’s a master piece! I listened to the audiobook which was even better. Really great book.

    For Week 8: Cross-Overs: I’ma ctually currently in the middle of The OCean at the End of the Lane, and it’s very creepy. I’m enjoying it but I’ve heard it’s truly scary. So you may want to consider this book if you like scary and creepy books with some weird in it. If otherwise, run!

    For Week 10: Graphically Speaking: I’ve heard that Boxers and Saints is the best. I’m actually really looking forward to it. It appears to be great historical fiction and offers some valuable insight on China’s history regarding a religous and political conflict. If you like that, go for it.

    That’s all the input I can offer, since I haven’t read most of these books. I really hope you enjoy most of the books you pick and have a great semester!
    Valeria @ A Touch of Book Madness recently posted…AudioReview: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

    • Jana

      What career path are you in?

      I think I’m sold on Code Name Verity. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about it. I’m going to go ahead and read The Ocean at the End of the Lane because I received a copy for review. I don’t love keep-you-up-all-night scary, but I enjoy creep nail-biters. And thanks for your input on graphic novels. That’s the genre I feel the most lost in. :)

      Thanks so much! I appreciate your thoughts!

    • Jana

      How cool! Nice to know the “curriculum”, if you will, is relatively similar across different grad programs! Thanks so much! I hope you enjoy your class as well. :)

  6. I just graduated with my MLIS degree so yay for fellow future librarians!

    Here are my suggestions out of each category.

    Weeks 1 & 2: ALA Youth Media Awards – The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley which is great contemporary story that focuses on dealing with loss at a young age set in the 90s grunge era.

    Week 3: Series – The Diviners by Libba Bray and The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey. Both are tremendous stories in their own right. The Diviners is a super creepy occult mystery and the writing is excellent. Then The Fifth Wave is one of the best alien invasion stories I have read in a looong time.

    Week 4: Living and Dying – It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini; hilarious with a very real look at anxiety and depression created in a high intensity academic setting. How do these kids deal with this type of life and come out okay?

    Week 5: The Lives of Teens – Shine by Lauren Myracle. As with most of Myracle’s books, this deals with the aftermath of a young gay man being beaten to death in a small rural southern town, and his best friend investigating what happened. Very apt to today’s constant string of hate crimes still being committed against the gay community with a mystery thrown in.

    Week 6: The Past – Honestly, any of these would be great choices, but I am partial to Holocaust/WWII Era books as these stories often show the whole scope of humanity.

    Week 7: Awards – The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean – I’ll be honest, I’m a little biased because I love anything Neil Gaiman does, but this book deserves that because it is genius and a really engaging premise.

    Week 8: Cross-Overs – I haven’t read any of these, but I’ve heard great things about Room by Emma Donoghue.

    Week 9: Coming of Age and LGBTQ – Winger by Andrew Smith and Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan. Okay let me just tell you how AMAZING Winger is! Like SOOOOO great; a must-read!!! And then Will Grayson, Will Grayson has all I want in a book. The dual perspectives is great and who can go wrong with Green and Levithan!

    Week 10: Graphically Speaking – I really like the art in Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol, and it is a good ghost story; starts off sweet but then BOOM! creepy/scary. Very well-done.

    Week 11: Real Lives – Again, I haven’t read any of these, but We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Y. Levinson sounds really interesting.

    Week 12: Steampunk – Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices) by Cassandra Clare. A must-read, and you don’t need to have read her first series, The Mortal Instruments, to enjoy this one. Great setting and interweaving of magic with science.

    Week 13: Book Challenges and Pushing Boundaries – Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. If you take any of my suggestions to heart, then it needs to be to read Speak. This is the book that spark my journey to librarianship and youth services. I love this book, and I love Anderson.

    Sorry the comment was so long! I want to be taking this class with you; it makes me bittersweet for my Young Adult Literature class. I hope you enjoy your classes this semester, both Introduction to Public Libraries and Young Adult Literature were excellent when I took them.
    Elisquared recently posted…Hellhole by Gina Damico (Review and Book Tour)

    • Jana

      Yay! Congratulations on graduating! I can’t wait to be done. How long was your program designed to be? Mine is a 3-year program, which feels so long for anything other than medical fields.

      Thank you for all your recommendations! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your input. I’m totally going for The Fifth Wave. I’ve been wanting an excuse to read it. :) Same with The Graveyard Book. It’ll be my first Neil Gaiman book! Thanks, especially for your rec for a graphic novel! That’s so not my typical genre, so I’m happy to have some guidance. :)

      Thank you!

  7. Lea

    Holy reading Batman! Good thing you love to read! Here’s my picks, for whatever it’s worth.
    Week 5: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – this book is great!
    Week 6: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – I was hesitant but it was so fantastic!
    Week 13: The Giver by Lois Lowry – again wasn’t sure but a friend said that it was her favorite book of all time, so I read it and it was wonderful.

    • Jana

      Haha. Right!? It’s SO much reading! I worry I won’t have time for any of my review books or plain old pleasure books!

      The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was actually a Kindle Daily Deal the other day and I snagged it! So lucky! I’ve heard great things. And yes, I’m going to bite the bullet at read The Book Thief. I’ve been wanting to for so long! And yes, The Giver is happening. I read it as a kid and remember loving it. I need to again because I’ve forgotten most of it.

      Thanks so much for your advice!

  8. I wish my university offered a YA lit class. The closest they had was children’s lit, which of course I took, and it ended up being a blast. I just sort of think I would have appreciated it better if I were going into education or had a kid myself.

    I haven’t read many of these, but I can absolutely recommend It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini for week 4. He was one of my favorite authors when I was a teenager.

    Week 5: Definitely The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. It talks a lot of race and privileged, and it sort of one of those stories that everyone should read at least once.

    I’m kind of curious as to why steampunk gets its own week and other genres do not. Still, that’s pretty cool. I know a couple of people have recommended Cassandra Clare’s A Clockwork Angel, and I would actually give another book a read before choosing that one. I thought it was reeeeeeally boring, and I didn’t really think it was steampunk. It was a fantasy novel with steampunk aesthetics, but it didn’t actually embrace what the genre is truly about. As for the movie– definitely Howl’s Moving Castle!!! Although Stardust is good, I think Howl’s Moving Castle is a better example of Steampunk.
    Jackie recently posted…Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick #Review

    • Jana

      I took children’s lit last year, and loved it. Literature classes as so much fun, and I did not have the opportunity to take them as an undergrad since I studied art history and graphic design.

      I snagged The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian as a Kindle Daily Deal a couple days ago. I was super lucky!

      Not sure why steapunk has its own week either, but dystopia doesn’t. I’m with you on skipping clockwork Angel. I’ve heard it’s a bit of a slow book as well. I’ll probably go for The Girl in the Steel Corset. Thanks for recommending a good movie! I’ll see if my library has a copy of Howl’s Moving Castle. It’s super expensive to buy!

      Thank you for your help!

  9. Hi, I just stumbled on your blog via the Broke and Bookish top 10 Tuesday. I got my MLS about 8 years ago and just happened to take a YA Lit class (I was on the Specials Library course and then wound up deciding to go for public libraries toward the end of my program… and then find out I was pregnant and became a SAHM anyway, but it’s all good). That class is what got me reading YA lit though and I love it. I hope you enjoy the class! As far as recommendations go, without knowing much about you, here are some that I’ve read from your list and really love:

    Week 3: I would stay away from the 5th Wave, I really liked the first book, but the second two weren’t as good… in fact I only read about 50 pages of the last one before I finally allowed myself to give it up.
    Week 4: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
    Week 5: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, soo good
    Week 6: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
    Week 7&8: Sadly I haven’t read any of those… but I’m putting them on my list!
    Week 9: I just finished Dante and Aristotle yesterday, and I started it yesterday, it was really, really good. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan is also excellent!
    Week 10: The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman, The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
    Week 11: Also have not read
    Week 12: I’ve read a lot of the books on the movie list. I really liked the Golden Compass book, but the movie is very different, so not sure what to say as far as a recommendation.
    Week 13: Speak has been on my reading list for the last 8 years, I’ve read lots of other Laurie Halse Anderson books (all great), but I struggle to read that one. I know it’s really good, I’m sure it’s a worthy read, I’m just not sure I can handle it yet.

    Enjoy your class!

    • Jana

      Hi, fellow MLS person! Hehe. I appreciate all your input. It has been really nice hearing from other people who read these in their YA lit classes.

      Funny thing, I’m reading The 5th Wave right now and it’s SO LONG. I feel like I’ve been reading for years! I’ve heard similar things about the two sequels as well, but I had this and needed to read it anyway, so oh well!

      Thanks for all your other suggestions! I’m excited to check some of these out. :)

  10. This list has some good ones. What a fun class. I didn’t see anything that I had read that I hated. What I would recommend:

    A Brief History of Montmarey – I love this series so much. Will someone please make it into a mini-series.

    Wake – If you don’t want to read The Raven Boys, Wake would be my other pick from Week 3.

    Code Name Verity is great.

    I really liked Ruta Sepetys’s Between Shades of Gray. I’ve heard Out of the Easy is great too.

    The House of the Scorpion is amazing!

    A Single Shard would be a good choice if you need a quick read.

    The Graveyard Book and The Ocean at the End of the Lane are good audio books. I love Neil Gaiman.

    Okay For Now is one of my top ten. Great in every way.

    Bomb is a really interesting and engaging nonfiction book.

    Leviathan! My favorite by Scott Westerfeld. Steampunk perfection! A girl disguised as a boy! WWI! Love it.

    The Giver and Speak are both great.

    How many books on the class reading list have you already read? It’s got to be quite a few!

  11. I miss my YA lit. class from college! From what I’ve read of these books I suggest:

    Wake (Wake Series, Book 1) by Lisa McMann (amazing author)
    Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (I actually got to teach this novel)
    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Sold by Patricia McCormick (tough topic, but powerful. I also suggest reading Never Fall Down)
    The Giver by Lois Lowry or Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (either is really good, but I actually liked The Impossible Knife of Memory which is Anderson’s latest novel better than Speak.

    Film: Stardust. Unfortunately, Golden Compass is terrible compared to the novel.
    Devan @ Book Strings recently posted…Review: A Cold Legacy by. Megan Shepherd

  12. Holy crap that IS a lot of reading! If I had had a class like that in college, I don’t think I would have had time for ANY of my other classes! I like to think I read a lot, but the amount of reading that class involves is probably equivalent to my reading as it is! Just, WOW!
    Caitlen recently posted…Flashback Friday – Goosebumps Series

    • Jana

      Haha. I know, right? I am such a slow reader, so this class is super overwhelming! I’m also taking a class on public libraries that is a little less busy, but still crazy. I am excited to be done for a little while. Hehe.